I recently picked up my copy of Octopath Traveler, mainly because of the mass shortages of physical copies that every store was facing, but also because I needed something for a long road trip that me and my brother were about to take part in.
Little bit of back story:
My grandmother recently had a stroke and though she is recovering well and doing much better, my family decided that it was time to move her out to Mississippi with us. She has lived most of her life in Sylmar California and has always been reluctant to make the move, but after this incident, she finally came around and agreed that it would be best to be around family. We priced around town, trying to find different moving companies that could take on such a task, but all of them quoted some insane numbers….honestly I don’t blame them.
Wanting to save my grandmother some money that she will eventually need for her health care, my brother and I decided that we would fly back to our home state and drive a moving truck full of her stuff from California to Mississippi. 1,817 miles of mountains, desert, and swamps. On top of that, we had to be at work on Monday so that meant non stop driving and 8 hour rotations.
To much of my own amazement, we completed our journey in 34 hours and were back home around 2 Sunday morning. I never want to see another truck again…
I am telling you all of this in order to make it clear that I had some time to kill and I was able to put in some hours with Octopath Traveler.
Since this is a gaming blog, why not give my impressions of the game so far…
Octopath Traveler is not like most JRPGs, and that is just fine. The game has a unique way of making the combat engaging and fun, while also adding in complex layers that make the constant battles less of a grind and more of a learning exercise. I usually don’t like games that force you to run around the same area over and over in order to gain a few more levels needed to beat a boss, but I never felt like this aspect was a grind for this game. I wanted to level up my new party members when I got them, not needed to.
As of right now, this is where this game is lacking. There is not driving force in this game that would make you care too much about the characters, let alone the group dynamic. Though some of the story lines for one character might be better then the other, they never feel like they need each other. I felt as though the only reason why I needed to meet the other characters was because the enemies get way to difficult when you leave the area around your town and the extra back up is the only way through.
You have a choice, at the beginning of the game, to choose one of eight characters and that character will have to remain in your party until you have completed his or her story line. Each character has their own classic JRPG jobs so it basically comes down to which play style suits you best. I just wish that each character had a better reason for wanting to join up, other then they need back up during a certain task.
I chose Olbric as my starting character. He is a warrior who failed to protect his king during a war and has placed himself in exile until he can come to terms with his failure. He takes refuge in a village where he works as their protector from bandits, and he also trains the locals in fighting. During the events of his first chapter, you fight a person that wields the same sword as the one that killed his king, and after defeating this person in a duel, he gives you the location of the man that gave him the weapon. You are now on a quest to find this person that killed your king. Ok…got it….
Problem is that when you meet the next character who is wanting you to help drug some pirates in order to get supplies back to a village, it really doesn’t make any sense as to why he would want to help. If I have been wrestling with guilt over my failures as a soldier, why would I waste time on stupid tasks that have no bearing on my current situation?
So far, I have beaten every characters first chapter, and I am now trying to locate some secret shrines that grant you a second job….speaking of jobs….
This is one of the areas that sets this game apart from the rest of the JRPG genre. The combat is all turn based, but with some added flare that breaks up the monotony. Each enemy has certain attacks that they are weak to and a corresponding shield that tracks how many times you used an attack that can hurt it. Once you have hit it enough times, the enemy will break and loose its turn. During this time, normal attacks will do more damage. This is also a great time to heal up and get ready for the next assault.
You also have Battle Points, which give you a chance to attack up to four extra times in a single turn. You gain one battle point every turn and banking these points for when your enemy is broken can lead to some nasty damage.
This is the other area where this game truly shines. The art is by far the most impressive thing this game has to offer so far. It’s all hand drawn vistas and towns, with 16bit character models. I’m often taken aback by the water in this game and forget that I’m playing a game that looks a lot like a super nintendo era JRPG.
Even the enemies are drawn in a way that doesn’t make too much sense in regards to the 16bit characters that you are fighting with. The enemies are each uniquely designed in their own way and give the area a rich and diverse batch of monsters.
I have been enjoying this game a lot and look forward to putting in another 10 hours. It’s fun even when stuck in a truck for hours on end and makes the grindy nature of a JRPG more bearable. I look forward to seeing the different landscapes that these artist painted and I am hoping that the story starts to grab me just a little bit more.