Announced in 2022, One Piece Odyssey is a new spin on the beloved manga anime, opting for JRPG and pseudo-open world elements. I had the opportunity to try the game at a preview event, which gave me more than a few hours to sink my teeth into the game. While nothing about it felt revolutionary during that handful of hours, what I played made me interested in the full release. It could potentially lay the foundation for other One Piece RPGs moving forward.
The game features an entirely new story set in the One Piece universe by series creator Eiichiro Oda. Luffy and crew get transported to a mysterious new island through an interdimensional portal, which promptly sees them stranded in this strange new place. I quickly acquired the crew I would be using throughout the preview, which was a fairly large amount of characters. This consisted of Luffy, Nami, Zoro, Usopp, Chopper, Nico Robin, and Sanji, though Franky also joined my party for a brief period of time. The preview was full of exposition, setting the stage for narrative events that would unfold within just an hour of gameplay.
This included an introduction to characters unique to One Piece Odyssey, like Lim, that wouldn’t be out of place in the manga. However, outside of this introduction, the preview didn’t allow me to get to know them in any greater capacity. Their story importance was paramount, as one such character serves as a deus ex machina of sorts that relieves Luffy and crew of their powers, so to speak. After the crew loses most of their abilities, I was introduced to the various systems that revolve around mysterious cubes that I would need to collect in order to regain my power. This included allocation of cubes to power up skills. (These could be refunded at any time, so it let me experiment and play around with certain builds.) It also afforded a peek at a Tetris-like accessory system. Everything is distributed and based around cubes, which includes equipment that you can arrange in a set square area to equip as many as possible.
Combat is turn-based, but character types are important when tackling enemies. One Piece Odyssey functions on a color-based system that designates what “type” each character is. For example, Zoro is a “Green” character, which gives him an advantage over “Red” types. Nami and Usopp are “Orange” type characters, making them formidable against “Greens.” It’s a rock-paper-scissors kind of ordeal, or something you’d see in something like Fate/Grand Order. But where it differentiates itself is the ability to swap between party members on the fly to reposition your characters or move them up in turns to take advantage of their inherent type advantages.
For example, when attacking a “Red” type enemy that would initially be delegated to Luffy (who is also a “Red” type). You can go into your menu and swap him out for Zoro or Nico Robin to deal more damage or to kill the enemy outright, since your characters are fairly strong. Making use of these type advantages made most battles trivial during the preview. That said, this level of strategic play did come in handy during longer encounters, during which I was swapping characters out and repositioning them to make the most out of their location on the battlefield to avoid damage or soak it up depending on their type.
For my preview I played on the PlayStation 5. The game looked great, with cel shading making it feel all the more immersive with regard to the environments and monsters. One Piece characters still have their grossly over-exaggerated expressions in cutscenes, which helped carry over the tone of the manga into this game. Even when characters were executing flashier attacks or if I was in areas with a large amount of NPCs, the game didn’t seem to buckle under the weight of it all. I was able to explore the shores of the beach the crew washed up on and the desert city of Alabasta. Both looked great.
From what I experienced of One Piece Odyssey, it could prove to be an interesting RPG and an enticing new adventure for long-time fans of the series. Despite its fairly simple combat system, due to its use of positioning and character types, it could potentially allow for some interesting strategic play. That said, One Piece Odyssey feels like it could be the start of a slew of other RPGs of a similar vein for the series.
One Piece Odyssey will come to the PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC on January 13, 2023.