One Piece is one of the most reputable and respected manga series from legendary Author, Eiichiro Oda. With the manga’s historical run of 92 volumes over 20+ years, it’s fanbase is as large as it’s ever been. The Anime is also hitting it’s 20th year in 2019, and just shy of hitting 900 episodes, recognisable from not just it’s fans, but casual viewers from the late 90’s. It’s no secret, that other forms of medium that adapt anime or manga series, can come across somewhat intimidating to hardcore fans, as live-action adaptions, or video games can be cumbersome, or convoluted from it’s source material. However, One Piece: World Seeker delivers boldly to lovers of this enormous series, with something they have always wanted; an original story (which was overseen by Mr. Oda), with their beloved characters, that is a great video game adaptation.
You dive right into the story (literally) with everyone’s favourite Straw Hat Pirate, Monkey D. Luffy on Prison Island, in search for it’s rumoured treasure, that is until Luffy is suddenly captured by the Island’s warden Isaac, only to be then saved by Isaac’s own sister, Jeanne after being thrown into the sea to drown. To settle the debt, Luffy then helps Jeanne on her quest to settle differences with her older brother, and the island’s two groups that are currently at war. As you traverse through Prison Island, you will come across your Straw Hat comrades, where they will aid you along the way with different story missions, tutorials, upgrades, and even a little treasure for the average pirate.
To say introductions to each cohort here are expeditious, is an understatement. One Piece: World Seeker does assume that the player is already a fan of the franchise, and would immediately know every character right off the bat. As a fan of the franchise, sure. I know some of the major characters from the series, but some, I am being introduced to for the first time here, and that’s okay. It only piques my interest in the series further.
Now while some would say that the genre settles in the “open-world adventure” category, I do agree to a certain extent, but would beg to differ on another. While of course, we do have the ability to freely roam from town-to-town, I would argue that the title does also cross the line of the “hack and slash” and RPG genre. With various ways to ways to fight and grapple opponents, and use your surroundings to best you, being able to purchase upgrades, swap out movesets, then stretch and mold your weaponry (and by weaponry, I do mean Luffy’s ability to shapeshift his arms into boulders and decimate his adversaries), we see an extremely awesome style to defeat said opponents that dare to stop you.
Of course, we aren’t playing Devil May Cry here, so poetry in motion is definitely a stretch when describing your play style here. I would say that it’s a little more “rough-and-tough”, and surely what we would usually see in any action anime/cartoon series. Some may argue, that it’s just an excuse for cheap button mashing, to get through your experience, but isn’t that part of the fun? While at heart, yes, I am a button masher. There is no doubt, that when you have a beat-em-up put in front of me, I will button mash the hell out of that game. But, if you take the time and sit down to see how to perform sweet moves in this game, it actually comes off looking really cool. Something I have seen from other players that completely out perform me.
One Piece: World Seeker, is astonishingly gorgeous. At first glance, the incredible eye-popping design of Prison Island, truly reminded me of the exact feeling I had seeing the beauty in such titles as Ni No Kuni II, and it’s predecessor in last generation platforms. Bringing an established and amazing 2D world, and translating it to 3D, can be a difficult task, but the magic that developing studio Ganbarion managed to mold here, is a sight to behold. From it’s lush green environments, to the hustle ‘n’ bustle in the industrial town scenery, it’s incredible to swing around like Spider-Man, grabbing onto trees, and slinging right into your enemies with a right-hook.
Speaking of design, World Seeker manages to capture the design of our protagonist, his party, and compatriots perfectly here. While the design of each character has definitely evolved through out each arc of the manga and anime, the game encapsulates the each characters current form, stance, characteristics, and style perfectly. While, I would have loved to be able to control some of said comrades (especially Nami, my childhood anime crush) throughout our adventures, having them appear as an NPC to help you through your story gives you a sense of responsibility, to finish this title and send off the Straw Hat Pirates to their next treasure hunt.
While initially, I was captivated by the game’s soundtrack, I started to feel like it became repetitious after 10 hours of gameplay. It honestly doesn’t become that noticeable due to the incredible amount of fun you will have playing this game. However, upon reflection of playing the story to it’s very end, it was definitely something I took notice of while thinking of sound and music. I share the same sentiment to the game’s sound design and voice over work.
While voice acting was limited to Japanese, I did find that bringing the original cast to work their magic on some lines through the game, was an amazing feat that we barely see any Video Game studio try to accomplish, but pondered why it’s effort was so minuscule. Having the repetition of entering a cut scene with Luffy and an NPC with repetitive name hollering comes off quite lackluster, and could have done with a little more substance in some cases. Thankfully, with this slight oversight does not totally take you out of the amazing experience this game gives you.
All in all, One Piece: World seeker definitely delivers if you are a fan of the One Piece franchise. Even with slight oversights that you will barely notice playing this great game, it’s the enjoyable moments you will definitely take away from your experience playing this. Your lovable cast of pirates, and even brand new faces that debut here. Combat that makes you want to beat up any and all that stand in Luffy’s way. A diverse open-world adventure, with draw dropping environments, that make traversing fun and seem less like a task, like any great video game does. And a fun, non-canonical, original story that makes quite an experience for fans and players who are deep into the One Piece lore. One Piece: World Seeker was a 12 hour experience, and one I surely will return to.
A Review code was supplied by Bandai Namco on PlayStation 4, for this review.
One Piece: World Seeker is an action-adventure video game based on the manga and anime series One Piece. Developed by Ganbarion and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, the game will be the first video game in the franchise to feature an open world environment.