Octopath Traveler Review

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Octopath Traveler is a 16-bit JRPG with turn-based combat released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. As noted by the name, there is a choice of eight different starting characters, all with their own unique story. 

Graphics

Octopath Traveler uses updated SNES-style 16-bit graphics, which are beautifully crafted continually making me impressed with the scenery. There are many different environment types you will be traversing through including snowy areas, forests, and beaches. That amount of variety allows the graphics to keep feeling fresh from start to finish.

Octopath Traveler also has an incredible orchestrated soundtrack to match the fantastic graphic-style. In fact, I enjoyed the soundtrack so much I have listened to it several times outside of the game. There is a lot of variety regarding the soundtrack too, including slow, somber tracks, along with high-intensity fast-paced tracks. 

The graphic-style along with the soundtrack make Octopath Traveler one of the most artistically pleasing games I have experienced in a long time. 

Story

Octopath Traveler is unique due to having eight different starting characters, all with their own story to follow. The great thing about that mechanic is that no matter which character you choose, you will still be able to follow all of the characters stories as the other seven characters are available to be added to your party. However, whichever character you choose to start with will have to remain in your party until you complete their story.

The eight stories are all somewhat unique in their own way, and one didn't stand out as superior to the others. Most of them were fine, and a few felt sluggish. 

Gameplay

The primary gameplay in Octopath Traveler is the turned-based combat, which involves random encounters where you don't know when a battle will start.

When an encounter occurs, there is an order shown in which each character attacks. Each character has different roles in combat. For example, Cyrus the Scholar has a focus on elemental spells, Ophilia the Cleric has a focus on healing, and Olberic the Warrior has melee combat. You can only have 4/8 of the characters in battle at once, so you must pick which ones you want to create the best team possible.

If you are in combat against an enemy you haven't encountered before, there will be "?" boxes underneath them, and once you figure out what type of attack they are weak too, the box will become filled with the weakness and make future encounters easier. 

Each enemy also has a "Break Point" where once it is depleted to zero makes the enemy unable to attack in the current round (if they haven't attacked yet) and the next along with weakened defenses. The "break points" only decrease if an enemy is hit by an attack type it is weak against. 

There is also a boosting mechanic in combat where for every turn you gain one boost point. A boost point allows weapon attacks to hit multiple times at once in the same turn, and magic attacks to be more powerful. You can store up to four boost points. Coupling this with the "breaking point" and combat can become very strategic. 

As with most turn-based JRPGs, there will be a point where you end up grinding battles to help level up. The deep combat system does help get rid of some of the repetitiveness of that. 

There are also many side quests to complete which are mostly helping an NPC in some way. These involve retrieving an item, escorting them somewhere, clearing some enemies. Some of the side quests require a specific party members ability. However, there are "Job shrines" which allow characters to learn the skill of another character. 

Overall  I thought the gameplay was enjoyable, and the various mechanics in the combat made for an unexpectedly deep combat system.

Verdict

Octopath Traveler has an amazing artistic experience, so-so stories, and a surprisingly deep combat system. If you own a Nintendo Switch, and enjoy JRPGs with turn-based combat, Octopath Traveler is for you.

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