Eight stories, but not enough connections
Octopath Traveler 2 This retro-styled RPG is set in a steampunk-esque fantasy realm. Square Enix isn’t reinventing the turn-based RPG for this sequelInstead, they expand and (mildly), correct some of the less important parts of the original. You will find new battle strategies and moves, an easily-used day-and night game mechanism, and shared stories which attempt to link the eight narratives. But it’s still a casual one. You can also use the “Remember Me” button to send an email. Final Fantasy XV It was four of our best friends going on a road trip, then Octopath Traveler 2 It’s more like Uber Pool rideshare. There might be friendly small talk, but there’s still not enough of a meaningful connection between the eight protagonists.
Octopath Traveler 2 doesn’t offer any technical graphical upgrades I need to explain, although there seems to be a little more detail to both the sprites and environments. It’s still a pretty game. The appeal lies in the way games like these can relive my childhood memories of 16-bit and 32-bit games.
However, the team behind the series realized that they can adjust the scale: this is the Nintendo Switch and not the SNES. Some scenes in Hikari, the warrior’s opening scene see characters racing past 40 people fighting in a desert. The cinematic cutscenes have been reworked by Team Asano and Developers Acquire. Cameras will pan out and around your characters, as they brood on cliff faces, or as they’re forced to kill their abusive parents.
OP2 tries, only ever so slightly, to convey the idea that you’re on a collective journey. Once you’ve chosen your main character (who will be ‘locked’ into your party until you complete all five chapters of their story), you’ll bump into other travelers. Then you’ll be given the option to play through their origin story, or circle back to it at the local tavern at a time that’s suitable for you.
Occasionally there will be some minor banter elements, called “shared stories” where two characters will share a few scenes together. These are often used to link stories and offer rewards. Still, it’s a little too infrequent – and not enough to get the impression this is a team of heroes helping each other to save the world from various calamities – or become a global dance superstar. (Yes, that’s someone’s aim.)
Osvald the scholar begins his journey in prison. He is accused of killing his wife, and his child. He’s this game’s defacto black mag,e with an array of elemental attacks. Still, this time, given his gritty backstory, his path actions (abilities and interactions you can make with non-playable characters in towns, and generally any time outside of battles) aren’t your typical black mage traits. The first is scrutinize which is risky and can be used to gather information from characters. The other is mug where you can battle any NPC you find, and steal their possessions, if you win.
With eight characters, there are many overlaps in path actions. Castti, an item expert and apothecary, can inquire for the same information you can get from scrutinizing, without any risk – she just has to be a high enough level. Meanwhile, Throné, the thief, can steal during daylight hours, giving the same results of a mugging without the fight.
Alongside those skills, each character also starts with a unique talent, offering battle abilities or passive skills that others won’t be able to use, even after unlocking secondary classes.
You can change your job roles and the battle system will work just as well as the original. To do so, however, you’ll need to find the guild for each job to unlock it. Some are easy enough to find – I came across two of the ‘secret’ jobs entirely by accident – while others are eluding me even now, 60 hours into the game, at roughly level 60 across my party. Hunter guild, where are you??
It took more effort to tonally distinguish the eight stories of Octopath Traveler 2 Comparable to its predecessor. With Temenos the cleric, who works as some sort of blasphemy hunter/mystery solver, gets a few scenes where he’s trying to solve crime scene mysteries. It’s not exactly Phoenix WrightWith all the clues, they twinkle away, waiting for your to walk up to them. However, it helps to make the chapters feel distinct.
Partitio, Partitio is the merchant. His story feels like a whimsical K-drama. The entrepreneur makes friends and deals around the world. Partitio is treated to an unusually strange montage that includes his final deal, jumping on ships and visiting secondary characters you may have forgotten. The aforementioned Castii starts the game with amnesia (ah that video game classic), and if there’s anything shared across most of the characters, it’s the sense that most of them are unreliable narrators. Agnea, the dancer and Ochette the hunter round out the cast. (Not all eight of these will be a hit with everyone.
There are only a few more banter scenes in the final chapters of each of the eight characters. I’m playing through the final chapters for each character, and if it’s anything like OP1This will likely unlock a boss and dungeon in the final area. At this point, I doubt all the themes and story will coalesce into a satisfying conclusion — there’s been some allusions to a ‘shadow’, but that’s true of 90 percent of all RPGs. /I’ll be happy with another challenging boss.
The battle dynamics follow the same formula of the last game: you aim to break the enemies’ defenses through applying elemental and weapon weaknesses. Break them, and they’ll stop attacking — or reset the charge-up to their high damage abilities – allowing you to do increased damage, or carefully heal and prepare for the next part of the fight. Once again, you’ll be able to boost attacks as a battle continues, augmenting damage or extending the length of strengthening spells and other boons.
Latent powers are a super attack that is unique to each character and can be used in the sequel. Some characters can perform two actions at once while others deal augmented damage, supercharge spells, or physical attacks. This is how I found my favourite characters, and they stayed with the squad for longer. (Thank you for your service, Throné.)
Day and night affect the entire game, and thankfully it’s an easy trigger button that you can tap at any time outside of a battle. Depending on which characters, there are some benefits to fighting at night. Throné and Temenos offer debuffs and buffs at the start of nighttime fights, although it seems like fights are generally tougher than during the day. You may also encounter different enemies depending on what time it is. The transition can also be used to move NPCs around town or make them disappear completely. The music thoughtfully transitions between these two states, which is an excellent touch. Another time, OP2 It has a polished sound, with many battle-theme earworms and orchestral bangers.
OP2 The sequel builds on the strengths and provides many non-linear story options, as well as enough variation between chapters to break up the story. However, there still isn’t quite enough cohesion between the travelers and the tales they weave.
Octopath Traveler 2 will be available on Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 on February 24th.