Frane: Dragon’s Odyssey is KEMCO’s latest JRPG launching on PC, mobile, and consoles everywhere. One look at this game and you might expect it to be a Steam release from several years back, just being ported to current gen consoles. But as it turns out this game is completely new, which raises some questions about its overall quality. Looks can be deceiving, however, so perhaps there is more here than what’s on the surface?
The story follows two servants, Kunah and Riel, who have been tasked by the all mighty Zeus to bring back their master who has escaped into the human world. Beyond that, there isn’t much else to say about the story. The side characters you meet are so bland and offer so little to the plot that you’ll forget them as soon as they walk off screen. Not to mention there’s awkwardness to the storytelling that prevents you from staying interested for very long. The worst part about all of this though is the fact that you cannot skip cutscenes. This game has some long and very unnecessary story beats that you’ll no doubt strain your thumb from rapidly pressing the A button. This is especially terrible during boss fights, where you’ll have to read through the same lines every time you die. That isn’t to say it’s all terrible; there are some enjoyable bits with Zeus coming to earth disguised as weird things like a dresser. But for the most part it is tedious to get through.
You’ll be playing the game as Kunah, with Riel following you around. Kuna fights with traditional melee attacks, using either his fists or swords depending on what you equip him with. Riel, on the other hand, deals damage with magic and long ranged attacks, again depending what you equip her with. The gameplay is OK enough, but there are some issues that should have been thought out better. When you attack with Riel she will fire in the direction she is looking, and since you have no direct control of her this makes hitting enemies near impossible. You can lock onto enemies when attacking with Kunah, making Riels projectiles follow them, but that is the only method to the madness. It could have been better to map the lock on feature to the L or R buttons as they aren’t being used for anything else, not to mention that Kunah can’t lock onto bosses with attacks so Riel is completely useless in these scenarios.
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad if Kunah’s attack range wasn’t one pixel in front of him. You have to be breathing on the enemy to even be close enough to attack. This gets even worse as the game has some very wonky hit boxes, meaning you very often take damage from enemies before even getting a chance to attack them. The combat would be almost unplayable, if not for the super attacks. After you kill around seven enemies, you have a super move that lets you ram through enemies for a short period of time while being invincible. This special is the only way you can even come close to beating the game, especially since there usually hordes of bad guys to disperse. In any dungeon you enter you’ll be swarmed with enemy’s spawning everywhere. This is both a blessing and a curse. While it’s normally bad due to the terrible hit boxes, it does make leveling up less of a grind. Since you can ram through swarms of monsters with the super attack, you can grind past the recommended level for dungeons in just a few minutes.
By far the worst part of this game is the boss fights. These are meant to be challenging and a true test of what you have learned up to that point in the game. In a way, boss fights can be seen as a reward for clearing the trials and tribulations of the level. Traditionally these encounters are often beloved in other game, such as Dark Souls or Shadow of the Colossus. Well, you won’t be feeling that love in this game. Due to the awful hit detection and the fact that bosses deal an insane amount of damage, chances are you’ll be in for a pummeling. It’s nearly impossible to strike the boss without taking damage yourself, and as mentioned earlier Rial is almost useless in these situations. Your best bet is to save up your super attack for these encounters and hope you’re leveled up enough to brute force your way through.
The visual element of this game is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it feels cheaply made. The menu and UI designs are lazy, a lot of the artwork sprites are reused in scenes that feel out of place, and it feels like some sprites may have been reused from other projects, as some don’t even fit the art style of the game. For example, the first boss in the game is a huge rat that looks like it could have jumped out of Donkey Kong Country with its sort of pre-rendered graphical look, which seems highly out of place with the other sprites. On the other hand, it feels like they put in more effort than they needed to. Some outfits you can equip change the characters’ sprite and action animations, the environments all look unique, and there are a lot of minor details that you wouldn’t have expected to be added based off the very generic menu you see when loading up the game.
What’s weird about Frane is that for every good thing you get, there’s also be something equally bad. The game has some fantastic music, but some of the music tracks are so short that they’ll end and then start back over, rather than continuously looping parts of the song. The super attack is so satisfying and it makes the grinding experience a breeze, but the rest of the combat is terrible. The game has some great artwork and sprite work, but most of it is reused in scenes that don’t quite fit in context-wise and some of the sprites don’t fit the art style of the game. Overall it’s a very mixed bag that unfortunately never comes together in a cohesive way.
Frane: Dragon's Odyssey Review
- Graphics - 5/105/10
- Sound - 6.5/106.5/10
- Gameplay - 4/104/10
- Lasting Appeal - 4/104/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
Frane: Dragon’s Odyssey is a mixed bag of a game. For everything it does right, there’s something equally as bad to take its place. While there are some enjoyable elements scattered here and there, the end result is an action-RPG that can easily be ignored.