When Octopath Traveller released back in 2018, it managed to bring something different to the RPG genre. Sure, the traditional hallmarks of turn-based battling, exploration, and questing were all there, but the way in which it linked together eight different protagonists with unique skillsets whilst also showcasing some wonderful visuals with the HD-2D aesthetic felt fresh and exciting.

Octopath Traveller II takes all of those excellent qualities and expands upon them, offering an experience that, whilst familiar, feels even better than that which came before it.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Octopath Traveller II follows the journey of eight different characters who each find themselves traversing across the world for different reasons. One is seeking revenge, whilst another is seeking self-discovery. One wants to protect her home, whilst one wants to be a world renowned dancer. There are different motivations to be found within each character that finds them scattered across the world at key moments of their journey, but they all eventually come together to put their abilities to a combined use.

Players will explore each of these eight narratives throughout the game, with each seeing a bit of progress and drip-feeding plot details as you switch over between perspectives. Everything comes to a culmination in a final chapter which brings all the plot threads together for the conclusion, adding a sense of finality to the journey and making it feel like more than just eight separate stories. That being said, each character’s own personal journey brought enough twists, turns, and intrigue to keep me completely invested, whilst the newly introduced Crossed Path events also brings certain characters together for additional little side tales that flesh out the narrative further. On paper, it’s easy to be intimidated by the eight protagonists and following each one’s story, but it’s cleverly implemented in-game to ensure players will find themselves completely immersed in each one.

The only thing working against the combined storytelling is the fact that other characters don’t always necessarily affect the individual plots. Sure, the Crossed Path events see characters working together and there’s plenty of banter between them on your journey, but rarely did they feel like they directly affected one another. Whilst the isolated form of storytelling does make each narrative thread feel distinct to each character, it does feel like it works against the game’s overall theme of everyone coming together. It’s nit-picking, but it’s one of the gripes that I had from the original game that hasn’t seen much improvement here.

“Each character’s own personal journey brought enough twists, turns, and intrigue to keep me completely invested, whilst the newly introduced Crossed Path events also brings certain characters together for additional little side tales that flesh out the narrative further.”

When it comes to the gameplay, exploration and discovery plays a heavy role in Octopath Traveller II. Whilst traversing the world and its many towns, players can interact with NPCs in a variety of ways to get *something* that they need by using their Path Actions. For example, Hikari (the Warrior) can bribe townsfolk for information, whilst Throné (the Thief) can steal from them or even knock them out if they’re blocking your path. Partito (the Merchant) can simply purchase items from NPCs or hire them to help out where required, whilst Castti (the Apothecary) can heal their wounds. Each character has their own unique actions, and, depending on who you’ve already met on your journey at the time, offer a variety of ways to handle the different situations you may face on your adventure.

It’s a really neat concept that I was already a fan of in the first game, but it has been expanded upon here with the introduction of a day-and-night system that alters the Path Action you have available. You might also encounter different characters or face different scenarios depending on the time of day, so the change in time always feels significant. You’ll even face more challenging enemies at night whilst some combat skills are only active at specific times of the day, so it affects more than just your exploration across the world. Fortunately, you can switch between night and day on the fly, so you’re never forced to wait for the sun to set to tackle different scenarios in the game. It’s a cool concept that complements the game’s unique approach to exploration.

There are some other neat extras to be found in Octopath Traveller II, such as the secondary jobs that let you flesh out each character’s skillset even further and water travel that sees you traversing the world by boat. That latter one might not seem like a big deal, but with a large world to explore full of side quests, optional dungeons, and secrets to discover, it felt like a worthwhile addition – and who knows what you might find out across the depths of the sea…

“The HD-2D visuals look better than ever thanks to the detailed pixel work and some amazing visual effects, whilst the epic soundtrack is befitting of the grand journey you’re embarking on.”

Combat is equally compelling, with the turn-based action offering plenty of room for strategy thanks to each character’s diverse skillset, whilst the Break and Boost abilities from the previous game make a return. Break is based around enemy vulnerabilities, with your foes all typically weak to specific attacks and weapons. Like any weakness system in an RPG, hitting them with one of these will inflict more damage, but in Octopath Traveller II each enemy also has a specific number attached to them which is represented by a shield. If you hit this number of attacks that they’re vulnerable to, they’ll enter a Break status that’ll not only cancel out their next turn but also make them more vulnerable to attacks. Not only is this a good way to deal out some BIG damage, but if you time it right, you can also cancel out a potentially dangerous attack from some of the game’s nastier bosses – you’ve just got to be smart about it.

Boost on the other hand applies directly to your party, with each character gaining a boost-point each turn in combat provided they don’t use any boost-points on an action. What do the boost-points do, I hear you ask? Well, boost-points can buff up your abilities in the game, be it adding an additional attack to deal out, making a magic ability more powerful, or just granting you more health with a restorative spell. They essentially give you the chance to always have that ‘one more trick up your sleeve’, with the player having to carefully chose when to preserve their boost-points and when to spend them. It’s clever and when combined with the Break system can add a whole new tactical edge to combat, which makes it more enjoyable in the process.

Each character also has a Latent Ability this time around, which is built up throughout each battle by breaking enemies or taking damage. When filled, each character can unleash a special ability that offers a variety of effects, whether its dealing additional damage, boosting stats, and so forth. They can be a real game-changer at times, and when used against a broken enemy, can provide massive damage. Alongside the Break and Boost mechanics, the Latent Abilities add an extra element of strategy to Octopath Traveller II to ensure that each showdown is a tense yet rewarding affair.

Check out some screenshots down below:

That being said, the game could be guilty of dragging some battles out, especially in the second half of the game where bosses had especially high hit points. I wouldn’t call Octopath Traveller II a hard game, but there were plenty of occasions where I’d sussed out how to exploit an enemy’s weaknesses and keep myself healed, only to have to go through the same actions for over five minutes to simply beat them. I’m a big fan of RPGs and am happy to grind out battles or take part in epic showdowns that last a long time, but there were a few too many instances here where battles went on longer than they needed with little resistance from the enemy.

Still, it’s a minor issue in what is otherwise a stellar experience, with Octopath Traveller II improving just about every facet of the experience in some shape or form. Even the HD-2D visuals look better than ever thanks to the detailed pixel work and some amazing visual effects, whilst the epic soundtrack is befitting of the grand journey you’re embarking on. It’s just a stunning game throughout, with the HD-2D aesthetic still as eye-catching now as it was in the original.

Octopath Traveller II Review

Octopath Traveller II is a brilliant RPG that improves and expands upon every aspect of the original game. The narrative feels deeper thanks to the newly introduced Crossed Paths, exploration is fleshed out thanks to the day-and-night cycle, whilst combat feels more strategic than ever thanks to the secondary jobs and Latent Abilities. And don’t get me started on the visuals, which are simply gorgeous throughout.

It does have a few minor missteps, most notably with the narrative tying together and some battles dragging out longer than they need to, but they don’t stop Octopath Traveller II from being another unmissable RPG hit from Square Enix.

Developer: Acquire, Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Website: https://octopathtraveler2.square-enix-games.com/en-gb/