Captured on Nintendo Change (Docked)

A yr after the Change launched, Group Asano—who made its identify on the Bravely Default video games on 3DS—launched Octopath Traveler for the Change. The fascinating HD-2D artwork type instantly grabbed individuals’s consideration, whereas the intelligent implementation of traditional JRPG gameplay shortly stole the hearts of many. Now that it’s been a number of extra years and a pair extra HD-2D titles have gone by way of manufacturing, the workforce opted to take one other crack on the authentic components with Octopath Traveler II. We’re glad to report that that is each bit the worthy sequel you hoped it could be, Octopath Traveler II shortly makes a case for itself as one of many easiest JRPGs on Change.

The narrative of this sequel follows within the footsteps of the unique, centering across the private tales of eight individuals in largely disconnected narratives. Temenos, for instance, is an extremely condescending and sassy cleric who has to resolve the thriller of a string of mysterious murders associated to the Church of Sacred Flame. Agnea the Dancer, then again, is a small-town nation bumpkin with a coronary heart of gold who units out on a journey to show her expertise and turn into a well-known dancing star like her mom was. Among the tales right here function fairly heavy themes whereas others are equally lighthearted, however all of them are compelling in their very own means. Importantly, these tales nonetheless function their starring get together member in an remoted function; the opposite get together members don’t become involved within the plot as a result of you’ll be able to technically undergo any character’s total storyline with out ever including anybody else to the get together.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Docked)

The tales right here really feel just a little extra subversive and attention-grabbing than their equivalents within the first Octopath. Therion the Thief, for instance, was performed because the stereotypically aloof scoundrel who follows their very own code, whereas Throné the Thief is a sufferer of childhood trauma who’s making an attempt to flee the cycle of violence and worry that she’s lived in for many of her life. Although those that had been hoping for a extra centralized narrative will likely be left wanting, the gathering of character-driven tales right here gives a compelling anthology of adventures and drama within the new land of Solistia.

And nonetheless, it’s not just like the builders didn’t deal with criticism from a number of the fan base over the story within the authentic. Most significantly, characters can now take part in Crossed Paths storylines, the place sure get together members will be a part of up for prolonged facet storylines that add extra depth to their backstories whereas giving us loads of time to see how their personalities play off one another immediately. These Crossed Paths are written in the same option to the principle quests and sometimes take a number of chapters for every storyline to resolve, which has the double impact of providing you with extra content material to see past every character’s principal questline whereas additionally letting you see get together members immediately interacting and dealing collectively to realize a typical aim.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Handheld/Undocked)

The construction of chapters is switched up every now and then, too. For instance, Partitio has a collection of ‘Scent of Commerce’ quests that may be accomplished every time which don’t fall inside the conventional four-chapter arc. In the meantime, different characters may have storylines that department, comparable to how Throné’s chapter 2 splits into two routes that every are adopted up by their very own chapter 3. We appreciated this enhanced deal with participant company, as you’ll be able to typically select to observe the plot threads that you simply’re most fascinated by, to not point out that it feels just like the scope of the story is wider when total chapters will be devoted to particular occasions and plot units.

Fight in Octopath Traveler II brings again the identical glorious turn-based system, which provides loads of further strategic choices to primary turn-based fight. Enemies every have varied weaknesses to sure magic or weapon varieties and hitting them with an identical assault or talent will each do extra harm and scale back their protect factors by at the very least one. If their protect factors drop to zero that enemy “Breaks”, which takes away their present and subsequent flip whereas making them significantly extra susceptible to all harm varieties. Unleashing most harm requires greater than breaking, nevertheless, as you additionally should stability when to spend your Enhance factors. Every character features one BP per flip and might select to spend as much as three once they take an motion, which has the impact of both notably boosting the harm output, extending the buff period, therapeutic extra well being, and so forth.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Docked)

Enhance and Break already add loads of depth to fight, however Octopath Traveler II has added an extra layer now with the brand new Latent Energy system. This provides a customized ‘Restrict Break’ to every of your characters that slowly fills a gauge as you are taking and obtain harm. As soon as full, you’ll be able to set off the Latent Capacity to trigger a robust impact to happen, like giving your character a right away free flip or inflicting a single goal spell to have an effect on all targets. Latent Powers are just a little extra situational in use than Enhance factors, however act equally in how they’ll mean you can massively flip the tides of a struggle should you choose your second properly. Extra importantly, they provide every character just a little extra of a novel edge to contemplate when team-building; it might be that anyone can tackle the Scholar class, however solely Osvald could cause multi-target spells to hit one goal for larger harm.

Take all of the above mechanics collectively, and you’ve got an impressively dynamic and continually attention-grabbing battle system that goes above and past what most turn-based RPGs shoot for. Enhance factors, for instance, can be utilized to both chop away at enemies’ protect factors quicker or they are often saved so you’ll be able to let ‘er rip a number of turns later when you break an enemy. And whereas it might appear to be most optimum to interrupt each enemy as quick as you’ll be able to, typically it’s higher to carry them at one protect level after which knock ‘em over once they’re winding up a giant particular assault. There are various methods you’ll be able to select to method the fight system and given how abruptly issues can change after even one flip, Octopath Traveler II continually retains you guessing and on the sting of your seat. This is among the most interesting turn-based fight methods we’ve ever seen in a JRPG; we applaud Group Asano for its efforts right here.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Handheld/Undocked)

Outdoors of fight, character progress takes the same method to favoring participant alternative, as you form the niches and roles that you really want every member of your workforce to fill. Each character begins with a given class, such because the Scholar or the Service provider, and these dictate the character’s stats, weapons, and expertise. As you defeat enemies, you’ll accrue Job Factors which may then be spent to unlock one other talent from a brief checklist for that character’s outfitted class, each increasing their fight effectiveness and granting the character a brand new passive talent that they’ll equip.

