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> Lost Odyssey Story Analysis, Spoilers? Maybe...
LoneWolf
post Jun 21 2008, 01:32 PM
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A couple of weeks ago I wrote an analysis of the Lost Odyssey storyline, mostly because I've been hearing so much praise for it. I don't understand. I want to know what people liked about.

Obviously this analysis contains every spoiler possible for the game, so if you don't want it spoiled for you... read it anyway. tongue.gif While it's very negative, that wasn't the purpose. This is what I liked and disliked about the story.

SPOILERS - Lost Odyssey


The game's opening segement was done very well. The first couple of hours were intelligent and well paced. They built the intrigue well, began a mystery and some very interesting characters. There was one point that put me off. Gongora explaining to the counsel why Kaim was immortal was an amateurish mistake which stunted the mystery of the immortals. At the time I considered it a small mistake that would be rectified at a later point.

The quest began and the story began to move steadily, but slowly. The game began its collapse after the party arrived at Grand Staff. The game had been building up to this point, suggesting that questions and answers to mysteries would be revealed at the location. Nothing of the sort happened.

By this point the mystery of the immortals was being left behind, with the main mystery being the situation in Kaim's nightmares. He gradually saw more and more of the dream, watching a girl fall from a cliff, seeing a woman weeping and a man watching them. The mystery, however, was minimal. You saw the events unfold but you were never given any clues or links to other moments or people. You simply watched it play out, not theorising, and therefore incapable of being suprised.

The nightmare was resolved soon after. The girl was revealed to be Kaim's daughter Lirum, the woman his wife Sarah and the shadow Gongora, who the party starts to distrust (though the player has already been told his allegiance, and likely worked it out for themselves even earlier). The emotional scenes promised in Lost Odyssey's story apparently played out at this point, and I was more than a little disappointed.

Lirum's death was badly developed, somewhat cliche and would have been predictable if given the time. Lirum's death occured when her character was introduced, so what bond could you have formed with her? She was newly remembered in Kaim's mind so how could you feel his pain? It was static, and the game stretched it out for a significant period of time.

One of the more interesting points of Lost Odyssey's main plot was Uhra's return to a monarchy. While this took a backstage to the main action, it was one of the most interesting points in the story, and certainly the highlight for Gongora's character. His manipulation of Tolten and thereby the nation was intelligent, and it was presented well.

At this point in the game, I was slightly worried. The second half of the first disc had been disastrous. The excitement had died, the myseries ended or stalled and the objective lost. Apart from political battle in Uhra, there was only one portion that was still holding my interest- the realistic characters. Unfortunately, the plot was not being driven by them. It was still driven by an empty objective, with the interesting characters taking a backseat.

The second disc was easily the worst of the game. Nearly the entire section played out like the end of the first; empty with no hook and a focus on the story's weaknesses. It started with a continuation of the immortal's mystery, which seemed more like a rushed and premature explanation than a riveting addition to the mystery. The five immortals had been sent to the world on a mission, and had regained their memories thirty years earlier. Gongora had then betrayed them, and sealed their memories. This presented no mystery. No hook was planted for you to theorise what the mission could be or what world they had come from. You had been told at the start they were immortals, and now you were told why. In other words, what should have been an important and impacting twist turned out as just another aspect of the story. Another amateurish mistake.

The characters worked their way up the continent, their objective being Gotzha so they could return to Uhra and defeat Gongora. This objective was quite obviously unrealistic, distant and vague. It was the only thing driving the plot, and yet it was in reality a dull excuse for the characters to explore the world. Final Fantasy VII made a similar mistake after leaving Midgar, though it kept the focus on the characters and gradually built many overlapping mysteries.

In Lost Odyssey, almost the entire disc is devoted to recruiting Sarah, with no mystery and little to no character interactions. You are told you cannot continue because an Old Witch has closed off the entrance to the Black Cave. The Old Witch's Mansions was my least favourite dungeon, though one of my favourite settings. It was very refreshing for there to be such a creepy atmoshphere in a JRPG. I can't think of any other JRPG that has done it so well.

I personally found the twist that Sarah was the Old Witch incredibly predictable. The timing for the introduction of another character (and the last immortal) was right. The villagers told you that Sarah had lived in the mansion, and at the same time always mentioned the Old Witch, which in JRPGs is enough of a give away. The text before the Old Witch's room and the switch between current and old mansion were also massive clues. While I found it predictable, I have heard many people state their suprise. It certainly is the biggest twist in the game.

