Timogorgon gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
Timogorgon gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
A love letter to the 16-bit era of JRPGs.

Octopath Traveler is a single player RPG developed by Square Enix and Aquire Corp. and released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. Set in the world of Orsterra the game follows 8 protagonists through their own personal stories which eventually intertwine and form a larger overarching plot. Each character has a unique job with unique combat abilities. Each protagonist also has a “Path Ability” which can be used outside of battle to help the party complete side quests, access secret items/paths, or recruit NPCs to help the party.

The first thing you probably notice about Octopath Traveler is its “HD-2D” (as dubbed by Square Enix) graphical style which combines traditional sprites with high definition effects and environments. The results are absolutely stunning. Octopath Traveler is a beautiful game. One of my only complaints is that the depth of field seems a little too shallow at times, obscuring some of the backgrounds. The 8 heroes are beautifully animated and the sprites for enemies are big and highly detailed.

Many Square Enix games are known for having amazing soundtracks and Octopath Traveler doesn’t disappoint. Composer Yasunori Nishiki doesn’t have many games under his belt, but if this game is any indication then his will be a career to pay attention too. (For an example, see: https://youtu.be/se4WxWXMBwE)

In terms of gameplay this is a very traditional JRPG with turn based battles and menu based combat. There are a few new twists to mix things up, such as each enemy having a defense (indicated by a shield with a number on it) that can be broken by attacking the enemy with weapons or elements they are weak to. Once their defense is broken the enemy is stunned for a turn and takes extra damage from all attacks during that round. Every turn your party members also gain a Boost Point which can be stored (up to 5) and used to boost the power of spells, abilities, or to attack multiple times in a row. These minor tweaks to an old formula keep the battles fresh and allow you to form strategies about when it’s best to burn through your boost points to quickly break an enemies defenses or store them up so you can drop massive amounts of damage when they’re weak.

Much like the JRPGs of yore this game is fairly difficult and there are times when you need to slow down and grind out a few levels before taking on the next boss or advancing to the next area. HP and MP are not restored between battles without items, using an ability or spell, or staying at an Inn. You will need to plan ahead and make sure you stock up on items whenever you’re about to leave a town. Characters level independently and only those in your group earn XP. So if you want to have a variety of characters available you’ll need to switch them out periodically. In time you will unlock the ability to assign each character a subjob based on one of the other protagonists, allowing you to mix-and-match their abilities.

JRPGs are also known for their plots and Octopath Traveler is no exception. Although I have yet to finish the storyline (I’m about 30 hours in) the plot so far is interesting and all the characters are likeable enough. The writing is acceptable for the most part. There is one area where all the characters speak in an exaggerated “Ye Olde English” that I found particularly annoying, but your mileage may vary. The voice acting is also hit and miss. Dialogue for the main story is fully voice acted, but side quests and minor plot areas only have an occasional gasp or “Ok!” which I could have done without.

If you are a fan of the genre then I would highly recommend giving Octopath Traveler a try. For one thing there is a demo available, so why not give it a go? If you’re new to RPGs and especially to JRPGs then there are more accessible titles you may want to try first. Overall I rate this game a Rad on the Ghost Scale.