Travel the World with a Band of Eight in This Turn-Based JRPG
Octopath Traveler is a turn-based single-player role-playing video game developed by Square Enix, in collaboration with Acquire. Here, you direct the journey of eight characters coming together from all over the land of Orsterra to travel the world for personal reasons. Each of them is unique in every way and the player must utilize this. They can share their valuable skills in combat and in progressing through each other’s dramatic stories, and they must work together to resolve their ambitions and eventually save Orsterra from the approaching darkness.
Eight’s an Army
You start off by choosing your main character among the eight different characters—who is essentially just the first character you’ll be using at the beginning—and each of them starts on different parts of Orsterra. No matter who you choose won’t matter much, as you will live through the rest of the others’ prologues anyways. You will go on completing each chapter of their tales, as well, leading to up to more than 40 hours of gameplay in a single playthrough. But while the game emphasizes the expansive storylines for the eight characters, there’s a lot of plotholes with the very fact that they’re all traveling together. When you do a story chapter for anyone, the game acts as if your characters are still all alone and not with any allies, even though you progress through the towns and dungeons in a full party. It’s a bit rectified in all of their Chapter Two and beyond with “Travel Banters”, wherein you get seven short cutscenes with the main star of the chapter talking briefly with the others about what’s happening, but even then, it’s very lacking. It doesn’t impact the main storylines at all, and the rest of the party feels invisible whenever you start a new story chapter, which is more than a little jarring.
Turn It Up
However, Octopath Traveler’s combat system and world design greatly counteract any hard feelings towards the story mechanics. The game is reminiscent of a classic Japanese RPG with turn-based combat. Heightened with new battle features, the eight characters’ unique play styles, and the various ways they can be strengthened with the Sub-Job/Class system, Octopath Traveler challenges you in becoming an efficient tactician to overcome difficult fights. The interesting implementation of “HD-2D”—a combination of retro pixelated textures with polygonal environments and high-definition effects—makes Orsterra an exciting world to explore as you experience the eight storylines. The game’s soundtrack itself immediately brings back old JRPG nostalgia and pumps you up every time. Even the Japanese and English voice-acting add to the game’s overall appeal as an adventure you won’t forget. Perhaps the only drawback to this beautifully-crafted world is that it’s not as vastly explorable as its JRPG predecessors, but even that doesn’t detract from the game’s inherent beauty.
Traveling is a Journey for the Soul
Octopath Traveler is a wonderful game that brings back old-school turn-based strategy and delivers it in a gorgeously-designed world full of twists and turns for eight colorful main characters you can control together. However, it also lacks in storyline cohesiveness and the chance to make a full exploration of the world map. The characters rarely feel connected despite being in a party, when their stories should be interwoven. The battles get you excited but once the episodic chapters come again, it gets tedious since you can’t see it impacting the rest of the cast. Octopath Traveler aims high, but it doesn’t quite get to the top. If you love JRPGs all the same, though, this is highly recommended.