Octopath Traveler is a turn-based role-playing game. You play as one of eight characters who each have their own origin stories, bringing them together as you see fit to complete their individual, overarching tales.
Pro You can play through the eight separate character stories at your own pace
As Octopath Traveler is more of an intimate, character-based story, you have the freedom to experience each tale however you want. The stories themselves are mostly well-written with a wonderfully mature tone, with a seriousness that isn't overdone, and a nice sense of brevity that lets you fill in certain blanks with your imagination.
You can start with one character and play through his or her origin story, and as you explore the world map to travel to new locations, you run into other characters' stories that you can complete in any order you prefer. The first character you choose is your "main" character, whose story you see through to completion throughout the game. This freedom of choice makes the game perfect for picking up and playing on the go or in short bursts.
Pro Engaging classic turn-based combat with plenty of strategy involved
The battles are a great throwback to older JRPGs with enough of a contemporary twist. You have the familiar setup of a party of four characters standing in a line opposite the enemies, all of whom have their own weaknesses for you to figure out. Your party takes turn attacking the enemy to find their specific weaknesses, whether it's to sword attacks, certain elemental spells, and so on.
Once you find it, pummeling their weakness depletes their armor, and then you land your strongest hits to combo for massive damage. But their weaknesses can change as the battle goes on, so you have to strategize with how to maximize your damage before that change happens. The system is pretty engaging in the way it keeps you on your toes for every fight.
Pro The job system lets you tailor everyone's playstyles however you want
While everyone begins as their own set job, such as warrior, dancer, and so on, you can further customize everyone to your liking. As you progress through the story, you eventually get the option to assign secondary jobs to everyone, meaning they get the benefits of both their main job and the second one you give them. You can give your warrior access to healing magic, for example, to shore up his weaknesses, or double-down and assign him a more combat-oriented secondary job. You can't give more than two characters the same second job, though, so you have to be selective in how you choose to customize everyone.
Pro Gorgeous old school visuals with a modern touch
Octopath Traveler is a beautiful game that updates the nostalgic JRPG formula, especially with the graphics. The characters are all expressive 16-bit sprite models in 2D, calling back to games from the SNES era, while the backgrounds are in 3D with an incredible amount of detail. Walking through snowy mountains, across beaches, or through deserts, parts of the backgrounds glitter in the sunlight in captivating ways. It's a unique style that appeals to longtime JRPG fans while keeping things modern enough for the current console generation.
Con The origin stories are repetitive
All of the eight origin stories, the initial chapters, virtually play the same. You get introduced to the character and their world, they work through their struggle, and then there's a boss at the end. This samey structure can make back-to-back playthroughs of origin stories feel like a slog, since there isn't much variety aside from the individual characters themselves. It may help to space out the origin stories to keep things from feeling repetitive.
Con The eight character stories never really come together
While the individual stories are all great in their own ways, the characters don't ever join together as a cohesive group of allies. You can pick and choose who you want to bring along for combat, and who to explore with, but they hardly acknowledge each others' existence. The most they do is speak a few words to certain characters here and there, but there's nothing substantive to help everyone feel like a group that's working together. It makes the story feel hollow with too much wasted potential.