The scenes between Sarah, Kaim and the children were once again an attempt at emotional story telling. Unfortunately it fell into the same trap as Lirum's death. The plot was hardly original or unique, or really interesting at all. Parents had lost their daughter and children had lost their mother. The most unique aspect of the scene was that Kaim and Sarah had lost Lirum before. This, unfortunately, diminished the emotions of the scene rather than deepening them. You knew little about their past together, and by your perspective, the characters had only just realised they knew her. This is a severe problem with the plot tool of lost memories; you can't bring them back and expect people to immediately understand, let alone care. Also, this is relatively only a small nuisance, but Sarah's journals were a cheap excuse so she could join the party without introductions (after all, Kaim was her husband).

The disc ended with the events at the Experimental Staff. Once again, no mysteries, questions or answers were explored. You found Gongora, he explained that the Experimental Staff was being used as a tool for research (no mystery), you tried to kill him and failed. The biggest event was Lirum's miracle, which revived the characters so they could escape. If you're wondering, no mystery there.

On disc three the main objectie was finally reached and the elements which drove the plot finally advanced. Finally. Its last showing was more or less at the half way point of the first disc. You arrive at Gohtza and the party splits up. Cooke and Mack run off, Kaim and Sarah are drawn to an old friend, Seth, Ming and Jansen try and talk to the King, and events in Uhra draw attention. This is without a doubt the highlight of the game. While it is mostly cutscene, after such a long hiatus, I welcomed it with open arms (or maybe a tightened grip on the controller). It was like they were trying to catch up on all the waste they had put us through on the second disc.

The intertwining stories and events were all fairly interesting and exciting. The realistic characters and their development occured primarily in these scenes.

The low point was Gongora's involvement. He announced Tolten's death, took over Uhra and attempted to destroy the rest of the world with the power of Grand Staff. That is his entire scheme. Not summarised or in a nutshell, that is it. He attempts to kill the immortals by causing them too much pain (fail), he attempts to destroy Ghotza with magic (practically a success), and he leaves Numara alone (because Grand Staff runs out of power).

Seth and Tolten make their way through Uhra to save Seth's son, Sed, who was revealed through an (unfortunately) optional sidestory. Kaim and Sarah attempt to rescue Cooke and Mack, and Ming and Jansen's love story unfolds. This love story was obviously one of the smallest elements of the storyline, and barely needs to be detailed. They like each other, they fall in love, they marry. No conflict, they just do it. It's small, so it isn't that bad (except for the horrible scene with Jansen singing).

The third disc ends with the party reuniting. For the first time in the game every character is in your party. I found this slightly annoying, though it was was really just a break in tradition. Compare this to almost every Final Fantasy, where you have you entire party together 10 or so hours in. I don't consider it necessarily a good or bad thing, more just a sign of how little the game's plot had done in such a large amount of time.

The fourth disc is involved entirely with finding Gongora. You attempt to obtain a more powerful magic stone to break the hypercurrents. You then liberate Numara from the Arthrosaurus and Kakanas (another dismal attempt at a bad guy, but at least this one was somewhat humourous).

You can, if you choose, explore Gongora's mansion. This explains the remaining "questions" in the mystery of the immortals. Considering that seeing the answers is optional, and the the revelation isn't built up to at all, its presentation was one of the worst parts of the game.

It's revealed that the five immortals are from another world, and have been sent here to research the mysterious powers of "emotions". Their memories were wiped so they could experience the world as if they were normal. At the end of the thousand years, their memories of their old world returned, but Gongora decides he doesn't want to go back. He's addicted to emotions, and wants to rule the new world. So he tricks the other immortals and wipes their memories by causing them too much emotional pain for them to bare.

This ends the mystery of the immortals, which I wouldn't even consider a mystery. No questions, no clues, no intrigue. It wasn't smart, unique, original, shocking or entertaining. It was just "Here's why...". There is one thing I don't remember, I would appreciate it if anyone could tell me. Why did their memories start returning?

The party heads after Gongora, who has taken up residence in Grand Staff. He draws the party to the Tower of Mirrors, which is the link between the two worlds. He attempts to destroy the link, because then nothing can stop him from ruling the world. The party stop him.

