The RPG Report: Project Octopath Traveler [Demo] | Regal Rundown
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Let's get this out of the way. In classic Square Enix fashion, the title of this game is all types of wild. There's no denying that. That being said, they did take the initiative to put in parentheses in the Nintendo eShop that this is a "working title", so that may possibly change when the full game drops in Spring of 2018 (that's a tentative release target, so don't blame me if it comes out later than that). Granted, the name makes complete sense. The full game will have 8 different protagonists that you can take control of and play as with their own unique storyline, reminiscent of the old Seiken Densetsu games. 8. Octo-. See? The weird title has meaning. That's always a good start.
Okay, okay, enough fake pretentious air to start off this article. I just like mocking video game media when I get the chance. The fact of the matter is, I love this game. Like, I REALLY love this game. Well, I love what I've experienced of it, at least. For now, we only get a short demo to indulge in. The demo allows you to play as two of the protagonists and get a feel for what's to come.
The first, Olberic, is a former royal knight, once revered as one of the greatest swordsmen in the land, now living as a "hedge knight" who guards a small farming village after his kingdom was burned down and wiped out, including the king that he used to guard. Carrying his regrets in tow, the journey follows him as he realizes he needs to seek vengeance on the man he used to call a friend that brought his life to ruins. The second character you get to use in the demo, a female protagonist who is a dancer named Primrose, is also seeking revenge. In this instance, it's the men who killed her father. The game design is presented in a beautiful 2.5D perspective that reminds me of one of my favorite Squaresoft games of all-time, Xenogears, which combined 2D sprites and 3D environments. You won't find any 3D backgrounds and surroundings of that nature (as of yet, at least), as the locations you explore have more of a Chrono Trigger feel, in my opinion. That being said, it's still incredibly beautiful, down to how shadows are drawn from characters to objects they're near, say, in a dark cave lit by torches.
The battle system may be one of my favorite parts of the game. I can't lie...I've never been a fan of the newer real-time battle systems as found in today's JRPGS like Final Fantasy XV and such. I can't help it...I was raised playing Final Fantasy VI through Final Fantasy IX, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Vagrant Story, etc. Even with various mechanics being made available in each of these games, they all derived from the ATB (Active Time Battle) system in some shape or form, which just feels natural to me when it comes to JRPGs. It makes a return here in Project Octopath Traveler, with a Boost system that harkens back to the feel of Bravely Default. Simply put, you can build up power each time you attack to be stored, then released all at once in one attack move and cause serious damage. Trust me...you'll want to get the hang of that immediately, because you'll need it when facing the big bosses of the demo.
The only gripe I have with this game that it alludes to possibly having a lot of grinding necessary in order to make substantial money to buy items and weapons. The imbalance in how much money you receive for killing enemies to how much money it costs for weapon/armor upgrades and health items is quite vast in the demo. Maybe it was meant to be that way since it was a demo and you shouldn't have to be buying too many weapons and such anyway (the demo is maybe 2 hours long for each character, if that), but I would hope that doesn't stay the same in the final product or we'll be in for a doozy.
And that's it. That's literally the only negative I can think of in this demo. Everything else? I genuinely love, and I'm honestly a little upset that I have to wait at least another 5 months until I can fully experience what the game has to offer, but patience is a virtue, they say. What I can say, if you have a Nintendo Switch and you love RPGs, you should head over to the Nintendo eShop right about now and download this demo. It's free. You can't beat free. I promise you. I'm Black. I know about the glory of free things, okay? Go do it.