Sunday, November 11, 2012
That Other Game With An Assassin In It
When I haven't been dealing with issues, working, sleeping, playing Final Fantasy XIII or watching Youtube videos, I've been putting time into Ragnarok Odyssey and for as much as I like it, I worry that I don't. I say that because I just...keep finding reasons to -not- play the game, as they are listed above, and that's not really a good sign. It's a confusing one as well, since I generally like the game as I play it, a few hiccups aside, but I never really go into it going "Yes, time to play some more RO" like I do with other games. I don't ever feel really excited to get into it, I guess is what I'm saying, but I don't leave disappointed at the same time. It's one of the more odd situations I've found myself in with a game, and it's one that I suspect exists because the game is -just- outside of my normal fare in terms of what I like and enjoy. It's so close that it hurts, but not close enough that I can swear some sort of unconditional affection.
At its core, Ragnarok Odyssey seems to be a Monster Hunter game with brighter visuals and less weapons from what I can tell. Having not played Monster Hunter games, I don't have a whole lot to base it on, but I have -some- knowledge, and the formula seems to be in place here. Accept a mission from the small-ish hub area, check. Gear up depending on your class/weapon, check. Go on mission which involves killing all forms of monsters, potentially huge ones that you can destroy parts of for extra items, check. Rinse, repeat, check, check, check. It's more interesting than I make it seem, of course, but still, in practice you're just taking on non-varied missions in the same dozen maps that are retooled in a certain way for each map to make them slightly 'unique' and murdering everything so long as you have health and AP to do it, of which you can make limited use of limited items to ensure they stay up. It's something that works for some folks and it just almost works for me, but I can't help but want more.
I think the disconnect really happens because I have been spoiled by the best when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm not quite sure why, but whenever I have a game that lets me take a mission or a quest that involves the same few maps the game has to offer, I default back to Phantasy Star Online thinking, which just has the best memories I could have for that sort of thing. In hindsight was it repetitive and slightly grindy? Yes, sure. But it also had stats and level ups, Mags and monogrinders for weapons and most important of all, it had missions that were more than: Get to X Area and Murder the shit out of the things there. It had variety and it blows my goddamn mind to this day that nobody, including Sega themselves, have not realized that this is something that's necessary. Just managing to -get- to one area should be enough for some missions, perhaps getting there and then back to the start, or something even. Yes, you're killing things along the way, but you don't -have- to. It's semantics, of course, but it's a vital difference all the same.
With Monster Hunter and Ragnarok Odyssey, unless I'm mistaken, your character isn't quite so malleable, so much as they're more or less governed by what they have. From what I can tell, in MH you've got a weapon class and you can just switch different weapons of the same type, but if you're a Greatsword-wielder, that's what you're using. In Ragnarok Odyssey, you're tied to a class and each class has a weapon specific to it, so that's again, what you're ending up using. Assassins, my class of choice, use Katars as is shown in the picture at the top of the post, but the other five classes in the game have their own weapons, each having their own stats and, if you're lucky, some good abilities tied to them. As such, stats aren't nearly as malleable nor are your characters which just makes it really difficult to feel like you're really getting anywhere. The only time you see a marked increase is when you clear a chapter and for me, I really sort of crave that kind of growth, so being so infrequent is a real pain.
Still, to say the game is not enjoyable would be a straight lie, as I am having some fun with it, definitely. My problem seems to be that I'm hoping that the game is like something it's not, when I really should just enjoy it for what it is. And what it -is- is a game that lets me dash around and cut shit up without getting hit if I'm particularly good with my square-pushing skills. Or, if I'm feeling adventurous, I can switch to a different class, negating the real need to make multiple characters, though I'll still likely end up doing that as well. Always nice to have options, basically. Now that I've kind of sorted it out in my head a little more than it was, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to jump back into RO and have some real, honest-to-goodness fun with it, or at least be excited to actually get into it. I just feel bad that it really, really makes me realize how much I cannot wait for Phantasy Star Online 2 to come by. Or at least PSO HD. Whichever comes first. (Protip: It'll be PSO2.)