‘Octopath Traveller’ game review: Nintendo Switch exclusive is a beautiful homage to classic 16-bit JRPGs

By Una Chan Hei-ting, Good Hope School

From Final Fantasy developer Square Enix, this throwback has great (but challenging) gameplay and wonderful visuals

By Una Chan Hei-ting, Good Hope School |

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This is the winning entry for our video game review competition. Una won a Nintendo Switch Lite and HK$500 in eShop vouchers. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for news about our next awesome competition.

Eight travellers, eight stories, and one fascinating tale of intersecting fate. Whatever hero you play as – be it the warrior, the scholar, or the merchant – Octopath Traveller draws you into the mesmerising world of Orsterra.

Developed by Square Enix of Final Fantasy fame, Octopath Traveller is a beautiful homage to classic Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System era, and is amazingly fun to play.

Octopath’s turn-based combat system is nothing new, but the battles are far from boring thanks to the introduction of new in-game mechanics such as enemy “shields” and “boost points”, which increase your attack strength. The experience of figuring out your enemy’s weaknesses and pacing your blows for that final shield break is delightful, and it’s even more rewarding when your umpteenth attempt at the same battle pays off with a sweet, hard-earned victory.

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The most intriguing aspect of the game is the skills system. Players can spend hours poring over the intuitive skill selection interface since, as the game progresses, skills that at first seem useless may be needed to win against specific enemies.

However, Octopath Traveller is not for the faint of heart, and boasts a steep levelling curve. The difference in ability and between levels is brutal, and a meagre five-level gap between you and your enemy is enough to result in a complete, devastating knockout.

What’s more, areas that move the story forward are also level-locked. Unless you prevail through random encounters against much tougher opponents, there’s no way to reach the next chapter of the quest. Not only does this break the flow of the narrative, the sheer amount of grind needed to level up becomes frustratingly irritating. Although the game offers an impressive variety of subclasses and weapons to increase your chances at advancing, it’s still a poor remedy for a fixable flaw.

Is Octopath Traveller a good game? You bet. Does it live up to the hype? Depends. Though somewhat too demanding in the difficulty department, Octopath Traveller is a game that’s perfect for those who just want to sit back, relax, and take a trip down memory lane to the heyday of 16-bit JRPGs.