Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Octo Update

After writing my impressions last week, I’ve sunk a bunch of additional hours into Octopath Traveler. At this point, I’ve now played through the first chapter for all eight characters, and have started the second chapter for the merchant, Tressa. Some additional thoughts now that I have a bigger picture of what this game has to offer:
  • The original demo featured the first chapter for Primrose the Dancer and Olberic the Knight. I think Square Enix made a wise decision showcasing these two characters when unveiling the game to the world. Of all eight characters, I found these two have stories with the most compelling starts, even upon second viewing. Their darker themes of revenge and justice are probably best suited to older players like me that were reeled in by this game’s resemblance to 16 and 32-bit classics.
  • The second tier of characters have less interesting stories but have likable personalities that keep me engaged. My lead character, Cyrus the Scholar, is a wannabe Sherlock Holmes on the hunt for a lost book of forbidden knowledge. There’s a mysterious air to his story that appeals to me. Also, his haughty attitude and devastatingly powerful magic make him a fun character to have as my protagonist. (I neglected to mention in my preview that the first character you play serves as your main character for the whole campaign). Tressa the Merchant is charming in a different way with her happy-go-lucky attitude and thirst for adventure. She’s also a highly opportunistic capitalist, like you would expect from a merchant, which works its way into her plot in fun ways. Her quest is also motivated by a book, so I tend to group her and Cyrus together.
  • Some of the criticisms of Octopath Traveler from major review outlets have been about “generic writing”. I think this shows a bit once we drop down into the third and fourth tier characters. I put Therion the Thief and Ophelia the Cleric in the third tier; they’re not especially interesting but I think there’s potential for their plots to go in interesting directions. In the Final Fantasy series, Square Enix has done interesting things with thieves (e.g. Balthier from FF12) and clerics (e.g. Yuna from FF10) before, so hopefully, that’ll end up being the case here.
  • In the fourth tier, we have H'aanit the Huntress and Alfyn the Apothecary. While these characters are pretty useful in combat, their dialog doesn’t do much for me. H'aanit speaks in a strange faux-Elizabethan English that seems off to me. If the game’s writers wanted to go this way with her script, I wish that they would have committed to it more fully. The strange half measure that they went with just seems awkward to me (think the original Dragon Warrior). As for Alfyn, he just wants to be the best apothecary he can be... and that's about it. Not too interesting.
  • As I had mentioned before, I started off with Cyrus and thus he's my team leader. This has worked out exceptionally well. His powerful area-of-effect elemental spells and his ability to detect enemy weaknesses make him exceptionally useful in every combat situation I've encountered.
  • I've only just started my first Chapter 2 quest and there's a noticeable difficulty spike. Many basic encounter enemies now feel on the level of mini-bosses. When I finished all the Chapter 1 stories, Cyrus was at level 22 and everyone else was in the upper teens. It feels like I'll be able to handle Chapter 2, but just barely.
  • I managed to figure out some of the side quests, but other than earning money, I'm still not sure if they matter much.
 Octopath Traveler continues to be a joy to play and it will probably keep me busy for at least the rest of this month. Since I'm increasing my posting frequency for #BlaugustReborn, I'll likely post one more impressions post before writing my review. Since this post was mainly about characters and story, the next will probably focus on combat strategy once I've gotten a taste of higher level play. In any event, I still highly recommend that any RPG fan give this game a look.

If you'd like to check out the world of Octopath Traveler for yourself while also supporting this blog, you can order a copy of the game from this Amazon affiliate link: Octopath Traveler - Nintendo Switch

PS:
If you would like to learn more about #BlaugustReborn or sign up to participate, take a look at this post from fellow game blogger, Belghast: Tales of the Aggronaut - First of Blaugust

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