The much hyped Nintendo Switch role-playing game Octopath Traveler is finally out, and the verdict is in: minus some narrative flaws, it's a very good game.
Many outlets published their reviews of Octopath Traveler this morning, and the general sentiment is that the combat is great and characters are likeable, even if the game's multitude of stories don't gel well or overlap enough with each other. Due to its inventive art style and killer combat, though, most outlets still recommend the game in spite of its storytelling woes.
IGN's Seth Macy really dug Octopath Traveler, giving it a whopping 9.3 out of 10. He notes the game's gorgeous presentation, entertaining stories and brilliant combat system as the highlights of his experience. However, he did not complete all eight character stories.
"Everything in the world feels alive with subtle movement: pixelated trees rustle in the breeze; blades of 16-bit grass sway under a changing sky; shadows from passing clouds blot out parts of the landscape as they float, out of sight, in the skies above."
"There’s a fantastic layer of strategy to battles that gives value to even the lowliest attacks, even in the late game."
"Octopath Traveler is a JRPG dream come true. Both its battle system and aesthetic pay loving tribute to the Super NES era while moving the formula forward in exciting and novel ways."
"If there’s one thing missing from Octopath Traveler it’s a unifying thread tying all the stories together. There is no absolute evil against which our travelers must band together to battle, no ultimate weapon or looming, world-ending calamity."
Gamespot's Peter Brown wasn't quite as in love with Octopath Traveler as IGN's reviewer was, though Brown still admits the game is good, verging on great. He awarded it an 8 out of 10 for its fascinating aesthetic and innovative combat system, though he too has not completed the entirety of all eight stories.
"Retro throwbacks rarely go for the mid-'90s mix of 2D sprites and low-res 3D models, but along comes Octopath Traveler, a game that manages to both faithfully recreate the aesthetic and add to it in subtle yet meaningful ways."
"[...] even if you neglect to cycle party members regularly enough to keep them on even footing by the time they're called upon, you can still carry a grossly under-leveled character into battle without too much concern. It's one of many reasons why Octopath's battle system feels so fresh: it's about what you hit the enemy with rather than how hard the hit lands."
"Octopath woefully struggles to weave interesting tales despite the wide range of personalities behind them."
Andrew Webster of The Verge shared his peers' gripe regarding Octopath Traveler's narrative's lack of cohesion, but otherwise loved the game.
"The combat is familiar, yet it has a depth that makes it feel fresh even after dozens of hours. There are also a number of quality-of-life improvements — like plentiful save points and warnings about high-level enemies — that help it feel like a modern interpretation of a classic."
"In almost every regard, Octopath Traveler has exactly what I want from a classic-style role-playing experience. It offers a huge world to explore, memorable characters to discover, challenging boss battles, and a complex series of systems that let you customize your explorers."
"As much as I enjoyed this more open structure, it did come with one significant drawback: the stories don’t intersect in any significant way."
Polygon's Jeremy Parish, like the other reviewers above, was quite fond of Octopath Traveler. He admits to having not finished the game, hence his decision not to give an official review score, but he's greatly enjoyed the time he's spent with the game so far.
"The first thing you’ll notice about Traveler is its striking graphical style. It looks, quite simply, like no other game before it."
"The game’s eight heroes are all well-defined characters, each unique from the other. "
"I can confidently say that anyone who’s been pining for a great RPG will not be disappointed by Octopath Traveler... whether they want a vintage experience or a brand-new one."
"[...] character sprites often appear haloed by ugly dark outlines, and the blurry filtering on certain environmental details will remind you of Nintendo 64 graphics, in a bad way."
Jason Schreier is the odd man out, as far as media consensus for Octopath Traveler is concerned. While he acknowledges the game's many bright sides, his Kotaku review states that, overall, Traveler is a "botched JRPG experiment." He managed to complete all eight stories and some of the side content.
"The moment-to-moment gameplay is actually pretty great. That’s all because of this game’s strongest element—the combat system."
"You have to buy into a whole lot of narrative decisions that simply don’t make sense."
"There are tons of side activities, though most of them are tedious fetch quests that offer little reward."
"In Octopath Traveler, all eight stories are so repetitive that they blend together, forming one big bland stew."