E3 2015: Zodiac: Orcanan Odyssey Hands-On PreviewPretty, but shallow. Like your high school girlfriend.06.19.15 - 1:01 PM
Kobojo is touting its new RPG Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey as the first JRPG developed by a Western studio for release in Japan. They are also very proud to have Final Fantasy VII writer Kazushige Nojima and Final Fantasy Tactics composer Hitoshi Sakimoto working with them on the game. The game is a treat to look at, but the actual hands-on experience left much to be desired.
Zodiac follows a young soldier in the service to a new, young, and promising ruler of Orcann. The world is populated by a variety of creatures of all sizes, many of whom will join your party at some point. The beautiful 2D art depicting the world and its inhabitants is apparently hand drawn by a team of artists mostly residing in Kyoto. Several of our editors compared the style to a Vanillaware game or Child of Light. However, that is about where the praise ends.
Speaking of Child of Light, the gameplay was kind of like a stripped down version of the Ubisoft RPG, but that stripping down process was not kind to Zodiac. The player flies around beautifully drawn side-scrolling environments on the back of a griffon, unlocking chests and other goodies while navigating enemies on the field, just as in Child of Light. Chests drop random loot, and you can get additional treasure from any chest by paying with the game's proxy for real money.
Combat is turn-based, with your party members and enemies attacking in a set order. In the demo, my party consisted of three characters: an NPC, my hero, and a different version of my hero that was borrowed from another player's game. This is the gimmick of combat: players can call upon their friends to send a version of their hero to fight alongside them, and in some instances can actually join other parties and share in the spoils. Players can also change their own hero’s class on the fly. This seemed like a handy ability but I did not have access to any other classes so I could not try it myself.
Overall, combat was very simple and I grew bored with it quickly. It was simply of matter of trading attacks and picking different abilities for variety's sake. Hopefully the social aspects and different job classes will make Zodiac more interesting, because it really needs something. I am told there will also be a crafting system in the central hub town, so that may add another layer of depth I did not see. Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey is still in its early phases, so Kobojo still has time to make the gameplay more compelling.