RPG Backtrack 252 – 32 Short Stories About Orsterra
Square Enix’s first dive into the HD-2D style was an interesting yet divisive game. Join us along with guests Ryan Radcliff, Paul Shkreli, Jason McFadden, and Josh Carpenter as we talk about why eight is a magic number in Octopath Traveler.
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Great discussion. Really enjoyed this episode of Backtrack and hearing various perspectives on the game. Two quick items I wanted to share:
1.) Octopath did not have the same development team as the Bravely titles. Octopath was developed by Acquire Studios (the dev team for games like Akiba’s Beat and Akiba’s Trip). Bravely Default and Bravely Second were developed by Silicon Studios and Bravely Default II was developed by ClayTechWorks.
The Bravely games and Octopath share the same Producer (Asano), but they were developed at different studios by largely unique dev teams.
2.) Matt will know that I have made this point ad nauseum in various FB groups, but when it comes to Octopath’s narrative structure, people really need to remember that Square and Nintendo included some variation of the following quote on each and every piece of marketing material leading up to the game’s release:
“Eight travelers. Eight adventures. Eight roles to play. Embark on an epic journey across the vast and wondrous world of Orsterra and discover the captivating stories of each of the eight travelers.”
They told everyone countless times that the game would not have a narrative structure whereby characters bond to save the world. They said the focus would be on singular character stories and experiences. If people bought the game knowing they don’t care for SaGa-like narratives, then that is on them and not on Square or Nintendo. The inspiration for Octopath was less FF VI than it was Romancing SaGa III. I understand that may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you paid even a modicum of attention to the game’s advertising, you had a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Octopath is a gem from my perspective. The combat/job systems, graphics, individual character arcs and soundtrack are all top-tier. It is likely a top 10 of all time for me. I recognize the shortfalls, but the experience is one in which the sum of the parts outshines the lack of a unified story.
Thanks again for the great discussion. Looking forward to the next episode.
I must admit, I was slightly nonplussed by how discrete the Octopath stories were, but the battle system and lovely visuals and sound pulled me through. But when I got to the postgame and saw how everything tied together, it really raised my estimation of the storytelling, and it went from being a good game to a very good game.
Ultimately, my biggest issue was avoiding being overlevelled, as I did all the chapter ones, then all the chapter twos, etc, constantly swapping my party to keep the lowest levelled members active, rather than focusing on my four favourites. I did absolutely zero grinding, and dropped the encounter rate as soon as I could (one of the class perks), but soon steamrollered everything after the first couple of missions until the optional bosses and postgame. The ultimate boss is a doozy, though…