Octopath Traveler Demo
Developer: Square Enix, Acquire
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 13, 2018

A review by Brooke Ali

Once a mainstay of my games list, it’s been a long time since I’ve played a JRPG. However, as soon as I saw a trailer for Octopath Traveler I instantly knew that this might be the game that pulls me back to the genre.

The game lets you play as one of eight characters, each one with their own story and completely different start to the game. The demo gives you two characters to choose from: Primrose and Olberic. Primrose witnessed her father’s murder as a young child and has sworn revenge against the three men with the mark of the crow who perpetrated the deed. She now works as an exotic dancer at a theatre that one of the men is rumoured to frequent. Olberic was the king’s best knight, until his brother in knighthood, Erhardt, staged a coup and killed the king. He is now a hedge knight protecting a small village from brigands who attack from the hills.

I played both characters in the demo, and it will be interesting to see how the other characters come into the game and how much difference to the story your chosen player character will make. Will it be worth it to play the game eight times to get each character’s story? Or are there eight different beginnings that all funnel into the same story?

Along with having their own story, each character has a different job. The job system affects the way they interact with the NPCs and contribute to the story, but it also comes into play during combat. Each character has weapons attacks and “Abilities” attacks, the later being based on their job; abilities attacks cost SP. There are also Command Boost and Break systems worked into the combat, which adds to the player’s strategy and enables the player to set up their own combos; this adds some extra interest to the turn-based combat, a style that can get a bit monotonous on its own.

What really drew me to the game is the art. It’s done in a 16-bit style, but with a depth and richness that will surprise you. Called “HD-2D” by the developers, the backgrounds are textured without feeling cluttered and have a recessed 3D perspective that is truly unique. The use of light and shadow adds another layer of depth and intricacy to the art style, as does the background animation, like swaying trees. The sprites that represent the characters are cute and just detailed enough; their stance and movements present the personalities of each character.

The demo launched last September, but is seeing renewed interest thanks the the announcement of a July 13, 2018 release date.

Play it! This game looks gorgeous and combines the old-school JRPG format with different systems to create a unique gaming experience. You better believe Octopath Traveler is on my list of summer games to get.

Brooke Ali
Brooke grew up in Nova Scotia on a steady diet of scifi, fantasy, anime, and video games. She now works as a genealogist and lives in Toronto with her husband and twin nerds-in-training. When she's not reading and writing about geek culture, she's knitting, spinning, and writing about social history.

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