Octopath Traveler 2 preview: "So good i wish I'd never played it"
There's a lot of anticipation surrounding Octopath Traveler 2 which releases later this month on February 24. While the first game was popular and critically well received, its fanbase outlined clear issues with the game's structure which they hoped would be fixed within the sequel. With the release of the demo in the lead up to the game's release, we jumped into Octopath Traveler 2 to see how the early hours are shaping up.
- See all of the Octopath Traveler 2 voice actors in this handy guide here.
A mature story
As opposed to a fixed presentation, the Octopath Traveler 2 demo gives you three hours to play as you please - with the only restriction being that you can't go beyond each character's first chapter. For reference, this time limit allowed me to complete two of the characters' first chapters with about half an hour to spare, but there's nothing necessarily stopping you from completing all eight on different save files.
Thankfully any progress you make within the demo carries over to the main game, but this is where the problem lies - I just want to keep playing. In principle, the Octopath Traveler 2 demo is so good I wish I'd never played it, as all I can think about now is how long the wait is until the game releases.
I first chose to play as Castti, an apothecary who has washed up in a seaside town with no memory of her past and a peculiar illness to tackle. Subsequently, I travelled to the nation of Ku to see Hikari's origins, where he struggles with the weight of an empire so innately bound to violence. While the initial chapters are of course just a snapshot of the game so far, I found them both to be mature and well-told, laying the foundations for a grander overall narrative.
Furthermore, while the first chapter of each character's story is always going to be insular, it was great to already see the interaction between party members outside of this - which was one of the biggest criticisms from the first game. Even in these opening hours, Solistia feels alive and interconnected, which only makes me more excited to continue exploring with an ever-growing party.
- Is Octopath Traveler 2 on Game Pass? Find out all of the answers in this guide.
Another aspect that immediately struck me about Solistia was how utterly breathtaking it was from a visual perspective. While Octopath Traveler was the first game to utilise the HD-2D aesthetic that is so common today, looking back it does appear to be a bit too shiny - as if it was smeared with a coat of vaseline.
Octopath Traveler 2 on the other hand seems to have absolutely nailed the lighting, giving a beautiful illumination to the world as opposed to an overriding sheen. Lanterns truly glimmer within the glow of a town at night, and shadows cast by the beating midday sun bring depth to even the simplest of scenes.
This is also very much aided by the new day/night switch system, where the player is able to instantly change the time with a button press. Not only does this allow you to create the atmosphere that you so desire, but it also gives your character new skills that you can utilise to complete quests or open new paths. Nighttime also has an alternative, more sombre score which is a subtle but well-appreciated touch.
Overall, while I was only able to play a small piece of the larger Octopath Traveler 2 picture so far, I couldn't be more excited to continue playing - which is what makes the wait so excruciating. Glimpses of the various improvements over the first game should hopefully alleviate any concerns going into the full game, and we can now only wait to see if Square Enix can pull the whole thing off.