A JRPG with the essence of the classics of the era of 16 bits. With this premise, it is hard to resist the many charms of Octopath Traveler, a videogame to date exclusive to Nintendo Switch that has just been released on PC. This is Octopath Traveler’s analysis on Steam.
Pure nostalgia. There is no better way to describe Octopath Traveler; a fantastic JRPG that emulates not only the graphics but also the sensations of those wonderful role adventures that so many enjoyed in the era of the 16 bits. Did you live at that time? Surely you’re dying to enjoy this magical journey orchestrated by Square Enix. It is logical. With its innumerable virtues and few rough edges, the title of Acquire is a playable and audiovisual ode to the games of the time, with all its conventions, one by one. It is not a simple gesture of nostalgia or longing, but respect for a way of making video games partially ignored.
Until the exclusive date of Nintendo Switch, and now also available on PC through Steam, Octopath Traveler is a videogame specially designed to make enjoy all those who once lived with passion the great JRPG Super Nintendo or Mega Drive, but what’s new about Square Enix does not forget the youngest ones either, whom it seeks to captivate with an exciting adventure with charismatic characters, exciting final battles, and a beautiful fantasy world to explore with great freedom. What’s new in this version of PC? None beyond the possibility of enjoying its graphics with a 4K resolution but, of course, in a game so the least is the technique; the important thing is the sensations, and these in Octopath Traveler are great.
It is important to talk about narrative in any J-RPG, but even more in the case of Osteopath Traveler. The reason is in his ingenious approach, based on allowing us to control up to 8 different characters. It is a defining characteristic because we can start the adventure with any of them, but from there everything can happen. We are facing a non-linear RPG in which there is always the freedom to decide the next destination. Play a new chapter with a hero? To explore freely the cities? Investigate grottos in search of treasures?
Our only premise is to complete the various chapters in which the story of each protagonist is composed, but nobody tells us the order to follow. The only thing to keep in mind is the recommended level, in some cases low, and in others very demanding. The more chapters, the greater the challenge. This is the scheme followed, which prevents you from finding yourself in a deadlock, or that you have to rise to eternity. There will always be a chapter accessible to your degree of progression, as there are up to eight different stories.
It feels like a great RPG of 16 bits.
Speaking of this, how is the plot going? The truth is that some characters will be more interesting than others. It all depends on whether you connect more with a more cheerful style (Tressa) or dramatic (Alberic). We have the story of a thief who wants to recover his dignity, a scholar in search of answers for the disappearance of a mysterious book, an apothecary who wishes the common good, etc. They are stories in many cases routine, sometimes quite cliché, but with great moments that remain in the memory.
Now, whoever looks for the epicity of the great J-RPG may that their expectations clash with a story not too grandiloquent, with protagonists that solve their own problems … in some major cases, in other minors. Eight adventure travelers in a fantastic kingdom, with different motivations, what is impressive is that it gives for a minimum of 60 hours of play. That is an incredible duration, taking into consideration that there is not too much stuffing, neither argumental nor playable.
When we talk about so much duration, we must be cautious, since the sensation of repetition, of always doing the same thing, is more likely to appear. It is something inherent to the genre, and in the era of the 16 bits, there are great titles that did not get rid of this feeling, mainly by dialogues and combats that seemed never to end. To explain how Octopath Traveler does it to overcome the situation, we have to resort to three very important traits, and that is that if it resists so many hours it is thanks to a beautiful visual section, absolutely great music, and well-adjusted gameplay.
The reasons for the success
The first feature: the graphics section. We are facing a beautiful video game, especially in the visual. The ability to acclimate situations is amazing, with an authentic carousel of scenarios, each one more evocative and spectacular. A city where it is always snowing and it is night, a place with beautiful meadows, a medieval style village with a bright river that crosses it … if you can stay so long in the game, it is because it delights the eyes through a style 2.5 D that is a real waste of talent in each design, in each sprite, in each pixel.
The Unreal Engine 4 generates stamps that remind of the16-bit stage, but which seem topical. The classic 2D planes are given a 3D depth, while effects are added everywhere, especially to highlight the lighting. There may be users who do not finish seeing the grace, but it is fair to appreciate the work done because it is authentic graphic craftsmanship: an absolute wonder.
