With Odin Sphere, Developer Vanillaware created a formula that combines deep action systems with beautiful artwork, and man does it work. Before its developers were challenging players with demons plaguing the Japanese countryside in Muramasa: The Demon Blade and dungeons in Dragon's Crown, they made Odin Sphere as a follow-up of sorts to Princess Crown. It just might be Vanillaware's best work to date.
Odin Sphere launched almost a decade ago, and now it's back as Odin Sphere Leifthrasir. Say it with us: Leaf-thra-sear. Got it? Good! Now we can move on to what this PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita rerelease entails.
In this guide, we'll help you acclimate to this intimidating action role-playing game.
Table of contents
How is Leifthrasir different?
Let's start with the visuals. They've been completely overhauled in the rerelease, to the point of sporting 1080p graphics. But most importantly is the framerate, which is a consistent 60 fps on PS4. This is a major win for fans of the original, because some parts of the game (boss fights in particular) would slow to a crawl almost to the point where they were unplayable.
Other ancillary additions include more modes (like a New Game+ gametype called Xtra New Game), more difficulties, and a boss rush unlock. Most importantly though, the remake sports a brand new combat and upgrade system, which we'll get to in a moment.
If you're a purist, all of this might sound like fluff to you. But fear not, as Atlus included the original game in the rerelease, so you can still enjoy the old systems to your heart's content.
Combat and upgrades
Combat has been altered to give Odin Sphere Leifthrasir a more fighting game feel. There's a higher propensity for combos now, dashes are faster, and basic attacks are quicker in general. As a result, mashing the attack button can actually yield more damage now, and it can be a viable strategy against bosses after they let loose with a massive whiffed ability (known as punishing in the fighting game genre).
The first thing you're going to want to do is get a feel for directional inputs by practicing with Gwendolyn at the start. Each direction now has a special linked to it, like a horizontal air dash or an upward slash.
In the original game, characters (with few exceptions) basically all had the same set of skills to draw from. That's not the case anymore, as Gwendolyn now wields ice powers for example, which fits the theme of her character. Because of this, you'll want to study the skill tree whenever you pick up a new character just to get an idea of what direction you want to head in to suit your own personal playstyle. Note that whatever direction you choose, simply building up your raw attack power by leveling (more on that in the Grinding and Planting section) will yield enough returns to complete the entire game. You don't need to sit there and write out charts to try and min-max your way through, especially in the new Leifthrasir version.
Having said that, leveling up Psyphers (vanilla attack bonuses) is highly underrated, especially for characters like Oswald. It might not seem like fun, pumping points into damage and leaving some fun attacks in the wind, but it'll help you quite a bit if you're struggling on bosses. The most important thing to remember for big epic boss battles is that the sooner it ends, the less chances they'll have to do some Earth-shattering explosive attack that takes away all your health (something Odin Sphere bosses are known to do).
Another thing you might not notice at first glance: Rankings matter more now. After each fight, you're essentially graded on your performance. It may seem like an arbitrary event, but but now you can not only earn more coins to spend on crucial upgrades, but items as well. And it's all tied to a new ranking system.
Think of this change like the Tony Hawk series: If you use more tricks instead of the same few (increasing your combo counter along the way as you score more hits), you'll score more points. That's basically how this works. By triggering a variety of skills in addition to building your combo rating and racing the clock, you can pump up your score.
All five characters have their own unique parameters, and understanding them all will help you defeat some of the game's tougher bosses.
As you'll start the game with her, Gwendolyn is the perfect middle of the road character. She starts with more health than Mercedes and Velvet, and is capable of a wide array of attacks. She also benefits most from the shift into the new combat system, and her basic attacks shine more than just about everyone but Oswald.
Right away, you're going to want to get accustomed to the launcher (an uppercut, with up + attack), and follow through with aerial attacks to juggle, keeping foes in the air. This is your go-to strategy against solo enemies, and keep in mind that the longer she combos, the more damage she does as a result of her Skill Link ability. Against bosses, it's important to use her swift movement and gliding abilities to cross them up, getting behind them if at all possible. Always be moving is the main thing to remember.
When it comes to crowds, putting some points into her ice powers isn't a bad idea. Not only do they impact a wide area (and thus, more enemies), but they also slow down baddies so you can work on the more elite characters with the aforementioned juggle routine. Her ultimate, Gungnir, hits everyone on the current map even if they aren't in your line of sight — so if you see lots of dots on the board, hit it. Just make sure you aren't in the line of fire when you do it, as you are vulnerable for a brief period.
Cornelius is one of the most fun characters to play, mostly due to his small stature and focus on pure speed. But he isn't a pushover, as he has more starting health than anyone but Oswald, so don't be afraid to get into the thick of it.
Since he has that swift quality to him, you may as well use it by attempting to outflank enemy waves and jump to the side of least resistance. Like Gwendolyn, he has the opportunity to cross-up (constantly switch) boss characters, as he can get behind them, unleash multiple attacks and leap back before they even know it. This is especially true of his jumping spin attack, which allows him to move and dole out tons of damage at the same time.
