Octopath Traveler | First Impressions

Octopath Traveler is a truly special RPG experience in 2018. The way it blends modern art direction with classic gameplay mechanics is amazing and anyone that is looking for a call back to the SNES days of classic turn based RPG’s is in for a treat.

I have made it through the first chapter of each of the eight travelers so I’m about fifteen or so hours into the game. I’ve done some side quests, used path actions unique to each traveler and learned the battle system over my time with the game and I feel well prepared to take on what lies ahead. Square Enix has something special here and the game’s design is just so well structured. Catering to short and long play sessions alike. If you want to play for an hour or five hours at a time, you feel like decent progress is being made regardless. That’s what a portable game needs to do and Octopath Traveler accomplishes this very well.

Each Traveler has their own backstory, their own special attacks, weapon sets, and path actions. Path actions are special skills that cater specifically to the characters they align with and how their story progresses. You choose one Traveler at the beginning to start your journey with and then you’re able to recruit the rest of the travelers as you progress, freely swapping out the ones that work best for each situation. The map is quite open to you after you make it through the first chapter and you can basically go where you please at this point. I would personally recommend recruiting all eight travelers before moving to the following chapters so that you can really see the situational battle techniques in action allowing for more flexibility in the late game with your party.

With eight travelers comes eight storylines, some are better than others with Therion, Primrose, and Tressa being my favorites in terms of plot direction and purpose. I find some of the characters storylines lacking a bit at least in their first chapters, but until I progress through them all I can’t say if they’re duds or not. I chose Therion from the beginning and while I think his story is great, his skill set seems a bit lacking early in the campaign compared to some of the other travelers. But, his steal health ability really comes through in a pinch. Your starting Traveler is the party leader and the only character that can’t be swapped in and out during the story. This is fine because the other three can be swapped out freely but I actually really enjoy trying out the different party dynamics early in the game and the first chapters are really great for that.

There’s something to be said about Octopath Traveler’s ability to blend classic turn based design with new and innovative features that I’ve never seen before in a JRPG. The break system is great and identifying the weaknesses of your enemies is key. I found this to be a blast right from the jump and the more skills I unlock for each of the characters, the deeper it gets. Octopath Traveler does a great job of guiding you through a complex battle system and letting you experiment to learn things on your own. The battles are all very rewarding and can be quite challenging. Everything from level and skill set to weapons and party members equipped can have a huge effect on the outcome of any given fight and that’s exactly what I want out of a turn-based RPG.

The boss fights are one of the areas where this game truly shines. Each boss I’ve encountered so far has been truly unique and challenging. I find myself having to experiment and plan out my approach in order to efficiently get through it and it’s great fun and a rewarding experience all the same. To avoid spoilers I won’t go into too much detail here because I’m happy to have experienced each one first hand for myself. These are a blast to play through and the game does a great job of pacing the random encounters to prepare you for what’s to come.

Like I said before, I’m only 15 or so hours into the game but I can honestly say I’m having a blast with Octopath Traveler. This is a great summer game that has me coming back for more every chance I get. I can’t get enough of what’s here and I think that if JRPG’s in classic style are what you miss the most about old school gaming then this one’s for you.

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