Reviews - Updated on April 11, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

Octopath Traveler was considered one of this year’s top Nintendo Switch exclusives. As soon as its creators advertised: they drew parallels with Final Fantasy VI, and released two demos, and insisted that this was a Japanese game from Japanese developers, not trying to fall in love with a Western audience. The project was supposed to return the players to the “golden age” of RPG, become a modern classic in the spirit of Chrono Trigger. Did you become?

Don’t even call friends

There are eight main characters in the game, and the first letters of their names add up to the word octopath. They all live on the Osterra continent and are unaware of each other’s existence. And they may never know – only you decide who meets with whom. The first character you choose will become the main character – he will be the leader, from whom there is no way to get rid of until the end of his story. You get to know the rest by visiting neighboring settlements and inviting them to your squad. Or leaving in a tavern – there will not be enough places for all, you can only wander with three partners.

The reasons why the heroes are going on a trip are completely different for everyone. The dancer Primrose avenges her father’s death by hunting down his killers, her story being the darkest of the rest. Cheerful girl Tressa, who is engaged in trade with her parents, receives a wanderer’s diary as a gift and sets off in his footsteps. Scientist Cyrus is trying to find lost books, which, according to the librarian, no one has seen for many years.

Not all stories are equally interesting – the first chapter for Orfilia, for example, was so drawn out that I skipped some of the dialogues, and nothing changed in the future. But the episodes with Primrose, which I liked since the time of the first “demo”, did not disappoint even once. The huntress Haanit is also fascinating to watch, but get ready to listen to Shakespeare’s dialogues with outdated words and phrases over and over again. Sometimes you can even hear how hard it is for the actress to read them in the English version.

Due to the non-linear nature of the narrative, the developers were forced to make all eight stories separate from each other. After all, no one knows in what order you will search for people and who you like the most. Therefore, there is no connection between events. You meet a potential companion, look at his backstory, take him with you, and in subsequent chapters you see only one character in the cutscenes on the engine. The rest do not take any part in them – they only appear during battles and when moving around the map.

Octopath Traveler game review

Sometimes heroes remember the existence of companions.

The idea is unusual for the genre and could even work, but due to how often the characters ignore each other, the game starts to fall apart very quickly. Its shortcomings become much more noticeable: you realize that all the characters in the stories consist of four chapters, that all these stories have the same structure. In one episode, Tressa is intimidated by an influential fat man, and none of her partners stand up for her. Another hero arranges to get into the carriage, which he is not allowed to enter, and in the end achieves his goal. But how his friends get to their destination is unknown.

The characters communicate with each other only during small scenes, which the player must launch on their own when they see the corresponding inscription in the corner. It’s about the same in the Tales of series, but if there the characters really open up and discuss a lot of different topics, then here such conversations often seem forced and far-fetched. In most cases, they are absolutely stupid, do not carry any interesting information, and even appear quite rarely. In general, a close connection between travelers does not arise, despite their long wanderings.

Don’t come off

It is a pity that the developers did not have enough either the budget or the time, because otherwise Octopath Traveler turned out to be wonderful. The continent of Osterra is full of surprises, and the inhabitants of each city can be interacted with in different ways. All characters are endowed with unique skills that are used exclusively during dialogues with the inhabitants. Someone can bewitch everyone they meet and lead, someone is excellent at getting information, someone buys rare things from these people or even challenges them to a duel. The average citizen may have a funny or tragic story, and in some cases, you’ll get discounts in stores or new products.

Heroes differ in skills in battle. The Huntress is the only one who can catch monsters and summon them during the battle, dealing damage to opponents or replenishing health. Alfin can do alchemy and mix ingredients, Alberic is noticeably stronger and tougher than the rest, and Tressa steals gold from badly wounded enemies. Primrose has the funniest spell – it’s expensive and produces a random effect that either helps a lot or hurts. With the same probability, you can lose all mana, increase the strength of the unit, weaken the defense for several turns, deal elemental damage and multiply the amount of experience per battle by five times.

