If you’re looking for a dazzlingly complex gacha-RPG with hundreds of heroes to summon, hundreds of gear items to equip, and an incalculable number of possible class, race, and elemental permutations, there are plenty of options out there.
Epic Odyssey isn’t one of them. Instead, this good-looking strategy-RPG from Vietnamese developer Hiker Games is all about streamlined, accessible, undemanding fun.
There’s a grand total of 36 heroes to collect, and they fall into three different classes and three factions. That’s nine possible hero types – a manageable number in anyone’s book.
The combat, meanwhile, plays out automatically, so you never need to worry yourself about when to deploy skills, which enemies to target, and so on. You just set up your formation, tap the screen, and watch the melee unfold. Battles rarely last more than a few seconds.
And there are not one but two idle features, too, letting you make progress without even playing. Epic Odyssey is about as chilled out as they come.
The campaign, which forms the spine of the experience, sees you taking on the forces of darkness on a vast fantasy continent called Lynea. This continent is split up into seven kingdoms, each comprising a number of self-contained areas called chapters.
These are pleasingly varied, even in the early stages. By the time you’ve stepped out into chapter 8 you’ll have spent time underground in a cave system, exploring a castle ruin, navigating a parched desert, and loitering in a medieval village.
Battles are 5v5
In each environment you’ll encounter chests to loot and demons to fight, while most also feature NPCs with quests that you can complete for rewards. There are even puzzles to solve at certain points. They’re not very taxing, but that’s in keeping with Epic Odyssey’s general approach. To move around, you just tap on a destination.
Whatever the backdrop, the 3D graphics are top notch, full of color and dripping with incidental details. The stirring Hollywood score is excellent too.
If you’re the kind of player who likes to read dialogue, there’s plenty to enjoy here, as your progress through the campaign is densely plotted. Equally, it’s all eminently skippable if you prefer to focus on looting and carnage.
Battles, aside from some boss encounters, are 5v5, meaning you’ve got a 3+2 formation to play with. The game encourages you to experiment, immediately offering you the chance to revise your formation and try again whenever you fall, but the normal strategy-RPG rules apply: in a nutshell, archers at the back, tanks at the front.
The strategy is stripped down, but not entirely without depth. For instance, you get a buff for using three heroes of the same class and faction, forcing you to reflect on which heroes are worth elevating.
Every so often, and with increasing regularity as you make your way through the campaign, you’ll encounter an unbeatable enemy. This is where you have to roll up your sleeves and engage with levelling up, equipping items, accumulating loot, and all of that good RPG stuff.
Both heroes and equipment come in four different ranks: Common, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. You can level up both with Gold, but to push them up through the ranks, and thus increase their level caps and base stats, you’ll need to ascend (heroes) and refine (gear). In both cases the process involves sacrificing lesser specimens.
You’ll also need to ensure that you always have the best possible gear equipped, but fortunately this is a fuss-free process. All you need to do is visit a hero’s profile and tap ‘Auto Equip’ to give them the best available gear.
In keeping with Epic Odyssey’s relaxed approach to life, it takes no time at all – not much more than an hour – to unlock all 16 of the game’s huge variety of areas, including the Summoning Gate, the Arena, the Clan area, and so on.
The Pentagram Rocks
Among the stuff on offer is a Store where you can buy desirable gear with gems, a Tower where you can take on a series of bosses, and a World’s Portal, which lets you go on a demon-battling spree with heroes from fellow clan members’ collections.
There are idle options, too. The Mission Board lets you periodically dispatch heroes to complete missions in the background, while the Great Hall just straight up gives you loot for checking in from time to time.
But our favorite destination on the menu has to be the Pentagram. Here you can assemble a crack team of five heroes and then assign five followers from the rest of your collection. Every hero you choose to make a follower instantly rockets up to level 40.
Of course, a level 40 hero isn’t much use once you start getting into the thick of the campaign, and you can’t level-up followers, but what the Pentagram does is tip you off as to the heroes that might be worth elevating independently. It takes time and resources to drag a Common character up to a decent level, so it’s useful to have this little window into a weakling’s potential.
The Pentagram is just one of the many ways in which Hiker Games has tried to make Epic Odyssey as painless and welcoming as possible. Hardcore gacha fans may want to find something more challenging, but for the most part this is a crowd-pleaser. Check it out via the App Store (and Google Play).