Oc­topath Trav­eler

Retro Gamer - - RETRORATED -

The old-school JRPG is alive and well in to­day’s gam­ing land­scape. The pop­u­lar genre has seen a steady line of re­leases over the years, so much so that has Square Enix set up the aptly named Tokyo RPG Fac­tory to churn out nos­tal­gia-bait­ing re­leases.

Oc­topath Trav­eler fol­lows in those foot­steps, de­vel­oped by team mem­bers be­hind the Bravely De­fault games with help from Tenchu stu­dio Ac­quire. But rather than ape on the golden age of pixel JRPGS, like Tokyo RPG Fac­tory’s out­put, Oc­topath uses it as a base and builds on it to cre­ate a new beast.

The pre­sen­ta­tion, for ex­am­ple, is a gor­geous blend of new and old, with 2D 32-bit-like sprites in­te­grated into 3D en­vi­ron­ments, giv­ing the whole game a sort of dio­rama feel. The vi­su­als are sup­ple­mented by a full or­ches­tral sound­track and voice act­ing – the for­mer is evoca­tive and in­cludes a catchy bat­tle theme, but the lat­ter is hit and miss.

Take a deeper look into the game de­sign it­self and the up­dates con­tinue. Un­like the lin­ear sto­ries you may be used to, in Oc­topath you’re given free­dom to tackle eight quests as

and when you like to – each one tied to one of the game’s eight main playable char­ac­ters. The bat­tle sys­tem, too, is robust. It utilises a turn-based sys­tem – rather than an Atb-styled one – and favours tac­ti­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

You can knock en­e­mies out of the bat­tle queue by ex­ploit­ing their weaknesses, which is some­thing you’ll come to rely on when du­elling against the gru­elling boss en­coun­ters.

Ul­ti­mately, this makes Oc­topath Trav­eler a pleas­ant sur­prise for fans of the genre. That said, with its non­lin­ear na­ture, the story does suf­fer. Party mem­bers don’t re­ally re­act to one another in any mean­ing­ful way, and they don’t have a good, uni­fy­ing enough rea­son to be trav­el­ling to­gether out­side of ‘be­cause the game needs them to’. And while Oc­topath up­dates a lot of dated con­ven­tions, it still falls into the pit­fall where ran­dom en­coun­ters quickly be­come busy­work.

Still, though, this is per­haps the best retroin­spired JRPG we’ve played in re­cent years, and is well worth pick­ing up if you’re a fan.

[Switch] Al­fyn’s handy with an axe, where Prim­rose works bet­ter as a sup­port char­ac­ter.

»[Switch] Each of the eight main char­ac­ters have their own quest to fol­low.

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