Octopath Traveler Isn't For Everyone

I was in a bar the other week, quietly having a drink. Nearby, a group started talking about Octopath Traveler.

They mentioned a review of some kind - I don't think it was ours, but couldn't be sure - and the conversation got heated, very quickly. They started talking about how Octopath was a true JRPG, and it was heresy that reviewers didn't acknowledge that. In fact, if they weren't hardcore JRPG players, why were they reviewing the game at all? Why were they even employed?

It was a weird conversation to listen to. Nonetheless, it did remind me of where Octopath Traveler landed: a JRPG that diehard fans will appreciate, but not a game you'd use to introduce people to the genre. And dunkey's video below illustrates exactly why that is: the writing, mechanics and structure are very reminiscent of an era that the industry has well and truly left behind.

Obviously, a ton of things are highlighted (or not shown) for comedic/creative effect here. The more interesting question right now: if someone asked you what JRPG they should play on the Switch first - and let's discount Zelda here, given its many Western influences - would you suggest Octopath Traveler? Or something like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or I Am Setsuna first?


Comments

    We were discussing amongst ourselves for a mate which to pick up first: Octopath or Xeno2.
    Basically we likened Octopath to FF4 and Xeno2 to FF7.

    Rightly or wrongly based on that he made his mind up. Xeno 2 first.

    I would suggest Battle Chasers over any of the above games. It may not actually be a *J*RPG, but the mechanics are more like the old FF's of yore even more than OT, Xeno2, Ys8, etc etc.

    Setsuna and...its followup similar game (I forget the name) are probably more like JRPGs too, just not necessarily good ones apparently.

      I am Setsuna is more Chrono Trigger than Final Fantasy. Pretty much the same battle systems, 'Techs' for skills, roaming enemies instead of random encounters etc..

      Its biggest downfall is its environments. Where Chrono Trigger had you jumping through varied environments as you leapt through time, Setsuna is snow, snow and more snow. It gets extremely boring after a while.

      Edit: Spelling and grammar.

      Last edited 25/07/18 9:11 am

    It's not a JRPG for everyone. I loved JRPGs but I just can't get into Octopath no matter how I try. Something about it just doesn't click for me. Which is a shame because it looks like a brilliant game.

      Same here. I absolutely love JRPGs, especially Bravely Default & Second and I want to like this, but from what I've played it's not hooked me either.

      Yeah, me too. I think it's a JRPG specifically for people that played FF on the NES when they were twelve or so. I don't know about you, but because of the fact that PAL consoles generally didn't get much of the genre, my first RPGs were on home computers and I didn't experience a JRPG until FF7. While I did go back and play the classics, I was in my late teens / early twenties so I don't have that nostalgia for that 16-bit style. I found the 3D-on-rendered-backgrounds approach of Bravely Default much more engaging. Give me Bravely Third over Octopath any day of the week.

      It doesn't help that Octopath is eight completely disconnected vignette stories that never overlap so the whole party thing seems utterly weird and pointless though.

    Now to get me a Switch. Damned Amazon and its failed Prime day offer of failure!

    I'd suggest Persona 5 first, but ehhhh even then it's not for everyone.

      It's also not on the Switch or else it'd be at the top of most recommendation lists.

        Ah, I'll add that to the list of Things I Didn't Realize That I Desperately Need.

    I finished XC2 and loved it, but IAS was a little bleak for me. As a Chrono fan i should have loved the mechanics, but something was off.

    I'm really enjoying OPT right now, although i'm not sure why (it's pretty basic too). The art style and music are nice though.

    As a first JRPG on the Switch for people who have never played a JRPG before? Probably Ys VIII though I do think Octopath is the best JRPG on the Switch.

    As far as OT not being for everyone. JRPGs as a genre aren't for everyone. No game or genre is. But as far as genres go, JRPGs are definitely down the bottom end of the accessibility scale. I remember playing my first JRPG as a kid and being totally overwhelmed. Even with OT, the last few days I've spent most of my time playing around with secondary job combinations and equipment set-ups. That's a fraction of the time I spent doing the same with XC2.

    Last edited 24/07/18 2:30 pm

      I completely agree about the genre not being for everyone. I haven't been able to play another JRPG since I played FF7 and had to sit through unskippable videos every time a party member unleashed their super skill.
      Give me a JRPG, where I can skip that sh*t quickly and not waste my time.

        Did you try the Bravely Default games on 3DS? They literally have the ability to fast-forward the battles, repeating the attacks you did last time. You can play with the encounter rate and everything.

          No I haven't, but that sounds perfect. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Ys VIII is excellent (in spite of having some of the most incompetent localization work imaginable). Solid recommend. It's not really a JRPG in the traditional sense though, Ys is always more of an action game with RPG elements. More of a Legend of Zelda than a Final Fantasy.

      If you're looking for a real FF-style game, Battle Chasers is probably the best example on Switch right now. Octopath is nostalgia-pandering and a bit up itself IMO. Xenoblade 2 is excellent but feels a bit to open and MMO-like sometimes.

        My favourite screwed-up line so far in Ys 8 has been Dana saying "I might be worth checking out" hahaha but that and one time when they write Quina as Kuina by accident, have been the only issues I've picked up on with the localisation. Seems the fixed version from the PS4/Vita days is mostly better.

        Oh a second favourite line wasn't a misspell or missing letter, it was when Sahad said something along the lines of "it gave me the willies and made my willy shrivel up"

          Ironically after rushing the translation terribly and fucking it up completely because it was way more work than they expected, they did their retranslation, and then the quality on that goes to crap at the back end of the game too, because they ran out of time and it turned out to be much more work than expected.

