Review by Killzonegaming
The greatest JRPG exclusive on the Switch, but that doesn't say much.
Octopath Traveler is a JRPG from the developers of the 3DS cult hit Bravely Default. The game uses a 3D sprite art style, with 2D sprites traversing a 3D landscape. The art style might be a turn off to some, but it's one of the biggest highlights of Octopath; as it looks phenomenal. Octopath boasts a lengthy campaign and plenty of side missions to keep you occupied, with eight different characters with unique missions to experience. However a weak story, generic characters and an overly ambitious gameplay structure bog down what could have been the next "Final Fantasy VI".
Gameplay: Octopath Traveler plays like a classic JRPG from the Super Nintendo era. Four party members, turn based combat and plenty of skills and variety to keep you busy. The only problem? It doesn't do enough to innovate this stale formula. Yes, it does some to innovate, but some is not enough when we've been playing RPGs in this exact formula for years. However, I did enjoy the boss fights and the preparation that comes alongside said battles. The overworld was also a treat, with quality map design and exploration to be had, although the amazing art style really helped with that. Score: 6/10
Graphics and Sound: Octopath Traveler looks amazing, and sounds even better. This is really where the game shines, as a presentation. The pixel art on a 3D landscape has never been done, or at least not this well. It's an innovative new way to make classic styled RPGs that I really hope catches on instead of the generic top down style. The soundtrack; simply put, is phenomenal. There are some serious Zelda vibes coming off the Main Theme, and that is completely a good thing. Octopath raises the bar on a technical level, and this is the highlight of the game. Score: 9/10
Story: Oh, no. This is where the game falls apart. If you've played one story in Octopath, you've played them all. It goes: backstory, dungeon, boss, town, dungeon, boss, repeat from town three times per character. The story of each character are extremely bland. I feel like the characters were just some leftover rejects from past Square RPGs and they were haphazardly tossed into this game. Since all the stories are completely separate, there's no interaction really between characters. They're just sort of, there. The chapters do flesh it out a little, but not enough, especially for a JRPG, a genre known for long winded yet detailed and exciting plotlines. Octopath has none of that, and it really disappoints me. Score: 4/10
Length: The game does boast thirty two chapters, four for each character. I have not 100% "conquered" the game, but I am getting very close to the finish line. I have played, according to my Switch for 35 hours. The game was advertised as being 80-100 hours, so this is a little disappointing, but I still have a short ways to go, as well as the rumored post game content.
Verdict: Octopath Traveler tries to recapture the magic of SNES role playing games for a new generation of players, and succeeds to a point. While the presentation shines, the story seems like it was taken straight out of the early 90s. It's a beautiful game, but it lacks substance. The disappointingly repetitive "eight character" setup really tears this game apart from the start. Rather than focusing on creating a sense of interaction, the developers focused on taking each story at a time, and that segmented gameplay works great for "pick up and play", but works terribly for "cohesive narrative". I would recommend trying the demo, available on the E-Shop, and even purchasing it on sale if you are desperate for a new JRPG on Switch. But to the average RPG lover, Octopath Traveler is no more than a pretty face.
Final Score: 5/10 - Average
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Octopath Traveler (US, 07/13/18)
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