One of my greatest crimes as a born-again Square Enix apologist is that I never finished Octopath Traveler. I simply couldn’t fit it in whenever there was a gap in my free time. Stuff slips through the cracks, even the good stuff. But I did get the chance to play Octopath Traveler II, and since my life literally depends on playing it, that’s easy to prioritize. Fans of the original will be glad to know the sequel is very much more of that, but with a ton of new material to comb through.
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Octopath Traveler 2 is a total start-over. It’s a new cast, inhabiting a new world, with a new kind of setting. It’s more 19th century than medieval fantasy, which is used effectively to diversify the individual character scenarios. Starting with a clean slate seems like a great idea for a game like this, so returning players have hot ‘n’ fresh lore to keep their attention and newcomers won’t feel lost. The vibes and some of the thematic elements are carried over, retaining the strong identity Octopath Traveler established.
Technically the scope of this preview on paper allows me to talk about each character’s first chapter. But I’m taking my time with Octopath Traveler II, so I’ve only gathered two new party members. I started with Osvald, figuring I’d be able to swoop down and spell out “OCTOPATH” with my character order. But unlike the first game this seems to have been deliberately jumbled up, which I didn’t realize until after. But it seemed like a good starting point anyway, since Osvald’s introductory period uniquely takes up two chapters instead of one. He’s isolated from the world due to, well, prison, making for an appropriately lonely-feeling opening. I met Throne next (nice and edgy bit of organized crime drama) and am currently being introduced to Temenos, who seems like an interesting twist on the Cleric role. He isn’t performatively cynical, but is sort of whimsically skeptical while still devoted to his church. I’m intrigued for sure.
In terms of new gameplay stuff, this part of Octopath Traveler II is largely iterative. At a glance the game is indistinguishable from the first one. But there’s more complexity to the settings, and some beefed up mechanics in and out of combat. There’s a weird day/night cycle (you can just push a button to instantly swap, which makes me wonder why bother making the distinction), tied to giving each character time-sensitive Path Actions. There’s a sort of “super” or “limit break” mechanic that rewards you with a bespoke character skill for doing well with exploiting weaknesses. And Jobs have a new set of “Support” skills that provide more technique swapping among classes, almost like Final Fantasy V. I’ve barely scratched the surface on this stuff, but the Bravely Default-derived Boost system is exactly the same as before.
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One of the biggest criticisms of Octopath Traveler is how little the different characters interacted. And it’s far too early for me to know if that’s changed much. So you’ll have to wait for our review from one Daphne Fama to get the answer to that question. But in terms of how Octopath Traveler II is looking as a sequel from the jump, it’s very much More of That Shit. The HD-2D thing does an excellent job making these retro-styled JRPG affectations feel bigger, and some very good voice acting is an effective garnish. I’m curious to see how this game stacks up to Live A Live in the anthology arena, so I’ll definitely be playing ahead.