We are finally days away from the release of Octopath Traveler and truly excited about it. RPG fans have been anticipating this release since the very first Switch presentation and have endured over a year of waiting. To burn some of this hype energy, lets take a look at the entire journey, from that first reveal last year to the demo we got weeks ago. Then, we will take a quick look at the sexy “Wayfarer’s Edition” of the game coming out this Friday, July 13.
Octopath Traveler was first revealed back in January of last year (2017) during Nintendo’s Switch Presentation. It was called “Project Octopath Traveler” back then and the preview shown on screen left RPG fans all over the world drooling at the game’s seamless combination of 16-bit graphics rendered within fully 3D environments with plenty of particles and lighting. It was like the perfect combination of classic and new that we would have never imagined. But, with no release window announced and the game’s name having the word “Project” in it, we all had a pretty good feeling this title was not coming soon.
Later that year, during a Nintendo Direct, the development team revealed several new details about the game. They talked about how each of the eight characters (the “Octo” in Octopath) has a unique Path ability the allows them to interact with NPC’s in special ways. They gave the example of the Dancer character who can charm NPC’s into becoming temporary party members who fight alongside her. They also showed the Warrior’s ability to challenge NPC’s to duels. The specific intent of duels was not obvious which lead fans to speculate you could permanently kill NPC’s which was a pretty scary thought! Regardless, it was clear that these Path abilities would be a mechanism to to both, allow players to approach certain problems or quests in different ways and also a way to encourage players to play through the game with every single character in order to be able to access every area and every quest.
At the end of their presentation, the development team surprised us with the release of a fully playable demo of the game. The demo showcased two of the game’s eight characters (the Dancer and the Warrior just spoken about) and covered what seemed like the the introductory portion of each. The Dancer’s story was particularly raunchy, which surprised me, but very interesting. And, it was fun to just charm random guards from town and take them into dungeons. On one instance, I charmed an NPC blocking an entrance to move him out of the way which was pretty handy. The Warrior’s Path ability also began to make more sense as challenging certain NPC’s to duels helped to progress his story. An example of this is one bit where you have to challenge some young recruits in order to “train” them. A full article on my impressions and experience with the first demo is [here]. In the end, players got countless hours of play out of just this demo and glimpsed a good amount of the game’s mechanics.
Realizing then how hyped fans were for the game, the developers began to spare no chances to update us as the game progressed and continued to reveal tidbits of information throughout the year in the form of development journals and interviews. It served to keep the game from being forgotten, give players an ever growing picture of what the final game will be and also maintain the excitement amongst the fanbase. We never felt left in the dark.
Then, during this year’s E3 presentation, just over a month before the official release of the game, Nintendo announced that a new demo would be made available. If a second demo was not surprising enough, fans were blown away when they realized this demo was actually the full game with a three hour lock on it. Play as much as you like, however you want to approach it, for three whole hours. To sweeten the deal further, players were informed that any save files created within the demo will be carried over into the full game once it launches. Basically, the demo is a free three hour head-start on the game!
And finally, if all this meticulous attention to detail and care for the players was not enough, you have to see the special edition they have setup for this highly sought after title. It is called the “Wayfarer’s Edition” and it comes packed with the game (obviously), a pop-up book, a two-sided cloth map of the game world, the Octopath Traveler: “Sound Selections” soundtrack, and a replica coin of the in-game currency. The popup book seems to serve as the special edition box and also opens into an amazing diorama of one of the game’s settings. I am definitely going to have to find a space to display it!
To close out, it is pretty clear that the development team put a lot of work and passion into this title and, if it lives up to expectations, it could spell great things for the future of Square-Enix and RPG’s on the Switch. If you enjoy classic RPG’s or are curious about them, this title might just be the thing you are looking for. I personally plan to dive deep into this game and, time permitting, explore all of its characters and stories. Stay tuned in the coming months for follow-up content and, definitely, a review. I could not call myself an RPG fan without reviewing this one.
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