I actually missed out on playing the original Octopath Traveler. Yes, I’m ashamed of it but it’s true. I heard many many good things about it, and I actually have the game on Steam, but I just haven’t had the time to play the game recreationally. That’s why I made a promise to myself that when Octopath Traveler II came out, I’d make damn sure I had time for it.
Yeah, what a travesty right? Complaining about not having enough time to play games when the job’s to review games.
So after playing Octopath Traveler II for a while…I realized that I need to make time for the original.
What is Octopath Traveler II?
Octopath Traveler II is a 2.5D single player JRPG developed by Square Enix and ACQUIRE Corp., with publishing duties done by Square Enix. It is the second game in the Octopath Traveler series, though it is not a sequel to the original. The game is available now on the PC, the Playstation consoles and the Nintendo Switch.
Our copy was graciously given to us by the awesome folks over at Square Enix! Thank you!
As its name suggests, the game isn’t made out of a single story but of 8 different (sometimes intertwined) stories. You’ll get to play as characters from all walks of life, from a warrior prince to a dancing girl to a merchant, which gives you a lot of insight into the lore and world of the game.
It’s kind of like Square Enix’s SaGa Frontier games, where the gameplay is really open ended. You can wander around the map almost from the get go, and either progress the story or go around and recruit the other playable characters to join your team.
Each character has their own plot and motivation, so it’s not like everybody just bands together to stop a common evil or something. Some join because they think it’d be awesome to travel in a group, some just want help…everybody has their own reasons and it’s a breath of fresh air.
Finally, here’s a JRPG where some of the stories are not of a world in dire straits. Agnea (one of the playable characters) reason for venturing out into the world is simply to dance and become a big star. Not to stop an evil warlord (though there is one in the game) or to recover their lost memory (that’s for another playable character) but just to get clout.
In today’s world where everybody wants to be an influencer or Youtuber, that’s perhaps the most relatable motivation!
To top it off, each character has their own unique skills and interactions (called Path Actions) they can do. This ties in to the ability to control the time of day in-game, as some actions only become available in the day or vice versa.
Some can bribe people, some can beg for items but my favourite has to be Hikari’s, where he will duel pretty much any NPC for their skills. It’s a really awesome way to customize his moveset to gel with your playstyle. Plus, it also gives you motivation to talk to everybody you meet, if only to see what skills they have that you might want to beat out of them.
The fun even extends into the battle system.
Each enemy their own armor resistance. To break that, you either use specific skills, or attacks they’re weak to. When you break their resistance down, you stun them for a turn.
On the flip side, your characters can boost their attacks too. Depending on certain skills or through regular attacks, your boost gauge goes up by one. For every notch, you get an extra attack. You can boost up to 4 levels, which also alters the potency of your skills and magic.
Obviously, the key winning battles is to use the boosts to repeatedly hammer an enemy’s weaknesses so that you can stun them and then finish them off. It’s simple in theory but really cool to pull off because it makes you think how skills synergize, who to boost and when.
The depth isn’t limited to the character skills and battles, there’s also a job system in game too! You can swap jobs and even dual class so there’s a HUGE amount of character customization you can do.
It boggles the mind how much freedom there is to play how you want in Octopath Traveler II. If Skyrim was a 2D JRPG, this is probably how it would’ve turned out.
Then there’s the visuals.
Simply put, they’re stunning. The towns especially deserve special mention. They all look great; detailed and fun to explore. I wish some of them were bigger and held more secrets but there’s really not much to complain about.
The art makes great use of depth of field and bloom effects and the results are astounding. Since you can change the time of day whenever you want, you can really appreciate the work that went into the lighting.
In battles, skills actually change their visual styles depending on how boosted your character is. From basic effects to screen filling, particle spewing extravaganzas…this is 2D art at its best. Square Enix’s outdone themselves with the effects.
Finally, the music!
The music’s just short of sublime. It’s not on par with the Xenogears, Final Fantasy X or even Final Fantasy VII but it’s nearly there! The score’s melancholic when it needs to be, upbeat and jaunty when events require and dramatic when it’s time for some gravitas in the scene.
If you’re into game OSTs, make sure Octopath Traveler II’s on your list.
The Bottom Line.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better JRPG this year than Octopath Traveler II.
Just when you thought that the age of JRPG was over, Square Enix gives it a shot in the arm with this killer title. There’s really no much to bemoan because nearly every aspect of the game’s great.
From its stellar visuals, to its fun combat, to its great stories to its awesome music….Octopath Traveler II has it all.
If you love JRPGs, it goes without saying, this is a game you NEED to play.
One of the best JRPGs ever made.
- Great stories.
- Awesome gameplay.
- Beautiful music.
- Fun battle system.
- Incredible 2D visuals.
- Can take a while to really get its hooks into you depending on how you play.
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