Why I Haven't Finished Octopath Traveler (Mid-Game Impressions)
Here's the Deal...
Okay. We need to talk. I bought a Switch last year, along with a copy of Octopath Traveller, in the hopes of playing through it quickly enough that it could become a mainstay on the channel alongside Bravely. That never happened, and to this day, I still have yet to finish the game. I’m currently working through it at a slow pace to get the thing done, but why did it take so long for me to talk about it? Why haven’t I finished Octopath Traveller?
At the time of this video, I am approximately half way through the game. I have about 20+ hours put in, so yes, I’d say that’s enough time to gauge my experience thus far. There are things I love and things I hate about Octopath, so this is gonna take a little time.
The Good Things First
There are three things about Octopath that really stand out to me, and probably are what makes the trailers shine: the visuals, the music, and the combat. Note that I did not say design or gameplay, I will get to that.
Visually, everyone can agree that this game is fucking gorgeous. The amazing 2D-HD look is phenomenal, I love seeing my little 64-bit characters running around on incredibly detailed pixel art backgrounds, whilst at the same time have incredibly bright, flowing and powerful effects pop up on screen from attacks and abilities. The realism of the ice and fire contrasts and compliments the simplistic yet colourful nature of the pixel art brilliantly.
Musically, this game is pretty good. It’s not as strong as Bravely obviously – I mean, you can’t beat Default. I’d say it ties with Second’s score, or even surpasses it. The battle themes are fantastic, and I’m so upset that my favorite theme is set up with one of my least favorite characters. Sorry guys, but Tressa ain’t no Edea. She’s nice, but you can’t compete with the OG Mrgrgr. Anyways, all of the music is still really good, and the combat music really invigorates you as you fight.
And the combat. Oh, GOD, is this ever good. I honestly believe that Octopath is much more strategic than Bravely. The shield point system is wonderful, making great use of enemy weaknesses, while coupled to the turn order bar and battle points. For those who haven’t played, here’s a very brief synopsis: when you hit an enemy with a damage type they’re weak to, you will permanently learn this weakness. The enemy will also lose a shield point for each hit from a weakness. Once their shield points hit zero, the shield will break, making them open to damage and completely stunned for the remainder of the turn AND the full next turn as well. This is the part of the game I enjoy the most. Bravely makes its fight a little too easy sometimes because you can pull off some crazy ass moves with all of your extra actions, but Octopath manages to keep a great balance between one action per character and still giving them power with a BP system, as well as planning out what to do with the turn order before your eyes.
And that’s pretty much all the nice things I have to say.
Now The Bads - Starting with Dialogue
Now the bad stuff. I’ll just get this one out of the way to start. The voice acting is not great. It’s really not. There’s some voices and deliveries that are alright, but for the most part, it’s just bad or boring. I almost dropped the game when I reached H’aanit, because I could barely bring myself to listen to her weird Nordic caveman speak, just so I could finish her chapter and move on. And another thing – game, when you are changing from fully voice acted to semi voice acted, have a bigger indication of the change. A fade to black doesn’t help. There’s so many times I was expecting to just hear grunts and groans, only to be taken by surprise when they start talking full sentences. The voice lines are inconsistent and this is just kind of annoying. I’m not saying partially voice acted games are bad; I’m saying that this one is bad because it’s nearly impossible to tell when it’s going from one to the other.
Give Me More, There's Not Enough!
The story ain’t so hot either. Yes, I’m already aware that they don’t really “connect”, but if that’s the case, then they probably should have made each story as unique and intriguing as possible so that they can stand strongly on their own. For some, it’s just “oh I am travelling the world now” and every chapter is something different, so it’s convenient for them to be a part of the team. Primrose, Therion and Olberic probably have the most interesting stories to me so far. But otherwise, I’m not super invested in what’s going on.
