Building on the success of the first game in the Octopath Traveler series, which sold over three million copies worldwide, Octopath Traveler II is a new installment that takes the series’ HD-2D graphics, a blend of retro pixel art and 3DCG, to even greater heights.
It’s been almost five years since the first Octopath Traveler game was released on Nintendo Switch. At the time, the game was praised for the awesome character jobs system and a fantastic art style. All of what made the original so good is back, but can a plethora of new stories keep the sequel fresh?
Let’s see how Octopath Traveler II compares to the original, and whether its 2023 release is worth your time.
Octopath Traveler II Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4 and PC
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Acquire and Square Enix
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Mode(s): Single player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
An exciting journey through the brand-new world of Solistia
Both the original and Octopath Traveler II are so named because of the eight characters you can play as and the paths each of these characters take. When choosing a character to begin with, you can play through their early stories, but once you pass the point of no return with a character they are in the party for the entire campaign.
As you explore the world, you’ll meet other characters that you could have chosen off the top. When you do find them, their early stories can be played fully, or you can skip the backstory and simply add the characters to your party. This is a great way to push the story forward, but you do miss out on some important moments should you choose to skip things.
All of the eight characters have unique storylines that I found mostly satisfying when reaching conclusions. It is worth noting that some stories are more impactful than others. I found this generally mirrored the characters themselves. The story of the Merchant is a bit more muted, while that of the Scholar and Hunter are much more intense, with more on the line.
New and returning gameplay features
One key feature in Octopath Traveler II is the ability to use unique daytime and nighttime skills. Unlike in the previous outing where you needed to stay at a local inn to move between night and day, that can be done on the fly now. This is a great feature that keeps the game moving, and maximizes the day and night skills.
For example, the Thief can pickpocket NPCs by day, and ambush NPCs by night. The skills mirror the time of day well – for example, obviously more people are out and about during the day, so pickpocketing is better. Nighttime is when you might find guards blocking locations. An ambush skill is very useful in this situation, and logically it all works. All of the characters have unique skills, and each feels wildly different. This makes playing the different characters feel like a unique experience.
After the skills system and the ability to find special EX skills from temples around the world, a lot of Octopath Traveler II feels similar to the original. And while the original was fantastic, more innovation could have helped.
Familiar experience throughout
Combat in Octopath Traveler II once again used a turn based battle system. The entire system seems to have been lifted out of the original. While it works, having at least a few key changes could have made this feel fresh. Instead, it feels familiar, and at times, underwhelming.
You’ll spend a good chunk of time trying to tease out enemy weaknesses. These weaknesses might be to a specific element type, or to a certain kind of attack. It’s great that once you do find an enemy’s weakness, you won’t have to find them again. It is a bit of a grind to find them all. Sometimes enemy weaknesses were predictable – just by their look – but other times it felt completely random.
That isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it did add to the grind. And Octopath Traveler II is a grind, as was the original. Various areas across the world provide a proper warning about the level your team should be at before tackling the area. For science, I of course walked into an area for level 12 characters when I was a level 6. I got absolutely destroyed. Even when going into these areas a bit over levelled, a strong challenge always waited for me.
Octopath Traveler II lacks the thrills of the original
When the original Octopath Traveler game was released, it was just as much a work of art as it was a great gaming experience. While the stories in the sequel are great all around, the rest of the game just isn’t as epic as before. The art is still great, but we’ve seen it before.
The battle systems are still great, but we’ve seen them before. Octopath Traveler II is just more Octopath Traveler with a few tweaks, and while that might be fine with many, some will be left wanting more.
+ Great artistic design
+ Good battle systems
+ Unique day and night skills system
– Not much has changed
– Lacks new ideas and concepts
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF TALES OF SYMPHONIA REMASTERED
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 3.75/5 (75%)
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