The second feature: the sound section. From this game, we are going to have to keep track of Yasunori Nishiki. He already made his first steps in titles such as Frontier Gate, but what he has achieved in Octopath Traveler is simply at another level. The visual harmoniously links with orchestrated compositions to generate all kinds of situations, from the most relaxed to the tensest. Also, it is to appreciate that the title arrives with voices in English and in Japanese. The icing is put a careful translation into Spanish that allows following the thousands of lines of dialogue present.
The third feature: the gameplay, which rests in a turn-based combat system of the classical scheme. Its distinctive feature is in two characteristics. The main one is the break, which is achieved when the enemy’s weaknesses are attacked to cause him a state of unconsciousness during a turn. Learning to provoke ruptures is essential to overcome the most complicated combats, something that challenges our tactical-strategic capacity. We must learn if our rivals are vulnerable to swords, axes, spears, bows … as well as the magic of ice, fire, wind, darkness, etc.
The visual is linked harmoniously with orchestrated compositions
Many battles can be overcome in less than a minute, but there are others that can take half an hour if we do not have the appropriate characters, equipment or level. Therefore, next to the break, it is important to use the impulses, a combo that adds an attack with each turn. Charging the sword for four consecutive strokes, or maximizing an elemental ability can unbalance the balance of any contest. These two differentiating characteristics, rupture, and impulse, explain the success of the combat system. It is traditional but unique and charismatic, as well as very, very challenging.
A game in defense of the J-RPG
Thus, Octopath Traveler develops mostly through a high narrative and combats load. To a lesser extent there is exploration, and then on a small scale, other events such as finding secondary missions, finding hidden treasures or simply buying to obtain items and better equipment. There are elements of progression to consider, such as the possibility of obtaining new skills with level ups … but not much more. The video game relies on simplicity, clarity, and accessibility, from there rise up to reach a certain playable depth.
For example, there is an identifying feature of the game that we liked a lot. Each character responds to a class, and within it possesses a specific path action. Tressa can trade with any mapping character. Alberic challenges them to a match. Primrose seduce them to temporarily join the group. This, which seems so simple, is interwoven with the rest of playable dynamics, so that it affects the systems of progression, equipment, combat, etc.
If Ophelia had not gotten an old man to accompany me in a bloody battle, I would have had a very bad time. If Ophelia had not gotten an old man to accompany me in a bloody battle, I would have had a very bad time. Therion had not stolen that fantastic armor, the team would probably have fallen prematurely. The best thing about Octopath Traveler is that it feels like a 16-bit RPG that starts with simple schemes, without unnecessary complexity, but can manage for 60 hours without losing interest. Obviously, there are more interesting stories than others, more frustrating moments than others, and you might have been asked to incorporate some more playable mechanics. I had not left.
In any case, after all the time invested, I think Acquire has achieved its goal: move me to an era that I only remembered through classics such as Secret of Mana, Breath of Fire or Illusion of Time. And this is the most important. We’ve complained for a long time that J-RPGs are not what they used to be. We should not complain now about what he has tried and achieved – with its pluses and minuses – this videogame, because then the blame will no longer be on the industry, but probably on us.
The goal of Osteopath Traveler was to recover a way of making games that had been lost over the years. His return to the era of the 16 bits, both from the audiovisual point of view and playable constitutes a defense of the J-RPG as the industry was born. Like the titles of the time, it has an immense duration, simple but addictive gameplay and a charm that can not be expressed in words. It can only be experienced. If you did not play it on Nintendo Switch, now you can compensate by enjoying this RPG adventure on PC. It is a trip that is worth it.
- Classic J-RPG essence, a beautiful tribute to the era of 16 bits
- The simple but deep fighting system, with a lot of challenges in bosses
- The world quite extensive, with many locations and 60 hours of the total duration
- Non-linear character, with the possibility to advance in the eight present histories
- A graphic marvel, combining pixel-art with different lighting techniques
- The soundtrack is impressive, the best we’ve heard
- There are ups and downs between some stories and others … They do not even get to understand each other
- Some episodes of repetition and frustration that slow down the pace of play.