Narratively, Octopath Traveler is Surprising Me

Can't Stop Playing

As a long-time JRPG fan, I was somewhat skeptical coming into the Nintendo Switch’s new exclusive, Octopath Traveler. With a couple of key team members coming from the Bravely Default series, my expectations were lowered. I know that this opinion is not a popular one, but I was not a fan of either of these spiritual predecessors. The artstyle and bland characters rubbed me the wrong way and, when I play a JRPG, oftentimes I’m playing for a great story. After 12-14 hours of playing the original Bravely Default, this didn’t seem like it would become a reality.

While I was unable to pick it up Octopath Traveler on launch day, I was scouring Reddit seeing what my fellow Switch owners thought of the game with my biggest fear being the most common critique: the story is not great. This coupled with the fact that after playing the second demo for the game I felt like it was good but nothing special, I nearly didn’t buy it. I may not have if it wasn’t for Halfgen. But I thought to myself, “You’re done with school and can finally play some games so just take the plunge.” And that I did.

I’ve had the game for less than a week and have put over 20 hours into it and can’t put it down. The music is phenomenal, the unique visuals are gorgeous and the battle system is addictively varied without feeling overwhelming. You may mention that I didn’t say anything about the story and, up until this point, there has been no overarching narrative to tie my eight adventurers together. Instead, each of them have their own four chapter storyline to playthrough. However, it will take you time to do this as the level jumps in between chapters is crazy. After I finished the first chapter with my first character, Ophilia, I was around level six. The recommended level for chapter two was in the low 20s.

Some of the stories have been more interesting than others which is to be expected. However, one thing that I can say is that all of the chapter ones feel a little underwhelming consisting of the exact same structure of, backstory, getting to know the town, a conflict where a boss must be defeated and then you’re done. And I’ve only completed three of the characters’ chapter two missions so far, but the diversity is much improved from tracking down a necromancer to fighting a series of battles in an arena, the variety has picked up which is good to see. Also, beginning in chapter two for myself, additional scenes similar to the skits in the Tales series called Travel Banter unlocked and would show interactions between your current party members which dramatically helps them feel like teammates instead of strangers.

Beyond that, each new area or optional boss I encounter gets me more and  more excited to keep adventuring constantly pushing my limits and keeping me going. And that is exactly what I will do until I see the journey’s end.

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