This taketh an alterneth approach...eth.
In the last Octopath Travel Log, we finished Cyrus’s quest and moved north west. The world map indicates that this route takes you to Flamberge, where Ophilia is. In a previous playthrough, I completed her quest line and found it relatively challenging - the boss was definitely tougher than prior encounters, especially if you don’t learn a particular skill. I wanted to see how the game’s difficulty for that boss scaled with 4 members, so this time, I went to Swarkii, where H’aanit is.
In this log, I won’t go over her chapter’s plot, but rather focus on her skills and how the boss fight went. Suffice to say, there will be spoilers.
Also your tolerance for olde English will be necessary for Swarkii. Seems each town has their own dialect (the thief’s town for example, uses more UK slang) and everyone in Swarkii talketh like ye olden days of yore.
If you don’t like how they talk, well: sucketh it.
H’aanit’s path action is “provoke,” and when you use it in town, you engage in a one-on-one duel with the NPC and wait, isn’t this the same as Olberic’s duel?!
Indeed it is. A bit of Google-fu alerted me to “Noble” and “Rogue” actions - with half the cast having noble actions and the other half being rogue. For example, Cyrus can “scrutinize” with a set success rate and if it fails a number of times, the player’s reputation becomes poor in town. Another traveler might have “inquire,” where you can get the same information as “scrutinize” but it’s limited by level requirements - it always has 100% success though. Scrutinize can be done at anytime, Inquire has requirements. No idea how this will play into the final game - please no endings based on number of noble or rogue actions - but I can see puzzle solutions being easier to do with one or the other.
So H’aanit has Provoke, which is Rogue, while Olberic is Duel, which is Noble. Neat. Otherwise it functions the same, fight the other person 1-on-1 and hopefully win.
H’aanit’s unique ability in battle is “capture.” When you use it on an enemy, there’s a success rate of being able to tame the monster. You can then use said monster as a skill a limited number of times - like the use of magic skills limited by MP - and when all its uses are up, the monster is released back in the wild.
H’aanit does have her cat friend that she can use an unlimited number of times. It can use dagger attacks. H’aanit herself has a bow and an axe (yay axe!). The monsters she tames however, can be other types of attacks, such as using spears, but they can also be used to heal (I think).
Sometimes when I was wary of how long a battle would take, I would simply capture the enemy instead of beating it into submission. The enemies in Swarkii forest are more hardy than the previous ones - especially when you don’t have the proper weapons to “break” them (even then, they’re quite HP sponges). Having multiple weapon types at the ready was also quite useful, though it was still a matter of being able to break enemies using the limited monster uses. Notably, her regular battle skills mostly center around her bow - for example, one of her skills hits the enemy randomly 5 to 8 times. Great, if it hits that many times. Often times I found that I would deal more damage simply using up my BP and hitting the enemy a guaranteed 5 times. Perhaps I’m not using it right.
The boss itself is a monster, both literally and figuratively.
Facing him with a party of 3 was tough because of one skill: Rampage. Hits randomly a few times for about 150 - 200 each, and when your strongest character has about 500 HP, each hit is a big step closer to death. His counter to “break” was also quite high at 8, so the battle became much more life or death between me needing to heal my party from the last rampage (no dedicated healer, so only items used) and trying to break the boss to prevent him from using his super.
Which brings me to address some concerns about the battle system. As ThePickyGamer pointed out, there’s depth to it and it becomes super apparent during boss battles when you’re balancing healing and damage dealing. Bosses hit much harder than the regular mobs, and even knowing their weaknesses, you need to manage your BP dots so that you have time to “break” the boss out of using their super move. Otherwise you risk ending up at super low health (or a total wipe, depending on the boss).
Notably, I do find that once you have a full party of 4, boss battles become much easier. Not as easy as starting a character fresh and only having that one traveler, but easier than a party of 3. The bosses hit just as hard, but having the 4th member means you get another turn to heal or cause damage. I wish the boss battle would change when you have a full party (e.g. add more small mobs) but that, unfortunately, isn’t the case.
Will I be picking up Octopath Traveler? Maybe. I’ll wait for reviews to come out first because I’m primarily in it for the JRPG story, but hearing the director say that you can beat the game without recruiting anyone is worrying. Maybe there won’t be a full, cohesive story...and that would be a shame.