Game Review: Octopath Traveler

I haven’t had much time for reading books other than my own manuscripts lately, so I decided to make this week’s review about a game I’ve been playing on and off since I got it for my birthday back in August.

Octopath Traveler is an apt, and descriptive name. The game is basically about eight different people wandering around the world. There is a scholar, a thief, a merchant, a huntress, an apothecary, a dancer, a warrior, and a cleric. Each character has their own quest and different abilities. The stories are each unique, but in my opinion, kind of flat. They also rely too much on the characters making what I consider stupid decisions, which I find frustrating. All of the story chapters culminate in a boss fight, even when the instigating character is the thief or merchant, who really shouldn’t be into head-on confrontation.

The scholar, Cyrus, is basically a mage. His skills include the elemental attacks of fire, ice, and lightning. He also has the ability to interrogate people, but I honestly never found it very useful. Cyrus’ personality is fairly amusing. He is obsessed with knowledge, and will follow his curiosity to the ends of the earth. He’s also completely oblivious to attention from the fairer sex. Cyrus sets out to track down a book about necromancy that has been stolen from the archives where he studies.

The thief, Therion, is very useful to have in your party while exploring the world, because you will sometimes come across purple treasure chests and Therion is the ONLY character who can open them. That can be kind of annoying when you find a purple chest in a dungeon and don’t have Therion in your party, since you then have to travel to town to swap characters then make your way back to the treasure. He’s also useful in towns, as he can steal from NPCs. As for story, I think I may like Therion’s the least. It just doesn’t make much sense to me. He gets roped into going on this crazy quest for a rich lady because her butler managed to snap an embarrassing bracelet on him.

The merchant, Tressa, finds money on the ground whenever you pass to a new area, so it’s pretty handy to have her in your party early on. Eventually, there stops being anything useful to buy until you get to the next level of cities. She can also purchase items from NPCs (the same items Therion can steal). Her story is that she wants to travel the world in the footsteps of some nameless person whose journal she found, proving her skills as a traveling merchant.

The Huntress, H’aanit, was my main character for this play through. She has the ability to capture monsters in battle and summon them to fight by her side in future battles. She also has the “provoke” ability, which seems to translate to sicking her creatures on NPCs. Her story I actually like. She’s searching for her teacher, who went to hunt a terrible beast and didn’t come back. Each character has a unique speech pattern, and H’aanit’s is definitely the strangest.

The apothecary, Alfyn, is determined to help every person he can. He was saved as a sick child by a travelling apothecary, and now follows in those footsteps. As such, he doesn’t really have a cohesive story. He just goes from place to place treating the sick. His special ability is to “inquire.” Basically he chats with NPCs and occasionally unlocks things like new items in the shops or secret treasures.

The dancer, Primrose, is on a mission to avenge her father’s death by murdering the three men responsible. As such, hers is one of the stories that actually makes sense as a series of battles. While I like her story better than most, I don’t like her character much. The dancer has a darkness attack spell, and the rest of her abilities are for character support. I suppose, if you’re the type of player who spends a lot of time strategizing how to boost characters during a fight, she might be useful, but her boosts only last a turn or two, so they never seem worth it to me. She does, however, have some of the best passive skills in the game, so it’s worth it to assign the dancer job to everyone at least for a little while. Her special ability is to seduce people into following her. She can then summon those people in battle.

The warrior, Olberic, is very straight forward. He is searching for meaning after failing to protect his king. He travels to find the man who betrayed him, and the reason his kingdom was attacked. Olberic functions basically as a tank. He can take hits to protect other characters, draw enemy attacks to himself, and buff his own strength. He also has the “challenge” ability, which lets him instigate duels with NPCs.

The cleric, Ophilia, is on a religious mission to light the sacred pyres of her church spread throughout the land. She doesn’t have much trouble as far as her actual mission, but ends up solving various unrelated conflicts in the towns she visits, much like Alfyn. Her ability is to “guide”, which basically convinces people to follow her and fight on her behalf, much like the dancer’s seduction skill.

Thanks to shrines placed around the world, characters can gain a second class. For example, I made Tressa a scholar so she has both her merchant skills and Cyrus’ scholar skills. The active skills are only available from a secondary job if it is equipped to the character. However, any passive skills you’ve unlocked remain available even if you switch to a different job. That’s especially useful with skills like the Dancer’s “second wind”, which allows characters to gain SP at the end of each turn.

Apparently, there are also three special job classes you can unlock, but I haven’t found any of them yet.

The overall game play is smooth, but redundant. You spend a lot of time just wandering around, battling random encounters, leveling characters until they are strong enough for the next chapter of their story. You get four characters in your party at any given time, though the character you choose to start with is locked in place. In my case, I started with H’aanit, so she is many levels above all my other characters.

I haven’t reached the end of the game yet, so I don’t know how satisfying the conclusion is, but at this point I’d say the game is great for players who want to spend a lot of time fighting monsters and leveling characters, not such a good choice if you’re looking for an engaging plot. Overall, I guess I’d give this game 3 of 5 stars.

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