Title: Octopath Traveler
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Role-playing, Adventure
Release Date: July 13, 2018
How we got the game: We pre-ordered it through Amazon
Everyone and their mother was waiting for this game to be released for the Nintendo Switch, and it did not disappoint! With fantastic storytelling elements and beautiful art and music assets, Octopath Traveler was a win!
Octopath Traveler is first and foremost an RPG. With an expansive world to explore, you use the analog stick to move your little party around on the overworld as well as choosing what attacks to use for battle. The battles are a turn-based style between your party and the enemies.
Each character has their own set of skills, talents, and elements. We chose to play as Therion, the thief, and he has the talent to steal from people in the overworld and can pick locks. He has the fire element and can use that in battle against enemies along with various thieving skills and moves.
Once you collect more party members, you’ll have the ability to use each member’s action on the NPCs. Some are more useful than others. We’re enjoying Therion’s steal and Alfyn’s Inquire for hints and tidbits, but we haven’t found a use for Olberic’s Challenge other than going into random battles as extra practicing. Considering all the monsters and enemies you encounter while traveling between towns, it seems a little redundant so far.
This game has a fairly big map with 8 very different stories to follow and different starting points and end goals for each character. However, the map itself isn’t confusing and it’s pretty straightforward on where you need to go next. There’s the large overworld map where you can see where to go in order to get a new character or to the next chapter. However, you can roam in small sections of the map to get from one town to another. Along the way, you can find chests with various items such as healing grapes, olive of life, or various armor and weapons to aid you along the way and to also be used in battle.
The battle system is typical turn-based combat, being an RPG, of course. Each character has a weapon or two type that they can use, along with special moves that either strengthen their physical weapon, special elemental attacks, or help or hinder the status of them or their foes. The enemies have certain weapons and elements that they are weak against. When hitting an enemy with an attack they are weak to, you can weaken and ultimately break their defense. Once this defense is broken, they will be stunned for a turn and your attacks will do more damage.
With each turn, your characters gain a boost. You can have up to four boosts at once which, when activated, can hit the targeted enemy the same number of times you’ve boosted. So if you have 4 boosts and use 2 of them, your character will hit the enemy twice.
We gushed a bit on the graphics and music already on our first impressions post, and they haven’t disappointed us. The art style is beautiful, with the characters and foreground being sprites with a look that reminds me of a pop-up book, while the backgrounds tend to be more realistic. Seeing the stark difference of a pixel-y sprite next to a clear running river was beautiful.
The art style is definitely breathtaking. The designs of the characters, enemies, and various landscapes – the overworld, villages, battle backgrounds, etc. – are just amazing. You can tell the designers really put their heart and soul into this game.
And then the music. Holy crap, the music is probably one of my favorite aspects of this game! I’m seriously considering buying the soundtrack. Tunes were fitting for whatever part of the game we were in, be they battles, the overworld, or just part of the narration.
The music was amazing, as were the sound effects. They were spot on with the battle techniques or just walking on stone or dirt. The voice acting was also spot on. The voices didn’t miss a beat and their tones were perfect to whatever was going on in the game.
Rather than a singular story, Octopath features several plot points to cater to their eight main characters. Each character has their own chapters to their story that you can play through after collecting the character for your party. Each chapter, when playable, will show up on the map along with the character’s icon and a recommended level. It was definitely done in an interesting fashion, even if we’re not fully engaged in some of the character’s stories… not yet, anyway.
We chose Therion as our first character, which means he needs to remain in our party at all times. We enjoyed his story and thought it was pretty engaging. Instead of heading to his second chapter, we took the scenic route around the map to collect all seven of the other characters. Once you run into a character you can talk to them and then play the first chapter of their story.
Therion’s story is about tracking down a special treasure for a noblewoman, not out of the goodness of his heart, but so she will remove a bracelet that signals him out as a failure of a thief. Primrose the dancer is about seeking revenge for the death of her father, while Alfyn was eager to see the world and better his skills as an apothecary. Olberic was previously a war hero and he takes up his sword once more to find an old friend turned traitor to find out answers to a battle long ago.
Cyrus is a scholar in search for a stolen book and Tressa wants to explore the world and better herself as a merchant. H’aanit is a hunter searching for her master who went off to hunt a beast a year ago and never returned. Ophelia is taking up a religious pilgrimage in replace of her sister so she can stay by their ill father’s side. All the stories are unique though there are some that were more interesting than others. A lot had flashbacks to give more depth to the story and others didn’t. Those ones didn’t feel as deep as the others.
Aside from the sheer enjoyment of being in this world Octopath Traveler has some great replay ability. There are eight starting characters to choose from, and you can pick and choose which other characters you’d like to join your party. If you wanted a real challenge, do a one or two character run. While we haven’t fully explored them just yet, you can also add additional jobs or classes onto characters to give them more skills and weapons in battle.
You can go through the story once and collect all the characters following all their stories in one play through, or you can pick and choose, saving the other characters for your next play through. Or, like Kris said, you can challenge yourself and try to limit the number of characters you have. Overall, there’s a lot to do in this game and it’s definitely worth it to take your time.
Octopath Traveler gets…
4 out of 5 lives.