Octopath Traveler 2 Review: A Gripping Adventure

I’d never known JRPG was considered a dirty term. Yes, I had a cool period towards that genre, but I grew up on that style of game, titles like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. I’m not contesting the appeal of a world that lets players make their own story, à la Skyrim. It’s more that I find a well-written cast easier to root for than a blank slate.

Old Conventions with Fresh Ideas

Octopath Traveler II is set in the style of older RPGs. Combat is turn-based, your party is made of defined characters, and the art is built with sprites. The important part is how Octopath Traveler 2 executes its ideas. Square Enix and ACQUIRE Corp have worked hard on this new entry, and it shows.

You start with 1 of 8 different heroes. They all have their own quests and their own ways to interact with the world, particularly its people. As you move around, you’ll bump into the others and add them to your party, gaining their strengths and abilities. This is a big selling point of the series. 

Octopath Traveler 2 Key Art
Image: Square Enix

The Path Action system is brilliant, both for developers and players. It’s not easy to make a meaty RPG, especially these days. Once you can interact with townfolk in more ways than “Welcome to Corneria,” there’s a lot more content. As a bonus, towns become much more interesting. No longer are they a box of 1 line NPCs and a couple of quests. There are new items, new skills, and more for players to engage with.

This mechanic also opens up the quest system. Sometimes thrashing the local insomniac so he gets a good night’s sleep really is the answer. When it’s not, the game doesn’t punish you for it, encouraging you to experiment. This system makes menial tasks like fetch quests engaging again. Do I try to steal this item with Throné? Mug them for it with Osvald? Or just buy it with Partitio?

I’m also a fan of the combat mechanics. The Boost system, Latent Powers, and guard-breaking add a proper flow to battles. Banking Boost points nearly every turn means you’re hitting, healing, or buffing in more meaningful ways. Combined with more typical RPG trappings, you can set up impressive plays. Hitting the damage cap is fun, as always, but have you ever played keep-away with a boss’ turn in battle? It is beyond satisfying.

The World is Amazing

The presentation is another mark in the game’s favor. The sprites for people, environments, and monsters would fit in any game from my childhood. The difference is Octopath Traveler 2 uses them with vertical space and camera angles to create a more three-dimensional world. Combined with excellent writing and voice work, it’s properly engrossing. I fear some developers get caught up on texture quality and such; they forget that it’s all in service to creating a setting people want to interact with. ACQUIRE Corp. certainly hasn’t. 

Octopath Traveler 2 Screenshot
Image: Square Enix

I especially want to highlight all the different small touches in that vein. Characters will cry out to their teammates in excitement or concern, depending on how the battle is going. Boost voice lines will change for story fights, adding to the emotionally-charged atmosphere. There are even different variations of the battle themes, depending on whose story is currently front and center.

The wrong music here, with everything else so meaningfully placed, would be devastating. Thankfully they nailed that too. Decisive Battle 2 got me hyped for every boss that featured it, and that was just for mid-game fights. The true end-game gripped me a little less than the individual character stories, but I had a great time regardless.

Sometimes More Paths Equals the Wrong Path

This arrangement isn’t without downsides. True to the name, you are running 8 storylines in 1 campaign. That is 8 characters to level up, to equip, to test Path Actions in town. From a story angle, it’s amazing. The characters and their varied experiences mean they play off each other beautifully. Players are guaranteed to find someone they like between the varied playstyles and story arcs. 

Octopath Traveler Screenshot 2
Image: Square Enix

My problem is it’s tiring to power up the characters you’re less invested in. I enjoyed Partitio’s story, but his money-centered mechanics were less interesting to me. So, I wasn’t excited to clear one of his chapters and see the next was another 10 levels out. The 4-man party limit also means it’s not physically possible to see all interactions in an organic way.

It’d be easier if you could swap out your ‘main’ character before they’ve finished their arc. Adding a Utility character into the party isn’t as appealing when you have one already locked in, for example. Mind you; I loved Temenos the Inquisitor from the moment I met him in the demo. That said, it was frustrating to have him 10 levels above the team and soaking up XP I could use elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

Octopath Traveler 2 is a beautiful story-driven RPG. It’s well-crafted, engaging, and just plain fun. If you want a game with buckets of content and an endearing cast, this is a perfect choice.

Octopath Traveler II Review

Zeph Rider

Sound Design


Octopath Traveler 2 is a beautiful story-driven RPG. The game is a gem by any metric, from the mechanics to the setting, to the writing. Anyone who has drifted away from the genre should play this game and remember what they’ve been missing.


Octopath Traveler 2 is available on Steam.

See our Review Policy Here.

Reviewed on PC.