Playing Octopath Traveler is like time traveling back to the SNES/Mega Drive era.
That time period is largely considered a golden era for the Japanese Role Playing Genre (JRPG) and with that 16-bit retro style back in fashion, it's easy to understand why developers Square Enix, the pre-eminent JRPG company, would choose to hark back to their glory years.
The game certainly looks the part. The retro aesthetic is completely authentic. It's overkill perhaps, but the game uses the graphical powerhouse Unreal Engine to allow the Switch to pull off visual effects its ancestors could only dream off. Water sparkles, the sun's glare blinds and the screen has a hazy mist that pulls into focus as you move through. Aside from the odd too-blocky enemy it mostly looks great, enveloping you in warm, fuzzy nostalgia.
The combat here is deep and augmented with myriad customisation options. Battles are turn-based and each successful attack gives your character a power-up boost. You can use this on your next turn for a small attack increase or bank it, allowing you to open an almighty can of whoop-ass on your opponent later.
This sees you constantly weighing up whether to stack your boosts or let loose with what you've got.
It's an addictive system and a heck of a lot of fun. Even though many will groan upon learning that the game rocks the "random battle" system.
The story - or rather eight stories - is fine. Your team members don't really interact but their individual life missions are interesting enough to keep you invested and playing.
It's unlikely Octopath Traveler will resonate as strongly or give you as many feels as those early titles it admires and emulates. Despite its charming visuals, the title isn't particularly charm-filled.
But if you're looking for a deep, tough, traditional JRPG then this travel is worth your time.
M (Mature themes, sexual references and violence)
This retro-inspired JRPG is a trip worth taking