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Octopath Traveler 2 review: more than a pretty face

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Octopath Traveler 2

MSRP $59.99

“Octopath Traveler 2 builds on its predecessor’s strengths to create one other charming retro RPG.”

Execs

  • Participating battle system
  • Improved character interactions
  • Unbelievable HD-2D visuals
  • Glorious music

Cons

  • Annoying problem spikes
  • Uneven stage pacing

When Octopath Traveler launched in 2018, it quietly kicked off a revolution. Sq. Enix’s retro RPG featured a singular artwork type that may usher in a brand new period of “HD-2D” video games. The endearing pixel artwork complemented the 3D environments surprisingly nicely, leading to Octopath Traveler’s timeless presentation. Within the 5 years because it was launched, different video games resembling Dwell a Dwell and Triangle Technique have used the identical type to nice impact, whether or not it’s by respiratory life into older titles or experimenting with different gameplay mechanics.

It wasn’t simply type with out substance, although. The primary recreation made good use of its modern artwork type with a incredible turn-based battle system and sturdy customization choices. Although it’s nonetheless one of many Change’s standout RPGs, it did nonetheless have points. Fight and artwork had been on level, however restricted interactions between its solid of heroes took a few of the punch out of its eight-hero premise.

5 years later, Octopath Traveler 2 is right here and seeks to treatment these points from the primary recreation, proving the sequence is greater than a reasonably face. It pulls that off for essentially the most half due to robust visuals, music, and a battle system that also feels recent. Nevertheless, there are nonetheless some ache factors of its predecessor that linger right here, particularly its grind-infested pacing and the occasional problem spike. The sequel is a particular stage up, however there’s nonetheless room for the sequence to accrue expertise.

Eight paths, eight tales

Octopath Traveler 2 takes place in Solistia, which is a way more industrialized setting than the primary recreation’s Osterra. The combination of contemporary expertise just like the steam engine and magical components like curses and prophecies makes for a captivating location. Like the primary recreation, the story follows eight separate characters internationally. Every character has their very own distinct story, resembling Hikari, a swordsman on a mission to cease his brother’s war-mongering rule, and Castti, an apothecary with amnesia who’s attempting to recuperate her recollections by touring and therapeutic these in want. Gamers can choose and select which character to begin with, after which sort out every story’s chapters in any order from there.

Every story is intriguing in its personal approach and, importantly, by no means overstays its welcome. The scholar Osvald’s story is especially compelling as he’s on a revenge quest for the one that framed him for his household’s homicide 20 years in the past. I cherished seeing Osvald tread down a darkish path for vengeance, studying how far he would go to destroy those that wronged him. In Castti’s story, she learns harrowing particulars concerning the apothecary clan she belongs to. Alongside her journey, she wonders if she’s truly higher off not remembering who she was earlier than. Her altruistic-natured occupation as a healer straight conflicts with the sinister secrets and techniques that her clan holds.

Octopath Traveler 2 Crossover Episode

The accompanying dungeons that punctuate every chapter are brisk with a purpose to accommodate all eight characters in the primary solid as nicely. Most of them encompass linear passageways with a boss on the finish and a few diverging paths each on occasion with a treasure chest. Whereas the dungeon design is easy, it really works nicely contemplating that you must play via all eight characters, every of which has no less than 4 chapters. Had dungeons been any extra elaborate, they may have been a laborious chore to get via.

One of many greatest points with the primary Octopath Traveler is that the characters had only a few crossovers between their very own tales. The sequel sadly retains that very same downside, although to a lesser diploma. Osvald’s revenge quest doesn’t intersect with Castti’s journey to recuperate her personal recollections, which makes the narrative really feel disparate somewhat than intricately woven collectively.

Crossover episodes present tender moments between characters …

The sequel solves that challenge to an extent through a number of unlockable crossover episodes between social gathering members as you proceed to progress via the sport. These crossover episodes present tender moments between characters that in any other case wouldn’t communicate to one another in any respect throughout their particular person character arcs. For example, I loved how Hikari and the dancer Agnea bonded over their love of music by listening to a guitarist play beneath the total moon. Agnea has essentially the most light-hearted story of the complete solid as she needs to journey around the globe and entertain individuals together with her dancing, whereas Hikari takes a second from stopping his bloodthirsty brother to benefit from the evening sky view. The contrasting tones between their tales spotlight how completely different their adventures are individually, however these crossover episodes painting these characters with extra depth and the way a lot they’ve in frequent.

