During its Direct presentation on September 13, Nintendo showed off Project Octopath Traveler (working title), an upcoming role-playing game developed by Square Enix set to release in 2018. That night, a free demo for the game appeared on the Switch eShop.
Octopath Traveler, a Switch exclusive, is a game that seems to emphasize the role-playing part of RPGs that initially made the genre appealing. The game will present players with a choice between eight unique playable characters, each with their own stories, motivations, and game mechanics. Where to go, who to recruit, and how to approach the surrounding environment will be left up to the player.
In many ways, Octopath looks like a simple classic-style RPG, with familiar 16-bit sprites, leveling systems, and turn-based combat. However, Nintendo asserts that this game will also bring freshness to the genre. How will Octopath become a return to form and still keep players guessing? I was curious to find out.
I had the opportunity to play the demo thoroughly, and this interesting project impressed me more than I was expecting. Two playable characters, a fairly large map section, and hordes of enemies await players in the demo. Let’s see how this glimpse into next year’s release played out.
I am intrigued by the promise of eight fully fleshed-out characters on their own adventures, but when it came time to play the demo, I still chose to start with Olberic, the stereotypical warrior character. Before I dive into his path, here are a few general impressions of Octopath Traveler in its current state.
The first thing to strike me about Octopath is its aesthetic beauty. The descriptor “HD-2D” used in the Direct is probably the best way to describe the rich look of this game’s world. The time Square took to craft the immersive environments is apparent even in the demo; this is no half-baked product.
The gorgeous look of the game is further enhanced by the hearty sound effects and soaring musical accompaniment. The main theme and battle theme are especially impressive. They will definitely grace a few music playlists of mine leading up the game’s release.
Olberic’s story is an engaging tale of order, betrayal, and searching for purpose. The voice acting is surprisingly believable, and the exposition avoids becoming too cumbersome. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing where the warrior’s path takes him in the full release.
Of course, the gameplay is what can truly make or break Octopath Traveler. With a few small exceptions, I thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay mechanics present in the demo.
Each main character in Octopath will have his own unique command that he can use on almost any NPC in the overworld. Olberic can challenge these NPC’s, creating combat situations at the player’s whim. While the trailer promised that these commands will be useful in a myriad of ways, Olberic’s command was pretty much just an extra way to pick up experience points in the demo. I expect the options to be expanded in the full release.
Octopath‘s combat is a blast to experience. It takes the classic, turn-based RPG formula and adds a few fresh mechanics that I particularly enjoyed. Player characters will gain a Boost Point after every turn of combat, and they can spend up to three of these points to boost the power of an attack, ability, or another command. Enemies are weak to a certain weapon or form of attack, and a predetermined number of hits from their weakness will “break” their shield, leaving them vulnerable and unable to attack.
These mechanics of Boost Points and breaking shields add a brilliant wrinkle of strategy to Octopath Traveler‘s combat experience. Players must consider timing and plan their moves in advance, rather than continually wailing on an opponent with their strongest attack.
When I reached the boss at the end of the demo, I died several times. I eventually resigned myself to grinding out a couple more levels for Olberic, and when I returned the battle went much better. Lesson: Octopath may require some enemy grinding to progress smoothly. Take that as you will; I personally didn’t mind.
There were little complaints. Once or twice the camera refused to follow Olberic as he walked off-screen. Random encounters spawned multiple enemies more often than I expected and made it difficult to progress at first.
Overall though, Olberic’s tale looks to be an intriguing and enjoyable experience from an aesthetic and gameplay standpoint. I can’t wait for the full game, hopefully with a better title.
Have you played the demo for Octopath Traveler yet? If so what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of our thoughts? Did you have any different experiences? Be sure to leave your comment below. And don’t forget to check back to the site for all of your other Nerdy News and Needs!