In the final cutscene, Seth shows loyalty and selflessness that she has never shown before. Her character changes, and she sacrifices herself to save the world. This was the cheapest and most amateurish aspect of the story. The writers thought they needed to kill off a character, probably for an emotional ending. They chose Seth, and recreated her character so her send off could be "epic". It was very disappointing that such experienced writers could make such a stupid mistake. That part of the ending was flawed.

Fortunately, the rest of the ending was good. The cast's individual stories were ended off quite nicely, and the final scenes were emotional, despite the cheapness that created them.

Onto the characters, this shouldn't take long and it's much more positive. Characters are obviously a major part of a story like Lost Odyssey's, so they deserve their own summaries. While I believed the game's characters were realistic, I also thought it neglected most of them. Some characters received attention, others didn't.

Kaim fell into the trap of a character remembering his past while the audience only watches. His character development occurs almost entirely in the optional dreams. It was very disappointing.

Seth was interesting, and developed less through her returning memories and more through the cast's interactions, most of which she was a part of. She was one of the best characters, but her flawed ending was horrible.

Jansen was my favourite character. Realistic, funny, well developed and well executed. There isn't much bad you can say about his story. He starts as a wandering traveller and pet of Gongora, and transforms into much more.

Cooke and Mack's story was Lirum's story. They were realistic, and thankfully not too annoying. They took a backseat for most of the game, but their time in the spotlight wasn't horrible. Their involvement certainly died off in parts though.

Ming's immortal status brought her into the forefront occasionally, though not enough. The scenes that were her's were quite interesting, but away from them she was exclusively as a tool for Jansen's development.

Sarah was similar to Ming in that her role was small, except for scenes involving immortals. Most of her story involves Kaim, Cooke and Macke and Lirum. She rarely interacts with the other characters.

Tolten was somewhat entertaining, and the scenes with him at the start were some of the best. His relationship with Sed was the highlight of his character.

It would have been nice if Sed had been brought into the story earlier, because he was a very good character. He mixed well with the group, especially Seth and Tolten. His role was minimal, but his attitude made him stand out.


I found Lost Odyssey's story average at best. It wasn't well thought out, and it certainly wasn't well executed. I just don't understand why so many people like it. It lacks almost everything that makes fantasy storylines so good, and also misses a lot of essentials for every story. I believe it may have suffered because of Mistwalker's decision to make a series rather than including the entire plot in one game.


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joesmith123
post Jun 21 2008, 07:04 PM
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^You bring out LO's faults very well in your old school kamari-esque massive post. I agree that the story was average, and it was a serviceable JRPG for me on the 360. It was certainly a step in the right direction form Mistwalker after the garbage that was Blue Dragon.

Jansen and Sed were definitely my two favorite characters with Seth and Kaim also being good. The rest I didn't really care for too much with the children being very annoying.

Also, the emotional parts were very cheesy but they almost always are in every Japanese game. Just look at some of MGS4's stuff as a very recent example.


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LoneWolf
post Jun 22 2008, 03:49 AM
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I am notorious for my old school kamari-esque massive posts. cool.gif

I thought it was a brilliant JRPG in every aspect except the story, so I was fairly happy with the purpose. The short stories were incredible.

I liked Kaim as well, but his development was aggrivating. Compare the Kaim from the start to the Kaim at the end and they're completely different, but both clearly still the same character. The problem is that we have no idea why.


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(Phoenix)
post Jun 22 2008, 10:32 AM
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Sum up your post in one word tongue.gif
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LoneWolf
post Jun 22 2008, 10:47 AM
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Interesting. Therefore, you should read it. tongue.gif It isn't actually that long, it only takes a couple of minutes to read and it all flows well. Read it NOW. That Halo thing you showed me was about 10 times longer (though about 1000 times more interesting...).


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joesmith123
post Jun 22 2008, 10:25 PM
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QUOTE
I liked Kaim as well, but his development was aggrivating. Compare the Kaim from the start to the Kaim at the end and they're completely different, but both clearly still the same character. The problem is that we have no idea why.


True. If you read the stories won't you understand why he changed? I was far to lazy to read all those stories. I think it would have been better to have like 5 important FMV sequences that you can find instead of like 20 stories. But that's just me.


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LoneWolf
post Jun 23 2008, 08:11 AM
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^Yeah, I agree. I loved the short stories but I don't know if I've even read 10. The development of the main character should have been part of the main plot, like you say.


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joesmith123
post Jun 23 2008, 06:33 PM
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^Exactly. The stories looked good, but I'm not going to read for 5 hours to learn about a character when I am playing a video game.


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