Note: there will be spoilers for the first chapters of 3 (or 4) characters.
So after getting a few opinions about who to play as first in the Octopath Traveler demo, I decided that I would play as Tressa the Merchant and Cyrus the Scholar. As Recettear is one of my favorite games, I decided to roll with Tressa first; capitalism, ho!
A nice touch I found in the demo was that each character had their own splash page, giving the names of their “path action” (unique ability on the world map) and “talent” (their talent). Of course, it doesn’t actually say what they are; you have to figure that out once you selected the character.
For Tressa, her “Path Action” was the ability to “Purchase.” Which sounds really silly on paper but it’s actually quite useful; you can buy items off any speaking NPC. The items may range from small healing items, to trinkets whose use is to sell (do not buy, you can’t sell higher at the price you bought it at), to pieces of armor or weapons. Sometimes you’ll get the notification that Tressa successfully bartered, garnering a discount on the item bought. From what I understand, it’s random when it happens. It’s also really annoying because I bought a Herb of Light for 29 coin and got a 1 coin discount, but when I buy an armor piece for 1200 coins I get jack.
Tressa’s first chapter is really simple - while trying to buy supplies for the shop her parents run (she’s their #1 employee!). An unfamiliar ship comes to port and she starts to talk to the captain when pirates come into town and steal things. Tressa decides to chase after them. There’s a bit of drugging (of the pirates), some fighting, and all’s well that ends well when she returns home with the stolen loot.
The dialogue in the game is really cheesy, almost too cheesy. Now I’m not against cheese (unless I have to eat it) but it’s hard to take things seriously when there’s choice quotes such as “you’re our number 1 employee!” That being said, the game does have its moments.
With the pirates defeated, Tressa decides to leave town to become a traveling merchant, seeing the world and having customers from all across the country.
Honestly? I really liked playing as Tressa. Her ability to purchase items off NPCs was neat (there’s an old lady with an heirloom spear, but I couldn’t buy it!) and I really like her traveling merchant design. She’s optimistic, cheerful, a bit naive (I just described so many JRPG protagonists) but she also will haggle with other merchants in cutscenes - it’s amusing.
Notably, after completing the first chapter, side quests opened up, which is where the demo became more interesting to me. Some NPCs had orange text bubbles, indicating they had a side-quest. Usually, to solve them you have to have a particular item - which is where the different characters come in. Since Tressa can buy items off NPCs, she was the solution to a couple of side quests; just had to look for the right merchant and item to buy. More notably however, is that the game also tells you that some persons will have other colored text bubbles...
Stepping out of the town and into the wild, I traversed various paths and eventually made it into another town. There, I ran into an NPC with a green text bubble! When I talked to him...
It was Cyrus the Scholar! Talking to the another Octopath Traveler lets you recruit them into the party as well as play their first chapter - but I’ll save Cyrus’s story for the next post.
So far the demo hasn’t quite sold me on the game. I’m definitely looking forward to the final product, but I’ll check the reviews first before putting down the cash. Don’t get me wrong, the pixel art looks great, a lot of scenes are voiced (with various amusing American accents) and the individual character stories are cute. However, as ThePickyGamer pointed out in his impressions, having a Traveler meet up with another one just sort of happens with no two-way dialogue to indicate the two meeting. In my case, Cyrus literally just asks Tressa “want to join me in finding my lost book?” and then off I went to play the start of Cyrus’s story. It’s weird, disjointed, and a tad disappointing.
Personally, when I play a RPG I’m expecting a story that I can get behind. I know that it’s only a demo of the first chapters for characters, but I worry if the story will ever gel together and how - please no great evil that must be vanquished with the power of friendship.
Next time I’ll be covering Cyrus’s chapter and how having two characters made a difference on the overworld and in battle. In-game, I’ve reached Ophilia’s town and I suspect if I keep walking, I’ll run into the Hunter’s. The game has potential, I just hope it doesn’t flounder it like a certain anime series I watch.