Octopath Traveler II Review
Octopath Traveler’s initial reveal during the Nintendo Switch press event back in Winter 2016 was met with excitement due to its unique aesthetic, mixing an SNES like 16-bit Japanese Role-playing title with 3D elements, only seen in few, if any titles at the time. The aura of an old-school JRPG meeting a free-roaming, pop-up book style escapade had gamers anticipating “Project Octopath’s” oncoming release with high expectation. While it wasn’t a commercial success, nor a AAA smash hit, gamers knew that a franchise was on the precipice of being formed after the insurmountable praise the title received for its originality, excellently paced campaign, a well equipped story to back its length, and lovable characters to get acquainted with. It was without a doubt that Octopath Traveler, was only the first in what would be an expansive fable for years to come.
The attraction of Octopath Traveler II, congregates its audience sold on the aforementioned ideas without changing its formula so much on the idea that anything needs to an upgrade, or polish if its generally perceived within sequels. Octopath Traveler II is more of the same, with developer Acquire lifting the original’s foundation and re-upholstering the follow-up for a new narrative. When it’s not broke, don’t fix it – a great analogy for many forms of media these days, especially in gaming and Octopath Traveler II takes full advantage on its predecessor’s accolades and primes them for another 120+ hour exploit through a new territory similar to Orsterra – the campaign setting from the original – but modernised to fit its progressive scenario while retaining trademark facets and features that ultimately coined the original a must play by many.
It’s not a carbon copy of the original Octopath Traveler, but its framework is most certainly left intact without many changes made to how you initiate your quest. Once again, eight new characters are available from the beginning, each with their respective angle on their trials through this new world of Solista; very reminiscent of Osterra in terms of its design, however a little less war torn and protected. While one country, Solista’s landmass is divided by sea with separate continents represented. The plot’s time period is told within the mid-to-late 1800’s, at the height of the industrial revolution, showing the disparity between those revelling in the glories of newfound technology, living in the lap of luxury while poverty begins to run its course through history, taking away loved ones from sickness and war. It’s an empathetic and engrossing narrative with incredible motivation to partake in.
Our lead cast comprising of eight mighty warriors, expected again from its titular indication, employs a mix of personalities attached to Solista’s massive landscape, comprising of different characters from separate regions with individual resolve however, a similar goal. Ochette, the young female hunter from the isle of Toto’haha, leads a whimsical lifestyle with little responsibility other than filling her stomach with delectable meals. Castti Florenz, an apothecary suffers from amnesia, forgetting much of her past as the former Chief of the Eir’s Apothecary after her entire fleet is ailed by a plague sweeping through Solista. Throne Anguis is a thief seeking the Blacksnakes camp for its leader with hopes of bringing down the clan and its stranglehold on his home. Osvald Vanstein is a scholar, whose quick wits was able to escape prison upon being framed for the murder of his wife, Rita, and his only daughter Elena, after his former confidant Harvey, had framed him.
Partito Yellowil, a charming and charismatic merchant, suit-clad from head-to-toe in unorthodox fashion in this universe, willingly shares his optimism and intelligence among Solista. Once a pauper, now a powerful influencer after a lucrative business deal had struck him riches beyond comprehension. Agnea Bristarni, a young woman that aspired to follow in her mother’s footsteps to become a dancer, while also learning of her history with world renowned superstar, Dolcinaea Luciel, a boastful yet caring dancer in her own right. Temenos Mistral, a cleric that questions his faith embarks on a personal quest to find himself through sinister occurrences that may be closely connected to his beliefs. And finally, Hikari Ku is a warrior that takes on a self-imposed mission to take down his benevolent half-brother, the “Scarlet Demon of Ku” General Mugen, after usurping the throne to half of Solista.
Formally commencing your quest as one of eight aforementioned protagonists, you blaze a trail through their home base, investigating and interrogating while confronting demons and beasts in turn-based combat. Different item drops will aid your quest with either clues or carriables that can be used to heal your party, or for trade. Battle elements are mostly retained from the prequel, including ‘Break’ and ‘Boost’, which are used in tandem upon discovering an enemies hidden weakness or as it’s commonly known, a crit. A ‘Break’ will cease an action if recycled or exploited, while the player may bank Boosts to utilise for extra turns with a round. ‘Lantent Powers’ are new to Octopath Traveler II, introducing a safe-bet style limiter that is akin to other JRPG’s such as Final Fantasy or Soul Hackers, where a gauge is filled on-screen to indicate a build-up to crescendo style finish to the encounter. It adds a little style and flair to the overall experience, rather than the monotonous presentation its predecessor demonstrated, with little to no ovation or appreciation to winning a battle.
