Square Enix’s sprawling adventure puts a fresh coat of paint on genre classics with gameplay as inventive as its visuals
For a certain set of role-playing fans, the Super NES era represents the golden standard of RPG design. That’s nostalgia speaking to a certain degree; after all, many people encountered menu-based battles with teams of magic-slinging warriors through the likes of Final Fantasy 6 and Chrono Trigger.
Đang xem: Octopath traveler
It’s only natural that those would be their touchstones. But it’s also true that RPGs of the 16-bit era genuinely did possess a certain je ne sais quoi. They ran on hardware just powerful enough to allow game makers to express their bold narrative ideas, yet not so powerful as to make development too expensive for devil-may-care experimentation. With Square Enix’s Octopath Traveler, we have the latest modern-day RPG whose creators hope to recapture a little of that 16-bit magic.
This actually isn’t Square Enix’s first attempt to rekindle the Super NES fires in 2018. Happily, Octopath Traveler comes a lot closer to realizing that dream than the hopelessly cluttered Lost Sphear and painfully clumsy Secret of Mana did. While the endearing whimsy of vintage classics lượt thích Chrono Trigger continues to elude Square Enix’s writers — Octopath Traveler is nothing if not self-serious — this latest effort comes closer to recapturing bygone days than perhaps any retro-chasing RPG to date.
The first thing you’ll notice about Octopath Traveler is its striking graphical style. It looks, quite simply, lượt thích no other game before it. Square Enix has applied Unreal Engine 4 tech to vintage sprite work, creating a world that blends modern viettingame.coms with old-school bitmap graphics. The developers have created a storybook world that extrudes the dungeon maps of 16-bit console RPGs into three dimensions, then soaks everything in atmospheric lighting and shadow effects.
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The look doesn’t always work; character sprites often appear haloed by ugly dark outlines, and the blurry filtering on certain environmental details will remind you of Nintendo 64 graphics, in a bad way. However, aside from those small aesthetic flaws, Octopath Traveler’s 2D sprite diorama style can be absolutely striking. In dressing up viettingame.coms as sprites and presenting them with fixed camera angles, Square Enix ended up with something lượt thích an interactive pop-up book. This dev team previously aimed for a similar effect with Bravely Default, but Octopath Traveler does a far better job of it, thanks to more advanced tech tricks lượt thích depth-of-field blur.
These techniques aren’t simply a gimmick, though. Take, for example, the low camera angles. They create natural hidden pathways that hide treasures and secret areas behind raised foreground elements. It’s reminiscent of, say, the little invisible passageways that appeared throughout Final Fantasy 4 — but here, the use of scenery to obscure these secret paths makes for more intuitive exploration than you saw in the older game. Octopath Traveler’s level design does an excellent job of teasing you with seemingly inaccessible treasure boxes, then allowing you to figure out how to reach them. It turns nearly every town and overworld path into a sort of spatial puzzle to be unraveled.
Octopath Traveler draws upon classic RPG elements in a unique way while also adding something new to the mix
Really, Octopath Traveler’s graphical gimmickry sums up the ethos behind the entire game: drawing upon classic RPG elements in a unique way while also adding something new to the mix. There’s nothing clever these days about making a game that simply looks old or that conspicuously references old favorites. A game that stirs memories of those bygone works while still making new creative strides for the genre, though? That happens far too rarely, and Octopath Traveler should be celebrated for pulling it off.
The cumbersome name “Octopath Traveler” directly relates to the game’s central narrative concept: You assemble a party of eight different adventurers, each with their own tale to complete. All eight heroes seek independent goals, and the in-game journal tracks your progress through all eight individual storylines. If there’s a failing to Octopath Traveler, it’s that these stories don’t intersect, at least not in the early going. The characters can team up and travel together, helping one another complete their respective objectives, but there’s no real narrative reason for them to do so. They come together and partake of each other’s tales because it’s an RPG and that’s simply what is done in these games. It’s a lengthy RPG, and I still have quite a bit of each character’s story to complete, so I’m interested to see if Octopath Traveler does ultimately reveal some grand unifying plot to give purpose to this ragtag team of heroes, or if it’s simply a scattered set of tales in which a group of adventurers cameo in one another’s life stories.
