Octopath Traveler II feels like a modern-day release that has learned from decades of the best and worst JRPG titles. In a time where AAA gaming is dominated by fast-paced shooters and third-person adventures, Octopath Traveler II comes to show that the classics cannot be fully left behind in the dust.
This is a stunning video game that immerses players in a rich, detailed world filled with challenging battles, unique characters, and an interconnected narrative. The game’s turn-based combat system is one of the best in the business, offering depth and dynamism that keeps the gameplay engaging.
Fans of the original release have waited long enough. Octopath Traveler II is here and despite initially looking like an HD remaster of what came before, the sequel offers a selection of quality-of-life changes and minor tweaks that all add up to a fantastic adventure that made me feel nostalgic for a time I wasn’t even a part of.
Choose your path
As the name suggests, Octopath Traveler II lets you choose between eight adventurers at the start to kick things off. That’s eight different openings to experience. Don’t worry about missing out. As you go along the campaign, you’ll eventually meet everyone else and be offered an option to experience their first chapters. Make sure you say yes. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Each traveler has their own reasons for embarking on a journey. Not all of it may be on the same level of gravity. For example, one character may be fighting to take back land that was violently taken away while another is hoping to travel to entertain as an artist. Despite noticeable differences like this, I never felt like a character was just there as filler. Each story still felt like it was worth telling. The game does a great job of keeping the narratives personal and resonant in their own unique ways.
The exploration in Octopath Traveler II is elevated by the game’s stunning 2D/3D art style with every location offering a distinct variety of visuals to marvel at. Seriously, this is a damn good-looking video game. Additionally, the sprite animation work does so much to enhance every frame you see. Both gameplay and cutscenes would often have subtle camera angle shifts that are dynamic and offer creative shots to add a more cinematic flare to the story. You can tell that the artists had a lot of fun setting some of these up and it paid off.
Retro gameplay, modern times
Octopath Traveler II’s turn-based combat system is one of the best I’ve played in recent memory. It’s flashy, strategic, and holds enough depth to be highly engaging to play without being too overwhelming.
Enemies have specific weaknesses that players can exploit to break their shield points, making them unable to move for a turn and more vulnerable to attacks. This becomes even more relevant when battling bosses with multiple enemies. Choosing which one to prioritize with a targeted attack or opting to go for an AOE move can mean the difference between a clean wipe or a large beating to your party.
The boost mechanic is another excellent addition to the combat, allowing players to enhance their attacks and abilities for a limited time in exchange for some of their character’s BP (Boost Points). This creates a simple yet effective layer of depth and choice to the combat, rewarding those who are patient and strategically use their boosts to make quick work of the enemies.
The game’s job system is also a highlight, offering players a wide range of skills and abilities to unlock as they progress. Each character starts with a specific class, which determines their stats, weapons, and skills. Players can use job points to unlock additional skills and abilities for their characters, giving them more options in battle. Additionally, the guild system allows players to unlock secondary classes for their characters, adding even more customization to their party.
Worldbuilding done right
There is a day and night cycle which the player can change with just a click of a button. This becomes a significant mechanic in it itself, affecting everything from enemy types to town populations and events. Exploring the world at different times can yield different rewards and challenges. Nighttime will inevitably mean stronger monsters that will give more XP once defeated.
Grinding is needed in Octopath Traveler II. This is not an easy game, especially in the latter levels. There are fights where a single turn can immediately dictate which side will come out victorious. Thankfully, the aforementioned day and night system does make it all a bit better. Plus, it’s fun to see the world change through the passage of time at your will.
Each character has their own path actions, which can be used to interact with NPCs and affect the world in various ways. These path actions are also tied to the day and night cycle, with different actions available depending on the time of day. There are even scenarios wherein you can do something to an NPC at night which will carry over into the day.
All cutscenes and major interactions in the game are fully voiced, adding to the immersive experience. The actors are all great and it makes going through the story a bit more entertaining rather than being forced to just read text for hours and hours.
And of course, I can’t possibly end this review without mentioning the excellent soundtrack. I was on a call with a friend when I was going through the settings with the main theme in the background and after a few minutes, she asked about what game I was playing because it sounded so good. Take note that this is the first time this has happened. The music in Octopath Traveler II is absolutely remarkable from somber moments to high-energy scenarios. The original composer of the first game makes a return for the sequel so it only makes sense that the quality has carried over and dare I say, got even better.
Conclusion – 8.5/10
It goes without saying that Octopath Traveler II is a fantastic sequel that builds upon what made the original one of the best JRPGs made in modern gaming. There are enough improvements here to make it feel like a natural evolution of the IP while still keeping the classic feel intact down to its core. This is a journey worth going on.
This review was made via a PS5 game code provided by the publisher.