Like Oswald he also benefits from skills over spells, as his basic attacks are most effective. Don't try and dance around fancy skills with him. Just learn all of his directional inputs (which are mostly spins) and stick to those. Grabbing Spiral Claw right away and using it to juggle should give you an immediate feel for what Cornelius is all about. Because he constantly throws enemies in a loop, the Beatdown skill (which deals more damage if an enemy is in a downed state) is another good pickup. His ultimate, Caladbolg, has no real special qualities and is best in a pinch or against bosses to either punish or avoid an attack.
Without a doubt, Mercedes is the hardest character to acclimate to. At this point you've had your fair share of hardy melee fighters with the former two, and when you reach the point where you take control of Mercedes, it's like having to relearn a new game. Yep, the Fairy Queen makes use of ranged attacks, which operate on a sort of ammo system by way of the POW meter. To make matters worse, some of her skills also use POW, which tie into her standard attack usage. It can be tough!
Thankfully, she does have one major defining characteristic that can help her mitigate damage: flight. Right from the first pack of enemies, practice staying up in the air constantly. If you're dragged down again to their level, get back up as soon as possible. Note that you can't block or reload in the air though, so you will need to occasionally drop down into a safe spot to take care of business. Try to reload before flight, hop down to get your POW back, and repeat.
All of this changes if you pick up the Unlimited Ammo skill, which allows you infinite shots for a limited time. So, if you're having trouble figuring out the flow consistently, this can help with your problems against harder enemy waves. If you're having trouble getting combos, getting Hunter Shot is a safe bet, as the orbs it summons constantly keep the counter going (which in turn, can pay dividends as you reap a higher combo count, and inflict more damage as a result). Brionac, her ultimate, is best used against multiple threats, and is less effective in solo fights.
Oswald is one of the more traditional fighters in Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, with a decent spread when it comes to maneuverability and attack power. His main gimmick is the Berserk gauge, which is raised when you engage in combat and can trigger his shadow form. This is a latent buff (similar to the God of War's series' Rage of the Gods) and just makes everything stronger.
Like any action game, it's important to know when to trigger it, like directly at the start of a boss fight (so you can earn more as soon as possible) or when a boss is open and ready to be punished. He can also use a shadow step ability by holding the jump button. Early on, min-max and pump points into his stats and skills, and stay away from his spells. Oswald is a powerhouse that relies on raw damage.
Vile Rush (a dash attack, and the first skill you should unlock) is basically all you'll need. Like Mercedes, his ultimate, Dainsleif, works better against a horde.
The Forest Witch isn't nearly as tough to figure out as Mercedes, but she presents her own unique set of problems. At this point you've already conquered four storylines, so it won't be an insurmountable challenge, but she has one of the lowest health pools in the game and one of the hardest campaigns. Go figure.
One of the weird things about Velvet is how much she excels at medium range. Whereas Gwendolyn, Oswald and Cornelius love getting up close and personal and Mercedes benefits from long range situations, Velvet utilizes her chain weapon to keep enemies at bay just outside of her direct purview, but close enough where they can hit. It's a tough balance, but several skills can help facilitate this style.
Much like Gwendolyn, it's fine to tap into her spell skills, as magic is one of her strongest suits. Used mostly for zoning (keeping enemies at bay), spells like Fire Pillar can assist in continuing combos and stopping them in their tracks. She can also keep combos going with Spiral Drive (a dash that can get from point A to point B quickly), and Sling Whip (which flings her toward a hit enemy).
But buffing her passive skills like Skill Link and Assault High (which dole out extra damage based on combos and skill use) can offset her weak overall damage output. Her chains are inherently great at keeping groups under control, but she can struggle against bosses if you haven't leveled her enough to deal raw damage.
Grinding and planting
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir operates a little differently than a lot of other role-playing games. For the most part, you're going to fight monsters, earn health and experience and call it a day. But here, you need to rely on both a deep crafting system and a planting mechanic to really get ahead. While crafting potions will come naturally over time as you acquire more ingredients and recipes — and they consist of straight-forward uses like healing and damage-dealing bombs — planting is more esoteric.
In short, you'll find seeds that provide food scattered across the world or in shops. By consuming sustenance, you can heal yourself and earn a ton of experience points.
The biggest thing to remember is to never stop eating. Like planting a seed in the real world, you'll yield massive returns in the form of extra seeds, which can in turn be planted to gain more fruit. Don't be stingy with your money, as the cycle of benefits can be perpetually increase the level of your characters.
The first step is to actually put the seed into the soil. You can do this anywhere on the map, though you it's preferable to plant them on soil after enemies have been defeated on it.
Next, you'll need to feed it with Phozons. You can see what each plant requires before you activate it, so make sure you eyeball your Phozon level first. Some food items, like Napples, are consumable multiple times, providing more returns than a single consumable in elongated fights.
Bringing a few potions to heal massive damage quickly is great, but retreating to chomp on a single piece of fruit can also be a cheap way to heal. You may also want to get into the habit of bringing in tons of seeds into a level and planting them just before a boss fight to get the extra edge you need.
How to get the hidden ending
It's very easy to miss the hidden ending of the game, which will provide a lot more insight into the fate of every character. When you get to the final book, Armageddon, you'll have a choice of which character to pick. Make sure you complete each encounter with the following characters, in order — Cornelius, Oswald, Mercedes, Velvet and Gwendolyn.
The narrative will give you small hints about the order, but this cheat sheet ensures that you won't need to repeat anything. Also, note that bosses start at a whopping level 50, so follow the above tips to ensure that you come prepared.