Square Enix’s latest turn-based RPG, Octopath Traveler is set to hit shelves July 13. Ahead of this release date, the title received two playable demos, the first of which when little to nothing was known about the game, featuring two of the playable main characters and allowing players to link the two together and explore two small sections of the game.

I was instantly smitten with Octopath Traveler from the outset. The art, the combat, the voice acting and, most importantly, the story are fantastic. I started the first demo with Primrose, the dancer, and was immediately cast into what is sure to be a deep and involving tale of revenge and retribution. The other character, Olberic, is your traditional Noble Knight, seeking to live a quiet life after the collapse of his beloved kingdom after a shocking betrayal. Immediately engaging and instantly thrown back into the action from the moment the introduction ends. I couldn’t wait for more, and that’s exactly what Square delivered with this second demo.

The Prologue Demo opens the game up, giving players 3 hours to explore, investigate and gorge themselves in the land of Orsterra. Given the choice of any of the 8 main characters, you can start anywhere and begin your journey from any one of their perspectives. Cycling the heroes randomly I began the story with H’aanit, The Huntress, and set out to bring peace to the nearby woodland and quell the beasts within.

Instantly you’re aware of just how different each location and character will behave, H’aanit’s slightly irregular speech and totally unique skill set serve only to enhance this. Once the issue is dealt with, returning to the village begins an epic quest to discover her old Huntmaster’s whereabouts after he set out a year before. The Prologue Demo only allows you to explore the first chapter of each character’s story, so from here it was time to explore elsewhere.

Octopath Traveller Screenshot

Opening the world map reveals the locations of the other 7 characters and which direction to head. I headed east towards the Frostlands and found my way to Flamesgrace where we are introduced to Ophilia, an orphan taken in by the church who embarks on a pilgrimage in her sister’s place in order for her to stay by her ailing father’s side. The innocent and refined Ophilia is a stark contrast in character to that of H’aanit, making for an odd pair of traveling companions but allies nonetheless.

Having dragged my feet exploring and talking to everyone I could, my time expired and I was greeted with a message saying that the save data could be carried over to the full release. Great, but I’ve still got 4 other characters to meet so it’s time for a fresh start. No doubt when the full release comes, I will start over anyway, so as to explore each area rather than on the clock.

I set out once more, beginning with Tressa, the Merchant, and decided to do my best to blitz through as much as possible, attempt to gather all 8 characters in one go. I failed but that’s because even while attempting to ignore characters and story I still got distracted and ended up exploring unnecessary paths or engaging in conversations with people over meaningless things. This became even more challenging once meeting Cyrus, the Scholar.

Taking an immediate dislike to Cyrus as a pompous douchecanoe upon introduction, he quickly became my second favorite hero (Primrose will forever hold that title). Cyrus is the mage and essentially Sherlock Holmes, combining two of the things I love, it was hard to hold a grudge. Taking the form of the dashing gentleman detective I can only hope Cyrus’ story involves traveling the countryside and solve various heinous crimes while throwing fire and fury at his enemies.

Octopath Traveller Screenshot

Octopath Traveler starts in a very unique way in that each of the 8 heroes is off seeking adventure for their own ends and one can only hope that this continues, that there isn’t some God-being behind the curtain pulling their strings to make them all seek one true goal. If it happens I’m sure it will be great and incredibly well done as the opening chapters are, however it would be interesting and enjoyable for each storyline to remain separate from each other and the companions are simply traveling around together because of convenience.

The Prologue Demo is hard to put down and the 3-hour time limit seems like ages at first but once the action begins the time evaporates, leaving you itching for more, to turn over that next stone and seek that next corner. Octopath Traveler‘s full release cannot come soon enough, to stoke the fires it’s already lit. The key feature here is the story and rightfully so, but the gameplay deserves an honorable mention. Square Enix moved away from turn-based combat in favor of more action orientated sequences, but Octopath is set to show that turn based can be just as interesting!

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