Here’s a quick summary: If you've played Bravely Default or Bravely Second and enjoyed the gameplay, you will definitely enjoy Octopath Traveler.
That's to be expected, especially since the team that developed Bravely Default in Square Enix were also the developers for this latest RPG to be hitting the Nintendo Switch. In fact the connection is palpable in some ways that there are already theories that the story of Octopath Traveler is possibly connected to Bravely Default. We won't know for sure if this is just hearsay as the full game will only be released on July 13 2018.
Until then you can play the demo which is currently available on the Nintendo eShop for Switch users. And as someone who has played Bravely Default on the 3DS, I knew I had to give this demo a go to see if the full game is worth getting for the Switch.
But first, here's what you need to know about Octopath Traveler, as well as the demo.
What's in Octopath Traveler and the demo
If you haven't heard, Octopath Traveler covers the story of eight different characters, each with their own class and ability. Instead of developing what type of ability your given character would have in typical RPGs, you will instead choose a character based on their story as well as possibly their class or abilities. You will eventually follow all eight characters and what they're going through, giving you the chance to experience eight different stories as well as eight different fighting abilities.
There are three major factors that makes this demo stand out from other usual demos:
1) You can choose any character you want to start with
An earlier released demo allowed you to only choose and play either the dancer named Primrose or the warrior named Olberic. In this Switch demo, you can play any of the eight characters the game offers and start from there.
2) The demo only allows you to play up to 3 hours
While you get to experience what the full game has to offer, you're only allowed 3 hours of it. This is noted when you save the game, so if your gameplay reaches over 3 hours and you save the game, your demo ends there.
3) You can carry forward your save to the full version
Thankfully, you can continue where you left off once you get the full version of the game. So you don't have to worry about losing what you've acquired in the demo, as well as having to start from scratch. That is, unless you want to because you want to try playing as other characters or you're not happy with your initial gameplay.
The game does come with a skip option so be sure to use that for the cutscenes if you've already been through it before!
What to expect from the demo: The story
I started off the demo choosing Primrose, who definitely had the most interesting and noteworthy storyline out of the eight (if you ask me). I know she was already available in an earlier demo, but as I had never tried that one out I was still keen to play as her this round. I had no regrets whatsoever as I think she's an amazing character and am keen to develop her further.
After learning her backstory, I ended her arc fighting off one of the big enemies and then tried to continue on with her story... but it seems that I have to recruit the other seven characters or help people solve their problems first. When recruiting one of the major characters, you're given the option to add them to your party as well as look into their backstory. While you do have the option to skip them, it's obvious you need to recruit these characters to advance in the game.
Whether or not recruiting other characters will affect the outcome of the character's stories is unclear for now, as the three hour demo only allowed me to recruit two other characters; Olberic the Warrior and Tressa the Merchant. This is good, in a way, as that means I have something to look forward to should I get the full version. On the other hand, it does leave me questioning how the stories would advance.
As mentioned in the beginning of this review, if you're a fan of Bravely Default, there's a high chance you would enjoy this game. The gameplay is similar to Bravely Default, with there even being a Boost Points option, which is really similar to Brave Points. They both even have the same purpose: to increase the power of your attacks or spells. The major difference is that you can accumulate your Boost Points and use up to 4x the power of attack! You get a boost point per turn, so you will need to plan your attacks wisely.
Another noteworthy aspect of the fights is that you can take note of your enemy's vulnerability. In fact, they list it down just below the sprite and will remain if you fight the same enemy in the future. This is useful when you're planning your attacks. The game also gives you the ability to "break" your enemies, putting them in a weaken state, so even if your enemy is not vulnerable to your attack, you can still deal some heavy damage when they're in that state.
I would say the major difference is that the gameplay feels a lot simpler compared to Bravely Default. Octopath Traveler has all the basics of fighting in an RPG, but from the demo it seems to lack the added layers that Bravely Default had where characters can have different jobs and skills at once. The characters you choose in this game only have that one job throughout the demo, which means adding on skills related to that job alone. Your enemies can never "break" you the way you can do to them, which makes it an easy win for those who regularly play RPGs. But on the brightside, people who are new to RPGs may be able to enjoy the game more, especially if they're keen to play for the story and graphics alone.
Also something important to note: you do not have the option to rest and restore your character's lost HP and SP fully, you can only do so with the use of items or when the character levels up. So you have to consider your inventory a lot in this game and stock up on what you need more often, if the amount of money you have is enough.
What works and what doesn't
Let's start off with what doesn't: the character recruitment. As the game boasts about the ability to play eight characters, each with their own story, I'm sure many of us were expecting a grand connection between these eight characters and that there's an even bigger story to look out for. Well, from the demo, it doesn't seem likely. You really are playing out each character's different stories but you don't really see how they're all linked. You just help them out because you have the option to do so. Let's just hope the full version does a better job with this and that the full story will really shine through!
Now onto the things that do work. Even if the characters are in sprite form, there's no doubt that this game is still gorgeous. The backgrounds truly stand out in this game, and your characters move from one background to another seamlessly. There is a weird blurred lens effect that makes things at the edge of the screen come out blurry, but I do not see it as much of a problem.
As someone who enjoys video game soundtracks, Octopath Traveler has some of the most gorgeous music I've heard in awhile. It's on the same level as Bravely Default for sure, and it really draws you into the world as well as give you that drive to do battle.
All in all, it's definitely worth downloading the demo to get a taste of what's to come in Octopath Traveler. With the fact that you can continue where you left off, you really have nothing to lose either. Let's just hope that when the full version does come out, there will be fewer disappointments and more praise to make the game worthwhile!
Octopath Traveler is set to be released on July 13 2018 for the Nintendo Switch.