How Octopath Traveler Differs From The Old-Gen JRPGs In Retrospect

With the upcoming release of the Octopath Traveler 2, it is about time we look back on how the game differs from its predecessors.

Octopath Traveler was released some years back as a Nintendo Switch exclusive but was later brought on multiple platforms by Square Enix.

When the game was first released, gamers and fans worldwide were excited to see a retro-style game amid all those new AAA titles. It was like a breath of fresh air from modern-day-styled games with realistic graphics.

But, the thing that resonated the most with the fans was the fact that it reminded them of JRPGs from the GBA/NDS era. It has been almost a decade since hand-held consoles like the GBA and NDS went obsolete, and home consoles like PlayStation and Xbox took their place.

Some classic JRPGs like Dragon Quest and the Final Fantasy franchise moved on with better technology and continued to develop new games for those newer consoles. In contrast, some franchises like the Golden Sun and Chrono Trigger went obsolete along with those hand-held consoles, but their fame lived on.

The upgrade in technology resulted in better graphics, better gameplay, and a better overall experience for most people, but something was missing, and it kept going down with time. It was that unique retro vibe.

It was only natural for a new-gen hand-held console like Switch to pay tribute to its predecessors in one way or another, and Octopath Traveler felt like a worthy candidate for it. But, the real question is, did it deliver?

Octopath Traveler tells stories of eight different characters. It is meant to be a game where all those eight different stories are intertwined together. Each of those eight characters comes from their own unique background and has their own reasons to fight.

The art of this game is absolutely beautiful. The 2D character sprites moving around in a 16-bit 3D environment is something not often seen in the JRPG world. The games are usually either fully 2D or built entirely in a 3D setting.

A peak at Octopath Traveler's Art
A peak at Octopath Traveler’s Art

But, Octopath Traveler is different. It doesn’t fail to make you feel nostalgic despite having a fair mix of modern and retro elements. In fact, these elements are precisely what makes this game stand out and make it appear as a well-built game with a lot of effort put into it.

Looking into it, I couldn’t help but think how games like Chrono Trigger would look with such graphics.

The soundtrack of this game is also something that would remind you of the good old days of the hand-held console era. The soothing soundtracks, combined with the beautifully drawn environment, do not fail to make the player feel amazed and serene.

Other than that, Octopath Traveler features different playstyles or “classes” for each of the story characters, which are somewhat similar to the old Final Fantasy class system. One thing this game adds to it is that these classes have some flexibility to make each build unique and fun for every run.

The battle system of the game is also fairly well-designed. The turn-based battle system, which is what you’ll find in most JRPGs, is quite decent, with good mechanics that don’t get boring after a couple of hours of grinding. The boss designs of this game are also quite creative.

A Look at Octopath Traveler Boss Design
A Look at Octopath Traveler Boss Design

The game developers of Octopath Traveler did a fine job on the game’s art and soundtracks which genuinely pay tribute to the old-gen JRPGs, but the story is where the game is somewhat lacking.

It mainly focuses on the characters’ individual stories, and all these stories are mostly self-centered, with next to no interaction with other characters in the game.

The biggest plot point of this game is also its biggest weakness. While you have to option to play eight different characters, each of those characters has minimal interactions with other story characters. The games that did this exceptionally well are the early installments of the Dragon Quest series.

For example, in Dragon Quest 5: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride, all the side characters are well-built. All the side characters get together at a fairly early point in the game and then move towards fighting the greater evil in their world. The story itself of the game is a work of art on its own.

There is also no greater evil in the game that all those characters band together to fight against, which is quite different from the usual JRPGs, but this does make the game somewhat unique.

The Octopath Traveler 2 is set to release on February 24, 2023. The release date was announced at the recent Nintendo Direct 2022 event.

Octopath Traveler 2’s Steam release was leaked a couple of hours before the official announcement at the Nintendo Direct event, which is where Bayonetta 3 made headlines as well, confirming that the game would be coming on multiple platforms.

With Octopath Traveler 2, we should be expecting more interactions between the story characters of the game. Still, we shouldn’t expect too much as the game itself is supposed to focus on individual stories.

However, if it follows the footsteps of old JRPGs where the characters all come together to fight for one goal, the game would be worthy of being called a masterpiece.

Let us know your thoughts and opinions on how well the Octopath Traveler did for the old JRPGs and how well it delivered the retro vibe.

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Najam Ul Hassan


Najam is a lifelong gamer and lover of movies, and a fanatical consumer of all sorts of media such as comics, manga, and novels. Currently, he channels his limitless love for games into reporting news for eXputer.

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