Octopath Traveler Review – UPDATE

We can now reveal that we have also been playing Octopath Traveler for Nintendo Switch.

The game was provided to us via Nintendo, and a full review for the title will go live next week.

In the meantime, however, we have are allowed to share our impressions with the early parts of the game… and let’s make it clear: we are mightily impressed.

Octopath Traveler, so far, seems like a genuine follow-up to the best of classic RPGs. The whole game seems to have been built with by a team that have been playing the likes of Final Fantasy VI Chrono Trigger as their research.

The game celebrates all the best aspects of traditional turn-based combat that helped make the RPG genre so great, but introduces new elements into the mix that bring the game into the modern day, give you something different to think about.

Battles are more cerebral affairs thanks to the Boost functions – nodes you can save up per character in battle and unleash with precision timing to cause the most damage possible. This means you need to think about how each character works – are they support, DPS, tank, healer? – and make them each work in rhythm with each other.

Maybe your tank needs to draw aggro from an enemy for four turns, soaking up damage and saving its Boost, whilst your Mage Boosts every second turn to cast defense spells while your DPS chips away at the boss. 

Maybe you need to have every character Boost and use all their attacks as quickly as possible to interrupt the boss and Break its armour and cancel its turn before it comes in with a massive dangerous attack.

It makes every encounter have its own rhythm and pace and is refreshing in a genre where battles can get tired and rinse-repeat.

Breaking armour can be achieved by figuring out an enemy’s weakness and taking advantage, and makes you think carefully about moves and exploits in each battle -another aspect to keep in mind.

So far in our experience, no two boss fights have been the same, and the gimmicks Octopath introduces each time have been fun, and challenging.

Each character you collect (eight total!) has their own ability they can use in the map view – meaning that every NPC in every town you visit has up to nine potential interactions, depending on the characters you have on you (and the base chat you have with them).

This adds another level of depth to the game to build on what is already a truly meaty package.

From our 20-or-so hours with the game so far, we are happy to say that Octopath Traveler could be an instant classic: a true RPG gem in the Switch’s already gleaming crown.

With mechanical elements that cherry-pick the best bits from Shin Megami Tensei’s ‘Press Turn’ system, Final Fantasy’s class-based setups and Chrono Trigger’s multi-faceted world map, Octopath Traveler has every chance of being one of the best RPGs available on any platform right now, let alone Switch.

It’s clear that Square Enix learned a lot about how to make pleasingly retro-inspired RPGs with the Bravely Default series, and is pushing the envelope even further with Octopath. We can’t wait to play more for our final review.

ORIGINAL STORY

Octopath Traveler is the next big release from Square Enix, and the next big exclusive for Nintendo Switch.

The game has a lot to live up to – other exclusives for the console have sold incredible numbers and become instant classics. Super Mario Odyssey, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2 are critical and commercial successes.

Octopath Traveler is a brand new role-playing game from the makers of Bravely Default – Final Fantasy-inspired RPGs on the 3DS.

This is the studio’s first Switch outing – and so far it looks like a belter.

Japanese publication Famitsu has given it a near-perfect 36/40 – scoring it 9/9/9/9 in its four-pronged review system, making it almost perfect in every category.

Another Japanese outler, 4gamer, also published a pretty glowing review.

It bodes well for the anticipated RPG – one of the first, biggest dedicated games in the genre for the Switch to date.

“The Producers of Bravely Default at Square Enix bring us a new fantasy world brought to life through a mix of CG, pixel art, and visual wizardry that the developers have termed ‘HD-2D’,” notes Square Enix of the game.

“Begin your journey as one of eight protagonists, each with their own origin, talents, and goals.

“Where will your journey begin? Who will you team up with? And where will you go next? All these decisions and more are completely up to you, the player.”

It gives the player a lot of freedom in the otherwise typically linear RPG genre, and that seems to be a big part of the appeal, according to the reviews.

The battle system also has a mechanic partly inspired by Bravely Default’s Brave/Default mechanism.

You can ‘boost’ attacks in one turn to make them more powerful, or stockpile your boosts for a massive payoff of damage. 

But you have to think carefully – do you try and break through your foe’s defenses quickly, or save yourself up to take advantage when their armour is down?

It’s a nice change on turn-based combat that should appeal to fans of retro RPGs such as Final Fantasy VI and Dragon Quest games.

The game launches on July 13 for Nintendo Switch.



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