With the recent release of Octopath Traveler, I just had to make sure I had enough time to sit down and really sink into the game. However, I wasn't quite ready for just how consumed I would become by this amazing kingdom of Orsterra; the land, the characters, and the stories all add up to a truly amazing and unforgettable experience.
For those of you that are unsure of what Octopath Traveler is, allow me to quickly explain: this game is an attempt to recreate the feel and joy of old-school JRPGs, while also sporting a modern flair. Much unlike I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear however, of which both attempted a similar goal, Octopath really holds up as unique and refreshing. You pick one of 8 Characters to start as, and will spend the rest of your journey helping out all of these characters through their personal stories, as well as many NPC side quests. The game is packed with content, and any RPG lover will find a much needed refreshing experience.
When Square Enix first revealed this game as Project Octopath Traveler back in 2017, I was blown away by just the concept of the game: it held so much promise, and I was instantly excited to await the game's unknown release date. The art style, music, characters, and combat were some of the first things we started to see; all of these things just felt new, and were a joy to look at and learn about. Of course, people were also sceptical, as the aforementioned I Am Setsuna didn't really hit home for many JRPG fans that were previously looking for that nostalgic feeling.
Regardless, I was hyped for this game, and couldn't wait to finally get my hands on it!
The gameplay, for any of you that are curious, is thrilling and engaging: Travelling from town to town, meeting new people, and overcoming their task at hand through both investigation and challenging boss battles... I can't get enough.
While some can (and do) argue that the gameplay can feel repetitive, I think it's safe to assume the repetition is as expected. I understand why people might feel it this way, but in my opinion, it's as repetitive as the next JRPG: combat is a must for progression, higher level areas pave the way for progression, and the structure of each chapter is extremely similar.
What saves the game for me, in this regard, is the combat and storytelling. Let's go into that:
The combat is, of course, classic turn-based strategy. However, strategy is truly an emphasis in this game, as it will turn the tide and flip the tables if you aren't paying attention. Octopath features an armour-system with enemies, each of which having their own defences.
This means that in the heat of battle, you have to determine what the enemies' weaknesses are, who can perform those weaknesses, and how quickly you can 'break' the opponents. 'Break' meaning deplete the enemy armour rating to zero, therefore exploiting their vulnerabilities, and making them miss their next turn in the fight.
This adds such a thrilling aspect to the battles you will face, and really makes you think about how to go about each and every fight.
As for the storytelling: It's 100% fantastic.
Now I'm not sure what other people are saying about the characters' story-lines just yet, and I haven't completed each one of them myself so far, but I will confidently say that the stories are amazing.
While not all of them can be completely unique, and may hold aspects of a cliche from time to time, the cutscenes and dialogue themselves really hold a lot of emotion and weight. The game is not afraid to tackle serious matters, such as the kidnapping (and nearly murder) of a child, or the internal struggles of PTSD. For this, the game only shines brighter.
In a game that holds true to the old-style JRPGs, while maintaining a friendly and cute art style, seeing such matters played out in these stories really puts it yet another step up in the 'Brilliant Game' category.
If you have any interest in music whatsoever, then please go an listen to the Octopath OST: this game boasts a beautifully crafted collection of songs, all with powerful emotions and feelings. My personal favourites from the Sountrack so far are Primrose's Theme, and the Battle Theme II. Such amazing pieces of work, and I can't help but hum along with the tunes as they play out. Definitely a soundtrack to remember.
The final thing I just wanted to mention is the graphics: this new "HD-2D" style is like nothing I have ever seen before, and I really want to see more and more games pursue this kind of look in the future. The graphics alone were one of the biggest reasons I initially fell in love with this game, and even now (45 hours in) the visuals continue to send me into a trance of awe.
A big reason I am falling in love with this game even more, is that it makes me feel the way I did when I first played through Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. Octopath is compelling and so unique, that it just has to be played by everyone with a Switch.
I haven't really every done a rating fora Video Game or anything like that, so I'll just say that Octopath Traveler is already a classic, and one at that which should be a wide-shared experience. The game is seeing a lot of success, selling out globally as time goes on; some orders are even backlogged for months.
With such success flooding from this game and its community, I think it highly likely that we will one day see another game from these developers; whether it be a direct sequel, or a spiritual successor, I hope for the best in seeing what more this studio can produce with what they have learnt.
Get this game.