Hello and welcome back to our review of Octopat Traveler! Last time we discussed the beginning of the game and the basic level of its various mechanics, including story, gameplay and aesthetics. This time, we delve deeper into the different aspects and explore the little subtleties that greatly invigorate the game even at the 50-hour mark.
A Characterful Experience
As previously described, the game has no central plot, instead a separate plot for each of its eight different protagonists. As already mentioned, I enjoyed the beginning of every story, even if they were a bit archetypal, because they did a good job of establishing character and motivation, or at least aroused interest to some degree. And I would be lying if I said I still do not enjoy the story yet.
However, as the game progressed and I reached the end of Chapter 3 with each party member, I began to feel a slightly different quality of writing. The simplistic storylines ̵
19659004] While the stories end in zigzag, the characters continue to be whimsical and convincing, thanks to the addition of party chat from chapter 2. Depending on who you have in your group, you become little one get-to-one chats on current events: whether it's good-natured dimples, personal advice or even embarrassing flirting. (Ophilia and Hananit are totally intertwined and I will not hear otherwise!)
These chats, for what they are, are just wonderful – but they also lie to how little interaction there is usually between the characters. Stories always play out as if the protagonist were alone, which in some circumstances works well, but generates in another plot or inventions. Not to mention just a little party interaction and presence would add flavor and investment. While I'm ready to give up unbelief to a point, there have been times when I came out of that experience. If there was just a little more cohesion, the whole game would benefit.
Distracted From Roleplaying
While the main quests are a colorful mix, the sidequests of Octopath Traveler are a constant high point and manage to keep attacking and interesting. Quest givers complain about every problem they face, and the way you solve them depends on you. There is no waypoint marker, no instructions, no bright sign that says, "Here's what you do, dummy." You have to read, explore and pay attention to city dwellers and your environment to solve things. More than most of the other RPGs I've seen, Octopath requires that you actually pay attention to the text, the random dialogue, and other details to figure out what you need to do.
The method by which you will solve problems is one of the most important features of the game, fences. Each character has an action that allows him either to lead humans (Ophilia & Primrose), to receive information (Cyrus & Alfyn), to receive items (Tressa & Therion) or to beat up onlookers (Olberic & H & aanit ). In addition, each action is labeled either as "Noble" or "Rogue". – Noble actions can be performed as long as you are on the right level (or in Tressa's case with enough money), while rogue actions can be performed at any time with a percentage probability of failure. Fail often enough, and your reputation will be tarnished, so you will not be able to interact with the city dwellers until you pay the bartender to spread good rumors about you.
The flexibility of completing side quests is a big part of the game. While it may seem that some have a stricter solution (requiring some kind of information or item), the fact that you have options on how to achieve those goals provides the option for self-imposed challenges or limitations. Do you only want to achieve noble things? Or steal the very last item? What if you just want to beat every NPC on your way? The freedom of choice is wonderful and creates a great replayability.
While each playable character has his basic skills, they also have access to a selection of their peers' skills in the form of jobs. When you reach certain shrines in Orsterra, you can gain access to a character's character by allowing others to put on their roles – and their clothing. Want to make little Tressa a burly warrior? Want the bony Cyrus to put on furs and become a hunter? Or let the serious Therion take on a daring outfit as a dancer? The possibilities are there and allow you to design your party the way you want.
At least … to a point. Unlike many other games with such a system, Octopa Traveler can only use one character for every other job. This means that you can never perform more than two characters with the same abilities. Moreover, the only thing that leads between the job classes is passive support skills – you can not use a whole library of moves at the same time.
For some, this may seem like an unnecessary bondage of potentially interesting job combinations. But on a personal level, I appreciate this state very much – it forces you to experiment and diversify your party line-up, rather than simply stacking your lineup with broken combos. The exponential growth in skill costs also encourages you to change jobs often instead of just keeping a set of outfits for half of the game (though you can do so if you're ready to go). Combined with the already excellent basic skills and abilities allocation, and you still have a wide range of options without being able to shoot the game over your knee like some previous games with such a system. There are even a few other classes available later, and I can not wait to get my hands on them.
We still have to finish the plot of each character and see the mysterious bosses rough-edged on the Internet, so there is much more to talk about. While a few bumps on the road have become noticeable, I still enjoy the Octopat Traveler and still recommend it to anyone still on the fence – especially if you're a fan of the old school RPGs emulating it.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of my thoughts so far, you can review the first part of the review or our previous series on the demo of the game. Until next time!