Review – Octopath Traveler II
When Octopath Traveler released back in 2018, it was an immediate hit. Fans were blown away by this love letter to classic JRPGs, with its striking blend of HD lighting and environments and 2D pixel art graphics. Sure, it had some issues, with some storylines not being as good as others and the eight characters never having any intersecting quests, but overall, Octopath Traveler was met with favorable reviews. When news came out about a sequel in the works, fans were elated. Now with the time finally upon us, it’s time to see if Octopath Traveler II is as good as the original. Spoiler alert: it’s even better!
Octopath Traveler II follows the same formula as the first game. You play as one of eight characters, which is locked in as your main character for the duration of the game. Each character has their own personal story, broken into several chapters and locations across the world of Solistia. The stories this time around are all very well written, and significantly darker and more complex than the first game. There were a few twists in some of the storylines that actually surprised me (usually accompanying an emotional gut punch). Thankfully, there’s not a weak character in the bunch, which is truly impressive.
The turn-based combat, Path Actions, Breaking enemies, and Boosting movesets from the first game return in Octopath Traveler II. As does the Job System, which has the same jobs as before: Warrior, Apothecary, Dancer, Merchant, Thief, Cleric, Scholar, and Hunter. Each character begins with their primary job, and can unlock a secondary job later on. There are once again Secret Jobs that can be discovered later in the game, but they are different this time around.
Instead of the Sorcerer, Warmaster, Runelord, and Starseer Secret Jobs, Octopath Traveler II features the Inventor, Arcanist, Conjurer, and Armsmaster Secret Jobs. These Secret Jobs are often unlocked by either finding and aiding specific NPC, or by undergoing some fierce battles by the Secret Bosses guarding them. Since these jobs are tougher to obtain the regular jobs, most players won’t be able to unlock them until much later in the game, especially the Armsmaster and Arcanist jobs. Trust me though, they’re well worth the effort!
It’s not just the Secret Jobs that are different this time around, there are a number of new features in Octopath Traveler II. For example, Octopath Traveler II now features the Crossed Paths sidequests, where two of the companions embark on special quests that give them a unique storyline. Undoubtedly, this was added in response to the criticisms of the first game, where one of the biggest complaints was that none of the characters ever had anything to do with each other. While the traveler’s main stories still remain their own, the Crossed Paths sidequests make for some interesting character insights and camaraderie. These quests finally give our characters reasons to be traveling with one another.
There’s also a Day/Night cycle in Octopath Traveler II. This affects the game in several ways. First, it affects each traveler’s Path Actions, with the Daytime Path Actions being more straightforward and honest, while most Nighttime Path Actions are more on the renegade side. This means that by day, a character like Osvald can Scrutinize NPCs to glean important information, whereas at night he can Mug NPCs and steal their valuables after defeating them in combat. Using the Nighttime Path Actions don’t seem to have an effect on the story, or even how others view you, so it’s really just up to you on how you want to approach handling certain situations.
In addition to the new Secret Jobs and Path Actions, Octopath Traveler II features a new combat mechanic: Latent Powers. Each traveler has a Latent Power gauge that fills whenever they perform an action. Once it’s filled, they can activate to unleash a special ability. They vary from character to character as well. Hikari and Ochette get access to a special moveset, whereas Throné gets to act twice within a turn, and Temenos can reduce an enemy’s shield, regardless of what their weaknesses are. It’s fun to play around with the Latent Powers, and it adds an extra layer of depth and strategy to the combat.
Finally, we have the last of the new features: traveling by water. Our hero’s stories span across the world of Solistia, and its continents are naturally separated by rivers, streams, and oceans. Whenever our travelers journey down rivers and streams, they’ll each hop in a canoe to get where they need to go. Then, once you’ve done Partitio’s solo sidequests and obtained a ship, you’ll be able to freely sail across the open seas. This results in a whole new level of exploration, with hidden islands, optional bosses, and secret objectives to discover. There might not be a pirate Job, but you’ll feel like one while embarking on an ocean voyage to lands unknown. There are even shipwrecks to plunder!
The stunning visuals that made the first Octopath Traveler such a standout are back, but are even more enhanced than before. Its blending of HD-2D graphics, retro pixel art, and 3DCG make Octopath Traveler II jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The lighting and particle effects are even more dramatic than before, as are the environments themselves. Even the character sprites have been reworked, giving them better proportions and cleaner animations.
I was shocked to see just how expressive every character was, which is even more impressive for pixelated sprites. The newest star of the show is the 3D camera, which is utilized for certain scenes, making cutscenes and boss battles even more dynamic. Octopath Traveler II is truly a feast for the eyes at every turn.
The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic as well. Each area has its own score, and several of our travelers have their own theme music, such as Agnea, Partitio, and Temenos. The songs range from epic and grandiose, to upbeat and carefree, to atmospheric and moody. Every one of the songs are phenomenal and will stick with you for days after. The soundtrack isn’t the only part of the sound design that’s incredible; the voice acting is top notch all around as well. All the characters, even the NPCs, are full of life, thanks to some wonderful performances. Even the sound effects, such as the ambient sounds of the world, are expertly done.
I cannot praise Octopath Traveler II highly enough. It took an already remarkable game and improved upon it in every single capacity. The visuals are even more eye-catching and dramatic, thanks to the 3D camera perspectives and enhanced graphics. The soundtrack is just as amazing as the first game, but still different enough to set itself apart. The developers proved they listened to their fans by including more travel banter and all-new companion sidequests, giving them believable reasons as to why they would be traveling with each other. All the new features enhanced an already great concept, making Octopath Traveler II a true masterpiece of a RPG.
The graphics in the first Octopath Traveler were already phenomenal, but the inclusion of 3D camera work for cutscenes adds a whole new air of grandeur to each scene.
The turn-based gameplay and job systems are mostly the same as the first game. There are several new features as well, such as the Crossed Paths side stories and travel by ship through the vast oceans.
Some of the songs from the original are back, such as the main theme and battle music, but each area has their distinctive tunes.
Fun Factor: 10
Octopath Traveler II took everything that made the first game great and improved upon it. The companions now have intersecting sidequests, giving them more purpose to be traveling together.
Final Verdict: 10
Octopath Traveler II is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Octopath Traveler II was provided by the publisher.