Octopath Traveler: Character Review Part I

We recently got a Nintendo Switch, and it turns out to be a good decision because for the first time, I actually find a lot of games I wanted to play. With D around, I decided a two-player game would be better, so I got Donkey Kong Country, while she picked an RPG game that she had wanted to play for a while. No prize for guessing what game she picked, but it’s Octopath Traveler.

While I wasn’t so keen to play that game initially, as I watched her play, I got interested.

Octopath Traveler is an old school RPG that is reminiscent of Final Fantasy of the Nintendo Famicom era. The 16-bit gameplay doesn’t disappoint and in fact, it is so well done, you actually appreciate it among the multitude of high-definition graphic games that seem to be the mainstream nowadays.

At the start, you get to pick one of eight characters to begin the game (probably why it’s called octo-path). D picked Primrose, a dancer whose “path” or special skill, is allure. She is able to use her charm to allure NPCs to join her party and help fight enemies. Surprisingly, some of the harmless looking NPCs have very high stats (i.e. physical attack/defence), so they come in very handy. The catch is, they are not always there to help you. You have to summon them during battle and they will be around for a few turns. Each NPC is only summonable for a definite number of times, which means, after the max number of summons, the NPC will leave your party.

Before alluring these characters, you also get to see their stats (albeit a very simple one) and the chance of success. This means, you don’t always get to allure the NPC you want. If you fail, your “reputation” will fall. And if you fail too many times, your reputation will be “tarnished” such that you won’t be able to allure others. The best way to earn back your reputation would be to visit a bar and pay the barkeeper a sum of money to gain it back. However, I find it a little too expensive, depending on which stage of the game you’re at. The first time I tried regaining my reputation, I had to pay 1,500 units of whatever in-game currency that is, and the second time, it actually cost me 5,000. So, pick your battles wisely.

The good news is, there actually is another way to recover your reputation that seems to be hardly mentioned on the Internet. When you recruit another character (i.e. one of the eight) to join your party, your reputation returns to a clean slate. So if, like me, you picked Therion the thief, whose path is stealing items from people, you don’t have to worry about your reputation just before you recruit the next player. For Therion, you get to see the percentage of chance you will succeed in stealing the items. Daringly go for items that you only have 8% or even 3% chances of succeeding, and once your reputation is gone, go recruit that player standing around and your reputation is restored. Likewise, if you’re using Primrose, try alluring stronger NPCs with lower chance of success.

The other good news is, your reputation is contained within each city, so having your reputation tarnished in one city doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use your path skills at the next.

Before recruiting a new character, you’ll have to play Chapter 1 of their story. That means, no matter which character you choose first, you still end up playing all their stories.

Here are some of the characters I’ve managed to recruit to date and my thoughts on them (I’ll post a part 2 when I get my hands on the remaining 4 characters) .

Therion the Thief
I started the game with Therion and found it easy to progress although I found someone online ranking him as the worst character of the eight. I do see why as when I progressed, I realised his dagger and sword attacks appear relatively weak and even more so that several other characters are able to attack with daggers and sword (e.g. H’aanit). But I like him because I managed to steal some items with pretty good stats to up my character’s attack and defence even before fighting anything.

As you fight monsters, you gain JP and you can use them to learn new skills. Therion can steal items from monsters during battle as his default skill, and on top of that, I made him learn the HP skill. The HP skill gives Therion HP equivalent to 50% of damage done to enemies in that turn. Thus, if you boost his power to the max (3x) and use HP skill in that turn, it can gain you some decent amount of HP. Since it is 50% of damage done, the most ideal situation is to use it 1) after breaking the enemy, and 2) on the weakest enemy to maximize your HP gain. Avoid using it on bosses because the damage done will likely be very low.

H’aanit the Huntress
H’aanit is an interesting character who can provoke NPCs into a 1-on-1 battle. Thus, even if you don’t choose her as the first character, she can level up very quickly. As I used her to provoke weaker characters into battle, I find her quite a bitch. She uses monsters to fight innocent villagers and even mothers with little children by their side and then leave them lying there when she wins. If she were to actually exist, she’d be a terror. But the most interesting part about her is that, when fighting monsters, H’aanit can capture them for you to summon during other battles. In this sense, it is somewhat like Primrose mentioned above. The starkest difference is, while Primrose can only allure one NPC at any one time, H’aanit can capture up to about 6 monsters. These monsters are also only summonable for a limited number of times.

You don’t have to worry about carefully choosing the monsters to capture in the beginning though because even if you max out the limit, you can still capture new monsters. When successful, you will be given to option to release other monsters.

The other thing I like about H’aanit is, you can see the chance of successfully capturing monsters as well as the level of the monsters before attempting to capture them.

The guy I mentioned above who rated Therion as the worst character rated H’aanit as the best. While my H’aanit character wields the axe and the bow, she also tames a beast called Linde that you can summon an unlimited number of times. Linde attacks with either sweep (sword) or pounce (spear) at random and you can’t really choose who Linde attacks. But that means H’aanit can attack with at least 4 weapon types. On top of that, as each of the monsters H’aanit captures also attacks with one of the weapon classes or elements, H’aanit offers the most number of options in battles.

Ophilia the Cleric
As you can tell from the role, Ophilia is the healer of the group. She wields the staff and her path is to guide NPCs. But despite the difference in name, Ophilia’s guide is very similar to Primrose’s allure. At any one time, Ophilia can only guide one NPC and can then summon that NPC during battle. However, the main difference is, while Primrose gets to see the % of chance she will succeed at alluring an NPC and any failure would damage her reputation in that particular city, it doesn’t work that way for Ophilia. To put it another way, Primrose’s allure has a variation of chance and the result is either “succeed” or “fail” but Ophilia’s guide cannot fail. It is only “can” or “can’t.” NPCs requires Ophilia to be of a certain level before they are able to be “guided” by her. So, if her level is not high enough, you just cannot use her path on them.

As a cleric, Ophilia’s physical attack is relatively weak, so focusing on developing her elemental attacks would be wise. Also, she has much higher SP to use her skills during battles than other characters of the same level. Heck, her SP is even higher than my other characters who are several levels above her. Which is a good thing as you can use her to heal all characters several times without having to worry about using up all her SP.

Cyrus the Scholar
Cyrus’ path is to scrutinize, meaning he can gain information from NPCs. Like Ophilia, he wields the staff but as I only just recruited Cyrus, I haven’t gotten much of this character. Nevertheless, I love how this character was developed.

One would think what can getting information from NPCs do? After all, if you just make the NPCs talk to you, Cyrus’ character is pretty much redundant in an RPG game. However, the beauty of this character is that you can get information like hidden items from the NPCs and once you receive this information, somewhere in the city would be a bright glowing light where the hidden item is for you to collect. Also, sometimes you get information about discount at the inn where you can rest to regain all your characters’ HP and SP for free.

Cyrus is also able to identify the weakness of the monsters you fight with his keen eye. This means, you don’t have to try all the weapon types one by one to find out each monster’s weakness. To top that off, Cyrus can keep revealing a monster’s weakness each time he fights it. So, if a monster has 3 vulnerabilities, for example, the first time, Cyrus will reveal one before the battle. After the battle, if you run into the same monster again, he will reveal the next one. So, the more times you run into a certain type of monsters, the less you have to guess what its weakness is.

Primrose the Dancer
Now I’ve talked about Primrose early in this post because D uses her and the information is pretty much up there. But since I haven’t had the opportunity to use her yet, I shall reserve my comments for a later post when I actually get to try using her, so keep a lookout for Part 2!


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