Octopath Traveler achieved something in 2018 that no one thought was possible anymore. It sold over a million copies! A niche JRPG that is purposely paying tribute to the 16-bit era of the genre sold over a million units. I’ve always been on board for these types of games and it makes me so happy that I’m not alone.
With Octopath Traveler’s extremely unique visuals that combine the antiquated look of pixelated sprites with the ability to move around fully in a 3-D space, not to mention the very modern graphical effects that were given to the world. This is an old-school world that feels more alive than the games it calls back to. It looks like a pop-up storybook being animated before your eyes. The visuals, along with every other aspect, create a distinct charm that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
The world would be useless if there weren’t strong mechanical hooks to back it up, and that’s something Octopath Traveler provides. This is in the form of an extremely deep job-based combat system. It takes the job-class systems from the Final Fantasy and Bravely Default series – let’s not forget that several Bravely Default developers worked on this project – Octopath also blends them with a weakness-based system akin to the Persona games, in order to give you an enjoyable grind fest that will easily eat over 100 hours of your time.
The combat is strategic and truly requires the player to put some thought into their actions. It also encourages the player to experiment with every option that is available. The combat is the true star of the show in this game.
Octopath Traveler also throws a wrench into some typical JRPG tropes. There is no “big bad” that is trying to take over the world. You are presented with 8 separate tales that each have their own twists and turns. I will admit that none of these individual stories packed the punch of a Final Fantasy tale but they felt like a breath of fresh air in a genre that can sometimes feel like it is growing rather stale. I think that Square Enix is onto another franchise that could last 20+ years if they decide to move forward and evolve the series further.
Octopath Traveler is very deserving of being 6th on the ETNL GotY list.