When people die they just… go away. If there’s any place a soul would go, it’s in your memories. People you remember are with you forever.
I’ve found myself getting more and more emotionally involved while playing Lost Odyssey. It’s the dreams you see, they send you on an emotional rollercoaster and stay with you, tugging at your heart strings all the way.
Let me explain. Kaim, the main character in the game, is an immortal. He, and a few other characters, have lived for a thousand years and somewhere along the line (thirty years before the game is set, to be exact) they’ve all lost their memories. They don’t know why they’ve been alive so long, nor why they never age, yet all around them people die. As you travel around the world and talk to people you’ll find events that remind your characters of things from their past. Later on, when resting somewhere, you can view these memories as dreams.
A good example is the story of a General returning from a war to a hero’s welcome in his village. When he left he was nothing but a soldier, but on his return children who weren’t even born when he left put on plays about his numerous heroic acts. It’s years later that the General meets Kaim on a mountain pass and tells him this story while the soldiers under the General’s command rest and drink from the mountain stream. He tells of feeling uncomfortable as the children’s play shows him constantly killing people, of a jester comically struggling under the weight of his weapon then swinging it around to fend off hordes of imaginary enemy soldiers, of how he knows that these people see him as a hero but their celebration makes him so uncomfortable that the next day he quits the army despite the villagers now treating him as a traitor. The General relays all this to Kaim, seeing him as a young soldier in danger of the same fate, then presses on leading his “soldiers” (now revealed to actually be a flock of sheep) down the mountain.
It’s only a few pages long, and one of the least emotional of the stories but they’re so masterfully written that you can feel the General’s distaste for the way his village is treating him long before he admits it.
They could have made these dreams into cinematic cutscenes, but instead they chose to present them as text based stories with sound effects and music in the background, and they have much more impact that way. Each one is a tale of sadness, loss, loneliness and sorrow. Each one is set in cities and countries that no longer exist in the game world, starring characters who are long dead. The central themes are that life goes on regardless, there will always be a war somewhere, and people can do extraordinary things given the right circumstances. These dreams, while showing off the characters better than any cutscene could, elevate this game beyond the level of most RPGs. You’ll feel choked up with sadness and with joy as the tales take you to emotional places you never imagined a video game would manage.
For a few years now, people have been debating whether video games count as an art form. There’s no way to answer that easily – some story based games do, while a sports simulation doesn’t, but there are so many in between that may or may not count. Some people state that only stories count, others state that graphics should count, still others say that innovation is the key. I don’t know about all that but one thing I do know for sure is that without even mentioning the long and detailed main story, the sumptuous graphics and Full Motion Video cutscenes, the numerous and varied sidequests or the stunningly beautiful soundtrack, Lost Odyssey is a work of art by anyone’s standards.