I’ve had my eye on this game ever since it was revealed back in January, and now I’ve had a chance to try it out for myself. Normally I’m not one for turn-based games, far too slow for my liking, but I decided to give this a go anyway because it looks beautiful. And I am so glad that I did because it is everything I could have dreamed of.
The art speaks for itself. The landscapes are 3D and lights bounce off of the surfaces, illuminating them in a beautiful glow. One location in the demo, a cavern, is covered in wet stone, and as the light from your lantern and torches glance off of the stone, you can see the wet surface glisten in the light. It’s so mesmerizing and make me forgot all about the fact that the characters are classic sprites.
Sound-wise, gamers are in for quite the treat. The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful. I have the demo running in the background right now, the cavern music playing continuously, and I don’t want it to stop. It’s been so long since I heard a score this perfect. And that’s not all. Wind sweeps through the cavern and even outside of it, howling past stone and wood. All kinds of different background noises with no discernible source, and yet, it all comes together to create an atmosphere that is just right. Not to mention the voice acting is god tier. Watching the Xenoblade 2 trailer made me cringe because the acting was so... hokey. Not the worst I’ve ever heard, that’s reserved for English dubs made in Southeast Asia, but nowhere close to being as good as Octopath. I recognize some voices and others I do not, but everything fits so well and sounds believable without being over the top.
And that of course brings me to the dialogue. Oh how I have missed good writing. Within the first 5 minutes I actually gave a damn about the character I was playing as, both because of the great voiceover execution and just the way everything is written and presented. I felt like I had been transported back to the 90's, and that is nothing, but a good thing because I can’t help but feel like the writing in most games fell off a cliff after the turn of the century. I may have only been a small child at the time, but even I can realize when the golden days are long gone. But this, this is a glorious return to form so far.
As for the gameplay, I admit I found it better than I expected. It was quick, every attack felt responsive and heavy, in some sense anyway. However, enemies do seem to have way too much health, and I can’t even tell how much health they have. I just beat on them until they finally die. The enemies do spam one attack over and over again though, not much variation and you never take too much damage unless a boss enemy is present. Speaking of boss enemies, I’m stuck at the bandit boss in the cavern and I cannot for the life of me beat him. I can manage to take out his two cronies, but never him. I run out of healing items before that and I don’t even know how close to death this guy is. It’s kind of ridiculous honestly and it doesn’t even strike me as a leveling problem.
All in all though, Project Octopath Traveler feels like a must own title for the Nintendo Switch, even months out from release. And since this demo is partly being used to gain feedback, I can only imagine it getting better by the final release. It made me mostly forget about the blasphemy that is Mario Party: The Top 100 being 3DS exclusive.
UPDATE: Primrose Path
Before crashing for the night, I decided to quickly dive back into the demo and try out the other playable character. Primrose is a dancer with a tragic past, and while Olberic’s past definitely isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s a bit more expected than that of Prim’s. And her story is decidedly more NSFW than her counterparts. Granted, you don’t see any sex, but it’s all there in the dialogue and gestures of the characters. I get the distinct impression that Prim and Olberic were chosen as the reps for the demo because their two beginnings could not be anymore different. It’s as if the developers are not only trying to show the different tones they’re going for, but how unique each character will be from one another, and there are eight characters in total.
Honestly, to get a full grasp of Prim’s character I’ll need to play the full game, but just from this demo I’ve gleaned that she’s a woman willing to endure anything if it means she gets ever closer to her goals, and she is by no means a damsel. I love her character already and I want to see more.