Being practically obsessed with the original game, I was eager to dive into Octopath Traveler 2 to see whether they could possibly improve on the formula of this eight-sided RPG adventure. Truth be told, I was initially a little disappointed that it was much the same, but after several hours in Solistia, I quickly found that the devil is definitely in the details with this one. The basic template set out by the first game is still there, but everything just feels so much bigger and more bombastic.
Want to try the opening hours of this game for yourself? An Octopath Traveler 2 demo is now live across Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and PC.
Selecting my starting character, I jumped straight in with Hikari, The Warrior, and began walking around the starting area of Ku, chatting with the locals, getting into fights and kicking off his personal story in Solistia. Within a few hours I had acquired a few more party members and made a start on their tales as well, although I enjoy the ability in this game to come back to their tales later and just start exploring and fighting.
The world map is roughly the same size as Orsterra from the first game, but all of the areas have more in them in the way of chests and hidden areas, and more flexibility to them owing to the new ability to switch between night and day. This new mechanic, which can be triggered at will with a simple button press, affects practically everything in the game from the aesthetic of the world, to exploration and even the combat.
Much like the first game, every character has a role action that can be performed in the field that was relevant to the character, such as a scholar enquiring into people’s stories to gain information. Octopath Traveler 2 adds a second role action that features when it’s night time. Hikari, for example, can challenge people to one-on-one combat during the day, but his role action allows you to bribe people for information at night.
In combat, nightfall brings out more dangerous foes to contend with, but then the rewards of EXP and items are far greater to balance the increased danger. Although I’ve only scratched the surface of the game so far, I can see this change easing up the grind to get your lower level characters levels up. Plus, this increase in difficulty has already made returning to earlier areas to chase down later chapters in character tales more challenging, instead of simply being mindless romps.
This might be the biggest change, but the smaller changes already contribute to this feeling of a grander scale. The visuals are greatly improved with more flashy effects showing off the brilliant HD-2D aesthetic, throwing more colour on the screen and featuring some excellent dynamic camera moments during battle. The music matches this energy with an epic score giving just enough of the nostalgia-tinged motifs of the original, but adding more instruments and layers to each track.
Although I’ve not had too long with the game, it’s already showing a “if it ain’t broke” mentality, building on the original and refining the bits that weakened it as an experience. Then, once you add on little new features like the day and night mechanic, sailing, and new abilities in combat, you’ve got a game that has the potential to be one of the truly classic turn-based JRPGs alongside the giants like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.