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Octopath Traveler 2 Review

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fast Facts

Octopath Traveler 2

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre(s): JRPG
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 09/02/2023
Price: £49.99

A code was provided for review purposes

Once Upon Eight Time

You will begin your playthrough by selecting one of the eight protagonists as your main character. I went with Hikari, the Prince of the kingdom of Ku. You can experience every character’s storyline, but the main character will use their own Path Actions. This sees a return from the previous game and allows one to interact with NPCs in unique ways, such as stealing, gaining information or an item. However, there are two available; daytime and nighttime. 

The day and night cycle can be swapped with a press of a button. By having two different Path Actions, your character will have a bit more flexibility to interact with people. Hikari’s daytime action, for example, challenged people to duels to learn new battle skills, whilst the nighttime skill allowed him to bribe to gain information.

Townscape showing characters in an orderly line.
Queuing up is a British pass time

Street Fighter Octo!

Another new feature is Latent Powers during battle. The build-up during combat can unleash a powerful action or attack, quite akin to the Limit Breaks from the Final Fantasy series. The Break and Boost mechanic makes a return and makes the combat very enjoyable. Enemies will have weaknesses in specific attacks, and exploiting them will break their shields and stun them. 

Boost points will be awarded during battle and serve as extra actions within a turn, akin to the Brave mechanic in the Bravely Default series. These can be banked to use with an attack that will leave the enemy dazed.

I liked the way that weaknesses had to be unveiled through trial and error. Find the weakness and exploit them to win. After winning a battle, you will earn money, experience points and Job Points. The latter is needed to unlock specific job skills and second job skills too. There are also some bonuses added if you can come out unscathed, adding a bit more to your overall winnings.

Burning builders with a red smoky filter.
I DID leave the stove on…

Don’t Talk to Strangers

The gameplay in Octopath Traveler 2 is somewhat non-linear; you can travel anywhere and recruit whichever of the eight heroes you choose. The only caveat is that those furthest away may be surrounded by areas with powerful enemies.

It can feel quite daunting at first, but having danger zones give the player the choice to traverse at their own risk. It is best to go for the closest ally, which during my playthrough, was Agnea the Dancer. Upon meeting her, I was given the option of playing her first chapter or continuing with the adventure. These can be skipped and played later on, which will give the player a greater insight into the protagonist’s backstory. 

I did find it extremely odd how each character joined your party. The stories are well written and delivered, but there is no cohesion between their introductions. It felt more like a swift hello! I’m so and so. Are you an adventurer? Let’s travel together!” Their paths do interlink to some extent, and there are even specific Crossed Path quests, which see two characters carrying it out.

Bridge over a canyon in Octopath Traveler 2
What a view!

Get a Job (or Two)

Scattered around the world are guilds that unlock jobs which can be equipped as a second class and levelled up just the same. You’ll only receive one licence, but carrying out side quests for that guild, mainly involving collecting a specific item, will reward the player with more. Since you cannot have all eight party members on the battlefield, it is worth looking into the best secondary jobs that cater to your playstyle and equip them for your main party. As expected, some combinations work better than others, but at least you’ll gain active and passive skills from them. 

A great advantage of adding a second job to a character is the ability to learn specific skills and unlock support skills, which can be equipped even when not using that job. It is worth levelling up certain jobs to unlock really good support skills, such as the Merchant’s Grows on Trees skill, which rewards a bit more money after battles. 

New story chapter screen for Octopath Traveler 2
Great visuals and artwork

Jack of All Trades

Weapons and Magic are pretty varied but locked to certain jobs. The Dancer can wield daggers and wind elemental magic, albeit not much else. Ideally, it is best to have a team with a varied amount of attacks that can exploit the enemies’ weaknesses. Hikari can learn a move from any NPC he defeats in a duel, making him one of the best characters to have in your party during tough situations. 

Although not particularly vital to attain extra licenses, it may help to have more than one party member having the Scholar or Merchant skills, plus completionists will have more to carry out. Those who travel around and take in the sites may find a secret job out there or even sacred altars that bless their primary job with an EX Skill.

There are many side quests to carry out all over the world, and it is worth seeing them through when possible, as it’s a great way to make money. Side quests tend to have a brief clue within the description rather than a direct pointer to where you need to go. I found it a bit confusing at first, but it meant that I had to pay attention to the quest giver and the world around me, and completing them was very rewarding.

Attack animation with a character on horseback.
David versus Goliath and the Trojan Horse

Pixel Perfect

The iconic HD-2D visuals look better than ever. The retro, pixelated assets juxtaposed with 3D environments suit the game well. This is enhanced further by adding clever lighting, blur and vignette effects. It feels like a living diorama, with clever parallax effects used, turning this seemingly flat world into a true animated piece of art.

Battles are a bombastic affair, with the great crescendos amplifying the thrill of the fight. The special effects also elevate the experience massively, with magic spells and dramatic camera rotations around the 2D characters, helping create the tension of the landing attacks. Boss battles are especially epic, with large pixelated sprites dwarfing your party, creating a sense of impending doom. 

Octopath Traveler 2‘s voice-acting is to a high standard. Some players will be happy to know that the Japanese voice-over is also available. I particularly love how much banter there is between your party during combat. After landing critical hits or healing, they will cheer each other on, as well as sound worried when they are knocked out of battle.

Horseback rider in a moonlight scene.
Obligatory dramatic moonlit horse riding

Final Thoughts

Octopath Traveler 2 is truly a special game, beaming with gorgeous visuals and an evocative soundtrack. It is truly an improvement on an already great formula, with special attention to the tried and tested fundamentals of the JPRG genre. There were times when I felt a bit lost and suffered from the obligatory grinding here and there. However, this is just a small observation. I loved every second of Octopath Traveler 2. Looking into each of the eight stories and how they all come together is pretty special.

Without hesitation, I wholeheartedly recommended Octopath Traveler 2 to any JRPG fans. I am happy to see this released on other platforms as well. Hopefully, it receives the attention it deserves, and Square Enix will surprise us with a third instalment. 

Rapid Reviews Rating

5 out of 5


You can buy Octopath Traveler 2 on the Nintendo eShop

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One Comment

  • NemA

    Excellent writing, you answered so many questions I had. The biggest issue for me with the first game, was the lack of unity between the party. I appreciate you, addressing this issue. Great review

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