Project Octopath Traveler is a brand new IP from Square Enix and is an RPG coming exclusively to the Nintendo Switch. It was first announced as part of the Nintendo Switch Presentation earlier in the year and made an appearance during the September 2017 Nintendo Direct. In the latter it was announced that a demo for the game was hitting the Nintendo eShop that same day.
There are two characters playable as part of the demo, the warrior Olberic and the dancer Primrose. Both have different backstories and characteristics. The opening chapter of their adventures is accessible, upon completion you have the option to go and play as the other character or continue playing on the same character without any story progression and limited places to go.
Although the opening cutscene for both characters story have a very similar end (trying not to give away any spoilers), it is the cutscene after it that shows the difference between these characters lives. A mechanic that I feel is so smart and amazing is that each character have a special skill that only they can use.
Olberic can challenge almost anyone to a duel, potentially bringing criminals to justice or just forcing foes out of his way. Primrose on the other hand can allure her targets, who will then follow her around. She can then lead them into a trap or even have them fight alongside her on the battle field. I tested both of these skills a lot and each time I was just surprised and happy that something like this was included. It makes you want to play each character and leaves me wondering what will the other characters be able to do.
Square Enix have dubbed the art-style ‘HD-2D’, I totally get the concept and the reason for the name, and I dig it. This game looks so damn good, it’s a classic style brought into the future, remember the Final Fantasy games of old and imagine them in this format. HD-2D combines the 16-bit style with polygonal environments as well as effects such as lighting and smoke. If more 2D RPG games adopt this approach we would all we better off.
Another aspect of the game I cannot sing the praises of enough is the soundtrack, such a beautiful composition from the menu music to the pieces that play in the background during key story moments. The game features heavy voice acting which aids in the overall immersion and making a connection between character and player. You get a greater sense of each character, their tone conveys so much that just text cannot do.
My one regret after playing this demo is that I had played it, because now I must endure the long wait until the final game. I really think that Square Enix are onto something and this could end up being one of the greatest Switch titles, one that you think of at the end of the generation and say ‘You know what, that game was something special’.
Written by Rhys Baldwin.