By Jenae R / June 4th, 2018
Having only just recently gotten a Nintendo Switch, I finally had the chance to give the Octopath Traveler demo a try. I’ve heard that the game is fantastic and had been looking forward to trying it out. I have quite a few thoughts about this game as well as some hopes. With Square Enix though, you never know for sure how things will go. So let’s jump into it, we’re going to find out if the demo lived up to the expectations I had for it and see if I think the full game will be worth it, based on my first impessions.
First things first, let me just say that this demo gave me the same thrill and excitement I had from back in 2014 when I played the Bravely Default demo. That shouldn’t be a shock considering Octopath Traveler is being done by the same team who gave us the Bravely games. The overall atmosphere of Octopath is wonderful. These modern day, retro styled JRPG games, from more well known companies at least, really do come out excellent. Every game will have its flaws and these types of games aren’t an exception, yet they rarely fail to get me hooked. The music is beautiful and fits the scenarios going on, the art is perfect for it, not only the official art you don’t see during gameplay, but also the in-game scenery.
And while I’m on the topic of gameplay, it mostly plays like what you would expect of an old school, turn-based RPG. A few of its more unique features include the ability to break through your opponent’s shield points and then attack them multiple times in one turn. In addition to that, each character has their own specific skill they can use in town, such as Primrose’s ability to take random townspeople with her using Allure. She can then summon them as AI controlled helpers in battle for a limited number of turns. Overall, the charm infused into this title brings it all together into one glorious piece of artwork.
Now one of the worries that someone like me could have is that what happened to Bravely Second in localization has the potential to happen again to Octopath Traveler. Fortunately, I recently realized after watching the release date announcement trailer that this game is a worldwide release. Based on my knowledge of past games receiving a simultaneous worldwide release, I believe there isn’t enough time to make that many changes between the different regions’ versions. Usually they’re all very similar games without anything cut out. Hopefully what we receive here in the West will remain just as charming as what releases in the developers’ home country. I also have hopes that this is to be a long game, much like Bravely Default, only without the largely repetitive middle chunk of content. Octopath Traveler is the type of game that is just too good, too beautiful, and too fun and I could see myself quite sad if it ends up cut short. I’m already excited to play the full title after finishing up the demo and I’d like my time spent with it to be a decent length. I do worry that with all of the alternate stories and choices to be made, this won’t be the longest RPG out there. Alternate stories do add a replayable factor, although whenever you already have an idea of what you’re doing, starting over from the beginning doesn’t take nearly as long to get through the second time around.
Lastly, the only other concerns I have for this game are some changes the developers announced that they’re making, having received thousands of responses from fans. A lot of players found the demo to be too challenging and difficult, thus Square Enix is working on improving the game’s balance. Personally, I found the game to be perfect as is. It’s possible I’m too used to difficult turn-based RPG titles, what with my love of Shin Megami Tensei as well as Etrian Odyssey. I felt the random battles in this game were reasonable enough. They started off a bit challenging, though each character begins with decent skills as well and it was easy to get money to upgrade your equipment. For the boss fights, all you had to do was prepare by leveling up an extra two or three levels and stock up on six or so healing items, in addition to a few SP refills. Afterwards, it’s much easier to take out the boss battle minions and get on an even playing field against the big guy. I only hope the difficulty isn’t lowered a ton, or at the very least they add various difficulty settings. Secondly, I really enjoyed the running speed featured in the demo. I like that with the B button pressed, you run no matter what and don’t always have to jam your analog stick down as far as it goes. The characters already run at the perfect speed to travel around in this not overly large, retro styled RPG.
In the end, based on my first impressions, Octopath Traveler looks to be a wonderful game. One that will be full of heart, beautiful art and music, as well as multiple storylines which will keep you glued to your Switch and wanting to keep going. At the moment we don’t know if there will be any major regional differences and the changes made based on fan feedback could very well lower the quality of this title. Aside from that, I have high hopes for Octopath Traveler. I very much am looking forward to it and just as Bravely Default didn’t disappoint me at retail release, I have faith that this development team’s newest work won’t either. I can’t wait for when it comes out in July. These are the kinds of titles Square Enix needs to keep putting out, because not all of their longtime fans are happy with the very AAA-esque direction they’ve taken with their recent larger titles.
What do you all think of this soon to be released project? What are you hopes for where the developers go with the concept? Let us know in the comments!
nintendo switchOctopath TravelerProject Octopath TravelerSquare Enix