Friday, March 1, 2024

Octopath Traveler

If you are a fan of RPGs like me, you might also be frustrated with the drought of decent turn-based games on the market lately and with the immensely popular series, Final Fantasy, focusing on action RPGs, what is left for gamers like us who want a taste of the golden days of turn based gaming? Well wonder no longer with Square Enix’s newest release, Octopath Traveler.

The name sounds a bit strange and quite frankly, a bit off putting, but once you understand a bit of the game, you’ll come to appreciate its funky nomenclature. The game focuses around 8 distinct characters: Olberic, H’aanit, Cyrus, Alfyn, Tressa, Therion, Ophilia, and Primrose. Each of these 8 playable characters start in different regions of the world with their own unique stories and reasons for traversing the lands which leads them all to meet up with one another. I’ve only completed 2 out of the 8’s first chapters and I’m still looking forwards to see how the game will push me to find the other 6.

The art direction this game takes is equal parts nostalgic and breathtaking. It has this 2D pixelated approach that appeals to nostalgic fans while incorporating some realistic textures in regard to snow, sand, water and other environmental features. Octopath Traveler blends the two into this distinctive modern yet familiar feel which, to me, made me feel at home with this new adventure. I also enjoyed the small details such as when the wind blew, foliage would as well. Even the in-game map had tiny movement with ships and monsters moving about. 

The combat is what I am truly loving about the game the most however. It has your typical RPG elements such as attacking with your equipped weapon or using your class ability, but it also has a system akin to its distant big brother series, Bravely Default, wherein your character will get a Boost Point every turn which you can spend to augment an action by the amount of points you use. For example, if you use this mechanic and use 4 boost points, and use the attack command, you will attack 4 times in a row but if you use it on something like a mage’s you can go from a weaker fire ability to a potentially devastating fiery explosion.

Breaking a monster is another component of combat. Each enemy in the game has a shield with a number on it denoting the amount of times it needs to be hit by its vulnerability until it breaks. Thankfully there is a vulnerability bar next to this shield that will populate with different weapons or spell elements which the player reveals by trying out different tactics in battle. Once the monster or enemy is broken, they are left exposed, lose a turn and take more damage which is perfect for a boosted attack to finish them off. After the battle, players are given the standard gold and experience points along with some job points or JP so that your characters can learn job specific skillsets.

One drawback I happened to notice for me was that when I met up with another main character, no mention or conversation happened between them. With this emphasis on connecting the paths of all the characters I would assume some interactions would accompany the addition of a new character to the party but so far that has not happened. This isn’t game ruining and while I understand that all the characters are traveling in pursuit of their own goals, it would be nice to see a bit more of side conversations between the cast.

Another minor drawback could be the difficulty of the game fluctuates depending on who you choose first for your party.  Who you decide to play first and choose can really impact the early parts of the game, for example I started off with the two mages and had to rely heavily on using spells to get me through mob fights. It might behoove someone who is just to start out to think a bit about who they will take on the journey but overall the game is completable with any team composition.

If this game seems like it might relieve your RPG itch or if you are looking to try it out before you, you can grab either the demo or the full game exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. Whatever path you start off with, I hope it leads to a fun filled experience that might spark you to go on your own adventures.

Originally published in Bear World Magazine

Argenis Reyes

[He/Him] Argenis, also known as Henny, has been passionate about video games since he was 6 years old. He currently spends most of his evenings playing on his PS4 and Switch while writing his own fantasy novel series