Square Enix and Acquire have created a real treat for JRPG fans in 2018 in the form of Octopath Traveler. At a time when many games in the genre seem to be moving away from the classics to appeal to new audiences, this series was designed precisely to bring the past and the present together. In this way, we can say that Octopath Traveler 2 is a game with visual design and gameplay like the classics of the 90s, but modernized to feel fresh and even more energetic. Best of all was to see how they identified what they could improve, strengthened the quality of the writing, kept what was good that they introduced and took it to new heights afterwards.
Octopath Traveler 2 does not show a revolution compared to the first, it shows a continuation of the same ideas and above all a strong belief in the quality of what is presented here. The Asano team from Square Enix, one of Japan’s greatest treasures today, along with Acquire, realized that they just had to improve on what they were doing, without straying from the essence of honoring the classics from the 90s and to introduce yet another personal touch. I think that’s what makes the sequel stand out, managing to do what the original set out to do and fail to do, making it a staple title for fans of the genre and easily recommended to the curious. It is a mission full of charm and nostalgia for fans, but made for modern times and with its own ideas, whose quality is so strong that it can serve a new fan to have everything at once, something similar to the classics, but this is just as fresh and timely. This is the key to your success.
The example is in the combat system, which is based on the Break and Boost mechanic. At first glance, Octopath Traveler 2 doesn’t boast anything new and looks a lot like games over 20 years old. Physical attacks and spells that you find in Final Fantasy, EXP to level up, Jobs that allow you to unlock new skills and the need to buy better weapons and gear. However, Octopath Traveler 2 introduces something very own and a lot of fun, the Break and Boost program.
Each enemy has a type of shield, which reduces the damage of attacks. First, you’ll have to find the weapon or spell that breaks the shield, and then they’ll be stunned. Any action stacks Boost, which means you can activate stronger versions of an attack or attack multiple times in a row in the same turn. There are more nuances to Boost, but these are the basics, and it proves itself in a simple but spectacular way as the pace and strategy in battles increase the quality of the combat system designed to differentiate it.
Octopath Traveler 2 reveals improvements to the balance of the experience, reduces the creaking that could be tiring in the first, shows a finesse of mechanics and character management, job switching presents more benefits, better difficulty management and above all the clear feeling that everything that appear in the first improved. This includes interaction between characters, shared stories, and various moments that make the narrative stronger.
All the characters manage to captivate and I think this can vary between players, but I was engrossed in all the different stories and protagonists. There are simple stories, and as you’d expect in JRPGs, there are more adult and complex ones, but they all have universal appeal and I found myself obsessed with discovering more of each one. At no point did I find myself thinking that I didn’t want to continue a character’s story or follow just one, I wanted to follow all of the stories, always expecting to be surprised, moved, or given in to the charm of those characters. In no case were the expectations denied.
Combine that with an experience whose soundtrack is one of the best ever heard in a JRPG, and I can confidently say that Square Enix has achieved one of the best titles in its history and the entire genre here. The HD-2D graphics quality may not please everyone, but I absolutely loved this modern aesthetic that recreates the classics and if I had to recommend a game for veterans it would be Octopath Traveler 2. If I had to recommend a game for those who want to enter the genre, it would be Octopath Traveler 2.
Octopath Traveler 2 shows that Square Enix and Acquire have managed to evolve from the intended plans for the first. It’s not a revolution, it’s a wonderful evolution that results in a new golden page for the company. It’s a JRPG for everyone who grew up with the 90s classics, but also a great starting point for anyone looking to discover the genre. The aesthetics are perfect and contributed hugely to its appeal, as did the characters, the battle system also has quality, though simple it’s challenging, and the soundtrack is an amazing companion to over 80 hours of content that you don’t want to stop learning . There are few games of this scale and our mission is to love them.