When Project Octopath Traveler was first announced everyone thought the same thing: what is up with that name? However, after we gave it some time we returned to the announcement trailer and found a promising and unique RPG, mixing retro and modern graphics exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
There was much to be explained about Project Octopath Traveler, but little information has been given since the initial reveal. Thankfully, that all changed when Square Enix launched a free demo which allowed players to test out two of the eight characters, Princess and Warrior named Primrose and Olberic, respectively.
Project Octopath Traveler Demo Ver. begins with the main protagonists each dealing with a part of their past that they will never escape. The tone for each of the two main quests is dark, which leaves room to speculate if the other character’s stories will keep this theme of revenge or if they will differ and offer a new reason for them to join the fight.
I was surprised by the theme of the story because the game’s visuals seem inviting and almost childish. I was wrong to assume that Project Octopath Traveler would feature a kid friendly story based on its visual appearance, but I ended up being very pleased with the direction of the story.
I wouldn’t want to spoil the game for players who wish to go in blind to the demo, so if you care about that skip the next two paragraphs because we will be discussing the two story premises:
Primrose’s story begins with her as a child as she watches her father’s death at the hands of a group of three men. She burns their features into her brain and promises to one day find them and kill them. After figuring out they’ve been seen at a bar (ahem strip club), she becomes a dancer for a few years until she finally sees the men who killed her father and hunts them down.
Olberic’s story is a bit different after a friend of his betrays their country during a war, the memory of the encounter stays with him for years. Evidently, he escapes that life to live a quiet life in the mountains. That is until a group of bandits show up with information about his friend’s whereabouts. Now both characters are on a journey of revenge. However, it’s not shown if their paths will cross or not.
The battle system in Project Octopath Traveler is fast and unique. I must admit it took me a few fights to figure out all the mechanics, but it’s purely based on a “Break” system. During fights, players will need to figure out an enemy’s weakness and Break their defense. Doing so will stagger the enemy, make them lose a turn, and drastically drop their defense stat.
However, that’s not all, every turn your party member’s boost will increase up to five. Boosts can be used at any time which will add an extra attack depending on how many you use, up to four max, or increase the power of a character’s ability. Using this system in combat feels smooth after you get the hang of breaking an enemy and then follow up with a powerfull ability.
Another thing about the battle system is that some of encounters can be pretty brutal if you aren’t prepared (there’s a bonus dungeon after the demo ends with very high level enemies, but good loot). Going into battle without properly checking your inventory and HP could mean a quick end to your game, and there isn’t an Autosave feature to pick you back up from where you left off.
The graphics in Project Octopath Traveler are reminiscent of the visuals found in 3D Dot Game Heroes. This is where the focus plain is on the character while the background and foreground are blurry and out of focus. Surprisingly, this works well for the game and compliments the direction that the developer, Acquire, is going for.
Project Octopath Traveler has gained my full interest and has been added to one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. The game is mature, fast paced, and has a unique battle system that I can’t wait to dive more into.
I’m looking forward to getting to know the other characters in the game as well as learn about how or when their paths cross. There’s still plenty of time before Project Octopath Traveler releases and after playing this demo I am eagerly awaiting its release, to bad that will be in 2018.