Octopath Traveler Demo Impressions
Anyway, I’ve also picked up the new Prologue demo: on the plus side you can choose from any of the eight characters, the game has some nice improvements since its original showing, and the save data will transfer to the full game once you get it! On the down side, there’s only one save file, and once its time reaches 3 hours you won’t be able to play any more. You can just keep doing New Games with the other characters and just not save (or rely on the separate autosave file), but still, I feel like that time limit is a bit unfortunate. (I mean, if you wanted to do the full 3 hours with all 8 characters, that’s still 24 hours of gameplay, but…anyway.) Now that I’ve checked everyone out, here are my thoughts.
-Ophilia: Seeing as she’s a Cleric, and even has an action for bringing NPCs along with her to aid her in battle, I wasn’t expecting Ophilia to dish out much damage, but she really surprised me. Granted her first dungeon is catered specifically to her, but I was shocked by how much damage her light magic does. And on the healing side of things, she starts out with an AoE heal, and can immediately learn an AoE revival skill if you so choose, so, yeah, she’s pretty good on that front. She’s an endearingly sweet character, though I could see someone saying she’s about what you’d expect for a Cleric—a matter of opinion, I guess. But either way, she gets top marks for starting off as one very good healer. Also her starting town is the most gorgeous place in the game thus far.
-Cyrus: After trying everyone out, this is the character I’m starting with. He’s smart, he’s likeable, he’s got just a dash of arrogance, and he firmly believes that knowledge is meant to be shared and that keeping it to oneself is a terrible crime. In short, just an all-around delight. Really, the main reason I want him in the party is because he’s very practical: he begins with AoE fire and ice magic and can immediately learn thunder, and can also learn multi-hit AoE spells of those same elements (very useful for the way the battle system works). More than that, upon entering battle he will automatically uncover one weakness of every enemy on the field, which really sets you up for success without the risk of trial-and-error you usually go through, plus his ability to scrutinize NPCs turns up all sorts of useful bonuses. Definitely recommend giving him a try.
-Tressa: Going into this, I didn’t have much of an interest in Tressa. I’ve developed an appreciation for her now, but honestly, she’s not really in the running for “favorite” status, and since her goal is so vague I’m not really sure what to expect. Her field action lets her buy items from NPCs, sometimes giving you access to better things than you can find in the shop, and that can be handy. She’s the only character who learns wind magic, and can collect money from enemies in battle—not to mention occasionally finding money on the ground as you travel. (For some reason I find that a little funny, maybe because it’s phrased as being “left behind by some unfortunate soul”.) What’s really nice is that she gets a skill that restores her HP and SP at no cost other than using your turn, so she’s very efficient. She left a positive impression…if not necessarily the strongest one.
-Olberic: One of the characters available in the original demo, Olberic is an all-around solid choice by virtue of being a knight. Knights are always good in a JRPG. Plus he starts with two weapon types and possesses a physical AoE skill, and his unique field action allows him to challenge NPCs to a duel, allowing you to gain EXP, money, and items at a much faster rate if you’re thorough. One could argue he’s a bit vanilla, but it’s worth trying him out.
-Primrose: The other character from the original demo. Her story is incredibly dark, not sure I can really go into it here, but if you want a JRPG with serious and mature themes in its narrative she’s the woman you want to go to. She’s the only character who learns shadow magic, and she also learns a variety of buff skills, but the real focus is on using her field action to charm an NPC into following you, and them summoning them in battle as a temporary extra party member. A very neat character, looking forward to seeing where her story goes.
-Alfyn: Okay, so…Alfyn’s the character of this bunch that just doesn’t really excite me. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with him, and he has a noble goal and all, but…I dunno, he just doesn’t seem as interesting for some reason. Of course, the one time I used his Concoct skill it did nothing, so that certainly didn’t help matters. And he has only a single-target ice spell, and a single-target heal spell, which doesn’t compete well with Cyrus and Ophilia respectively. (He and Cyrus also have more or less the same field action.) He learned a nice support skill that restores a little SP with every attack made, and a status-healing move that also makes you immune to status for a short time, but…eh. Currently my least favorite of the eight.
-Therion: An edgy thief, yes…but he pulls it off very well. He’s far more entertaining than obnoxious. Stealing NPCs blind is ridiculously fun, and gets you a lot of nice stuff (supplemented by the loot in special treasure chests only Therion can open), making it very easy to prepare yourself for the enemies in this chapter. Plus, he learns powerful double-hit skills that restore his HP or SP by a certain amount of the damage done, making him a very efficient character after only a few upgrades. Quite a tempting choice actually.
-H’aanit: Kind of a mixed bag. She’s a neat character, to be sure, but it’s difficult to take her seriously when her and her people use Old English to the point that it isn’t even funny. She’s basically a revamp of the classic Beastmaster job from Final Fantasy: she can catch monsters and then release them in later battles to unleash attacks on enemies, but she can store several monsters this way and they each have multiple uses before disappearing. (She also has a snow leopard named Linde who is always with her, so you’re never totally without an animal friend to call on.) Since these monsters all have different attacks that hit a variety of attributes, H’aanit is the most versatile character when it comes to targeting weaknesses—assuming you’re catching plenty of monsters and seeing what they can all do, that is. And the game does encourage you to do this by giving her a field action similar to Olberic, where she can challenge NPCs, but can only use the animals she has with her, none of her other skills. H’aanit is truly a devastating hunter and seemed a little OP at first…but the thing is, she does her best work fighting single foes. You can’t aim any of her animal friends, hampering the versatility they offer, and the only skills she learns that can potentially hit multiple targets are random as well. I like H’aanit, and definitely enjoyed her opening story, but as I gathered party members with her and faced more and more groups of enemies, I found myself using her unique abilities far less. Hopefully this is just down to my inexperience with the Beastmaster job, but I can’t help but wonder.
A criticism I have is that there’s no interaction between the characters. They’ve said there will be at least some in the full game, but right now, you just run to the other characters’ starting areas, meet up with them, and then watch their cutscenes play out without anything changing. Really feels like a missed opportunity, but I guess this is to motivate you to buy the full game.
Also I was bummed we couldn’t mess around with the jobs in the demo. They’ve already shown that in addition to a character’s main job, they can equip another character’s job as a secondary job, plus now we know that characters earn support skills they can equip no matter what jobs they have equipped, and you know I love me some job-mixing! Can’t believe I have to wait a whole month to make Cyrus a Scholar/Dancer…
But anyway, I’m really looking forward to Octopath Traveler even if there are a few things I’m hoping are done better in the full package. If you have a Switch and this game sounds like it’d be up your alley, I’d highly recommend downloading the demo and giving it a shot!