Octopath Traveler – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based JRPG
Developer: Square Enix, Acquire
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: PC

Octopath Traveler – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: Amazing retro-style graphics, beautiful soundtrack, great combat system
Bad: Character stories are a bit uninspired and feel really separate, the game feels rather grindy as you go on
User Score
8.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Octopath Traveler is an homage to the JRPG games of the 16-bit era. The beautiful artwork makes you feel nostalgic with the retro pixel-art look and combined with beautiful modern effects it gives the game a great look. The game follows the personal stories of several characters and also has an overarching plot.

Story

Octopath Traveler tells the stories of eight separate characters. All of these characters have a reason to travel the world, and during your journey, you will be able to fulfill their personal quests. At the beginning of the game, you can choose one of these eight characters, and you’ll play their introduction story. This will take about an hour, and after that, you will be able to explore the rest of the world. As soon as you encounter one of the other characters, you can play through their story as well, and add them to your team. Eventually, you’ll collect all eight characters. Each character has to go through several chapters to finish their personal story, and these chapters all offer interesting boss fights.

The stories of the characters are fun to play through, although they are a bit cliché. For instance: the merchant Tressa wishes to become a great businesswoman, the dancer Primrose wants revenge for the death of her father, the cleric Ophelia needs to finish her pilgrimage, the scholar Cyrus is in search of an invaluable lost tome, etc. The stories of the characters are separate; they don’t intersect, story-wise, and there’s not an overarching plot tying all eight stories together. Whenever you finish the story of the character you started out with, you’ll see the credits roll, but you’ll be able to reload the game to finish the rest of the stories.

But the world of Octopath Traveler doesn’t only follow the stories of these eight travelers; as you travel the world, you’ll learn that a great evil is about to be awoken. A few world bosses have a short story leading you to the ultimate fight against them; the biggest of which is Galdera. Galdera is the final boss of the game, and you’ll need all of the eight characters in order to beat him. Artifacts you’ll find when traveling will tell you that Galdera is a fallen god who was imprisoned, and you’ll need to defeat him before he can be unleashed into the world.

Graphics

The graphics of the game are great! The visual art style is close to the typical retro 16-bit pixel art style, but these textures have been placed on 3D objects you’ll mostly view from the side like a diorama, emulating depth-of-field with a blurry foreground and background. The use of light and shadow is beautiful and brings a lot of atmosphere to each scene. The characters look like the chibi pixel sprites you’ll probably be very familiar with if you played 16-bit RPGs. The boss monsters have great looking and detailed pixel graphics and are always animated. The special effects during a fight, especially spell casting, look absolutely stunning and really impressive.

Sound

The soundtrack is very beautiful, fitting to the genre and setting the mood for each area. The boss battle music will always rile you up for the fight! Parts of the game are fully voice acted, but mostly it’s just a few lines of the character which are narrated, and the rest you’ll just read in the text bubbles on screen. You can choose between either English or Japanese voices.

Gameplay

Octopath Traveler is a turn-based combat RPG and plays like a typical retro JRPG like Final Fantasy 6. You’ll battle a lot of monsters, follow the stories of the characters, explore an expansive overworld and find hidden treasures.

Each character has a different skill-set and different unique abilities, not just during battles, but outside of fighting as well. For instance, you’ll be able to steal items from NPCs with the thief, but if you’re not careful this could damage your reputation within that town. With the dancer’s skill ‘allure’ you’ll sometimes be able to unlock more side quests when talking to NPCs, or with the fighter’s skill, you can challenge NPCs to a duel, knocking them out when you win.  As you progress through the game, you’ll also be able to find items that can grant characters a secondary job, which will supplement their skills as well. These jobs offer a lot of variety; changing the weapons they can equip, or adding different types of damage they can bring to the fight. The job items can be equipped to any character, so you’ll be able to play around with these items and use them to your liking to build a powerful team.

During battles, you’ll notice there’s a certain turn order in which your party member and the enemies will attack, which can be modified by the skills you use. Each enemy also had several weaknesses you can exploit, but you’ll have to uncover these weaknesses first. When you attack with skills and weapons weakening the enemy, you can eventually break the enemy, which stuns it and makes it skip a turn. Each character will also gain Bonus points each round, which can make your attacks more powerful. So sometimes it can be useful to wait to attack until the enemy is vulnerable. You’ll need to make strategic use of the character’s special skills and unique weapons in order to fight efficiently.

Cities and villages offer many NPCs which will give you some simple side-quests. You’ll be able to fast-travel to villages, which makes it easy to re-visit an area if you haven’t fully explored it. There are many dungeons that aren’t mandatory for a storyline which you can explore to gain some more loot and money.

When you are exploring, you’ll be able to spot a chest every now and then, which you can reach through hidden paths when you’re exploring. The chests aren’t the only hidden thing in this game though, when you’ve finished all of the stories and finish some other side-quests, you’ll be led to a secret dungeon full of challenging enemies, lore, and an end-game boss!

The final boss Galdera needs all eight characters to fight, so you’ll need to level up all of them to be able to tackle the fight. When you chose a character, to begin with, you won’t be able to remove them from your party until you finish their story. However, due to level restrictions of certain areas, you won’t be able to finish one story at the time, so if you get distracted a lot, you’ll probably end up with your main character being pretty high level compared to the rest. However, seeing as you need to level up quite a bit anyhow, the rest will catch up eventually. The difficulty of the fights you’ll encounter during the introduction stories of the characters will scale with your progress, making the fights challenging even if you already have all characters added to your team.

In order to level up all characters to be able to battle the game’s final boss Galdera, you’ll notice that the game does get a bit grindy. The stories are fun to play through when you are starting out, but finishing all eight stories isn’t that much fun after finishing the first ones. The stories all follow a simple structure and feel a bit repetitive after a while. Besides playing through the stories, you’ll need to level your characters as well to reach the recommended level for an area.

Conclusion

Octopath Traveler is a nice retro-style J-RPG with beautiful art and a great soundtrack. This game will be a delight for fans of the Japanese RPGs of the 16-bit era! The amazing art has a great retro vibe with the pixel-art sprites but 3D objects and modern light effects. The game will guarantee you many hours of gameplay; you’ll probably need at least 50 hours to play through all stories, explore, and be able to face the boss Galdera. The stories of the characters are interesting to play through, but it is a pity the stories are all separate from each other. The battle system requires you to think about your strategy, making it fun to play around with items and skills. This game is recommended for anyone who adores the typical JRPG playstyle!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Octopath Traveler - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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