My (Least) Favorite Thing About Octopath Traveler
Octopath Traveler for Nintendo Switch has been out a month as of this writing and I finally put some well deserved time into the title this last week (mostly because I stopped playing Minecraft). The game is reviewing phenomenally, presents the 16 bit art style immaculately, and has a soundtrack that keeps you very engaged in the environment. From my initial boot, I didn't feel the pressure or overwhelming burden that normally comes with JRPGS, from quests here and there to 94 different stat modifiers. All around I feel this is a very well put together game by Square Enix, but there's one thing glaringly different, and this one difference is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite part of the game.
There is no unified, driving story arc.
(that I know of)
The game of Octopath Traveler, as the title suggests, takes you through eight different story lines of eight different characters who all seem to want to help each other for no other reason than they're great people. It's all chapter based, with each character being the only actor in their respective story for the entirety of that chapter. It's a bit unconventional, but I do think it helps and hurts the game at the same time.
Why I like it:
I keep buying games. I cannot stop buying games on the Nintendo Switch. As quickly as I beat one, three new hot looking indie titles come out and I have to give them my money. Because of this, I find myself switching games multiple times a week which is not how I've ever gamed in the past. 'Classic Test' would be one who gets a game, grinds it out, and moves on to the next one. 'Current Day Test' continues to bob and weave throughout the eShop and trying new things.
This is where Octopath Traveler's interesting way of story time really works in my benefit. I do not have to worry about remembering every intricate detail and cog of this massive machine after setting the game down for a couple days, I simply have to remember the high points of each character's motivation and how that's changed after my last extremely consumable chunk of time playing. Since the game is very much framed up in chapters, as I mentioned earlier, it's simple and easy to knock out one or two chapters in a play session and then move onto something else the next time I boot the Switch.
Why I don't:
However, because of these separated stories, I don't find myself as engaged and consistently pushing to see 'what happens next'. Unfortunately, in a 80+ hour game like Octopath Traveler is, that's almost necessary for someone like me to sign up and commit to beating the game. It's a bit too easy to put down and I fear that one of these days I'll put it down, and not pick it back up. I would (potentially will) be doing myself a grave injustice as I'm very interested in completing this game, but if I don't beat it before Pokemon: Let's Go! and Super Smash Bros Ultimate come out, that'll be all she wrote.
Fortunately, I've read a lot here and there (while remaining spoiler free) that there very well could be some unifying conclusion once all is said and done, and a popular reviewing company even commenting that the ending is "so satisfying", which will likely be enough to keep me chugging along. That, and that the game is really freaking good.
Like, really good.
It's the least stressful, most laid back RPG (definitely JRPG) that I've played in an extremely long time.
I need to take a weekend and put 10 - 20 hours into the game to get a nice good dent in it and get myself closer to beating it so I can taste that finish line, and as I was able to do it recently for about 135 hours in Minecraft, I think it would be wrong not to.
Let me know what you think in the comments below, over on the GameZilla Media Discord, live on Monday night during the GameZilla Podcast recording, or my own Twitch page the other days of the week.
You may just see my beat Octopath Traveler, but until then -- Game On!