Octopath Traveler: A First Impression

We're gonna start this little conversation with a couple cold, hard facts.

  1. I'm really not a JRPG guy, or even that much of an RPG guy.  I haven't completed a single Final Fantasy game, I haven't even played Final Fantasy VII, and even though my love for Nintendo runs deep, I've never had any interest in Super Mario RPG.  I've played a ton of Pokemon, but that's about the only exception.
  2. At the time of this writing, Octopath Traveler is backordered 1 - 2 months on Amazon in the US and selling/sold out all of Japan.
  3. Octopath Traveler had two rather generous demos in the eShop leading up to its launch, but I only played about 30 minutes of the first one and didn't even download the second.

Even though I've never been very big into RPGs, there are a few in my life that I've thoroughly enjoyed.  You add that up with my inability to say no to most Nintendo Switch games, and I picked up Octopath Traveler the moment I could last Friday morning.  In attempts to not go too long winded (... long... fingered?  long.... typed? ... nevermind) I'm going to bullet point a few things in a quick review.  I've only got about 3 hours into the game, so I can't give a thorough review, and I don't ever plan to (that's not my style).  Catch me in the discord if you want to talk about it further.

  • The choice of the sprite-based, 2.5D graphics fits this game perfect.  We know the Switch doesn't have the same processing power as its current-gen rivals, so giving it that old-fashioned feel while taking advantage of current technology was a great call.  The game looks gorgeous and new, while giving a nostalgic feel to the greats of RPGs past.
  • The audio is fantastic.  So far I've had about a 50/50 mix of voice acting and simple text but I'm very much impressed with the diversity in voices.  On top of that, the music has already wow'd me from simplistic over world tunes to very tense fight scenes.
  • The gameplay is extremely accessible.  Octopath Traveler has all of the typical RPG elements when it comes to team building -- different characters, choice of skills, multiple equipment categories, multiple weapon types, unique over world abilities, health bar, "magic" bar, etc... However, at least in the early part of the game, they do a phenomenal job of giving you everything (almost at once) without any of it feeling overwhelming.  I'm the first person to bail on an RPG or Tactics game when the meta gets overwhelming, and I don't have that feeling at all with Octopath Traveler.
  • I already care about the characters.  I've only gotten to see a small handful of the character backstories, but I already care about what happens next.  I want to see all of their stories come to conclusion, even if it takes me the rumored 80 - 100 hours the game is said to take.

All in all, early on and in hot shot form, I've got a great feeling about this game.  I see myself having no reservations about putting in the required time and getting me all the way to the Nintendo Switch's next big release.  

Hop over to the discord to share your thoughts, and if you're an early reader (lucky you), catch us on Twitch tonight (and every Monday night) around 7pm ET as we discuss this and much more on the GameZilla Podcast.

...and until next time -- Game On!

- @testanomics