It seems like everytime a new mainline Final Fantasy game is released, the first criticism is that it doesn’t capture the same spirit as classic entries in the franchise. And while every new entry has its defenders, there is a general notalgia for the age when series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi was still part of the development team. Meaning after 2000’s Final Fantasy IX, things seem to go downhill.
But what if I told you there was a lost Final Fantasy game directed by Sakaguchi you haven’t played? That is essentially what 2007’s Lost Odyssey is, and for a limited time the lost masterpiece is available for less than $9 on Xbox.
Lost Odyssey feels like a mainline Final Fantasy title in all but name. That mostly comes from the talent behind it, with Sakaguchi writing the story and legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uemetsu providing the score. The title also retains the turn-based combat of past Final Fantasy games at a time when Square Enix was trying out new ways to push the franchise away from its roots in the form of Final Fantasy XII’s MMO-like combat.
Combat in Lost Odyssey doesn’t just play the hits. The inclusion of new systems that require the player to be more conscious of how long spells take to cast or the risk of having an action delayed by an enemy brings a sense of danger to every encounter. Similar systems can be seen in more recent RPGs like the Octopath Traveler games, as they avoid the accusations of turn-based systems being too slow or not engaging enough.
Of course the biggest draw of Lost Odyssey is the opportunity to explore an entirely new world from the mind of Sakaguchi, and this one may be his best ever. There are familiar, Final Fantasy-esque elements like the industrialization of magic in the world and how that new technology contributes to a war between its nations, but there is a fresh angle to these well-trodden ideas. At the heart of Lost Odyssey’s narrative is protagonist Kaim, an immortal man who has lived so long that he has started losing memories since his brain physically can’t hold the entirety of his own life. This expands into a narrative that asks truly moving questions about the value of remembering the best and worst moments of our lives. A fascinating cast led by protagonist Kaim makes the story, which feels unique to Sakaguchi’s body of work, all the more powerful.
Despite all of this, Lost Odyssey has been relegated to cult hit status— most people don’t remember it, and a lot of people haven’t played it. That likely has to do with its Xbox 360 exclusivity, which was Microsoft’s attempt to gain ground with RPG players. But thanks to Xbox’s backwards compatibility, Lost Odyssey is available on Xbox Live and playable on Xbox One and Series consoles. And it’s on sale for only $8.24 until February 12. If you’ve been lamenting the state of modern Final Fantasy then you need to check out Sakaguchi’s forgotten masterpiece.