If you’ve been hooked into a 26-year Luffy affair with One Piece Odyssey’s source material, you’ll say aye aye to it, regardless of what I say. I accept this. Today’s debate is more for you speculative, non-anime-watching landlubbers. Is there enough RPG treasure buried here—under tons of history and hilarious nonsense—to justify a voyage of discovery?
The answer I’m running up the mast is a yes, but there are some provisos.
One Piece Odyssey is a turn-based JRPG that tries to minimise an old genre chestnut—grinding mobs for XP needed to survive a boss. In this instance, you’re handed opportunities to score huge experience bonuses that are baked into your main path progress. In the 32 hours it took to bull run to those end credits, clever tactical decisions—and ballsy risk-taking—ensured I never needed to bully minions to rise in power.
One Piece Odyssey Review
Obviously, you need to be shrewd in how you array your Straw Hats on the battlefield. Every foe and ally in One Piece Odyssey adheres to a simple rock, paper, scissors (read: power, technique, speed) system, and to a lesser extent an elemental-type layer. Your average brouhaha has several “cluster spots” of targets that require spatial awareness with your ‘close’ or ‘long’ attacks. Mind you, you can freely mix ‘n’ match party members in/out without incurring any turn penalty.
Expect by-the-numbers biffing until One Piece Odyssey decides to dangle in some risk/reward carrots. All of a sudden, you’ll be tempted to switch up your perfectly arrayed forces to get that sweet, sweet XP bag. “Kill [chunky enemy X] in 2 turns with [pirate Y]” is a common one, but the requirements for these XP showers increase in complexity as the game goes on.
As I said earlier, I found a way to nail maybe 90% of these and it kept me adequately stocked for level gains. However, a ton of them were ‘by a bee’s dick’ victories. A fair amount of players may ruin otherwise certain wins by going out on a limb.
Greed is what makes Odyssey good, though. Intimately learning your crew’s abilities for edge-of-your-seat encounters is more intoxicating than grog.
Honestly, the only hint of grind exists in the need to replenish your Tension Points (read: Magic) before an obviously telegraphed boss encounter. Hitting enemies with your basic attack will recoup the TP needed to fuel your array of outlandishly animated, Skill moves. A smart player will (very easily) ambush the trash minions stupidly patrolling a boss room threshold, shred them for TP, and then cop a free heal at a save point.
Other wrinkles of battling include buff/debuff item crafting (cooking and trickballs, respectively), and “campfire partying” to earn a 10-turn XP boost. Tinkerers can agonise over Skill enhancement using cubes found via rudimentary platforming. Oh, there’s also the Tetrising of fuseable equipment into six or so personal inventory grids. The latter system isn’t as elegant as it could be when it comes to stat comparing, but every other system is easy to grasp and deep enough to be addicting.
Unlike the Straw Hat’s beloved ship, however, One Piece Odyssey is not all Sunny sailing. Adventuring throughout this beautiful and authentic anime world is marred by three things: area reuse, needless restraint and stop-start irritation.
For starters, the amount of backtracking here is about as criminal as the pirates depicted. The mild annoyance of trudging back and forth for items or people is exacerbated by One Piece Odyssey just…randomly locking you out of your meticulously unlocked fast-travel network.
Also, those moments in the opening chapter where you got grabbed by the scruff of the neck when trying to snoop down an alternate path? No, that’s not just a tutorial phase. I was frequently prevented from revisiting an explored area—or snagging a collectable centimetres away—because the game demanded some different path.
Expect more sand in your undies with what I call “inner-city traffic lights” storytelling. One Piece Odyssey absolutely adores showing you a cutscene, handing you overworld freedom, then snatching it right back as you walk all of two steps. Maybe it’ll be another cutscene. Or it could be one of those obvious camera pans that neuter all challenges from an environmental puzzle. Hell, it might just be a mini dialogue moment where your cohorts textually reiterate a lot of the plot gist that was fully-voiced to you in the previous cutscene.
To recap, One Piece Odyssey is a little at odds with itself. On the one hand, you have a clever, entertaining battle system designed to keep you in the sweet spot of constant personal progression and plot advancement. On the other hand, there are groan-worthy measures in the overworld, and quest design, that reek of arbitrary runtime extension.
This is particularly noticeable in the last gasp of the game. Despite two-and-a-half decades of content and a plausible in-universe reason to draw upon it all, bosses are shamelessly reused. Some cruel checkpointing exists there, too, coupled with not enough agency to let you respec or rethink your end boss(es) approach.
Similarly, the plot that knits all this good and bad stuff together is a mixed-bag affair, too. This Eiichiro Oda-sanctioned offering is effectively a hybrid of old and new. You shipwreck on the hitherto unknown island of Waford, meet two fresh faces and it serves as your hub. More frequently, you’ll teleport off into “Memorias”—imperfectly remembered cities and events from existing One Piece lore.
The best part of this narrative approach, for fans, is having your heartstrings plucked as you arrange better outcomes for characters who were hard done by or killed. One Piece Odyssey desperately tries to sell the importance of these wonderful “What Ifs” to non-fans with flashbacks and walls of info, but it’s too much to process. Quality stuff, but ultimately inelegant and distracting.
In the end, the same can be said for this game as a whole. One Piece Odyssey is a journey worth taking if you’re OP-curious, but just know that it’ll be an iffy beachhead landing.
Make no mistake: the beating heart of a solid JRPG is in here. Sadly, getting to it requires the patience of a super fan to contend with 30-odd hours of wonderfully batshit lore, and counter-productive game design that may make you walk the plank before the end credits can come.
One Piece Odyssey was reviewed on PS5 using digital code provided by Bandai Namco.