The Biggest Sin
Which takes me to the biggest complaint I have: the game design. I put combat aside for this very reason, as it is the only part of playing that’s actually any fun. I HATE the design of this game. Hell, the first quarter of the game is arguably more tedious than the third act of Bravely Default. Because they designed the game in such a way that you can start with any of the eight characters, that just means that you’re stuck doing eight tutorials in a row! And it’s boring as shit. Then you get to the second chapters for each character, and it’s the exact same layout: starting voice acted cutscenes for ten to fifteen minutes; run around new town and learn info; make use of your path action somehow; learn where the boss is; level grind in this chapter’s dungeon for two hours; fight the boss; and finally we get a couple more voice acted cutscenes before the chapter ends.
Over and over again. Now some might just say “that’s what JRPGs are, dude”. But I would like to disagree. At least Bravely tried to throw some variability into it, you know, change things up here and there. But Octopath just gives you some exposition at the start and finish, and then expects you to just wander and grind for the next two hours. I keep saying two hours because that’s exactly how long it took me to beat each of the first chapters. These first chapters are also incredibly easy, once again due to the fact that they’re all designed to be the first chapter of the game, so none of the bosses gave me trouble. The second chapters have, thankfully, been increasing their difficulty at a good pace, but so far, I’ve only had two game overs. And one of them was from running into a new zone while I was under leveled, and then having a random encounter wipe me out before I could run back.
And the dungeons – where do I even begin? These are the blandest environments I’ve ever played in. They’re literally just walk through mazes with some chests littered here and there, and then the boss room is at the end. There’s no puzzle solving, no running around chasing levers, none of that. Just a place to run in circles and level grind until you fight the boss. Again, at least Bravely gave me SOMETHING to do while I was grinding.
And what the hell is with this character order!? Are you serious trying to tell me that you’re supposed to play this game by spelling out Octopath? I’m glad I screwed up and started with Olberic. Ophilia is a massive turn off in every regard except for actually starting with some knowledge as to the lore of the game and her amazing cleric abilities… why would you ever start as her!? She’s boring and annoying, her plotline is boring and annoying, and why would you ever want to fight your first boss as a HEALER!? She only has two damage types for breaking shields, staves and Light magic! And THEN, you go to Cyrus, who is also a mage, so once again all you have for weapons are staves and now four types of magic damage, OH BOY! Then you get to Tressa. She has some more weapon variety for when you’re fighting, but she’s a MERCHANT. What the… I don’t even understand this decision making. Start with Olberic, he’s a warrior and is much better to have in your party all the time instead of Ophilia. Then you get Primrose, a dancer, Alfyn, another healer, and Therion, a thief. Perfect! Much better starting team than… Healer with Staff, Mage with Staff, and Merchant.
One Last Footnote
I would also bitch about money for a second. Buying equipment for your team is a little annoying, because each new chapter there’s a new super strong weapon that’s going to cost you 60% of your savings. Yes, I pass down my belongings to other teammates, and I’m not buying EVERY single new sword I come across. But the problem with getting gear is that you’re buying for EIGHT people, not four or three. That’s a lot of money you have to spend. And before you say “just transfer your equipment around,” I’m preparing in advance for that final boss, which I will record for the channel. Yes, I’m aware of that one mechanic that involves everyone, and that’s it, so no more spoilers in comments please. Same reason why I’m doing all of the chapters at the same time, starting with everyone’s first chapters, then I do everyone’s second chapters, before moving on to the third chapters, and so forth. This way, everyone is levelling up at the same rate and they are staying relatively close to one another, so that I don’t have to end up super grinding someone later on.
Am I Ever Going to Finish Octopath?
So, am I enjoying Octopath Traveller? Ehhh… it’s hard for me to just say yes or no. On one hand, I just listed a bunch of reasons that this game is genuinely frustrating to play through, mostly out of tedium. But on the other hand, the game has some really good elements to it that I can’t ignore, and are what keeps bringing me back to it. That and my need to find all of the Bravely references in this game, I see you Olberic Eisenberg and Mrgrgr lady. Hopefully I can finish this game soon, and when I do, I will take a full look at it and review it in its entirety.