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First Impressions of ‘Octopath Traveler’: A New Adventure RPG from Square Enix



With the Nintendo Direct address, we’ve finally been treated to a big reveal of the plans for Project Octopath Traveler: the working title for a new adventure RPG from the makers of Bravely Default, Silicon Studio. Produced by Square Enix, Octopath Traveler will be a medieval fantasy RPG in the vein of old-school JRPGs like Final Fantasy, with a focus on grandiose storytelling, a huge cast of characters, and a turn-based combat system. The game will be coming exclusively to the Nintendo Switch and launching worldwide in 2018.

Octopath Traveler has a charming art-style, inspired by classic JRPGs, which mixes detailed CG and 3D backgrounds with 2D pixel art characters, a style which the developers have described as “HD-2D”. With music reminiscent of Chrono Trigger it’s hard not to be pulled under the spell of a beautifully crafted world and an atmosphere of adventure.

Players step into the role of one of eight characters, each with their own origins, paths, and goals, as they travel through the world of Orsterra: a land of magic and warriors. The game is gearing towards a voice-acted main cast in English and Japanese, with storylines spreading across continents, characters with rich backstories, and adventures on the horizon. You can start playing as any of the eight characters, meaning it’ll be up to you to decide your hero and to guide their story as characters cross paths, and perhaps even join together.

Right now only two of eight characters are unlocked to play in the demo: Primrose, a dancer in a brothel who seeks revenge on the man who killed her father, and Olberic, a fallen knight turned mercenary who is haunted by the betrayals of his past. Each traveler has their own ‘Path Action’: a unique power which allows them to interact with the world and achieve objectives. Olberic, for example, can challenge any NPC to a duel, forcing characters into combat and revealing their true nature, whereas Primrose allures people into following her, whether to lure them to safety or to their own doom. It seems Path Actions will be key to deciding your character and playstyle throughout Octopath Traveler, and it’ll be especially interesting to see how characters team up to accomplish goals, and what kind of madness can be wrought by working together.

“A man like me knows only the battlefield. Worth only as much as the blade at my side, and the arm that swings it.” “Until I find him, there is no disgrace I will not endure. Until I have my revenge…I will dance.”

Square Enix is selling the story as one where the player decides where to go, with fully immersive storytelling, and a true roleplaying experience, so we can hopefully look forward to a lot of freedom with the powers available to us. Silicon Studio also has yet to confirm the number of players Octopath Traveler will support, which suggests that we might yet see this game announced as a multiplayer title, potentially supporting up to eight players if the full cast of characters is implemented.

Combat in Octopath Traveler is based on the classic turn-based combat style battles we’re used to from JRPGs, but with the addition of a ‘Boost System’ where you build up BP points throughout the battle then spend them at critical moments. Boost Points can increase the strength of your attacks and abilities, create chain attacks to fight multiple enemies, or be sacrificed to heal your allies. We’re sure to see an expansive world where players gain levels by grinding through hordes of fantastical monsters and foes, building up the right team and strategizing over the best boss tactics to make it out alive.

As an RPG, Octopath Traveler will live or die by its story, but for now, it looks to have a compelling and detailed world, with conflicted if potentially clichéd characters. However, with its charming art-style, nostalgic music, and a promise of an immersive world filled with stories to uncover, it won’t be surprising if Octopath Traveler steals the show for JRPGs this year.

Square Enix is looking for feedback on this new adventure, and the game demo is currently available to play for free in the e-shop for Nintendo Switch users. Post-demo surveys are open for players to fill out, so now is the time to speak up if you want to see the name Octopath Traveler changed to something a little less… horrific. Regardless, we’ll be looking forward to seeing more from the stories of Octopath Traveler’s cast of characters, and hopefully the addition of some gameplay innovations worthy of Nintendo Switch exclusivity.

For a full list of the Nintendo Direct announcements head over to our news round-up here.

Helen Jones is a Ravenclaw graduate who likes to apparate between her homes in England and Denmark. She spends her time reading fantasy novels, climbing mountains, and loves to play story-focused and experimental indie games like The Stanley Parable or Night in the Woods. She also covers tabletop and board games over at Zatu Games, and you can follow her twitter @BarnacleDrive for updates, blogs, and pictures of mushrooms.