Octopath Traveler is a celebrated JRPG known for its unique storytelling approach, captivating visuals, and deep gameplay mechanics. In this review, I, Brighton Nelson, will explore the game's various aspects, from its intricate battle system and diverse cast of characters to its rich musical score and world design. While highlighting its strengths and achievements, I will also address its shortcomings to provide a comprehensive assessment of this title. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... an Octopath Traveler Review: Playeth, if thou darest.
Battle System - 10
This game has a phenomenal battle system! From breaking enemies by targeting their weaknesses to strategically boosting the effectiveness of your attacks, this game has an endless amount of depth. This is one of those rare games that provides so much depth in its battle system that you can always discover the most minute of details that can heighten your play to the point of slaying the most formidable of foes in seconds. Speaking of formidable foes, this game has terrific boss fights—some of the best I've ever fought. This game's battle system is one of my all-time favorites, and I am desperately awaiting a fourth entry in this beloved series.
Story - 8
My biggest problem with chapter-based stories is when the stories aren't able to come together to form a compelling whole. While this game failed at doing that and held this story back from a perfect 10, this was about as perfect as a disjointed chapter-based story could be. From Ophilia's story, a religious proxy pilgrimage across multiple locales, to Cyrus's story, a mysterious story focused on the implications of knowledge and magic used in the wrong hands; from Tressa's light-hearted story centered around the morality and adventure of mercantilism to Olberic's tragic tale of strained forgiveness and war-torn territories; from Primrose's endlessly compelling and shocking revenge story to Alfyn's story, a narrative that begs the question "is everyone worth saving?"; from Therion's story of petty thievery and mercenary missions to H'aanit's intimate story of saving her beloved master from petrification, I loved these self-contained stories so much. If this game found a way to tie its plot together, like in Live A Live and Octopath Traveler II, this definitely could have scored higher, but as-is, it still deserves a high score.
Sidequests - 6
This game had some incredible sidequests, but those were very few and far between. The Galdera sidequest sequence and fight were terrific, and some of the sidequests added a lot to the narrative, but as a whole, this game had an overabundance of fetch quests! Outside of regular quests, there are secret job shrines that allow for secondary jobs and advanced jobs, which were also fantastic! However, in the end, I wished I hadn't completed all these sidequests, and that's never a good sign!
Art & Graphics - 10
I love HD-2D graphics, and this game started that trend! To be frank, this isn't my favorite-looking game of all time, but it is pretty damn close, and it is the game with the graphics I admire the most. This game started a whole new graphical look that has inspired future games such as Live A Live and Wandering Sword and remasters like Suikoden I & II, Star Ocean: The Second Story R, and Dragon Quest III. While I still like the graphics in Persona V and Paper Mario: The Origami King better, this game is one of the best-looking games of all time, and it will stand the test of time better than most modern games. I can't wait to see the future innovations in this art style and the new ways it can be utilized! I will forever be grateful for the impact you made, Octopath Traveler... thank you!
Characters - 9
I didn't love every character in this game. Therese was incredibly annoying and ill-conceived plot-wise, Therion and Primrose were too full of themselves, and the villain of Tressa's final tale was nonexistent. My disliking of some supporting characters was a given, but to dislike one-fourth of the main cast? I had to dock a point for that. However, for the most part, I adored the characters in this game. In fact, this game has some of my favorite characters of any RPG! Alfyn is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time—he's just so kind, lovable, and relatable! Tressa is bubbly and confident, making her an amusing character to travel with! Throw in Ali, her rival, and you've got one of the cutest and most fun rivalries of any RPG I've played! Also, throw in Noa, and you've got another fantastic character that Ali and Tressa can bounce off of! Then there's Olberic, who is awesome, even if he acts like a middle school track coach sometimes. He has a very intriguing relationship with his best friend, as strained as it originally was! There's Ophilia, who, while basic, was so kind and admirable, and Cyrus, who is endlessly charming (albeit annoying at times). And then there's H'aanit, who is so formal and awkward that she just instantly became one of my favorite characters in the game and another one of my favorite RPG characters. As a whole, while this game had its misses for me, I still adored the characters in Octopath Traveler.
Music - 10
This game has one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time! Yasunori Nishiki was able to create a soundtrack that felt so modern and beautiful yet invoked the feelings of nostalgia produced by SNES classics. Every battle theme felt better than the last; each traveler had a theme that perfectly encapsulated their characters, and every story beat was masterfully executed with this fully orchestrated soundtrack. My personal favorite tracks were Determination, a beautiful, thought-evoking track, and Háanit's Theme, an unforgettably enchanting and atmospheric track that displays just how masterful Nishiki is in creating emotional compositions. In the end, this is one of the best soundtracks I've heard and is one I often listen to years later.
Locations - 6
The dungeons in this game (outside of a couple of Chapter 4 dungeons) were severely lacking in any sense of soul. Sure, they were visually appealing and atmospheric, but they lacked depth. The towns fare much better, but still, I only remember about a third of the towns in this game—a deficient number compared to many RPGS I've played. I mean, nothing here was offensive or anything, but this game was undoubtedly mediocre in this category. While I love this game as much as the next person, this was definitely not a standout factor of this game, as much as I wish I could say otherwise!
Customization System - 8
This game has one of the best job systems I've ever played—so why the not-too-high score? Because in a game where your characters have preassigned roles, they have minimal unique abilities between them. Comparing this game to its sequel, this game lacks unique Talents, Latent Powers, and EX Skills between each of the characters. This makes each traveler feel so replaceable in this original installment! While I shouldn't compare this game to its sequel, I found issues before the second game came out. Don't you worry. I also found it frustrating just how late the advanced jobs become unlockable in this game... this made them feel relatively worthless outside of the Galdera fight. Nevertheless, this game has a ton of awesome jobs that all have lots of job abilities and innate abilities! In the end, this game has a fantastic job system, but, in retrospect, it had some issues in its customization system, and I'm not afraid to admit it.
Quality of Life - 8
This game has some incredible difficulty spikes, which was suitable for some (I enjoy a challenge!) but a significant put-off for others. While I don't mind it, it is still worth mentioning as a potential problem for the game. There's also a lack of fast travel capabilities, which is frustrating. The game lets you warp to towns, but it doesn't let you warp between different dungeons, which was incredibly odd and, unfortunately, wasn't changed for the sequel. In a game with tons of sidequests and needing to backtrack to various dungeons, this was a huge miss. Last of all, the battles were relatively slow, which was thankfully fixed in the sequel. In the end, this game had very few bugs, but it still had a few issues. Let's move into the verdict.
Fun Factor: 5
Overall Score: 80%
Letter Rating: A
This game is fantastic, yet after playing through its phenomenal sequel, I don't know if I'll ever play this game again or recommend this game to anyone. While this game does so much right and is a masterpiece, it has little to offer over its sequel. However, if you adore Octopath Traveler II and need more of a fix before the inevitable third installment, this game could be worth a playthrough. "Playeth if thou darest," H'aanit may say, but I'm siding with Temenos here: "doubting this game is what I do."
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Primary Version: Octopath Traveler (Nintendo Switch)