Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Switch, PS4
It was a real breath of fresh air when Octopath Traveler was released back in 2018 with the brand new HD-2D engine, its SNES inspired sprite design combined with its modern 3D visuals was a real change of pace. 5 years later and with the engine now being used for numerous projects, we are seeing the inception return again with Octopath 2 but does this sequel have enough new in it to match our 2018 game of the year?
While a large chunk of the sequel sticks to the original formula with 8 different classes each with their own stories and goals, there have been some much-needed adjustments and tweaking as well. One of the first things that we noticed was text could finally progress automatically, we found in the original game the act of having to press after every speech bubble to progress the scene incredibly tedious but now you are able to set it to both normal auto-progression and even turbo mode which removes all the audio which we ended up switching to Japanese anyway.
From the moment you select your starting character, you realize how much they’ve increased the scope for the sequel, instead of one single continent this new adventure is spread over several different landmasses spread across the ocean. Be careful who you pick first as that character is then locked until their main story is over, so if you don’t want to make some serious sacrifices later when you are deciding your squad it’s wise to make your first pick count. Towns have also taken a major upgrade, what were simple little towns in the first game have become bustling cities in the sequel with plenty of activity and movement.
Don’t think that the only things they’ve focused on is appearance wise as there are some brand new mechanics on your journey, being able to traverse over water is fine and all but the real deal is in the new day-night system. All characters now have passive abilities they can bring into battle depending on if it’s night or day like blinding your foes or revealing certain weaknesses at the start.
Thankfully you don’t have to wait for the in-game clock to change as well because with the tap of the shoulder button you can seamlessly swap between Day and Night, it’s even possible inside towns which don’t just change your surroundings but also your abilities with citizens, like in the first game your heroes are able to inquire, barter or even fight with the people you meet. But now they change between time periods which means extra strategy when approaching people. The hunter in your group can also automatically capture animals in battles, but unlike last time can prepare them as food for the group as well.
Combat has also gotten the same speed enhancements that the dialogue received with two types of speed at the push of a button, this really helps when dealing with low level random encounters, sprites during battle have also received an upgrade with attack animations for bosses adding that little something extra. The core combat is still the same with enemies having a certain number of Shield points that you need to break with vulnerable attacks, you can boost attacks up to 4 times in the hopes of breaking faster. But the big new addition is the latent powers, taking damage or breaking foes will fill up a new meter that gives you that extra little edge like any attack goes against Shield Points or giving yourself an extra turn.
Octopath 2 isn’t hoping to reinvent the wheel with these new additions but instead give the game some much shinier ones, the size of this new world makes it feel like the game the original should have been at its core, if you loved Octopath Traveler you will love this as it is basically more of the same and while I will love to see Square expand what they do with the HD-2D engine, it’s always nice to go back to your roots
The founder and Editor in Chief of UnboxedTV. Nintendo lover and not afraid to admit it, can always go for a good Indie Metroidvania with a nice cold Cider.