Octopath Traveler game review

Many residents are happy to talk – there are corresponding icons above their heads.

Over time, all the heroes will acquire new professions – a warrior will become a thief or a magician, and a huntress will acquire the skills of a dancer or healer. This will not only allow you to use additional weapons, but also significantly expand the list of active and passive abilities. Such a flexible character customization system allows you to create a squad of your dreams – if you do not have enough space for a healer, you can assign this role to any hero you like, and he will heal the entire team as needed.

Silent but helpful

The ability to use all types of weapons and spells in a fight is very useful, since the combat system is based on the vulnerabilities of enemies to certain blows. At the first meeting with a new opponent, the player sees squares with questions under his figure – icons will appear there, indicating what can be used to damage the opponent’s health. And next to these icons there is a shield icon with a number indicating how many times you need to hit the enemy to break him. If successful, the enemy will be stunned, become significantly weaker, and miss their next turn.

Fighting in Octopath Traveler is a hell of a lot of fun, especially if the opponents are stronger than you and don’t fall apart with a few hits. You need to keep an eye on the top of the screen, which shows the order of moves, consistently test all the equipment in the hope that you can quickly figure out the weaknesses. It often doesn’t matter how strong or worthless your dagger or spear is – even if you deal a point of damage with the right weapon, you’ll be one step closer to breaking your opponent.

Octopath Traveler game review

So that the “bosses” are not confused with ordinary opponents, they were made several times larger than the travelers.

Depths add so-called boost points, which are accumulated with each turn for each character. With their help, the hero makes additional hits, makes the attack more crushing or increases the chance to steal gold, restores more health, and so on. This is especially useful in fights with “bosses”, which are often not so easy to break. Not only do they hit hard, but they also periodically charge punches, giving the player only a few moves to prevent a slap in the face. Here these points become especially useful – you will not hit the “boss” once with your sword or staff, but three or four, repeating the procedure several times and stunning the dangerous enemy.

The fights are so captivating that I don’t want to scold Octopath Traveler for a large amount of “grinding”. You will constantly feel the lack of experience – at the end of the first chapter you will have about the 10th level, and for the second you will need the 20th or even the 27th. Therefore, those wishing to go through the entire game for one character should be warned that this is almost impossible and not very interesting. Although eight separate stories are told here, for the most comfortable passage it is advisable to familiarize yourself with all of them. The only disappointing thing is the lack of the ability to quickly upgrade inactive heroes – they will continue to sit in the tavern without improving their characteristics, and there are no bonuses for those who are lagging behind.

But the atmosphere in the game is very cozy, and thanks for this, first of all, is the artists. The unusual visual style, which the authors call HD-2D, may not be to everyone’s liking, but it does a great job of offering the graphics of the SNES era, making it more modern. Here, pixelated 2D characters walk through pretty 3D locations with beautiful lighting and lots of detail. Sparkling snowdrifts, a blinding desert, a mysterious forest – outwardly they all differ noticeably, although they are structurally similar: ornate paths with paths leading to the chests.

Octopath Traveler game review

There is nothing better than to stun everyone in one fell swoop.


A lot of things about Octopath Traveler are great: the combat is deep, the visual style is beautiful, the soundtrack is fantastic and will surely not go unnoticed by the critics at the end of the year. And the idea in the game is unusual – eight heroes with unique stories, traveling across the continent. But the lack of interaction between them (rare, short dialogues do not count) spoils everything. Most of the stories are interesting, the characters themselves are pleasant, but the way they do not notice each other until the finale is very upsetting and spoils the perception of the plot. And the longer you play, the harder it is to ignore this flaw.

Pros: unusual visual style; many of the stories turned out to be interesting; a chic combat system that rewards attentiveness and slowness; various locations with side quests, secrets and surprises; amazing soundtrack.

Cons: some of the stories are boring and full of dull dialogues; party members do not really communicate with each other, and it is as if they do not exist during the story clips of individual characters; pumping inactive comrades is very dreary.

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