The Nintendo Switch has turned into a great console for JRPGs with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Ys VIII and Octopath Traveler. Square Enix’s latest offering (and Switch exclusive) brings a whimsical mashup of artstyles, an addicting and deep combat system and eight stories that are largely forgettable. The characters are largely standard archetypes, but they’re charming enough for you to connect with along the way. However, closing out all four chapters of all eight characters kills the pacing if you leave them until the end to the point where I found myself powering through just to finish them. While this is a major strike against the game as a JRPG fan, battles were so much fun that it made the journey worth it.
Combat consists of breaking down an enemy’s shields and using attacks or spells they are weak to. Once broken, they skip a turn and you can do increased damage with all attack types during this time. It gets more strategic than you may think especially when subclasses are introduced. Traversing the world in between battles is linear with paths between towns having slight branches that always lead to a chest. Luckily, towns themselves are fun as you can implement your characters’ path actions such as scrutinizing an NPC or challenging them to a fight. The most interesting stories in the game are often found through these NPCs. All in all, I left Octopath Traveler feeling very similar to how I felt after finishing Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It was a fun journey the whole way through, but it likely won’t stick with me for years to come.