Plenty of RPGs are centered around an epic plot. It can revolve around defeating a grand villain, saving the world from disaster, or a combination of both. There can also be lesser stories interjected within the plot, but they tend to be side stories that are optional. Octopath Traveler takes the kind of stories that would not ordinarily be the main focus of a fame and combines eight of them into one giant adventure.
The Role You Play
As indicated in the title, there are eight different characters you can choose to play as. You can follow each of their separate paths as they go on their own individual journeys. There is Tressa the Merchant, Cyrus the Scholar, Ophilia the Cleric, Olberic the Warrior, H’aanit the Hunter, Therion the Thief, Alfyn the Apothecary, and Primrose the Dancer. You can pick one person to be your main character whose story you primarily follow. This person stays in your party throughout the game, and you can have a party of four characters throughout the game.
Each of the 8 characters has their own plot that has given them a reason to set out on an adventure. Tressa is following the path of an old journal. Cyrus is setting of in search of a lost tome. Ophilia is carrying out a pilgrimage in place of her sister. Olberic is in search of a new purpose in life after losing his original purpose during a war. H’annit is going in search of her master. Therion is going to recover lost treasures for a wealthy family. Alfyn is leaving his hometown to grow his skills as an apothecary. Finally, Primrose is on a quest for revenge to avenge her murdered father.
The combat is particularly unique to Octopath Traveler. During battle, enemies will have a barrier and a counter. That barrier will need to be broken down by some type of physical or magical attack. Once their barrier has been broken, they will be more vulnerable to damage and other techniques for that round of combat.
The other main aspect of gameplay is the abilities of each character. Each individual character has a separate talent that can not only drive the plot but can be used to interact with the townspeople. For example, Therion can steal items held by people, Primrose can allure people with her dancing, and Alfyn can Inquire information.
Each character has their own story which is divided into four separate chapters. Each chapter can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a a half each to complete, depending on how much you want to indulge in all of the extras. With eight characters in total and each one having their own separate campaign with four chapters each, the game can take roughly 50 hours to complete.
The music is widely diverse. Not only does it match the many different locations, but it also suits each different character’s campaign as well. There are are plenty of tracks to match the snowy mountains, the seaside, the desert, and all of the areas in between. The soundtrack is very orchestral and aims to progress along with the story, getting more and more ramped up as the story advances.
Octopath Traveler introduces a new graphical style called HD-2D, wherein the character sprites are 16-bit but the backgrounds are HD. This style provides a lot of contrast between the sprites and the more highly detailed backgrounds. It also allows for a the game to expand the limits of what can be done with pixel art in a game. The boss sprites are gigantic and they are much more complex in terms of the amount of colors they use. They also make no shortage of the effects they can interact with.
The Talking Parts
All of the dialogue is aided by having key scenes with the main characters fully voiced. The main characters and the people they interact with speak with fully voiced dialogue. The rest of the game is interspersed with sound bytes during less important scenes and for during battle as well.
There are also moments in which you can have your party members engage in casual banter with each other. Throughout the game there will be prompts for two or more of your characters to banter with each other. This will usually be about some event that is currently happening during a current chapter, and it allows them to offer their own perspective on the matter.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
Octopath Traveler allows you complete freedom when choosing how to do each character’s missions. You can do almost any mission in any order you choose. While there are level recommendations with all of the missions, you still have the freedom to do them whether you meet the recommendations or not. This also means you can bypass the missions you choose to ignore. You can also go through the entire game without ever adding a character to your party. The game is specifically built to make each character as autonomous as possible and allow the maximum amount of freedom in your playthrough.
Octopath Traveler is less of an RPG and more like eight mini RPGs rolled into one. The diverse character cast allows for widely different stories and a vastly different experience. It is wildly unlike anything I could have ever hoped to expect, and it would be better if there were more games like it. It is an absolute masterpiece that everyone should play.