Octopath Traveler fans are having quite a day: along with celebrating 1.5m units shipped globally, Square Enix has announced a brand new game for the series, while there's talk of another Octopath Traveler console game.
Let's start at the beginning - or rather, even before that. The first of the new games is a prequel called Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent. The free-to-download title will release on iOS and Android in 2019 (in Japan, at least). The game's Japanese website explains it's set in Orsterra, allows users a choice of story between three "reigning champions", and features eight-character party command-based battles (thanks, Gematsu).
Meanwhile, there's also talk of another Octopath Traveler game for console. Square Enix's Tomoya Asano previously mentioned the possibility of a sequel in an interview with Famitsu back in September (via RPG Site), although it sounds like players will be waiting a fair while for this.
Square Enix has trademarked the name of Octopath Traveler's "HD2D" visual style.
Octopath Traveler has already exceeded expectations by selling out in Japan only a day after its release, but it seems this success also extends globally, as today Nintendo announced the game has shipped 1m copies worldwide.
In a tweet from its European account, Nintendo explained the figure includes both physical copies and Nintendo Switch eShop downloads. The company thanked fans for their "incredible support," and relayed a message from developer Square Enix thanking players for making this possible.
This adds to the continuing trend of JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) performing well outside Japan. Persona 5 is one example of this, as according to Sega's financial results in March, it has so far totalled 2.2m copies worldwide since its release in 2016. Judging by the fact Octopath Traveler has been out for less than a month, Square Enix's latest JRPG could easily exceed this number. Will we be seeing more JRPGs on the Switch in future?
The Japanese RPG has travelled a long road since the early days of sprite-based 2D adventuring, but in Octopath Traveler we have a fascinating blend of old and new. Exclusive to Switch, it takes the traditional top-down style of Super NES greats like Final Fantasy 6 and blends it with the cutting-edge 3D rendering techniques of Unreal Engine 4. It's a hybrid JRPG for a hybrid console, but developers Square Enix and Acquire know exactly where to push the boat out technically and where to stick to the tried and tested 2D template. The result is a beautiful and compelling Switch exclusive that's well worth checking out.
"New games in the old style" is the deceptively pat label Square Enix has adopted for smaller JRPG projects like Octopath Traveler, and one that invites an obvious question: which parts are old, and which parts are new? Far from a reprise of conventions from Final Fantasy 6 and before, Octopath is a curious medley of tradition and risk-taking. It engages with topics a JRPG of the mid-90s might shy away from: one of the playable characters is a sex worker, whose quest to avenge her father's death sees her grappling with the cruelty and chauvinism of an outwardly blissful medieval world. But this is, nonetheless, a world constructed according to a cosy old playbook, in which every town you visit has the same facilities and a lone citizen loitering for all eternity near the entrance, offering a crisp intro to all who visit. It's a game that puts a familiar emphasis on timing, built around a turn-based battle system in which the ability to strike first often trumps how hard you hit. But like its spiritual predecessors, the Bravely Default series, Octopath also lets you bend time a little, banking action points in order to perform several attacks in a single turn.
Growing up in Naha, Okinawa, Masashi Takahashi fell in love with games, even if he was too young to properly play them. Sitting watching his two big brothers before he was able to properly read, Takahashi patiently watched them play through Final Fantasy 3, lending a hand whenever he could. "They were there to explain a lot of things - they described difficult words to me like 'chaos', like 'holy power'. These kinds of words I couldn't understand by myself, so they helped, and it was fun to watch them playing."
There's good news for those eagerly awaiting the arrival of Square Enix's striking modern-retro J-RPG Octopath Traveler on Switch: a massive three-hour demo launches later today on Nintendo's eShop in Europe and North America.
Octopath Traveller, the sublime looking JRPG from the Bravely Default team at Square Enix, finally has a release date, with the Switch exclusive coming out on July 13th.
News came in tonight's Nintendo Direct, in which we also got details on two new characters: Tressa, the merchant, who can purchase items from townsfolk, and Alfyn who specialises in apothecary.
We'll also be receiving a special edition of the game, complete with a pop-up book, map and coin coming day and date with the release of the game.