For fans of the classic turn-based RPG’s of the 80’s and 90’s, Square Enix is about to take you back to the glory days of gaming with a Nintendo Switch exclusive titled “Project Octopath Traveler,” which will not be the final title. The game is currently in a beta test format available exclusively in the Nintendo e-shop for free. (Square Enix will be gathering information from players via questionnaire emailed to you from Nintendo) So you should jump on this opportunity to not only play a beta test but to also contribute to the final product.
Now, on to the game itself. Fans of Final Fantasy 2 and 3 on the SNES will immediately feel at home and comfortable with the gameplay style. (Yes purists, they are known officially as Final Fantasy IV and VI now, but to some, it’s still 2 and 3.) Basically, the battles consist of: you take a turn, then the enemies take a turn, and so on and so forth until someone is dead, preferably the enemy.
But where this game differs from others is the combat system uses a combo system or boost system as the game calls it, which allows you to hit your foes with up to a 4 hit combo when you have powered up your boost meter. The Boost meter goes up to 5, but 4 hits are the max number of hits you can make. The other difference is the enemies are guarding themselves and each have a specific number of attacks to break their guard, as well as a specific weapon or spell that will help you to break their guard, and then you can take full damage once their guard is broken, but they do guard again, so be wary of that. It can be a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it really goes rather smoothly.
Otherwise, it has the basic elements of other turn-based classics. Fighting enemies and leveling up, and collecting items and leveling up, and exploring the map and leveling up, and getting killed by higher level enemies and realizing you have to level up even more, and then trying to get revenge on those enemies and they still kill you, and then you restrain yourself from breaking the console or the controllers, so you just continue to level until you can triumph over the stupid enemies.
The two main protagonists in this demo are Olberic, a warrior who once was a knight who lost everything in battle and started anew in a new town with new peeps. He is your standard male character who protects the villagers and also trains them to fight by challenging them to duels. Yes, each character will have abilities that only that character has, and for some reason, this dude likes to duel with random villagers, so there’s that. I won’t spoil the story, so I’ll just say he does warrior stuff and kills some people. The other and more interesting protagonist is a young female dancer named Primrose who plies her trade in the “pleasure district” of her town.
Each person has a different starting town, but you will be able to travel to these towns and the characters and story will become interlaced. There will also be 8 protagonists in the final version, but I am straying from Primrose a bit here, so back to her. Primrose’s backstory consists of her witnessing her father being murdered at a young age. She remembers these men’s identities because of a mark on each of them, so she decides to become a “dancer” in a town that has lots of travelers pass through in the hopes of one day finding a clue to these men’s whereabouts.
Her unique ability is the power to “allure” people to help her in her quest, whether that be taking them back to the club where she works or assisting her in battle, but only for a few turns per battle. So basically, she is a kickass female character who will do anything to help her achieve her destiny. I don’t wanna spoil too much more than that for anyone who would want to enjoy this demo themselves.
Lastly, the art style is very interesting. It has a 16-bit hand-drawn appearance to it, which really makes it stand out from others in the genre as of late, which has been more of a hyper-realistic aesthetic, so it is refreshing to see a change of scenery in the genre. It’s described as a mix of CG, pixel art, and “HD-2D” visuals, so it is very original.
The music is exactly what you would expect from Square Enix, very orchestra heavy and really appropriate to the visuals of the game. The right notes are always struck at the right times based on the mood of the scene taking place. The producers of the Bravely series really took great care and detail to make this an RPG that many fans of the genre will really appreciate and hopefully will enjoy.
I look forward to the finished product when it releases sometime in 2018, under its official name, whatever that may be, so certainly keep an eye out for it. Anyone who owns a Switch and is interested, the game is a free download in the Nintendo e-shop, and remember to answer the questionnaire Nintendo sends out so you can contribute to what may be one of the best RPG’s in some time. In the meantime, check out the two-minute trailer from Nintendo below: