Octopath Traveler

No, I haven’t given up on the site. I know it has been a while since I’ve posted, but I assure you Hobby Scratch isn’t going anywhere. Most of my free time has been taken up by playing the brand new Nintendo Switch I acquired recently. I actually had resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t have one for quite some time, but my luck changed and a friend got an extra one for a steal and sold it to me at a great price.

I had my eye on this little game called Octopath Traveler, an RPG from Square Enix that hearkened back to the company’s glory days of pixel art turn-based games that they did so well, and now I could finally play it! I picked up my copy before my Switch even arrived in the mail and when I finally received it I dove right in.

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This isn’t so much an official review as it is my personal thoughts on the game. I suppose you could consider that a “review” in a sense, but I digress. Octopath Traveler reminds me of a mixture of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Saga Frontier. The battle system is similar to Final Fantasy, but monsters each have a weakness that allows you to break down their shields and stun them for more damage.

There are 8 characters to choose from (The letters in “Octopath” actually correspond to the character’s names). They all have a different primary job class that comes with skills unique to each class, and later on you can open up secondary job classes to customize your party. Each character has their own path to follow and their own goals to accomplish. I haven’t completed the whole game yet, but I have finished a few of the character’s final quests and am on the final chapters for the rest of them, so I’m close.

What I personally like about this game some may find to be a downside. I really enjoy the fact that the game is very character-driven. It’s not necessarily a “let’s get to together and save the world” RPG, it’s more of “here are a group of people who have to come to terms with their past through their adventures or find meaning in their own lives.”

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It may not seem like the characters have much reason to travel together as a result, but they help each other achieve one another’s goals and become friends along the way as demonstrated through the “travel banter” scenes. The stories are self-contained, and in my opinion very interesting.

I’ll give you an example. There is a character named Alfyn who is an Apothecary, a healer of sorts who specialized in medicines. Alfyn travels around healing the sick and wounded in an effort to make the world a better place and become as talented at his craft as the man who saved his life as a child. In one of the chapters, you come across another Apothecary who has refused treatment to a wounded man, claiming “some lives aren’t worth saving” as he takes his life.

Shocked by what appears to be a blatant disregard for human life, Alfyn decides to treat him instead. The man is named Miguel and as you go around the village, it turns out he has a reputation as a thief who has even taken the lives of others to get what he wants. Alfyn is disturbed by this and confronts Miguel. Miguel claims he has hit hard times for him and his family of three children, so Alfyn makes him promise to turn over a new leaf, he does so, and Alfyn treats him.

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Shortly after, Miguel is seen taking a child hostage, threatening to slit his throat if his mother doesn’t give him money. Miguel sees Alfyn in the distance and runs off to the woods. Alfyn follows him and eventually, Miguel reveals he lied and didn’t have a family at all. Alfyn fights Miguel to save the hostage, and Miguel ends up dead.

Alfyn returns to town and encounters the Apothecary who refused Miguel treatment at the start of the chapter. Alfyn blames himself for the events that took place, and the Apothecary explains to him that he used to be similar, saving any life in need. One day, he took in a wounded criminal to stay with him and his wife to treat him.

The Apothecary left the house to go hunting for supplies in the forest, and when he returned, he found his home ransacked and his wife had been murdered by the very man he treated, ever since then, he chose to treat only those he deemed worthy.

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It’s a great moment and a harsh realization for Alfyn that no matter how much you want to see the good in people, there are always those who will take advantage of you for their own gain. It is story elements like this that make Octopath Traveler one of my current favorite games.

The stories may not be about a goal as large as saving the world from an ancient evil, but they’re very meaningful. As a quick aside, Primrose’s adventure is probably my favorite and she is my favorite character overall. She’s strong-willed and determined to get revenge on the mysterious group that killed her family. Her “bewildering grace” ability is extremely unpredictable and awesome, too.

There are plenty of other great moments throughout all of the character’s paths, and I could spend hours writing about them, but I will end it here. If you’re looking for a solid old-school RPG with a lot of great character-driven moments, then you’ll love Octopath Traveler. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Get a copy here:

Amazon

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