Project: Octopath Analysis

It’s been a long time since I added a new page to this site, but given that this project I plan on doing is going to take up a lot of time and numerous entries, I wanted to make a page where it could all be compiled into an easily accessible format.

What we’re beginning is a potential ongoing series that will even bleed out onto my YouTube channel as well. Project: Octopath Analysis is where I will complete at least one playthrough of the game Octopath Traveler for the Switch and record and/or livestream the process whenever I play, but here’s the catch. I will attempt to analyse every detail I can. The character stats and how they affect the course of battle, which will help me determine what algorithm goes into the attacks between your characters and the enemies, designs of the dungeons, how the music creates such beautiful and wonderfully fitting atmosphere, how the dialogue is presented, everything. I will be documenting the process in a journal-like format almost like I’m doing research. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

For the past three months, I’ve been developing my own RPG called The Crystal’s Tale, a game inspired by the first novel I ever wrote. However, somewhere along the process, I screwed things up and I can no longer test the game in real time. This was quite a disappointing discovery at first, and given that I plan on making a game that lasts for at least 60 hours if not more (the prologue alone is almost two hours long already), it would be a pain and a waste of computer space to keep testing it the way that I have. But yesterday while I was at work, I came up with the idea to just program everything I can without worrying about testing it. After that, I’ll go in, test it from the beginning, and take note of things like glitches, lines of dialogue that should be changed, what enemies need their stats more balanced so battles aren’t too easy or too difficult, and make all necessary edits then test it once more. The prologue chapter will be a playable demo as soon as its done, and it’s very well possible that I’ll finish programming it before I even get to start Project: Octopath Analysis, but still. The information I gather from this little research project will be immensely helpful moving forward with my own game, and perhaps some of you will find fascination and intrigue in the details we go into.

I just had to share this track. Cyrus is one of my favorite characters, and the one I relate to the most personally, and I just love his theme so much.

What is my experience with Octopath Traveler?

I played this beautiful game long before it even came out. One day when I first had my Switch back in 2017, I was going through the eShop and found the demo for some game that was, at the time, called project OCTOPATH TRAVELER, and it was just a working title back then. My first instinct was that the name seemed a little weird, but it gave off some Bravely Default vibes to me, and I’ve always been a fan of the Final Fantasy series, so given that it was a modern Square Enix RPG in a classic style, I decided to give it a go.

My first impressions of the demo were rather conflicted, to be perfectly honest. Don’t get me wrong — I fell in love with this game the moment I heard some of the music, but at the time, I wasn’t the biggest fan of some of the voice acting. Maybe I was just in a weird period of life. To be fair, this was in late 2017, so it was right before I ran into some massive life-changing events for better and for worse, so perhaps I just had a different mindset back then. I played the demo using the Japanese voice over like I was some elitist snob, but regardless, I still fell in love with the game. (By the way, there’s nothing wrong with preferring English or Japanese voice acting, so I apologize if that came off as offensive. As long as you respect both sides, you can choose what you like.) I loved the music, the characters seemed awesome, and the whole world design was amazing. The demo allowed you to play the first chapter of two characters’ stories: Olberic the Warrior, and Primrose the Dancer.

At first, Olberic’s story didn’t quite stand out to me. It seemed almost like a trope in a way, but again, I was in a completely different mindset back then. Primrose’s story, on the other hand, felt more real, heavier. It discussed more down-to-earth problems we see here in our real world all the time, and I was more drawn to that. I also loved how distinct their character themes were. Both Olberic’s and Primrose’s themes sound heroic, but they reflect their personalities so well. It’s difficult to put into words, but still. You’ll see what I mean once I start recording these videos and compiling them on the site here.

I played the hell out of the demo, level grinding forever. At first, I thought the game was too easy, to be honest. It felt like there wasn’t much grinding required in order to fight the bosses, but then the full game came out, and everything changed.

I got the special edition on day one back in July of 2018, the one that came with the special select soundtrack CD, a replica coin of the in-game currency, a small tapestry with character art on one side and the world map on the other, and I think there was something else that came with it other than the actual game, but I can’t quite recall what it was. It cost $100, but it was well worth the price. When I started the game up and heard that beautiful intro theme, I fell in love with the game all over again.

Just listen. Yasunori Nishiki did an amazing job with this game’s music.

I just sat and watched the attract mode title for a while, listening to that beautiful theme, then finally started playing. I started with the character Therion the Thief, because I’ve always had a soft spot for thieves in video games, like Zidane from Final Fantasy IX, or Gaius from Fire Emblem: Awakening. I wasn’t surprised when I loved Therion’s story and his field ability to essentially steal from any character on the map, and I finally realized that the English voice acting in this game is actually really good, and I was just being stupid back when I played the demo.

When I first started playing this game, I assumed the full game would be like the demo. In the demo, once you beat either Olberic’s or Primrose’s first chapter, you move to their neighboring region and recruit one or the other, and there was essentially no dialogue exchange or anything, which was my only gripe with the game that is also a bit of a problem in the main game. There is very little interaction between the eight main characters. I guess with the openness of the game, it would be difficult to program such a thing, given how many branches of dialogue they’d have to consider and things like that, or perhaps it’s that way for a reason, and they just wanted to make a game that focused more on each individual character as opposed to them as one group. At least they gave us the Party Chat option where a couple of the characters converse with each other at certain points in the story, so that was a plus.

Long rant aside, I assumed that you had to start a new save file for every new character you played as, and I did this for three characters: Therion, H’aanit, and Ophelia, before I finally realized that you were supposed to go and do their stories while playing as the first character you chose. Once I realized the error of my ways, I just had to laugh. I finally revisited my Therion file, which I already sank 10 hours into simply from level grinding so much (because I quickly realized that the main game is much harder than the demo was), and went in the clockwise order from there.

I think I got about 30 hours in by the time I had all eight main characters on the team, then I went to get as many sidequests under my belt as I could before traveling beyond the first initial regions to start on Chapter Two for Therion. The moment I traveled into the next region and heard the second battle theme, it made me so happy that they didn’t just go with one single battle theme the whole game.

This song is just so catchy and upbeat, and those strings play to my heart.

This song revitalized my love for this game and made me realize how truly wonderful it was. It made me look forward to enemy encounters just so I can listen to it while grinding endlessly. However, the boss in Chapter Two of Therion’s story was far more challenging than I anticipated, and I got wiped out way too fast. Rather than rethinking my strategy, I just stopped playing for the longest time. I eventually started a new file, this time with Ophelia, since her name puts the first ‘O’ in the word “Octopath.” (Yes, if you don’t already know, the first letter of each character’s name spells Octopath: Ophelia, Cyrus, Tressa, Olberic, Primrose, Alfyn, Therion, and H’aanit.)

I played in that order up until I got Olberic, but then I just stopped for no reason. I haven’t played it since, but recently, I started listening to the music again, and after I almost lost hope with my own game, that’s when I got the idea to do this analysis series for this beautiful game. I don’t know quite when I’ll begin since I still want to beat Dragon Quest XI first (I’m “almost done”, meaning I’m over 40 hours into the post credits story and it’s still showing no signs of stopping yet), but I’ll probably just start it on one of my days off and keep a journal on the process. I hope you guys look forward to this project! This might just be my most ambitious gaming-related project yet, save for developing my own, of course.