Issues get far more attention-grabbing whenever you begin to unlock secondary courses. With these, you can’t solely massively develop a personality’s skillset and enhance their stats, however you can provide them entry to passive expertise that synergize properly with their talents. For instance, there’s an Apothecary passive potential that restores 30% of a personality’s HP and SP after the completion of a battle, which pairs properly with a Scholar who burns by way of a variety of SP when casting spells. Unlocked passive expertise keep completely with a personality even after you’ve switched to a different secondary class, which incentivizes you to maintain experimenting with totally different mixtures as you energy up your get together.

New to Octopath Traveler II is the guild system, which is used to unlock entry to secondary courses. Each guild you discover provides you with a license which helps you to equip the brand new subclass to at least one character in your get together at a time, however you’ll be able to fulfill quests for the guild to get extra licenses so extra characters can have that subclass on the similar time. These can ask you to do issues like amassing a specific amount of uncommon objects from enemy drops, or reaching the top of an optionally available dungeon past city that hosts a secret boss. We appreciated this expanded tackle buying new courses, because it feels such as you’re actually carrying out one thing significant now that you need to work for it to get one other license.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Handheld/Undocked)

Plus, the shrine system from the earlier entry continues to be current, simply in a modified means. Scattered the world over are varied shrines yow will discover for every class, and when you have the character with that base class in your get together, they’ll obtain a robust EX Ability that’s unique to them. These every often carry a excessive SP value, however are equally able to tearing foes a brand new one. Unlocking a personality’s EX Abilities can additional assist to outline their area of interest, too, because it offers every of them worth that no different get together member can carry.

When exploring the overworld, there’s now a brand new day and evening system that modifies the atmosphere in delicate methods. You possibly can toggle between day and evening at will, whereas the enemies that assault you and the NPCs you’ll be able to work together with will change. This ensures that grinding goes just a little smoother as a result of enemies at evening being stronger and giving out extra expertise, whereas the switched NPCs assist to make every city really feel much less static and synthetic. Some characters even have passive talents that grant sure enemy debuffs or character buffs relying on the time, which may add a further aspect to contemplate earlier than difficult a tricky boss.

The day-night system additionally impacts Path Actions, that are the distinctive expertise every character can use to affect or work together with NPCs. Every character has a day motion and an evening motion, comparable to how Osvald can scrutinize individuals within the day to seek out the places of secret treasures hidden round city and mug them at evening to take their stuff. We loved the form of morality system at play right here, as you will be as respectable or comically evil as you need. Agnea, for instance, can entreat that somebody give her the objects they’re carrying, or you’ll be able to simply have Throné steal from them or have Osvald mug them.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Handheld/Undocked)

Visually, Octopath Traveler II seems like a step up from the unique and manages to persistently impress because the hours roll by and also you encounter new locales and enemies. Whether or not you’re exploring the busy streets of New Delta or the luxurious tropical ruins of Toto’haha, every biome feels notably distinct from the following and just a little extra inventive than the considerably unimaginative environments within the first Octopath. Small particulars just like the slow-moving shadows of clouds altering the lighting or lingering motes of mud hanging within the air assist to offer the graphics a extra practical contact, whereas the spritework (particularly for the bosses!) offers all the pieces that retro enchantment. Visuals turn into a contact much less sharp in handheld mode, however that is to be anticipated. We additionally appreciated the extra dynamic digicam on this entry, which may take totally different angles in battle or sure cutscenes to focus on huge moments and body occasions in a brand new means.

The visuals are accompanied by a completely stellar soundtrack from Yasunori Nishiki which does an unbelievable job of setting a palpable temper. Whether or not or not it’s the goofy, bouncy tune that performs when a uncommon Cait or Puffer enemy reveals up in a random battle or the creepy, mysterious monitor that performs whenever you first set foot within the deserted village, there’s all kinds of fantastic orchestral tracks right here to go well with each temper and to underline the essential emotional moments of every story. It’s robust to definitively say whether or not this soundtrack outdoes the efficiency of the primary recreation, however it’s on the very least simply nearly as good, and we’d be inclined to say that it sounds only a contact higher.

Voice appearing is one other spotlight right here, particularly given that each one main cutscenes and interactions are actually absolutely voiced. What we recognize most is the nuance on show; Agnea, for instance, has skilled herself to speak like ‘metropolis individuals’ resulting from her profession aspirations, however in moments the place she will get actually excited or annoyed, you’ll be able to hear her cute southern drawl slipping again in. Additionally, the characters are extra vocal in battle now, typically congratulating one another on a well-placed assault or expressing concern when somebody’s well being dips to harmful ranges. This interplay helps to additional construct the concept of the get together being extra of a workforce, and the call-outs really feel pure with out being needlessly overdone.

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Captured on Nintendo Change (Docked)

The one criticism that we will moderately make in opposition to Octopath Traveler II, if it’s even a criticism in any respect, is that it doesn’t do almost sufficient to determine itself as a definite successor. It feels larger, bolder, and extra polished than its predecessor, however those that did not like what the primary recreation was going for seemingly will not like this entry both. That’s not essentially a foul factor this time round, however it’s one thing to be conscious of, and—ought to there be an Octopath Traveler III sometime—we hope that Group Asano will really feel extra bold in evolving the collection additional past its roots.

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