          Wish the series had stayed with XSEED.

    They started talking about how Octopath was a true JRPG...Something people are generally unaware of is that Scotsmen love this game. Well, I mean any true Scotsman does.

    Nintendo Life just recently did a list of RPGs on the Switch, many of which are 'J' so if you're looking for something then take a gander. (Or goose if you so wish)

    I remember having a lot of similar discussions when Dark Souls first came out; a particular highlight being a friends take that “a good game is one that appeals to all regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the genre” and thus Dark Souls was/is too niche to be a truly good game.

    Souls has become far more liked universally since then but I argued at the time that being such an old git I’d long since gotten used to the fact that a good game doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something for me - Another World/Flashback from the genesis days & anything Mario/platform proved that to me many moons ago...

    I think with games being generally focus tested and pivoted to appeal to as many as possible we get caught out now when something comes out that’s targeted at a specific audience; in a world where so many games (anything UBI as an example) are becoming cookie cutter then i’m all for niche - if it means I don’t get to play them as they’re not really my thing (resident evil/dead space being good examples) then so be it, at least fans of it get a treat instead of a mass market watered down catch all.

    That being said, be interested to see if Square add anything to Octopath to retroactively appeal to those alienated by its okd school appeal?

      Look at any MMO with hundreds of thousands of players (millions in some cases), that hundreds of thousands of other people don't like... A game doesn't automatically become 'bad' because of that.

      Your friend's mentality was apparently, "If I don't like it, that means its bad." which is not only absurd but completely unreasonable as well.

    In the Dunkey video, he makes a great point about how JRPGs are lagging behind when they used to be the golden standard for gaming. I think it's a shame that we are still getting lots of games like Octopath Traveler that try too hard to re-create a by-gone era. We need a JRPG to push the genre forward like Chrono Trigger and FF7 did over 20 years ago.

    Start telling more engaging stories like Final Fantasy Tactics did. A story with down to earth characters that have more than one personality trait and actual consequences. On the other hand, Octopath Traveler does have lot of cool things about it. I love job systems and the combat does seem fun.

    IMO the 'best' JRPG on the Switch depends on the style you want something open or not:

    Xenoblade 2 is the best open-world Action-oriented JRPG. Big huge open areas filled with monsters and fetch quests that can sometimes be a bit MMO-like. The combat is sort of MMO-like as well, in that you basically have a hotbar-based action system. It's more fun than it sounds. I found it to be quite a slow burn though.

    Ys VIII is probably the best installment so far in what is an incredibly overlooked series. It's action combat but you have a party, and style-wise it's JRPG lite. The game is semi-open, almost a Metroidvania in structure. As you play you'll gain access to new areas to explore and new traversal methods. Also don't let the VIII scare you off, all the Ys games are completely independent of each other (except I & II) and can be enjoyed in any order.

    For your more turn-based FF7-style game, Battle Chasers is probably the best choice. Despite being made by a western team it's very much in the style of FF7 specifically. If you liked the old Active Time Battle it's very much worth a look.

    Octopath Traveler is your really oldschool throwback. Designed to evoke memories of FF4 or something. Eight separate characters who each have their own stories that the other characters participate in combat in, but are otherwise completely disconnected from. It's a bit odd. I expect that this one will be abandoned and forgotten once Dragon Quest XI comes out on Switch, but that's still a ways off yet.

    If you want something more Strategy, Disgaea 5 is pretty much the only SRPG on the system worth talking about. It's not the best installment of the series but it's reasonably good. Quirky story, great music, ridiculous amount of depth in the systems. Eventually we'll get a Fire Emblem game for Switch, at which point that'll most likely be the premier SRPG on the platform, but that may be another year or more.

    It's not out yet but for a more lite Strategy - RPG hybrid you're absolutely going to want to pick up Valkyria Chronicles 4 in a couple months. Valkyria is probably best described as a blend of a shooter and an X-COM game. You spend points to move characters around the map, but while doing so you control them like a third-person shooter and enemies will fire on them as they move, etc.

    If none of that sounds great and you really just want a traditional 3D Legend of Zelda game in the style of Ocarina of Time, make sure you pick up Okami later in the year. Since Breath of the Wild has gone all Elder Scrolls now, Okami will basically be the only proper Zelda game on the system. :P

      You forgot to add "And if you like cats get Cat Quest"

      I want to love Disgaea 5 as I dig Fire Emblem/Tactics style turn based combat, but the over the top tone of that game absolutely kills it for me :(

        Yeah, the style of it is polarizing. The actual gameplay in it is fantastic (it's basically a bunch of systems with crazy loopholes that are deliberately designed for you to exploit) but if the visual and audio style doesn't work for you it's definitely a skipper.

    I hate random battles and old school style JRPG combat (turn based combat has moved on to more exciting places, eg Darkest Dungeon) but weirdly I am enjoying this. I played the prologue demo and wasn't really feeling it. I decided to give it another chance with other starting characters and it wasn't til I got 3 members in my party that it 'clicked' and now I'm enjoying the shit out of it.

    * I never played any of the NES JRPGs, I think my first RPG was Final Fantasy 7.

    It’s not great but I’m enjoying more than I expected to. Will finish.

    Just watched dunkey’s vid and nobody should take that as an accurate and fair representation of the game. He’s presented a biased selection of parts/aspects of the game as if he’s trying to make it look as bad as possible. If I tried hard that hard, I could make 90% of critically acclaimed games look average.

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