With striking illustrated artwork and relatively deep gameplay, this Vanillaware-developed side-scrolling action RPG was released to critical acclaim on the PS2 in mid-2007. Odin Sphere has the player take on the role of one of five characters split up amongst different chapters. Each of the five characters' stories invariably crosses the path of another at some point in the overarching saga.
Odin Sphere's gameplay consists of multiple missions in each chapter. Each mission is composed of several zones, connected in a graph-like structure with multiple paths connecting each zone to one another. The various zones feature hand drawn background with many layers of parallax scrolling, some animated and some static. The ground you cover loops back on itself as the player moves horizontally across the environment, the map is shown by a circle indicating by a flashing dot where you are in this 'loop'. During missions, there are zones with only assorted enemies, and others that have re-spawning enemies with a sub-boss At the end of each act is a main boss which is tied to the storyline in some way. Defeating this boss will lead to the next 'Act' in the story.
In addition to combat, the game features cooking, gardening, and alchemy subsystems that allow the player to create offensive and status-recovery items in real time. Atlus also included both Japanese and English vocal tracks in the American and European releases, a rarity for most Japanese games published in foreign territories.
Odin Sphere is framed as a collection of several books being read by a small girl named Alice in her attic. Each book is a different story the player progresses through, with different protagonists and interwoven storylines in each. The protagonist of these stories are:
Protagonist of Valkyrie, the first story. Gwendolyn hails from the frozen northern nation Ragnanival and is the youngest daughter of its king, Odin The Demon Lord. She's a courageous, but kind, Valkyrie who's feared on the battlefield, but is largely overshadowed by her older sister Griselda. While fighting against Ringford, Griselda falls in battle and bestows upon Gwendolyn her Psypher spear. Upon returning from battle and grieving her lost sister, Gwendolyn is determined to win over her father's love and approval that she had been denied over the years, getting wrapped up in the overarching conflict in the process.
Gwendolyn attacks with her trusty Psypher spear and has decent overall stats. She has the ability to float for a long distance and dive bomb her enemies. She is voiced by Karen Strassman.
Protagonist of The Pooka Prince, the second story. Cornelius is the courageous, honourable, and dashing prince of Titania, but he awakes at the beginning of the story in a strange land he had never seen before, and discovers that he had been transformed into a Pooka, a small, furry animal race. Realizing that he is in the Underworld, Cornelius struggles to escape and is helped by a spirit that gives him a blue Psypher sword. He seeks to remove the curse that has transformed him into his current Pooka form, fearing that the foreign princess he has fallen in love with will leave him because of it.
Cornelius is quick, strong, and has a large jump. His playstyle largely focuses on juggling multiple foes in the air for a long period of time using strong aerial attacks. He is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal.
Protagonist of the third story: Fairy Land. Mercedes is the spoiled young princess of Ringford, the fairy kingdom. Despite being next in line to be queen, she has neither the maturity nor the drive to lead a kingdom. However, when her mother, Queen Elfaria, is killed in battle by the Demon Lord Odin, Mercedes is thrust into the leadership of Ringford during global conflict and an uncertain future for her people. Inheriting a magical Psypher crossbow and overwhelming responsibility, Mercedes attempts to cope with her grief and become the Queen that Ringford needs.
Mercedes is slow moving and is weak defensively, but her powerful and quick ranged attacks and her ability to fly allow her to avoid confrontation and attack form a distance. She does not have a power metre like the other characters, instead having to reload her crossbow after several shots. She is voiced by Stephanie Sheh.
Protagonist of the fourth story: The Black Sword. A cold-blooded, cruel human being serving his adoptive father Melvin, nephew of Queen Elfaria of Ringford. Oswald has been a warrior for most of his life and is known as "The Shadow Knight", a name feared throughout the world. The Belderiver, Oswald's cursed Psypher sword, grants unfathomable demonic power at the cost of the user's soul. During battle, the Belderiver begins to take his toll on him. Suffering defeat, Oswald is reminded of his mortality and becomes unsatisfied and depressed with his life. He seeks freedom from being used as a tool by others and hopes that he can find more out of his life than just war.
Oswald is strong, agile and has the highest HP of any character. He is able to turn into his Shadow Form, becoming incredibly stronger for a limited time while draining his Power Metre. He is voiced by Steve Prince.
Protagonist of Fate, the fifth and final character specific story. Velvet is the surviving princess of the kingdom of Valentine, which was mysteriously destroyed years prior leaving nothing more than a crater. She is also the illegitimate daughter of Demon Lord Odin, making her the half-sister to Gwendolyn. To hide her identity, she fled to the forest of Elrit and dressed in gypsy-like attire, becoming known as The Forest Witch. Her story is interwoven with the major events of the world throughout all of Odin Sphere, as she tries to prevent the prophesied Armageddon. She uses her mother's weapon, Graveryl, a chain with a Psypher on each end.
Velvet is the weakest of the cast, but has strong utility and growth. She can perform long and varied combos and her special ability allows her to instantly kill enemies if performed correctly. She is voiced by Michelle Ruff.