“Indubitably my dear <Playable Character>, the facts have led us to this moment! The culprit must be....”
Obligatory spoiler warning for Cyrus’s chapter.
In the last Octopath Traveler Log, Tressa had saved her town’s loot from a band of pirates (through a combination of drugs and beat downs) and had run into a scholar who was on his way to apprehend a ne’er-do-well.
In fact, apart from the character you start with, that’s how you meet the travelers - they are figuratively in the middle of their own chapters. I guess “in-universe” they get a head start on what they’re doing before you ask to join them. Of course, when you “join them” in their quest, there is an option prompt to see it from the beginning. Agreeing to it brings the player back to the start of that character’s chapter 1 and for the next few narrative beats, the “party” consists only of that character - until you “catch up” to where they were before.
Cyrus differs from Tressa in a few ways. His path action, Scrutinize, enables him to garner information from NPCs you can talk to. In his hometown of Atlasdam, scrutinize has so far led me to a number of hidden items (that only show up after scrutinizing) as well as a couple of overworld benefits (e.g. increased chance of successful bartering with Tressa, or discounts at the local inn).
His talent, “Study Foe”, enables him to see one weakness of each enemy at the start of a battle - it’s pretty useful, unless the weakness unveiled are “swords,” because Cyrus uses staves as his weapon.
Only staves. Tressa at least had the option to switch between spears and bows.
Minor griping aside, “Study Foe” is actually quite useful for combat as it helps narrow down weaknesses a tiny bit faster - which matters because Cyrus has elemental spells in his repertoire. Whereas Tressa had a single-target wind spell (and she could learn an “all enemy” wind spell later), Cyrus comes equipped with an encompassing fire and encompassing ice spell. In the end, both travelers have 3 types of attacks available to them (spear, bow, wind vs. stave, fire, ice).
Cyrus’s story starts with a school lesson, in that he’s teaching a princess and another girl a bit about history. When class is over, he gets called to the headmaster’s office, though on the way he gets ambushed by the princess, who asks him a few questions regarding the last history class (unbeknownest to him however, Therese, the other girl, was also waiting for him, but alas she lets him go on his way).
The grandmaster is, apparently, furious that Cyrus published a paper that referenced and detailed one of their institute’s rare books; he is not happy that such information was leaked out into the outside world, which is contrary to what academia should be about (something Cyrus points out) but to no avail. After the lecturing, Cyrus heads to the library because a rare book was recently acquired and he’s keen on reading it.
Except it’s gone. Cue the dramatic music!...And the exercise in simple deduction.
One interesting thing about Octopath Traveler is that, as each character has their own overworld action/path action, they have a mini quest to get through as part of their chapter. Tressa needed to buy certain items to progress while Cyrus needs to gather information from NPCs so he can make a deduction about who took the book.
And when I mean deductions, I mean choosing the right answer when he asks you, the player.
Cyrus gathers the information on NPCs through his path action scrutinize. For the purpose of chapter 1, it’s 100% effective, however afterwards its success rate is variable - fail it 5 times in a town and your reputation goes down. Reputation is supposedly linked to the ability to take side quests and the like, but I never played around with it. You can also restore your reputation at the tavern, presumably through the use of coin, but again, didn’t play around with it.
In any case, after a series of “deductions”, you figure out who the culprit is and things catch back up to the present, which means only one thing: dungeon diving.
Amusingly, any cutscene in chapter 1 only has the main traveler present, even if your party is 2 or more, the cutscenes will only show the main traveler plus whoever is talking to them.
After the fight with the bad guy, Cyrus gets called by the headmaster. As it turns out, someone (*coughTheresecough*) accused Cyrus of having inappropriate relations with the princess. Oh my. Cyrus, having been made aware that there’s another book in the library that’s been missing for 15 years, sees the opportunity to take a sabbatical and journey to find said book.
Oh and Therese likes Cyrus (romantically) but Cyrus is an idiot (or is very suave with deflection).
So...yeah. That’s Cyrus in a nut shell - kind of charming, in the goofy way. I will say that having Cyrus and Tressa in a party makes for interesting developments (not plot, sadly).
Take for instance, a boy in the castle. When you scrutinize him, the text reveals him as a minor thief that steals things from the place. Armed with said knowledge, using Tressa to “purchase” from him makes a lot more sense.
The items he has for sale are pretty good, especially when compared to the stuff in shops. They won’t break the bank either, so it’s definitely worth visiting him with Tressa.
With Cyrus in tow, I travelled north west and made it to Flamberge. In my initial playthrough of the demo, I managed to meet Ophilia and completed her chapter to boot. However, for this Traveler Log series, I replayed Tressa and Cyrus’s chapters, went to Flamberge but did not talk to Ophilia. Instead, I traveled further west, to meet a hunter. As Octopath Traveler lets you warp from one town to another, just getting Flamberge’s landmark meant I could visit another city as a fast travel point, so I wouldn’t waste time walking.
Why is this important? Because the demo scales with your party’s level, which means the more you grind, the harder the chapter bosses become. It’s nice. Not so nice when a boss wipes your party, but overall a nice touch.
Next time in Octopath Traveler Log, we’ll look at Ha’anit the Hunter. She has very interesting battle mechanics, but her overworld ability/path action is eerily similar to someone else’s....
Do you have a question about the demo? Is there something you would like me to write about? Let me know in the comments!