Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir hits Western shores early next month, marking the ability to play Odin Sphere on every PlayStation system that has released within the last ten years. Much like when Vanillaware updated Muramsa: The Demon Blade when they ported it to Vita as Muramasa: Rebirth, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir Vanillaware has taken the opportunity to update Odin Sphere to their current standards. In Odin Sphere‘s case, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is about what would happen if you took the original Odin Sphere and mixed it with Vanillaware’s own Muramasa: Rebirth. Alongside the unique “spherical” arenas that Odin Sphere was originally known for, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir (henceforth referred to as Leifthrasir, for short) introduces a variety of horizontal, and even a few vertical sections to the game’s many levels.
In addition to the changes to the level design, Leifthrasir updates the game’s combat system to feel meatier, and more than a little bit flashier. Regular attacks no longer drain the character’s POW gauge – meaning that instead of combat being a game of dealing damage to enemies and then falling back to recharge, players are encouraged to find ways to continue their combos indefinitely. A new skills system compliments the game’s change, by giving each playable character a variety of both passive and active skills to unlock that help further emphasize the character’s strengths, while allowing individual players to decide how they want to play their version of each character organically. Between the changes to the combat and the changes to the level design, Leifthrasir ends up feeling like an entirely different game compared to the PS2 original. The developers even go the extra mile to emphasize this, as every version of Leifthrasir also includes the option of playing the original version of Odin Sphere, skipping out on all changes to the gameplay. You even get separate save files for each version of the game!
Naturally, being a remake tooled for systems that support higher resolutions than the PS2 provided – Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir sports updated HD artwork as well as a variety of new animations to compliment it. The game runs at a 1080p resolution on PS4, as well as the native resolution of the PlayStation Vita. Every version of the title runs at 60 frames per second as well, and for the most part, each version I tested – the PS4 and Vita versions, respectively – maintained a steady framerate with only a few minor exceptions. There was some slowdown on both systems during moments when the screen was filled with enemies and various effects – but even at its worst, the game manages to run much better than the PS2 original.
Despite the fact that Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir ends up feeling very different from the original PS2 release, the game is still Odin Sphere at its core – just polished up to stand tall with the rest of Vanillaware’s library. You still eat food to level up and craft various potions that can help you in battle. You still play a variety of characters, each with different playstyles, as you witness the story through a variety of different angles. Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is still a fairytale-inspired beat-em-up, albeit one that takes more than a few cues from fighting games and titles such as Devil May Cry.
The bottom line is that Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir accomplishes what it sets out to do with ease; it brings Odin Sphere up to the same level of polish as Vanillaware’s most recent titles. Whether you’re a fan of the original, or just picking the game up for the first time when Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir launches in the west next month, chances are you’re going to find a lot to love with this remake.
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir was previewed using copies of the PS4 and Vita versions of the game that were provided by the game’s publisher. A full review of the title will be published closer to the game’s launch.