First Impressions – Octopath Traveler 2

Overview

Developer Square Enix, Acquire
Publisher Square Enix
Genre JRPG
Platforms PC (Steam), Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Release Date February 9, 2023

Square Enix’s 2018 return to pixelated, 2D JRPG glory, Octopath Traveler, was a MASSIVE game. Most people took 80+ hours to beat the stories of all eight characters, and even a “speedrun” of the game took over 45 hours. Ever since its release, people have scrutinized Octopath Traveler to determine if it stands among the greats of gaming history, with large groups of people on both sides of the aisle.

Now Octopath Traveler 2 has arrived, and I can confirm that, like the first game, Octopath 2 is massive. Instead of making you, our favorite reader, wait until I’ve put potentially 100 hours into this game to see what I think of it, we’re going to do something different. I’ve put 15 hours into Octopath 2 so far, and I’ve completed every characters’ Chapter 1, and a few Chapter 2s as well. I feel as if I’ve gotten a good sense of what Octopath 2 is doing, where it’s going, and how I feel about it, so I’m going to give you my initial impressions of the game in this article. This is NOT the full review—stay tuned for that–but a sampling of my thoughts on the game so far. With that being said, let’s go on an adventure!

[Side note on platforms]

I reviewed this game on Steam, both on desktop and on my new Steam Deck (thanks Santa!) After experiencing the convenience of choosing to play Octopath 2 either on the desktop or on handheld, and having my saves transfer seamlessly, I might never buy another JRPG on the Switch. Nintendo’s aging handheld had been my de facto JRPG platform for a while, because I love the nostalgia factor of playing them on a handheld, but the Steam Deck has totally turned me around.

[We now continue with our regularly-scheduled content]

To keep myself brief — this is just a first impression, after all — I’ll answer the questions that are always asked of a sequel to a well-regarded video game:

Will I like Octopath Traveler 2 if I liked the original game?

I feel safe in saying that the answer is yes; if you enjoyed Octopath Traveler, then you will thoroughly enjoy Octopath 2. Everything that was good about the first game is just as good, if not better, in the sequel. Octopath Traveler had one of my all-time favorite OSTs, and I’m already finding myself debating if the sequel’s soundtrack is better. The visuals of the original, which started a whole new trend of “HD-2D” JRPGs, are beautiful, especially on PC. The combat has no major changes, but does have one additional element to it that adds a bit of depth and can make you feel insanely powerful if used correctly. The secondary jobs remain the same, but the job system as a whole has been totally re-thought and has its own side-quest-y activities for completionists.

Will I like Octopath Traveler 2 if I did NOT like the original game?

My honest answer is, it depends.

If you did not like the original Octopath Traveler because of its combat and its grind, then, as the author Dante once proclaimed, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” The core combat from the first game remains exactly the same, for better or worse, so if that aspect irked you, you’re better off spending your money elsewhere. Octopath Traveler 2 does seem to handle leveling and grinding a bit less harshly than the first game, but I’m also not anywhere near late-game yet, so I can’t say with any level of confidence that this extends throughout the entire game.

If you did not like the original Octopath Traveler because of its flat, boring, compartmentalized characters and stories, then you should really give the sequel a chance, because the writers at Square Enix have redeemed themselves in a major way. Octopath Traveler 2 has some very well-written, deep stories and characters, and I personally feel way more invested in this game as a result. I want to finish these stories, because I genuinely care about these people and what’s happening to them! The story is by far the best-improved aspect of Octopath Traveler 2, and, as someone who lives or dies on video game stories, I can’t get enough of it. The story and gameplay link the characters together as a whole in a much better way than the first game, in multiple ways that I won’t get into for spoiler reasons. Suffice it to say that I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the interconnectedness of the stories multiple times.

Can I play Octopath Traveler 2 if I haven’t played the original game? Do I have to play them in order?

To answer the latter question, no. The two games do not have any inter-related story elements or characters; they’re completely independent of each other, as far as I’ve experienced. 

If you’re a JRPG fan, Octopath Traveler 2 is a must-play. As a sequel, it took a game that had some definite rough spots, and turned it into a gem of an experience. For those who might have never played the first game but heard/read reviews or opinions and gave it a pass, I’d recommend giving its sequel a chance; I’m sure it will surprise you. I’ve been hard pressed to put this game down long enough to write this article.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the final review!

The Bottom Line

 

From the outset, Octopath Traveler 2's impressive storytelling far outshines that of its predecessor.

 

Jamie Rice

2 Comments

  1. Eric on May 1, 2023 at 9:08 pm

    Is there any queer stuff in Octopath 2? I played Triangle Strategy, and I remember there being some abruptly and unnecessary gay stuff and being caught off guard by it. Fortunately my kids weren’t watching me play at the time. I’ve refrained from buying this title as a consequence of that experience.

    • Jamie Rice on May 18, 2023 at 3:31 pm

      Hey Eric! There is indeed some LGBT content and characters in the game, though most of the time you have to be paying attention to notice it or find it. It’s not excessive, and it’s not in your face, but it is there.

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