Octopath Traveler Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for review.
When you think of Square-Enix, you think of role-playing games. Nowadays the company isn’t the only one that put their time on the genre but they are one of the first that helped revolutionize it. Last year, Square-Enix announced a new game that would come exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. It began under the codename “Project OCTOPATH Traveler” with a special demo coming later on in 2018. A few months after that, Octopath Traveler would finally be released. Being a brand new franchise hoping to break ground on Nintendo’s new console, does it deliver?
Octopath Traveler is a really unique game, giving players the opportunity to play the game however they like. When the game begins, you have the option to choose one of eight different protagonists to start with. Once you choose, you get to experience the start of their tale. As you progress through the game, you will meet the other protagonists and see their tales unfold. Each tale differentiates from one another but all the while, the game provides a solid experience. Some tales follow themes such as family, redemption, revenge, and etc. but all of them connect in some way. The connection is best seen for yourself.
I like this concept. The idea that you can choose a protagonist, go through their journey and then travel to another area and meet up with another character to start their tale. You have a lot of freedom deciding whom you can meet next and it does help that if things get tough, you can go to a Tavern and pause the story so you can grind to get stronger and continue. It does offer a lot of freedom for players and I wish that more games implemented this method. Being an RPG, it simply works.
Now what about the gameplay? Is it any good? Of course. The gameplay is your standard RPG faire. You control a party of up to 4 characters and though you have 8 playable characters, you can only have 4 so choosing the best is crucial. Each of the 8 characters represents specific class types such as Warrior, Thief, Black Mage, etc., complete with skills exclusive to their class. In battle, enemies will have a shield with a number on it meaning how many hits it can take before their defense break. To break their defenses, players must figure out the enemy’s weaknesses. Once the shield breaks, they get stunned allowing your party to deal greater damage. In some cases, prevent enemies from attacking the party. This is what makes the game not only challenging but fun. In addition, Octopath also borrows a bit from Bravely Default where the more Battle Points you have, the more you can use to do a variety of actions such as attacking, defending or using special skills. It is an impressive system that works so well.
But it isn’t the only system that this game has. Each character has their respective job and they get new skills by acquiring Job Points in battle. Accumulating them not only gives them abilities to use but also support skills that are implemented in a variety of ways. Later in the journey, you’ll encounter shrines that give your party the ability to obtain sub-classes, offering more variety to your group. This allows for various combinations for all 8 protagonists and it doesn’t end there. There are also Path Actions, giving each character the ability to do different things on the field such as challenging civilians, stealing from them or having them join as temporary allies. It has a bit of a risk/reward where if you are careless with some skills, your reputation in said town would suffer. Visiting a tavern and meeting the owner to fix things will restore your rep but it can also be a hit on your wallet. Each town also has side quests and they lead to many rewards upon completing them so tackling them is crucial too.
Octopath Traveler is a long game and being that it’s RPG, it’ll take you around 50-60 hours to complete, especially if side-quests are counted along with any extras. It’s amazing how Square-Enix is able to deliver in its presentation, especially for a game like this. The game is 2.5D with the sprites being 2D and everything else is 3D. The backgrounds are amazing to look at, coming to life in some cases. Music is phenomenal with the battle and boss themes being a highlight. Plus each character has a respective theme that leads into a boss fight that helps build up tension and anticipation. It’s one of many things that I love about the game. Voice acting is great. Many well-known talents such as Patrick Seitz, Greg Chun and Christina Vee lend their voices to this game. They didn’t disappoint. In fact, I can say that they delivered. If you are expecting the game to be at 1080p with 60fps, prepare to be disappointed. The game runs mostly at 720p at 30fps. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made to assure the game would run smoothly and well enough. I personally didn’t find it an issue.
If I were to legitimately provide a complaint with this game, it’s the difficulty curve. In some instances the game will ramp up the difficulty, making things challenging. Unless you are prepared with the right party and equipment, you will get your butt kicked hence why grinding is needed. Expect to grind a lot and also expect each of your party members to have the right skills and abilities to tackle the game. It’s an RPG, like I said and the game will spare no expense in taking you down.
Overall, Octopath Traveler feels like a breath of fresh air for RPGs. It offers a familiar experience while giving players something new to enjoy. With 8 different protagonists and the ability to start with whomever you want and whoever you choose offering variety. Amazing presentation, addicting music and satisfying gameplay make it a title worthy of being on the Switch. If you are in need of an RPG craze, this is your best choice. Now I ask… who will you start on your journey?
I give Octopath Traveler a 9 out of 10. It’s worth your money and earns my personal seal of approval!