For the past 25 years, One Piece has stood as one of the most iconic living legends in the manga world, and it finally has a video game that could be worthy of its pedigree: One Piece Odyssey. While it’s pretty easy to be skeptical of a licensed anime game, ILCA is hard at work to make something that all One Piece fans can love. Based on our time with the One Piece Odyssey preview demo at PAX West, we’re only excited to see more.
Gear Up for a One Piece Odyssey
From the moment you pick up the controller, a lot of One Piece Odyssey will feel really familiar. As a JRPG, it feels very inspired by Dragon Quest XI, which isn’t too far of a stretch since ILCA helped with development on that game. This isn’t the company’s maiden voyage, though; they helmed Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
The One Piece Odyssey preview starts on King Kong Garden, with the pirate crew scattered about. Nami is held hostage by a giant ape, and Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates have to get to her before she gets hurt. You’ll make your way through this bright, cartoonishly vibrant island, occasionally picking up items and smashing crates to pick up more items along the way.
It’s the fantastic use of its IP that makes One Piece Odyssey so charming and engaging.
There are also traversal options, like grapple points to swing over pits. With Luffy being a rubber man, all you have to do is aim up and he’ll stretch out his arms to swing over. He can also smash and grab items from afar, which is a nice little quality-of-life improvement that doubles down on the rules of its IP.
And really, it’s the fantastic use of its IP that makes One Piece Odyssey so charming and engaging. The snippets of dialog feel very true to character; Sanji can only think about saving Nami, Zoro gets lost but heroically comes in at the last second, and Usopp continues to remind everyone of his allergy to strong enemies.
As the pirate crew muses about the island, they make references to Jaya and Sky Island (or Skypiea), a throwback for longtime One Piece fans. How that arc relates to King Kong Garden or the island of Waford at large remains a mystery, but it’s nice to see that the One Piece Odyssey narrative isn’t some tacked-on afterthought.
One Piece Odyssey Combat: The Tides of Battle
That charm translates into battle, too. As you’d expect, all of the Straw Hat Pirate's special attacks are tied to classic moves they pull off in the series. Luffy’s skill set includes his various Gomu Gomu techniques, and he can shift into Gear 2 as a status effect. While we didn’t see any of his stronger Gear forms, we can only assume they’ll be in the full game.
The animations that play with these attacks are lovingly recreated with all the One Piece charm you could hope for. Usopp’s terrifying Rubber Band of Doom and Nico Robin’s Dos Fleur Grab come to life in hilarious ways, while Luffy’s Gatling and Nami’s Thunderbolt Tempo feel just as cool as they do in the series.
Using these abilities cost TP, which is regained after every normal hit. For the most part, these fights play out like your typical turn-based fare, with a pseudo weapon triangle cluing you into strengths and weaknesses. Strong type attacks beat Speed, Speed beats Technique, and Technique beats Strong.
However, where the combat really stands out is in its Scenario battles. These fights are usually tied to story in some way, and they present objectives that yield in-battle bonuses. For example, there's a moment when Usopp gets himself surrounded. If the rest of the pirate crew can defeat all the monsters before he hits zero HP, you’ll get an XP bonus.
These Scenarios have me the most excited for One Piece Odyssey. While it’s a cool shonen anime about superpowered pirates, its greatest strength lies in its character-to-character moments. With these in-battle objectives, it has the potential to seamlessly marry those fun narrative beats with the core turn-based experience. And if there’s more of that in store, then One Piece Odyssey will be a JRPG to keep an eye on – especially if it comes out in its projected 2022 release window.
TechRaptor's One Piece Odyssey preview was conducted on a demo booth at PAX West 2022.