Posted in Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler: Oh, bite me

With five characters collected, there’s three to go for my start at Octopath Traveler. Next up is Alfyn, a traveling apothecary. I like his affable good nature and all, but I’m not a fan of his fiddly potion brewing. I’ll add him, but I don’t think I’ll be including him in my main party even so. Really, his only contribution to date was making me miss Cyrus’ analyze ability when he was out of the group.

We picked up Primrose after that, a dark magic dancer who’s story involves emancipating herself from captivity and finding the bandits that murdered her father. She was my main character last time, and I know I really am interested in her tale probably more than the rest. Welcome to the party!

And what a party it is, too. I’ve got a guy who can analyze weakness, a healer, and four characters who can all pump out magical attacks that hit everyone. Oh, and two characters that can recruit villagers to serve as summons.

The more time I spend in Octopath Traveler, the more I keep coming to the same thought. This might well be the best Final Fantasy game I’ve ever played. I mean, it’s not FF of course… not in name. But it’s like Final Fantasy without all of the pomp and convoluted storylines and slavish commitment to franchise tropes. What we’re left with is something that’s very upbeat, streamlined to the individual stories, filled with great music and visuals, and centered around a really engaging turn-based battle system.

Look at that — I picked up the eighth and final company member, Olberic (and, incidentally, finished my loop around the newbie portions of the world). He’s a reluctant old warrior called back into service, yadda yada. I’m tempted to include him in my core team for his tankish nature, but that would mean I’d have to kick someone else out… and I don’t know who I could bear to part with.

So what now? I guess I need to pick a character’s storyline and pursue it. You’re up to bat, Tressa, so don’t mess up.

We start making the journey west to Quarrybrook, and it’s during this trek that I discover the battle music actually changes. It’s the first time I’ve heard something different, and I’m glad for the variety (even if I have liked the battle theme to date).

I guess that explains how the game handles its questing system. When you get to a town or area where a character or multiple characters have a storyline quest there, it gives you a choice which to activate for the time being. Pretty straight-forward. I like it.

Posted in CRPG, CRPGs, Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler: A cleric, a hunter, and a thief walk into a bar

As I continue my party round-up of Octopath Traveler’s eight companions, I confess I’m relieved to get to this next one — Ophilia — because that means I get a dedicated healer. She’s a good-hearted adopted daughter of the archbishop who conspires (but in the NICEST way) to go on a world-spanning pilgrimage instead of her sister when dad grows ill. I really like her bonus ability, as she can convince NPCs to follow her and then throw them into combat as summons a certain number of times.

Let me tell you, I really don’t mind slowing down on certain screens to grind out a few more levels. The combat is that right mixture of snappy, visually pleasing, strategic, and flexible. It might well be the best turn-based RPG system that I’ve ever experienced. And it doesn’t hurt to get everyone above level 10, especially since some of those skills start getting very costly to buy.

Continuing to journey counter-clockwise around the map, I ended up in the deep forest where we met H’aanit the hunter. She’s fine, I guess, but she talks in that annoying pseudo-Elizabethan writing style that Square Enix sometimes fancies. Anyway, her main quest is to track down her mentor, whose hunting pet returned to the village without him.

Companion #5 is Therion the thief. He’s a walking stereotype of the loner thief (who hesitates not one second to join your party) with a sarcastic quip for every occasion. But he’s definitely going to be part of my main party because he can (a) steal from NPCs and (b) open purple chests with good gear.

Posted in CRPG, CRPGs, Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler: Show me the money

It’s been a while, but as Octopath Traveler 2 is coming this year, I thought it was the perfect time to return to — and actually finish — the first game. The last time I played Octopath Traveler it was December 2020, but honestly, who remembers anything from that year? I know I liked it but as I only put 5.5 hours into it, I had only scratched the surface of this charming JRPG from Square Enix.

So let’s see if I can actually make it through this puppy in 2023!

Something I didn’t really understand my first time playing is that while you can collect all eight characters, your *first* will always be in your party as your main character and end up out-leveling everyone else. So that first choice is very important to make. After a lot of deliberation (and reading around on the subject), I’m going with the merchant Tressa for her ability to make money hand-over-fist. More money is NEVER a bad thing in RPGs.

Tressa’s tale begins with pirates roughing up the town and stealing various goods from hard-working folks. Tressa, the merchant daughter of two shop owners, decides to use her advanced purchasing power to do something about it — namely, to buy sleepweed and drug the pirates’ wine. I then farmed random mob encounters for a while until she was level 6 and was able to buy a couple of new skills.

The boss battle reminded me how much I like Octopath Traveler’s turn-based combat system. It’s not just that it’s snappy (although it is), but that there’s a decent level of strategy that goes on as you use an enemy’s weakness to “break” them and then pile on saved-up attacks to wipe them out. Tressa uses the spear, bow, and has wind magic, so she’s got plenty of options.

Once the pirates are defeated, she makes friends with a visiting merchant captain who used to be a pirate himself. He gifts Tressa with a book of adventuring tales — tales that end up inspiring her to leave her hometown and become a traveling merchant herself.

This game has eight collectable characters — all which start with a different letter of the word OCTOPATH — and so the first part of the journey is to collect ’em all like Pokémon. I’m taking Tressa counter-clockwise around the map, so first up is Cyrus the scholar. His fairly dull tale kicks off with a detective-like search for whoever stole some rare tome from the library. Once he beats up the thief, he then sets out to track down an even more rare, even more stolen book.

With two heroes collected out of eight, the party heads up into the mountains in search of a healer. Love that falling snow effect!