Taking the safe route...
✔️ Incredibly charming, and extremely alluring. Octopath Traveler II has all the makings of a modern-day classic.
✔️ An extraordinary Audio-Visual feast for the eyes and ears. Appreciative of old-school and new style.
✔️ If it’s not broke, don’t fix it – if anything capitalise. This has proven to be a great formula for this successor.
❌ Minor Audio glitches that can be patched.
Another addition to Octopath Traveler II is its choice in gauging your party’s unique backstories while on your own quest. For example, negotiating with potential team mates means either delving deeper into their own tale or streamlining the process to have them join without the necessity of prolonging your respective protagonist’s escapade. While it can be perceived as bottlenecking, there were imperative plot points that stuck out and aided individual quests at hand, so I chose to ride out all side-quests while traversing all eight regions. This did inflate my campaign time drastically, but it was one that I was happy to indulge in.
The new day-night cycle demonstrates an extensive gameplay loop that leisurely allows players to toggle between. The difference between the hourly change is more than an aesthetic choice, with more battles occurring during the day to hone brand new skills and experience, but the night gives you the chance to spend earned money for more clues or items with its new bribe system. Crowds that swarm the bustling streets during the morning to midday hours, but the inconspicuous twilight hours expose more truths behind Solista, enamouring players with exciting knowledge for a fee. A handful of characters only show up at night to take advantage of this situation, but the flexibility of switching the time of day is what makes it greater.
Some skills attributes are also tied to the timely changeover. While you may be a distinguished, charming gentlemen by day, you can ambush a lead to get your way by night. The ambush tactic us primarily encouraged for use when an impeding NPC may not budge in your request to traverse or investigate further into certain areas, so drastic times call for drastic measures, so clobbering them will knock them out with enough time to scour the area for any hidden clues. The townspeople themselves may confront you or your party which leads to altercations, but these are more tutorial based battles than anything. This is primed for XP farming and learning new skills. The engagement between friend and foe can lead to more recruitment within your party, meaning those that you may fight in the streets may become companions that want to join your party in later battles.
Aesthetically, Octopath Traveler II keeps it safe with synergy, as it ties-in the overall design of its predecessor quite naturally with its namesake as trademark. No overhaul needed, as the hybrid old-school meets new gen makes the franchise what it is today. Character art gives us enough to encapsulate the extensive cast list we portray and interact with. Solista is gorgeous, portraying its own pixelated portrait of pure prevalence, giving players the choice to search through each nook and cranny, hoping to find and dissect any clue they may come across or surprise encounter they mistakenly provoke. From innards of each vying village, to the outskirts where the world may be your oyster, but the wildlife may say otherwise, Octopath Traveler II’s mammoth landmass is inherently overwhelming, but one to slowly digest.
Yasunori Nishiki reprises his role as lead composer of Octopath Traveler II’s incredible soundtrack, with a delightfully orchestrated overture that brims excitement and appreciation of its fantasy-filled expedition. With a rich cast of over eighty notable voice actors, acclaimed within the industry for their incredible versatility are showcased. With too many to name; Xanthe Huynh (Persona 5 Royal), Erica Mendez (NieR: Automata), Amanda “AmaLee” Lee (Sword Art Online), Sean Chiplock (Final Fantasy VII), DC Douglas (Persona 5 Royal), Jamieson Price (Persona 5 Royal), Cristina “Vee” Valenzuela (River City Girls), Zach Aguilar (Fire Emblem), Elizabeth Maxwell (Persona 5 Royal), Bryce Papenbrook (Sword Art Online), Aleks Le (Street Fighter 6) – it’s an extraordinary cavalcade of charisma that’s off the charts that’s succinct in personifying our lovable octagon of overly optimistic champions.
Octopath Traveler II is the ultimate delight for those that are looking to sink time, and lose themselves within an alluring world packed with great adventure and thrills. An extremely attractive colloquy that takes us on a tale through time with inspiration dating back to the 19th century, that aspires great encouragement in our heroes to meet their goals, despite very narrow chance of success in each of them. It would be an understatement to label this follow-up a sleeper hit like its predecessor, but it most certainly has a niche quality to its presentation. Regardless, its a polished experience that I implore any and all role-playing gamers out there to pick up and immerse yourself in. Octopath Traveler II has the formula for being one of, if not the greatest Japanese Role-Playing games of all time. A modern classic for that ages.
Octopath Traveler II Review
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