One thing to know about me: I’ve always wanted to like everything. If there’s a genre I don’t like (looking at you, driving games), I’ll try my best to find at least one game to discover its charm. If I don’t like a mainstream title (much to my dismay, the Grand Theft Auto series, and specifically its Online mode), I’ll at least tell myself I’ll try it one day… This isn’t exclusive to gaming either, as I’ve always wanted to become a weeb and get into anime, but, unfortunately, it just isn’t something I’ve managed to succeed in. Dragon Ball and Naruto are my “proud” stack of anime (though admittedly, I’ve never finished either).
Naturally, this has put me in an uncomfortable position with One Piece Odyssey, as I neither like JRPGs nor turn-based titles (I’ve tried everything, from Final Fantasy to Crystal Project), and I definitely have never even watched a single minute of the One Piece anime, and only know Luffy’s name by sheer popularity. The hype surrounding the game made me want to try it myself, too, but I was scared that not knowing anything about the anime would be a hindrance.
I want to be clear: the above paragraphs are not a joke — I have genuinely never watched a single minute of One Piece. Up until playing an hour of the game, I was convinced that Zoro was a villain (likely because Grimmjow, from Bleach, looked similar-ish and was a villain, too), and I know that Luffy has some sort of Mister Fantastic-esque ability to stretch (and maybe grow?) his limbs.
That said, although the cast of characters is surprisingly daunting — going at nine strong — it isn’t as jarring to get accustomed to them as one might think. Typical character stereotypes help you get to know the personalities that form the Straw Hat Crew surprisingly quickly and get a feel for the group dynamic. With Sanji acting like a white knight straight off the bat, the typical aloof and careless protagonist with Luffy, and the cutesy, adorable, perfectly perfect, squishable Chopper (can you guess which one was my favorite?) all making their personalities perfectly clear within minutes of launching the game.
It isn’t perfect, and I’m sure that One Piece Odyssey can be best experienced when you actually know the cast. I’m sure that understanding how Luffy’s attacks work, recognizing the characters, and even knowing them for nearly a thousand episodes will help at building excitability, but it wasn’t as much of a hindrance as I expected from such a behemoth of a backstory. I didn’t feel out of place, the Straw Hat Crew didn’t use jargon and specific terms unbeknownst to me, and I didn’t feel like I was missing any underlying context for anything so far — I fit into the group perfectly.
In conclusion, it doesn’t seem like you need to know a lot (if anything at all, like me) to enjoy One Piece Odyssey. Surely, knowing more about the anime, characters, and abilities will bring a sense of nostalgia and unhinged joy that I was unable to share, but I’m pleased with the amount I got to know about the characters.
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