The primary Octopath recreation featured banter conversations between two characters after sure story occasions, the place they’d touch upon what simply unfolded. They had been merely transported to some mysterious black void to have the dialog, although, interrupting the immersion. These make a return within the sequel, however this time round, the 2 characters might be seen speaking with the suitable metropolis background behind them. It’s a minor change, nevertheless it makes the banter really feel much less alien and extra half of the particular world. Banter scenes do lack voice performing although, which feels just like the one missed alternative in buffing the sequel’s method to the story.

Maintain stacking factors

Octopath Traveler 2’s greatest promoting level is its fantastic battle system, which largely stays unchanged from the primary recreation. The turn-based fight makes use of the BP mechanic, the place on the finish of each flip, every character will get one BP and may maintain a max of 5 BP at a time. Characters can use as much as three BP per flip to both strike a number of occasions in the identical flip or amplify a ability’s energy.

The battle system encourages me to strategize and adapt to completely different conditions on the fly.

It’s a incredible spin on the standard turn-based fight method that makes you are feeling way more engaged with each single flip. Enemies even have numerical shields, which drastically lower the quantity of injury they take out of your assaults. By hanging an enemy’s elemental or weapon weak point, you possibly can deplete their shields to zero which immobilizes them till their subsequent flip and makes them take extra injury.

The battle system encourages me to strategize and adapt to completely different conditions on the fly. Maybe I used to be going to launch an all-out offensive on a boss, however then it alerts that it’ll unleash its final assault on its upcoming flip. In consequence, I now need to prioritize breaking its protect so it doesn’t occur. It’s a fragile stability between saving up your BP if you want it essentially the most to interrupt shields and attempting to optimize the restricted time you will have earlier than enemies recuperate them. There’s all the time an invigorating sense of stress in case the battle goes sideways. However when every part goes as deliberate, there’s immense satisfaction in unloading enormous quantities of injury onto a boss.

The customization, by comparability, is somewhat simple. Every character has their assigned beginning class like cleric and hunter. As you progress additional into the sport, characters are in a position to equip a second sub-class to offer them entry to much more expertise. Whereas the assigned beginning class can’t be modified, the addition of a sub-class supplies a lot flexibility in how I’d construct out my most popular social gathering setup. I gave the thief, Thorne, the inventor subclass as a result of she doesn’t have entry to many weapon sorts to hit weaknesses with. The inventor had a catapult ability that had all of the accessible weapon sorts, in order that helped compensate for Throne’s flaws.

Octopath Traveler 2 BP system

Although I’m excessive on the moment-to-moment gameplay, the RPG can have some irritating problem spikes. Because of its open-ended construction the place you possibly can progress every story in any order you’d like, there are occasions you’ll encounter a surprisingly onerous boss. Fortunately, you possibly can go away at any time to sort out different tales concurrently and up your characters when you’re having bother with a specific boss. The difficulty, although, is inconsistent leveling. Solely social gathering members who take part in battle obtain expertise factors. Every chapter has a beneficial stage for a personality and so typically I felt like I needed to needlessly grind so they may meet that threshold. One thing like an expertise share that the Pokemon sequence has would’ve been very useful in stopping different characters from falling behind.

Oozing with type

Each the sport’s artwork type and music shine right here, which is not any shock contemplating it was the primary recreation’s core characteristic. Take the presentation throughout huge battles, for example. Bosses are offered as larger-than-life and have a foreboding presence, even when they’re simply normal-sized. Within the service provider Partitio’s story, there’s a boss that appears like an harmless little canine outdoors of battle. However when you interact with it, its in-battle sprite balloons into an enormous menacing bulldog.

Octopath Traveler 2 battle system

The sport’s electrifying soundtrack additionally provides to the joy and hostility of fight. Exterior of battle, there are completely different tracks to assist spotlight the varied settings throughout Solista. Agnea’s hometown is a bustling metropolis of leisure, so it’s becoming that its theme options upbeat jazzy music that you just’d hear in downtown Chicago. Hikari’s hometown of Kyu is crammed with conventional Japanese flute music, befitting his japanese Asian-inspired roots.

Octopath Traveler 2 is a really beefy JRPG recreation that can simply final over 60 hours to even get to the top credit. There are a ton of customization choices for characters and the battle system feels enjoyable and attractive to play regardless of having a few of the similar points that plagued the primary one. Even with a few of these lingering flaws begging to be ironed out, the sequel is sufficient of an enchancment that I’m keen to hitch alongside for no matter journey comes subsequent.

Octopath Traveler 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Change.

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