Developed by ExeCreate Inc. Published by KEMCO Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Xbox One, Switch, and PC)
Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey is an unfinished port of a game from 2012. Previously titled The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragon’s Odyssey, it included a couple CG scenes, optional voice acting, and an artistic HUD. Unfortunately, none of those aforementioned features made it to this release of the game. CG scenes and the questionable voice acting hit the can while the HUD gets a rework that allows the player to see more of the game. Other than that, the graphic changes are more of a sidestep than an improvement. This action RPG is reasonably short and carried by a unique cast of characters.
Since there are no more cut scenes in Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey, players don’t get to see their protagonists morphing in and out of dragon form from the introduction and later in the beginning of the game. Those removed scenes added character development only to be replaced with nothing. It saddens me to know that newer players aren’t going to get the same or better experience than those who played Frane in its original form.
The story begins in Heaven. An angel goes missing and God appoints you and your friend to find her before an unspeakable evil exploits her powers. You play as Kunah, a young optimistic boy who always puts anyone and everything before himself. The companion that follows you is Riel. She tries to keep Kunah focused on the original mission and is always contemplating what type of girl Kunah likes. The adventure is straightforward and easy to follow. There are some characters you’ll meet along the way that you can get to know more by completing their gifting system. If you talk to them and give them enough gifts, it’ll unlock additional story snippets unique to that character. The story isn’t bad but you end up caring more about the side characters over anything else.
Movement in Frane is strictly restricted to 8 directions. This is noticeable when trying to move inter-cardinal directions with the analog stick. If you don’t hit any of those 45 degree angles right, your player just stops moving. The challenge in moving makes the combat more of a chore than an entertaining experience. Kunah starts with a very close range melee attack. At first, the only way to damage an enemy is to run into them and get hit in return. You can use ranged magic attacks with Riel. You can’t control her directly and she doesn’t follow Kunah perfectly so manipulating her movement is a pain during boss fights. When up against standard enemies, Kunah’s melee attack also places a target box around the nearest enemy. As long as there’s a target box out there, Riel’s shots will home in on them.
After killing enough enemies with Kunah’s melee attacks, he can use a devastating melee charge that effectively deletes anything it touches for a few seconds. Riel will activate her special ability if she gets hit too many times. She gets mad and slaps Kunah for letting this happen. The slap is so hard he ricochets through all the bad guys on the screen. The enemies take a lot of damage and Kunah loses some HP as well from the initial slap.
Riel learns new magic abilities when she levels up, making her more useful in battles. Enemies have elemental strengths and weaknesses so equipping the proper weapon and abilities are important. Changing equipment and abilities has to be done by pausing the game and going through menus. This is fine in most cases but there will be times when you have to switch abilities mid battle to defeat the different enemies or heal yourself. Keeping an eye on your health is especially important because the sound for getting hit is very subtle and there are no visual cues like flickering frames or a knockback. You can stay in a room with the intent to grind and next thing you know you’re dead.
The restriction of movement really hurts the battle system. Positioning and aiming feels impossible and even harder to pull off in higher difficulties. Once you do get the hang of it all, the frustration turns into disinterest. I personally think this would’ve been better off as a visual novel. The music isn’t bad but each track has a definitive end followed by a second of silence before the track loops again. While the art looks good, everything else about Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey is just ok or less than. I can only recommend this game to the hardcore RPG enthusiast who can forgive half of the game in favor of a mediocre story.