While we didn’t review the original Octopath Traveler back in 2018, it’s safe to say that we are fans of Square Enix’s HD-2D series. When a sequel was announced in Octopath Traveler 2, you can be sure that the Switchaboo team jumped for joy. In this follow-up, we’re treated to a new cast of eight characters, all of which have their own personal struggles and backstories. The same classes, a new cast of characters, a new set of continents to explore and a plethora of stories to discover lay ahead in Octopath Traveler 2.
Octopath Traveler 2 has expanded on the incredible combat design of the first game by including a personal character ability that charges up when taking damage or breaking enemies. These abilities allow for more strategy by giving unique attacks, recharging Battle points (BP), an additional action, and more depending on the character. This has built upon the combat of Octopath Traveler which itself is just so well designed. Enemies have a number of weaknesses that whenever hit by that weakness, results in their shield counter going down. Once the counter hits zero, their defences break and they can't act on the next turn, allowing you to rake in the big damage numbers if you've planned it properly.
The storytelling in Octopath Traveler 2 is engaging and captivating with each individual character's plotline telling their own story separate from the others. Without spoiling anything here, Square Enix has done some expansive world building in each town while having multiple chapters play out in some of them, even if they don't tie in together. Partitio the Merchant also has his own individual side stories to follow which involve purchasing things of interest, such as a boat to sail the seas, discover treasures and potentially other hidden secrets.
When we first saw the trailer for Octopath Traveler 2 back in the September Nintendo Direct, what stood out amongst all else was the visuals. Fans were in awe of the new HD-2D style back when the first Octopath Traveler launched in 2018 and since then, this art style has been gracefully improved upon with Triangle Strategy, Live A Live and now, the original title’s sequel. With the promise of Dragon Quest 3 being remade in this style and interest shared of more HD-2D remakes to come, the visuals in Octopath Traveler 2 is a clear indication as to how the approach can act as a platform for further graphical innovation. The colour and lighting are lucious, the 2D/3D juxtaposition provides for some unique pathfinding opportunities and overall, it just looks gobsmackingly captivating. Here’s to the future of HD-2D!
- Perfected turn-based combat
- Engaging storytelling
- HD-2D is the future
Similar to the first entry in the Octopath Traveler series, each character’s plot in the sequel feels disconnected from one another. There are moments where characters engage in optional dialogue, however, even the fact that they lack voice acting makes them lack importance. There is the addition of Joint Quests that are short sub-chapters which involve two characters at once, but these feel tacked on, almost like an attempted band-aid fix. It’s clear that Square Enix wants each plot to feel personal and unique, but the obvious disengagement from the octo-party is always apparent. These moments are proved worse during the cutscenes where you only have a single character but then battle triggers and the rest of the party are there ready to fight by your side. One of the things here is while these people are in a group, the story does nothing to really give the characters a reason to party up and realistically go out of there way to help each other instead of focusing on their own problems.
Following on from the previous point, Octopath Traveler 2 can sometimes feel like a slog in which you merely progress from one checkpoint to the next. For example, when beginning a chapter, you walk into bustling new cities and fascinating locations. However, to progress, you merely follow the checkpoints, watch the chapter progress, fight when the game tells you to, and then head to the next location for another party member’s chapter. Rinse and repeat. Also, you can't swap out your first choice character until you finish their story line, so you might want to be careful with whom you pick first.
The levelling system between chapters seems wildly inconsistent. For example, when I started Temenos's third chapter, it had a recommended level of 24 and yet, in the same city, I had the option to start Ochette's second chapter, which had a recommended level of 29. Inconsistencies such as this are common throughout the majority of the game, along with a very steep difficulty spike after the first round of chapters. Many times I felt as though I was too strong, only to start another chapter and get absolutely pommeled, with no large level gaps to note.
Lastly, who was the one at Square Enix that thought they should put the Defend option next to the Flee option?! I'm not mad, just disappointed.
- Character plot disconnection
- Running from checkpoint to checkpoint
- Inconsistent levelling across chapters
Final Score: 9/10
While having each character’s story told individually tends to pull you out of the immersion, the actual stories being told are captivating and well paced. Levelling across individual stories on the same chapter seems to fluctuate, implying a set path to take, but it remains difficult to follow without having to go all over the map and wasting time. But the beautiful visuals, the clever combat system and great storytelling make Octopath Traveller 2 a must-have for RPG fans.
Thank you for checking out our Octopath Traveler 2 Switch review, thank you to Square Enix (via Bandai Namco AU/NZ) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: