Octopath Traveler II review (PS5)

The original Octopath Traveler started off as a Nintendo Switch exclusive, before branching out to PC, Xbox One and even Stadia in the years that followed. It never hit PlayStation though, but luckily the sequel is here to do things differently with a multi-platform release for the Switch, PC and PlayStation 4/5. Oddly enough though, there’s no Xbox version for those who started off on the Xbox One. We tested Octopath Traveler II on a PlayStation 5.

The first game stood out to us for a number of reasons. It featured a rather unique narrative premise of having eight different storylines at once, it had a multi-layered battle system that made combat fun and it featured an art style that combined traditional 16 bit-inspired 2D character sprites and 3D backdrops to a gorgeous effect. The good news is that Octopath Traveler II manages to improve upon the original in all three areas.

Taking place in the fantasy world of Solistia, the storytelling mechanic of having eight seemingly separate and distinct stories to tell returns – each story having its own protagonists, supporting characters and settings to uncover before the eight tales finally converge for a final act. It’s an interesting concept and a challenging one from a writing perspective – which ultimately led to one of the negatives about the first game, namely that there was too much of a disconnect between the stories even though the writing on the individual stories was excellent.


While Octopath Traveler II doesn’t completely eliminate this disconnect, it feels like there’s more overlap and consistency between the individual stories this time around – especially when it comes to certain themes and world building elements. Moments where stories directly intersect are among the highlights of the narrative, as is the final act where everything converges. Hopefully we’ll see more of this in a possible sequel, but it’s a clear improvement over the first game.

While still set in a fantasy setting, Octopath Traveler II seems to tackle more modern issues than its predecessor did. There are elements of the industrial revolution, capitalism and even environmentalism to be found here, making it an easier to relate to story – which isn’t a bad thing when you’re trying to keep up with eight plotlines at once. To help you keep up there’s a built in reputation system that helps you track the consequences of your actions, but we felt this was an area that could use more work – it feels selective in what it tracks and doesn’t track.


Other improvements can be seen in the already excellent combat mechanics of the game. The first game allowed players to experiment with a job-based system that would let you combine skillsets, and Octopath Traveler II adds latent abilities and EX skills to the mix – further enhancing your ability to carve out a unique experience. This might start off as a bit of simple experimentation, but once you develop a better grasp of which abilities work best in what situations you’ll find yourself strategizing as well. For instance, you might be able to combine skills and job classes in such a way that your character doesn’t just become more effective in combat – you might also see positive effects on the performance of fellow party members. Ultimately, this makes both the combat and the questing required to give you more options in battle very worthwhile and rewarding.

Add to that the fact that Octopath Traveler II looks gorgeous from a design perspective and it’s an RPG well worth exploring. It may not be the most technically impressive game out there on the PlayStation 5, but it takes retro RPG aesthetics and with its visuals, gameplay and narrative moves it up a level, despite a few rough edges that we hope get smoothed out in a follow-up.

Score: 8.2/10

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