A Great Exclusive for the Nintendo Switch and One of the Freshest JRPGs in Years!
The following review for Octopath Traveler for the Nintendo Switch was written using an advanced review copy of the game provided by the publisher.
The importance of high quality 3rd party exclusives in the current generation of consoles is a topic of much debate across the internet. Both Microsoft and Sony are still receiving exclusives from different game developers, but neither are getting the must have JRPG that Nintendo’s Switch is receiving – Octopath Traveler. While interest in JRPG games in North America & Europe has waned over the past decade there’s still a large following of fans for the genre. If you enjoy traditional RPGs/JRPGs than Octopath Traveler embodies some of the best elements of the genre. Octopath Traveler has all the polish and clever mechanics that made its publisher a leader in video game design & story telling.
Octopath Traveler breaks from the tradition of a single protagonist & linear story-telling by allowing the player to choose between 1 of 8 different main characters. Each character has a different story and main-quest. Along with each character belonging to a different skill class each character also starts their personal story somewhere unique on the world map. Each character’s starting point is so different that it can be easier to start one character’s adventure first over others. For instance, one character is a merchant, who by herself isn’t very strong or powerful but is a fun character to acquire in your party later-on. Starting the game as one character also allows you to visit and recruit the game’s other main-characters into your party. This feature is one of the best mechanics in the game, allowing harder to use characters a fighting chance by playing more powerful/easier characters first and recruiting the harder to use characters. Unfortunately character stories rarely cross or interact in any fashion. Cut scenes for most characters remove other non-related main-characters in your party from the scene – making the Octopath Traveler’s story somewhat hollow in ways. Each of the eight characters is setting out in the world to accomplish some type of quest, from recovering a stolen book to finishing a sacred holy quest. There’s no main bad guy in Octopath Traveler. This isn’t a bad thing, with the world full of characters, NPCs and fantasy lore about the game’s world.
The graphics in Octopath Traveler are a wonderful mesh of 16bit retro pixel art mixed in with HD outlines and effects. The whole experience feels very clean throughout the world’s many different kinds of environments. There are many towns/cities in Octopath Traveler, with each of the main characters calling one their hometown. The art design along with contemporary enhancements makes Octopath Traveler one of the best looking JRPGS in years. For Nintendo Switch owners that appreciate a good looking hybrid retro RPG – Octopath is for you!
The music in Octopath Traveler matches its retro fused visuals. The different melodies seem on par with JRPGs of the 90’s, like Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire. The music in Octopath Traveler can be enjoyed anywhere with Octopath Traveler Wayfairer’s Edition – which includes a CD soundtrack of the game.
Square Enix really put the premium polish on Octopath Traveler, from its graphics, story and music. But one of my favorite parts of Octopath Traveler is the game’s battle engine. Like most JRPGs Octopath Traveler utilizes a turned based battle engine. One of the main focuses of the engine is enemy weaknesses. Enemies in Octopath Traveler have one or more weaknesses, which once figured-out allows the player to take advantage pretty easily. For instance, targeting a monster that is weak against cold with an ice spell will disable the monster for a turn. Each enemy has a defense stat that goes down every time you successfully land an attack that its weak against. Bringing their defense stat down to zero causes a “Break”, which leaves the enemy incapacitated for one or more turns. The whole secret to the battling the many monsters in Octopath Traveler is to take advantage of enemy weaknesses.
Square Enix also made other improvements to the standard RPG formula. Difficulty notices appear for every area of the game, warning players on the difficulty level of monsters in upcoming areas the player is approaching. Characters can acquire secondary job classes, which is helpful for some of the non-warrior character types in the game. After spending job points on certain skills for some characters can unlock secondary skills which act passively and can be toggled on and off. In fact some of these secondary skills can be quite useful, and can mix up the adventuring experience.
In conclusion Octopath Traveler is one of the best RPGs on the Swtich. Its mix of retro and contemporary art styles makes it one of the best looking JRPGs in recent memory. For Switch owners worried that Square-Enix was releasing another so-so game for a Nintendo console you’ll be happy with Octopath Traveler. There’s plenty of game here, with our playtime reaching about 70 hours in total (without completing every characters main story or side quests).
Octopath Traveler Nintendo Switch Review Score:
Pros – Graphics, Story and Replay Value
Cons – Some story elements pretty shallow and not original. Some characters are difficult to start the game as, harder learning curves for some characters and their starting points.
- Graphics: 9.5/10
- Music & Sound: 9/10
- Gameplay: 9/10
- Replay Value: 9.5/10
- Final Score: 9.2/10