When Square Enix’s tentatively-titled Project Octopath Traveler was first announced through a :44-second teaser 8 months ago, it immediately piqued my interest. This was mainly due to the immensely unique art-style, which has been coined “HD-2D,” that was introduced to gamers at around the 00:13-second mark of said teaser. However, be it to my dismay to be just as simultaneously interested as disappointed when, a few seconds later within the same teaser, Project Octopath Traveler was revealed to be none other than a turn-based RPG.


My distaste for the ever-popular turned-based RPG genre is undoubtedly deep-seated, stemming from, what I believe to be, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for Nintendo GameCube. Now, I am certainly in no position to comment on the quality of this game as I have never truly played it. Upon starting Path of Radiance when it was initially released in 2005, I felt as if it cheated my expectations. Keep in mind that I was only 10-years old at the time: my then young-underdeveloped mind must have assumed that PoR was going to be an open-world, hack-and-slash adventure in a similar vein to The Wind Waker. So one could easily imagine my disappointment in discovering that it was nothing more than a boring, slow-moving strategy game with barely any action. And it’s not that I hadn’t enjoyed any turn-based RPGs prior; the Pokémon franchise and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom being the sole exceptions if not only because I enjoyed their respective anime.

“I don’t know what I’m doing.” – 10 year old me

So after years of actively avoiding any turn-based RPGs because of one bad experience, I recently decided to play the Project Octopath Traveler demo on a whim; and am I sure glad that I did. Aside from the unanimously-agreed upon gorgeousness of the visuals, Octopath Traveler boldly greeted me with a genuinely challenging game, containing both a wanderlust-inspiring overworld and two stories that ultimately left me wanting more than just what the demo had to offer.  By the time I reached the first boss in the warrior Olberic’s story, I realized that I couldn’t just mindlessly mash the A-Button in order to win as I have grown so accustomed to doing so thanks to Pokémon. I had to employ a strategy. I had to learn, in battle, what kind of weapons my enemy was weak to while simultaneously blocking their attacks and charging up (or boosting in this case) my own. Even after grasping the mechanics of the battle system through trial and error, it still wasn’t easy, as I lost to the boss at least seven times. It should have been apparent that I also had to grind and gain experience in order to make the boss a little less difficult and yet it astoundingly still wasn’t. Was this difficult learning curve due to my avoidance of games within the same genre? Whatever the answer may be, beating the boss felt earned; which is something that I certainly can’t say about some other games that I’ve played.

“I still don’t know what I’m doing.” – me, a grown man

After being given a little bit of free range for completing the demo, I explored the overworld a bit more before eagerly switching over to the dancer Primrose’s story. Not only was I shocked by how much more mature Primrose’s story is compared to that of Olberic’s generic “jaded-veteran-fantasy-soldier” type of tale, but I was also surprised with how much I found myself immediately invested in these characters. Thus, the demo accomplished its purpose and left me wanting more; more of both Project Octopath Traveler as well as other turn-based RPGs. Maybe I’ll give Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance another chance… or finally play Chrono Trigger… or Final Fantasy VII… I have a lot to catch up on.

They all better be as good as this demo