We bring you our final impressions of Octopath Traveler, the new JRPG developed by Square Enix (by the responsible of Bravely Default) for Nintendo Switch. This is how our first hours are going along the paths of the eight heroes who want to conquer us with an adventure with a classic flavor.
There is exactly one week left for Octopath Traveler to reach Nintendo Switch . The excitement at this new Square Enix JRPG, which has the producer of both deliveries of Bravely Default at the helm, is skyrocketing at the mercy of an artistic section and a style of play that manage to transport us to the golden age of the genre. But, above all, because Nintendo has already allowed us to try Project Octopath Traveler (which was its original name) twice, the second one less than a month ago, with a free demo whose data can be transferred to the final game .
We are already playing the final version for the analysis of Octopath Traveler for Nintendo Switch (very soon you can read it in these parts), and today we come to tell you our impressions of the first hours, specifically, until the end of chapter 2. And although “chapter 2” may sound little, we are really talking about the first 20 hours of play. It is a JRPG after all, and from Square Enix ensure that it will have a history of about 60 hours and will not have DLCs .
As you know, it is possible to start the adventure with any of the eight protagonists. In our case we start with Therion , the thief, who is skilled with daggers, swords and fire magic, and his path ability allows him to “borrow” the belongings of the NPC. Chapter 1 of the story of each character serves as a kind of tutorial, because in addition to presenting their motivations, we are explained the ins and outs of the combat system and how their path ability works.
The combat system of Octopath Traveler is developed by shifts and random encounters that are surprisingly agile. One of the keys is to find the weaknesses of the enemies, because by attacking them with the correct weapon or spell, we cause the state of rupture (to facilitate things, the weaknesses already discovered are shown at all times with a series of icons always present in screen). This prevents them from attacking during a turn and causes all the blows they receive in that state to cause double damage.
This is combined with the Impulse Mode: every time we make an attack, we get a momentum point that we can use during our turn (by pressing the R button) to increase the power or the number of attacks. A good idea, for example, is to attack the enemy until it causes the state break and then use the impulse mode to make several attacks in a row taking advantage of that state of weakness. And, to top it off, at the top we have the bar that indicates the succession of turns. In this way, all combats invite us to play strategically, trying to prevent enemies from even participating.
These are the basics, and things get complicated when several types of enemies with different weaknesses come into play, while increasing our repertoire of weapons and abilities. Especially during battles against bosses, which require a lot of strategy and can last for more than ten minutes.
At the end of Chapter 1 with Therion, the world of Orsterra opened before us. And he does it literally, because then we can go where we want. On the one hand we were shown the next goal in the story of Therion, its chapter 2, but the recommended level to tackle it was 22 (being us in 7). The other option was to go for any of the other seven characters, also marked on the map, to join our group.
This is undoubtedly one of the most unique aspects of Octopath Traveler, because within their freedom, the JRPG usually have a fairly linear development. Of course, when walking freely we came across many areas that marked a recommended level higher than ours, acting as a sort of indicator that tells us ” hey, here you better not go yet “. So, instead of pursuing Therion’s goal, we went in search of the character who came closest to us: the H’aanit hunter.
In order not to go crazy, the main objective (with a green marker) is shown on the map at all times. It is a detail that we liked a lot, since it also avoids something very common in JRPG, which is to advance by mistake in history, preventing us from doing any task or optional conversation that took place before. Along the way we also encounter some secondary mission, in which the characters’ path abilities play a great role.
They usually have simple objectives that can be completed in different ways (such as finding an object or discovering key information), but many of them work like a chain. So if we save a character in an area, we may find him hours later in another city, where he will take care of something new.
When we arrive at the village and talk to the hunter, we are given the possibility to start his story, which activates his chapter 1 (the introduction part). Once completed, the hunter joins the group and we can continue with the story. Or rather stories, because now we also had the possibility to go to the location of the beginning of Chapter 2 … That again marked a level far superior to ours. So, even though Octopath Traveler presents a free development, the game guides us in a very specific direction: to recruit the eight protagonists before doing anything.
This is interesting in terms of the relationships between the characters, because, theoretically, it should be possible to complete the game without recruiting them all. In fact, during these first hours and despite being in the same group, they do not interact with each other, which is somewhat strange. It is not until we get to chapter 2 (any of them) that the “group talk” option appears. When we are in the middle of the chapter, on the top right of the screen, a warning will appear indicating that by pressing the + button we can participate in a group talk. These are conversations that take place in the background, and involve the protagonist of the chapter in question and one of the other three members of the group that we carry at that moment (the maximum is four,
It is also interesting to note that in Octopath Traveler each character is different, especially when it comes to combat, which brings a lot of variety. The thief is the kind of agile character, with a lot of evasion and speed, who attacks first and dodges easily. H’aanit , on the other hand, is a kind of summoner, being able to catch beasts and call them in combat to execute attacks of different types. But when we really begin to feel that the fight opens and presents a variety of options is when secondary jobs come into play: these have to be obtained looking good (not part of the main story), and allow a character to learn a second class.
Of course, we must bear in mind that two characters can not have assigned the same secondary work. In our case, we assign Ophelia, whose basic office is a cleric (something like a white magician, dedicated to healing) the secondary scholar work (black magician, focused on the offensive magic), which made her a character very much more versatile Within each trade, we can learn (in the order we want) several skills using points of work, as well as passive skills. It is not the most elaborate development system in the world, but by having two trades and playing with the options, you can create quite interesting combinations.
Finally, we can only praise the wonderful audiovisual section of Octopath Traveler. The so-called “2D HD” style is wonderful, and we must highlight the great variety of areas we have seen in these early hours: snowy peaks, coastal areas, forests, deserts, plains … Although its structure is too similar. And no less wonderful is the soundtrack, composed by Yasunori Nishiki. The themes of the battles are incredibly catchy. You already know one of them , but when visiting areas of more advanced level the melody of the combats changes to a different one … And we assure you that it is just as catchy (or even more).
Remember that Octopath Traveler will arrive at Nintendo Switch on July 13, and that its producer assures that it is the evolution of Final Fantasy VI . Do you think that it will be able to rise to the occasion and become one of the best JRPG of all time?