Ragnarok Odyssey ACE
Vita owners have been looking for a niche to carve out with the little handheld that could for some time now, and up until recently it seemed as though it would be deemed the JRPG machine, given all the explosive adventures slated for the handheld first. Recently, however, it appears that it's been a haven for Monster Hunter-esque outings that have for all intents and purposes flourished on the Vita. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is the latest addition to the list, a rehashed version of Ragnarok Odyssey with expanded content and more to offer since its first time around. It's a great alternative to Monster Hunter (or Soul Sacrifice and Toukiden: Age of Demons, if you will) but is not without its own caveats.
You suit up as a village newcomer who's tasked with joining the local warriors in the crusade to save the village from the oncoming threat of monsters and what have you. It's the same kind of tale you've been fed before if you're a fan of these sorts of games, so this should sound plenty familiar, but there's nothing wrong sticking to a convention if it works. It does seem a little bland to use the same backdrop, but in the end it does work, even if it is play by play the exact same story Monster Hunter operates on.
Where Ragnarok Odyssey ACE does diverge, however, is gameplay. While other titles are content to deal in plodding, frustratingly slow battles and exploration, this game finds you zipping through combat as quickly as possible, stringing together combos and blazing through your enemies as quickly as they can ambush you. It's fast, furious, and deliciously frenetic, prompting me throughout the review period to reach for Ragnarok over Toukiden or the actual Monster Hunter itself.
Of course, in order to be this generous with battle speed and entertaining mechanics, some of the deeper battle customization options must be jettisoned in turn. Rather than deep strategic choices for players to make about how to outfit their fighters or what to equip them with for the next raid, there are RPG elements in the form of player classes and special abilities localized to each play style. It's a little shallow and tied to your weapons and equipment, but nothing to cause significant issues. Would you rather play something slow and plodding or something quick and engaging?
That's not to say Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is entertaining the entire way through. It does become somewhat of a frustrating grind here and there throughout, especially if you're looking to ever complete the single-player campaign. It can become a slog, but that's to be expected if you're the kind of person who wants to collect and see every little thing. Where the game truly flourishes is in multiplayer, which you'll want to experience with good friends.
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is a great example of a "clone" done right, especially when it comes to that of popular titles that aren't accessible on the platforms they make the most sense on. It's a great starting place, especially if you didn't play the game during its first time on store shelves.