One finds it hard to not ruin the narrative in expansive titles such as this, with each character having such a rich and in some cases dark background, it’s a hard urge to ignore. This reviewer was filled with childhood curiosity roaming the in-game world and meeting the other 7 characters in game. Racing to them to find out what their abilities are, what kind of monsters and bosses will be around their area and how much better will the weapons and armour be in the next town. One hasn’t been so engrossed by a title in years. It’s kind of magical.
When meeting the other characters in-game, players are given the option to play through their first chapter of their story so that they may join the players party. This then gives players access to the new characters’ abilities both in and out of battle. This writer kicked things off with a female hunter named H’aanit who, like Muffasa, is a great believer in the circle of life and only killing wildlife for survival. In fact, she can summon beasts to fight for her in battle by catching them in the wild. As a massive Pokémon fan, it was like Octopath Traveller reached into my soul and decided a character for me. Imagine the sorting hat of J-RPGS.
Got to Catch ‘Em All!
H’aanit’s ability outside of battle is provoking villagers and travellers to fight her captured beasts, which becomes a great way to gain some quick experience outside of monster zones. As for the other characters’ abilities, they all provide a new mechanic which allows access to new content. Whilst getting the most out of this required re- treading discovered areas, this doesn’t feel like repetitive gameplay due to that need to find out what may have been missed previously.
Let’s cut to the chase and talk about the all-important battle system, which is brilliant! All characters’ abilities are catered for with a changeable menu option for their ability. For example, H’aanits ability is Beast-Lore which then opens up to summoning a beast players have captured or the option to capture another. A percentage change rating will display above the beast so players know the chances of a successful capture. Beast will then have a limited about of times to be summoned before going back into the wild. This is just one character’s ability out of 7!
The main aim of gameplay is to experiment with different weapons, attack styles and characters to find various beasts, monsters weaknesses. Once said weakness has been found, players can power up the effective attacks with boost energy up to three times (Boost energy is gained once per turn). Hitting enemies with more effective weapons and moves will break their shields in what is called ‘A Break’ (OMG).
**Takes off red cap** This is a prime time for players to push out all of their higher level moves whilst the opponent defences are down for maximum damage. This is easier said than done in the later game when bosses have shockingly high defences and wild areas are packed with higher level beasties. That being said, the balance has been struck just right on random encounters. The mechanic never feels over powering. Wild areas are also filled with loot, healing foods and more to help players get through.
The later game becomes a juggling act between breaking opponents, damaging them, healing and defence. Each character has skills which cater for the aforementioned activities. Whilst strategically buff, the battle system flows and is manageable. Not once did this writer feel over faced, this is due to the gradual progression of Octopath Traveller instead of sudden spikes in difficulty. The exception of course being boss battles.
Straight in the feels!
Octopaths quirks are all beautifully displayed in a 2.5D 16-Bit render with lovingly hand crafted textures, characters and scenery. Sometimes the detail in textures can make certain pathways unnoticeable, its half the fun of the game. Although Octopath Traveller is an ‘on the Rails’ experience, its freedom lies in exploring the given area. And to great effect, this game is littered with goodies.
The score is also beautiful and memorable. Typical of its genre, symphonic drifts into melodies whilst exploring change pace in battle to more of a charging orchestra. Octopath Travellers audio perfection is also thanks to the brilliant voice actors who portray main characters and some supporting ones. Whilst the game isn’t fully voice acted, the most important scenes are. Pulling off Old English in a 2018 game without a cheese board in sight is a massive accomplishment. The SFX of this title are also calling back to a time gone by of the classic bit era of J-RPGS.
Graphics and Presentation: 5
Overall Score: 5/5
Octopath Traveller isn’t a love note to the legacy of its genre, it re-defines it. The intricate storytelling, natural graphics progression, Soundtrack, voice acting, mechanics and more are all absolutely spot on. Don’t miss out on the run-away success of Octopath Traveller!
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
- Release Date: 13/07/2018
- Price: £49.99
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Square Enix
- Review Copy provided by Publisher.