Still, even if Octopath Traveler does ultimately amount to a bunch of disconnected vignettes, it does manage to bring these different heroes together more neatly than many other games that take a similar multicharacter approach. You begin the game by picking any one of the adventurers as your initial point-of-view character, but it’s possible to experience all eight stories in a single playthrough rather than having to complete a single quest before starting over (which is how it usually works in Square Enix’s SaGa series, for example). The fact that you’re meant to play through all of Octopath Traveler in a single go is already a point in the game’s favor, but even more remarkable is the elegance with which the combat mechanics adapt to your progress.
There’s no set sequence to the process of meeting up with the other protagonists, and the difficulty level of each character’s story scales as your party grows. If you kick off the game with, say, the hunter H’aanit’s story, her initial boss will be challenging but not impossible for her to tackle on her own. If you meet up with H’aanit as your third or fourth party thành viên, however, her first boss will fight far more ferociously to account for the larger combat roster. RPGs never self-adjust this elegantly, and the fact that this one does speaks to the consideration Square Enix has invested into Octopath Traveler’s workings.
The game’s eight heroes are all well-defined characters, each unique from the others. They distinguish themselves by dialects, personalities and quest goals. They’re a group of extremes. One one hand, for example, you have Ophilia, a selfless cleric determined to perform a sacred mission while allowing her sister to sit by their dying father’s side; on the other, you have Therion, a thief who’s been outsmarted by more devious criminals and forced to do their dirty work for them. While they make for an awfully somber bunch (with one or two exceptions), they’re all neatly defined and quite likable.
The characters’ personalities tie into their “path actions”: a unique skill available for each protagonist’s interactions with the nonplayer characters that fill the world. Well, they’re unique to a point. Each path action appears in two variations that achieve the same end in a slightly different way. H’aanit’s “provoke” skill (which allows her to battle NPCs) is largely the same as Olberic’s “challenge” ability, just as Therion’s “steal” (with which he can swipe valuables from unwitting NPCs) amounts to a less honest variant of Tressa’s “purchase.”
In any case, path actions create interesting opportunities for interactions with NPCs beyond simply talking to them for clues, and they can be both beneficial and detrimental. You can steal better armor, consumable items, and even story-related quest items from townsfolk. If you bungle your attempt, though, your reputation in that town will suffer, preventing you from fully interacting with the locals. It costs quite a bit to restore your good name, adding a risk/reward element to these optional interactions.
This same breadth that accompanies your NPC interactions defines the battle system, too. Octopath Traveler’s combat mechanics focus heavily on the idea of “breaking” foes by striking their weaknesses, causing them to become stunned and weakened. This creates a huge amount of strategy in even mundane combat encounters — especially when you factor in your party’s unique character skills. Unlike in, say, Final Fantasy 13, breaking foes doesn’t simply amount to pouring on as much damage as possible to clear out monsters. A foe afflicted with the “break” condition isn’t simply weakened; it loses a turn, too. Sometimes it’s best to focus on a single broken foe to clear it off the battlefield, but in other cases you might find it best to spread out your attacks to break multiple foes at once and give your party a bit of breathing space for a turn so you can regroup or recover.
It’s worth noting that many character-specific battle abilities become more effective as the target enemy becomes weaker. Though it certainly makes sense to pile on damage onto a foe to wipe it out, there’s value in simply weakening it to a critical state so Therion can steal from it or H’aanit can capture it to summon in battle. The ideal moment-to-moment tactics for each random encounter can vary wildly depending not only on the nature of the monsters you face, but also according to your specific team makeup.
Every element of Octopath Traveler comes together brilliantly to create a refreshing take on the genre. While it channels the spirit of old favorites, it never feels derivative. It genuinely does feel lượt thích a 16-bit RPG that has evolved into something new rather than being mere nostalgia-bait. Even if its visual tricks can feel strained at times, I admire the way Octopath Traveler sidesteps and even corrects the mistakes that other RPGs tend to make in trying to recapture the essence of the Super NES era. It’s informed by the classics, but it never feels blind or slavish. While I don’t feel comfortable finalizing this review until I’ve completed the game and seen how (or if) the stories come together, I can confidently say that anyone who’s been pining for a great RPG will not be disappointed by Octopath Traveler … whether they want a vintage experience or a brand-new one.
This review will be updated with final thoughts; please kiểm tra back later this month.
Octopath Traveler was played using a final “retail” Switch tải về code provided by Square Enix. You can find additional information about viettingame.com’s ethics policy here.