Octopath Traveler (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Brandon Howard 17.07.2018

Review for Octopath Traveler on Nintendo Switch

Octopath Traveler comes from the same minds that brought the world Bravely Default, and it definitely shows. There's something about the idea of returning to the roots of the JRPG that Square Enix can't seem to quite get out of its head, and this is its newest take. Inspired by medieval fantasy, and directed by the always talented Masashi Takahashi and Tomoya Asano, Octopath Traveler has an intoxicatingly beautiful style that draws you in, and keeps you there for it's long, deeply enthralling campaign.

The biggest difference between Octopath Traveler and other traditional JRPGs is the noticeable lack of a central narrative. While it's still a far cry from the open worlds of many popular RPGs from the West, its freeform, open-ended storyline is definitely evocative of the storytelling methods used by that genre. This gives the game a lot of room to set its own unique pace, and that almost always plays to its favour.

Upon starting the game for the first time, you will be asked to choose one of eight characters to start, each with their own storyline that's entirely separate from that of the other characters'. After completing the first act of that character's story, they are free to travel the open world, to either recruit the other seven characters, or to venture off in search of the next step in their journey.

It would be ill-advised to jump straight to the next chapter, though. Each party member brings different skills to the table, and each of them will be needed as bosses and enemies offer different varieties of challenges. Additionally, the level requirements for each successive chapter grow steeper and steeper, so it's doubly important to venture out and meet the other travellers.

Screenshot for Octopath Traveler on Nintendo Switch

In addition to their roles in combat, each character has a "path action" they can perform on various NPCs in the world. The dancer Primrose, for example, can allure NPCs into following her, and can summon them in battle for aid. Therion the thief can steal from NPCs, and other characters have their own unique actions that can help the party explore more of the world's side-quests and secrets.

Despite being a group for combat, each of the character's stories are entirely self-contained, making for eight individual questlines that don't really intersect. There is some optional party banter unlocked at various stages, but that's about the extent to which the playable characters interact with each other. It's definitely a unique method of storytelling, and while it does feel a little unusual at first, the writing is compelling enough that it begins to feel more like a successful design choice.

Despite their separate journeys, the travellers will need to come together in combat if they hope to make it to the end of their stories. To that end, each character has a base job with unique skills and abilities that can be learned with job points obtained through battle. Players can further customise their characters by visiting various shrines around the map, which unlock each of the main jobs for use by another character.

Screenshot for Octopath Traveler on Nintendo Switch

This allows for a wide variety of customisation options for the party, but it's important to keep in mind that only one character can be using a certain subclass at any given time. Characters can still equip subskills earned from any other class, but they will need to pick and choose what combat skills are available. Still, it's really enjoyable to mess around with all the different combinations.

Combat borrows a little bit from the Bravely series, with characters being able to store up actions to power-up abilities. It's definitely a little less convoluted than how the Brave/Default system worked in those games, with characters passively gaining actions as long as they didn't use any additional ones that same turn. It's fairly intuitive to get the hang of, and it gives battles a remarkably good cadence, especially when paired with the break system.

Each enemy has a set variety of weaknesses, either to different weapon types, or to certain elemental magics. Exploiting these weaknesses multiple times will significantly weaken the enemy and remove their chance to attack. This is part of why job diversity is so important; as the player is exploring, being able to exploit at least one weakness of every enemy is extremely important.

Screenshot for Octopath Traveler on Nintendo Switch

The one thing off about Octopath Traveler is the pacing. After the first character ventures out and encounters the other seven travellers, they will likely still be a few levels behind the recommended range for their next chapter. This is a great point to go out and attempt to acquire a few of the subclasses from the shrines just outside the initial ring of towns, but there are some pretty scary enemies lurking just outside.

Money is also quite scarce early on, so the party can feel a little under-geared if they aren't making good use of their path actions and subskills. Prioritising early armour can definitely help if characters aren't surviving their encounters in the wild. Making sure to use all available path actions on each and every NPC they come across will also definitely help to bridge the small gaps between each of the larger acts.

Overall, Octopath Traveler is a fantastic RPG that feels right at home on Nintendo Switch. It's easy to get lost in the epic narrative and the wide-open world to explore, and the easily digestible chunks feel like a perfect fit for the Switch's portable nature. It would be nice if the party members interacted with each other a little more but, overall, this is a fantastic JRPG for players looking for an engrossing time sink.

Screenshot for Octopath Traveler on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Octopath Traveler is an extremely satisfying storytelling experience vastly different from other traditional JRPGs out there. The eight stories followed over the course of the game are all compelling in different ways, and each is engrossing in different ways. The combat is simple, yet nuanced, and building party compositions never stops being a fun exercise as the adventure presents each new challenge. The pacing does have some small missteps here and there, especially as the world opens up between each major act, but it's a tiny hurdle in an otherwise magnificent experience.

Developer

Silicon Studio

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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