Octopath Traveler is less than two weeks away from release and has already received great reviews from gamers and press. Of course that is largely thanks to its excellent demo. Despite the time limit players have already spent more time playing the demo than other titles.
I’ve taken a look at some of the features that make Octopath Traveler so popular and want to highlight the top 5.
5. It’s a true Square Enix JRPG
If you’ve been growing up playing the earlier Final Fantasy games or Chrono Trigger, you don’t want to miss this modern take on those classics. The beautiful pixel art mixed with a great soundtrack serves well to enhance the unique story-telling experience. And speaking of the story: Despite the game’s cute looks, the background story and some of the dialogs and encounters turn out to be quite dark and serious.
In fact there are at least eight story-lines, one for each character, and you will be able to play through all of them without having to restart from the beginning. And while parties in previous JRPGs also regularly consisted of multiple characters, Octopath Traveler is taking it a bit further with giving each of them an equal part in the game’s story.
4. Gorgeous and cleverly crafted zones
Not only is the world map absolutely beautiful, the zones themselves are where the pixel art really starts to shine. There is a large variety of different biomes, each with different and stunningly gorgeous atmospheric effects. Such as the dark and foggy Whistlewood, where trees often block parts of the view in way that could make you feel slightly lost. Because encounters are random and can happen at any time, this creates an additional sense of danger.
Luckily the zones are designed in way where you can’t really get lost, although you’ll often stumble into cleverly hidden pathways that lead to treasure chests or other secret areas. Sometimes you’ll see a chest in the distance and wonder how to get there, only to find a hidden entrance at the other side of the zone that takes you through behind previous obstacles.
3. Character Progression
I’ve already talked about the eight different characters that give the game its name. What I haven’t mentioned so far is that each one of them has a completely unique play style, thanks to their different abilities and path skills. For example when having Tressa in your party you gain the ability to trade with most NPCs you encounter, often getting access to items you would otherwise miss. She also has some unique combat abilities, such as collecting money from foes or paying mercenaries to come to your aid.
As your characters gain experience they will unlock more abilities and support skills. Because not all characters can use all weapons, you’ll have to balance your party to cover a decent range of different abilities while still having access to useful path skills.
If you expect the same type of combat you’d find in the classic JRPG you won’t be disappointed. In fact, thanks to Octopath’s unique mechanics, combat is fun, challenging, and doesn’t get tedious. Encounters are random, but certain skills or items can decrease or increase the chance to get caught by monsters when traveling through the zones. That way you can have some influence on the encounter rate and pick your battles, for example if you want to avoid combat in low-XP zones to save time.
Enemies in Octopath Traveler come in large varieties and all of them have certain weaknesses. To find them, you’ll have to go through trial and error to find out which weapon or magic is particularly effective – or use Cyrus‘ Study ability. Once you found a weakness, exploiting it will let you break the enemies defense and temporarily stun them, inflicting more damage on follow-up attacks. This keeps combat interesting, as you will have to change your tactics from encounter to encounter.
While regular encounters start out relatively harmless, you’ll quickly run into powerful enemies and bosses that will make quick work of unprepared parties. A good group synergy and clever item management help turn the scales.
1. It’s on the Switch!
The Nintendo Switch has just been killing it with great games so far, and Octopath Traveler might just be one of the best ones this year. Plus: It’s exclusive!
No matter if you’re playing docked on a large screen or in handheld mode in bed or on your commute, Octopath Traveler looks beautiful and the ability of the Switch to just drop it and pick up again later suits it perfectly.
Fortunately the game is almost here. You can get it on the Nintendo shop or if you prefer a physical version, get it from Amazon!
Check out the Octopath Traveler Beginner’s Guide!