The review of Orphen: Scion of Sorcery that was requested by arashiken way back in August has finally been completed. It took buying Final Fantasy Origins to encourage me to get it done, but I did. (Expect a review of the original Final Fantasy by the end of the year.)

Company Credits

Title: Orphen: Scion of Sorcery

Developer: Activision

System: PlayStation 2

Release Date: Release title

Game Type: Adventure/RPG (ie. “attack enemy X with spell Y” type battles, with Zelda-type motion)


A cocky wizard and his two young sidekicks get stuck on the wrong boat and have a series of adventures.

High Point

The boss battles were more than just a matter of pounding on the enemy.

Low Point

I can forgive the irritating side characters, on the assumption that they came with the license for the property. (The game is based on anime that I’ve never seen.) However, it would be really, really nice if you could skip the story sequences if you wanted to. When you have to sit through the same irritating speech (or, in the case of the last one, the same incredibly long speech) after losing a battle, it gets really frustrating. Half the time I spent between reaching the final boss and actually beating him was spent watching the same expository “here’s what’s been going on this entire time” speech.

The Scores

This wasn’t a particularly original game. Take a puzzle platform game and stick a turn-based battle system into it, and this is what you get. I give it 2 out of 6.

The story is actually fairly interesting, given that you have three independent paths you can follow in any order, each with its own tale that goes along with it. Unfortunately, the characters rarely comment on the seeming inconsistencies between the stories told in each path (presumably because that allowed the game designers to take the three paths in any order), and you finally get the complete story dumped on you just before the end in a painfully long exposition sequence. High marks for content, low marks for delivery. I give it 4 out of 6.

The graphics are decent for a release title. They’re not great compared to what’s out now, and they lack refinement in ways that make me think the game should have been delayed by a few weeks. However, there’s a fair amount of detail, and there’s rarely any doubt about what you’re looking at. I give it 4 out of 6.

The sound is actually quite well done, including some decent if not spectacular voice actors. I give it 5 out of 6.

The playability is strong in each of the first three options. When those end, you’re pretty much at the final battle, and you get hit with a massive jump in difficultly. There should have been more in between just to cut down on that spike. The controls are easy to get used to, as well. I give it 4 out of 6.

The immersion is decent. The world is pretty clearly defined, but the lack of polish (in terms of collision detection when moving around, the obvious bug during the game-ending exposition, etc.) tends to reming me I’m playing a release title. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s worth a discount bin price if you like this style of game, but I’d pass on it otherwise. You’re probably better off with a high-end PlayStation 1 title, or even a more recent PS2 game. It’s one of those release titles that doesn’t really stand out in other respects. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Orphen: Scion of Sorcery receives 26 out of 42.