Are you a fan of old school JRPGs in the vein of Final Fantasy and Legend of Dragoon? Are you interested in a nostalgia soaked trip back to the world of turn-based combat, unique monster infested dungeons and elemental magic systems? Do you enjoy beautifully rendered sprites and heartwarming – if more than a little cliché – adventure stories?
Then I have good news. Octopath Traveler is exactly the game for you!
I’ll be honest. This game really doesn’t have a whole lot of originality to it other than its ambitious decision to give the game eight unique protagonists. It follows the same mechanics, storytelling patterns and visual themes as dozens of classic JRPGs. As charming as these elements are, I’ve seen everything that this game does in other games decades ago.
Instead of focusing on unique mechanics and storytelling, Octopath Traveler chose to focus its attention on refining these traits back to their most polished form. It isn’t so much a new game as it is the ultimate tribute to every role playing game made before 1995.
That’s going to mean different things to different people. I personally love old school JRPGs. I’ve mentioned before that Final Fantasy VII is one of my all time favorites, so I personally loved the time jump back to pixel based art and turn-based combat. I love picking out a favorite team, both from their various personalities and the way their abilities complement each other in battle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of morally complex social commentaries, but sometimes I just want a game where a bad guy is a bad guy and I’m here to kick their butt.
That’s what Octopath Traveler is.
You play one of eight extremely familiar characters, a warrior, a healer, a rogue, a black magician, a white magician, a hunter, a dancer and a merchant. The character you choose at the beginning will be in your party for the entire game, but the others will each be adopted as you play and can be exchanged freely as you work your way through each of their individual stories.
Each chapter involves entering a town, finding out about some dungeon and its relevant boss and then fighting your way through said dungeon in order to challenge said boss.
It is a renaissance revival, taking 80s and 90s classics and dressing them up with beautiful lighting, lovingly rendered characters and 8-bit music played by a symphony and recorded onto a solid-state hard drive.
I don’t think its lack of originality is a criticism. In fact, I think that’s exactly what Square Enix was going for. It’s an ode to the very games that they themselves made in the past. It’s innocent from a lot of the post-modern cynicism that seems to have infected most of the stories of recent decades. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. There’s certainly room in this world for artists to re-create their favorite genres and give them the mirror-sheen polish provided by modern technology.
There’s honestly not much else to say. I enjoyed it very much, and I’m confident that you already know if Octopath Traveler is for you or not, so make your decisions accordingly,