It's a milestone year for the One Piece franchise. The long-running anime and manga series is approaching the end of its 25th anniversary. While Monkey D. Luffy and his crew are approaching the end of their journey, there's still an exciting story that's yet to be told. It's one that will be explored in the upcoming One Piece Odyssey from Bandai Namco. One Piece fans should know what to expect, but for those who have never experienced this tale, they may be surprised to find that Odyssey plays much more like a Dragon Quest-style RPG than a standard anime adaptation. Shacknews recently took a first look.
The atmosphere at the beginning is reminiscent of a common One Piece episode. Nami has found herself in danger, an unwitting hostage of a giant gorilla. The rest of the crew (Monkey, Chopper, Usopp, Chopper, Nico, Sanji, and Zoro) must set out to rescue her, plowing through any enemies in their path. Before long, the crew is successful and is back on the high seas until their ship crashes on a strange island. An unknown figure quickly saps everyone of their powers, forcing everyone to relearn them, similar to Metroid. The story will take players across this unknown island and get to the bottom of its many mysteries.
Our demo's introduction served to show off a surprisingly deep turn-based RPG system. Players can trigger battles with enemies in the overworld, gaining an advantage if they can surprise their adversaries. Turn-based battles take place along a field called the Scramble Battle Area. Parties of four are active, though it's possible to switch characters in the middle of a fight. That might sometimes prove necessary, since both heroes and enemies use Strength, Speed, or Technique attacks with a rock-paper-scissors system determining which one overpowers the other. The Scramble Battle Area will consist of four zones, often separating parties and leading to segregated fights within the grander battle. Once one side is down to one target, everyone remaining on the other side will close in for the kill.
Where One Piece Odyssey separates itself from its contemporaries is its use of the Dramatic Scene system. Dramatic Scenes consist of special objectives that occasionally appear during battle. It might sometimes involve Monkey finishing off a foe with a certain move or Usopp defeating an enemy within the next two turns, just to name a few examples. Completing the Dramatic Scene will grant various bonuses, like extra experience points.
The Bandai Namco team is also looking to integrate some interesting features outside of battle. With exploration being a key element of One Piece Odyssey, hidden paths and goodies can be found throughout the island. The game has players mainly controlling Monkey, who can use his stretchy limbs to swing across to distant areas. Over the course of the game, players can freely switch to other members of the Straw Hat Crew and use their abilities to uncover new areas or pick up bonuses. For example, Chopper can use his small size to fit into small nooks, Zoro can use his sword to destroy steel doors, and Sanji and Nami can detect objects on the ground.
I'll fully admit, I did not expect this taste of One Piece Odyssey to show this surprising level of depth. The beginning portion of the demo offered a nice taste of how powerful the Straw Hat Crew can be while the introduction of equipment mechanics and Cube Fragments that can be used to relearn forgotten moves shows that there's a lot to find on the island. There are even copious amounts of character moments to be found, especially as Campsites open up. These Campsites will not only show the crew interact with one another, but they'll also recover everyone's health and offer limited-time boosts.
One Piece Odyssey is looking to surprise a lot of people when it releases next month. However, there's still more that fans can look forward to prior to the game's arrival. The upcoming Jump Festa event, set to take place on Sunday, December 18, will feature some new announcements related to the game. After that, it's just a few more weeks before Monkey and his crew set sail for adventure. One Piece Odyssey will release on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox Series X|S on Friday, January 13.
These impressions are based on a PlayStation demo from a press event held in San Diego, CA.