Reviews Featuring ‘Octopath Traveler II’, Plus the Latest Releases and Sales – TouchArcade
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for March 14th, 2023. I had originally planned to have more than one review ready for you today, and I’ve got quite a backlog going, but things just didn’t work out. So what I’ve got is a full-sized review of Square Enix’s Octopath Traveler II that I hope you’ll enjoy. After that, we’ve got a handful of decent new releases to look into, plus the usual lists of new and outgoing sales. Let’s get to business!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Octopath Traveler II ($59.99)
The situation has changed a lot since 2018 when the original Octopath Traveler came out. The Switch is swimming in great RPGs these days, and it feels like there are more good ones to play than anyone has time for. March is a particularly busy month compared to the quiet July that the first game hit in. The dazzling HD-2D visual presentation isn’t as novel now as it was then, having been used in a few other games. And instead of Nintendo pushing with all of its might in the West as a tentpole timed Switch exclusive, Square Enix is handling the multiplatform release itself as part of its rather busy line-up. I can’t imagine Octopath Traveler II is going to find the same lightning-in-a-bottle success that the first game did.
That’s unfortunate, because after finishing the game and spending a couple of days thinking on it, I believe this to be the better of the two titles. While I enjoyed the first game quite a bit, there were certainly some major areas it could have done better in. The most obvious, to me, was in its story. The premise of having eight different characters going through their own stories coming together was a strong one, but it felt like they were just playing out their own tales while the other tagged along. While it doesn’t completely free itself of this criticism, this sequel adds a couple of things to address it.
There are little stories that play out with pairs of characters as you go along, building rapport between them. There’s more conversations between the cast in general, and importantly there is a final chapter that involves all of them. Not all of the individual stories are as strong as those in the first game, but these new additions alone go a long way to making this feel like a more cohesive work. And while I may like some of the stories in the first game a little more than some of the stories in this second one, I can’t say any of them were lacking here. The plots are engaging and the writing is sharp. From a narrative standpoint, Octopath Traveler II delivers.
In terms of gameplay, not a lot has changed. But I’d argue the mechanics of the first game didn’t need to be changed. The battle system is engaging with its Boost and Break mechanics, and anywhere it lets down the game it’s more a matter of the kinds of challenges it throws at you. There are new Limit Break-like actions called Latent Powers, but on the whole combat doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. The job system is still present and enjoyable, and the Path Actions give you varied and entertaining ways to interact with NPCs. There is a day/night cycle now that determines which Path Actions are available to you, and you can flick between states as needed so that you don’t have to wait around. I like the way the game more or less lets you off the leash early on, allowing you to choose how you want to progress.
The downside of that is that you are free to walk into some misadventures you may not be adequately leveled for, even if you’re following what the game says is appropriate. This sequel isn’t as bad as the first for putting you at the mercy of either RNG or grinding, but it still comes up often enough to annoy. Apart from these roadblocks, Octopath Traveler II has better pacing than the first game. I didn’t feel like any of the chapters were a slog, and that comes down to both the writing and the structure of the challenges. As with the first game, there is a ton of optional content you can engage with. It’s easy to miss some things, and that’s okay. I like that you have to search around and stay sharp to find everything.
In terms of presentation, it again appears like Octopath Traveler II hasn’t changed much. The visuals are a bit sharper and the game runs a little more smoothly, and the HD-2D style is still quite striking. You get the sense this team is getting more used to working with it, resulting in better-looking games each time. Yasunori Nishiki has returned to compose the soundtrack, and if I may say so, he has ridiculously outdone himself this time. The variety and quality of the music in this game is something else. One of my favorite RPG soundtracks in a while.
If the original game completely turned you off, Octopath Traveler II obviously isn’t going to change your mind. But if you felt there was something to its concept but found its execution a little lacking, I think you’ll find this sequel much better. Those who loved the first game aren’t likely to find anything to complain about here, as it’s smart enough to retain what worked in the original. A safe follow-up and very confident RPG overall, but not one so over-confident as to ignore areas to improve upon. A few nasty difficulty spikes are the only real gum in the works, but it’s still an essential pick-up for RPG lovers.
SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure ($39.99)
This follow-up to The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero concludes the story. Yes, it isn’t a trilogy, there aren’t four games to slog through, it’s all wrapped up here. The Special Support Section has new team members and additional responsibilities following the events of the first game, and they’ll have to get up to speed fast because things are reaching a boiling point in Crossbell. I’ll have a full review of this soon, but it’s a strong conclusion, a fun RPG, and a great port on the whole.
Terminal Velocity: Boosted Edition ($11.99)
Here’s a blast from the past. Back in the late 1990s, there was a short-lived sub-genre of first-person shooters that seems to have come and gone over a span of a few years. I don’t remember what they’re usually called, but they’re first-person games that allow you to move 360 degrees. Descent, Forsaken, and this game were the more famous of the bunch. This Boosted Edition basically runs the original game through a new engine, giving you all the glory of those chunky 3D visuals but with a few improvements and a spiffy new HUD. It’s a flavor we don’t see often anymore, and I’m happy to see this one come to the Switch. The original developers handled this reissue, so let’s hope they didn’t biff it up.
Vernal Edge ($21.99)
Another Metroidvania-style game? And it’s a good, well-constructed one? Sigh, okay. I’ll find some time for it. You play as Vernal, who is searching for her estranged father to make him pay for abandoning her and her mother. She has to explore the floating islands of the Kingdom of Haricot with the help of Chervil, an automaton that has lost its memory. Vernal’s mission of revenge may lead her to some truths that she never expected to uncover, which is a thing that often happens when you go on an adventure. The combat is pretty good in this game, with lots of opportunities for juggles and combos, and the bosses are a hefty challenge. The setting is quite interesting, and you travel between the separate islands via your airship. Worth looking into for fans of the genre.
The Wreck ($19.99)
This is a visual novel about a woman named Junon and what ends up being the most pivotal day in her life. She’s called to the emergency room to find her estranged mother in critical condition, and the choices you make will either save Junon’s life or end it. You’ll have to explore her past and use your understanding of it to make the right decisions. This game comes to us from The Pixel Hunt, who are perhaps best known for the lauded narrative adventure Bury me, my Love. It certainly looks promising.
Tents and Trees ($9.99)
What do do when there are so many Picross games on the eShop that you can’t stand out? Well, you can make a variation on it. And that’s what this is. You’re not trying to make pictures, but you have the familiar grid. The numerical clues tell you how many tents you need to have in each column or row. Trees need tents beside them, but only one tent per tree. Tents can’t be beside each other even diagonally. It’s easy to pick up if you’ve played Picross before, and pretty enjoyable. You get a bunch of puzzles to solve, plus a daily puzzle to keep the good times rolling once you finish them. I’ll have a short review of this one soon.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Hey, Grapple Dog! Love that game. Some Crash Bandicoot bundles are at new low prices, but other than that there isn’t anything particularly notable. Some good stuff in the outbox with discounts from Dotemu wrapping up and the short but steep sale on the Ori games finishing. Check those lists as usual, I suppose.
Select New Games on Sale
Grapple Dog ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/21)
Lone Ruin ($11.24 from $14.99 until 3/21)
Crash Bandicoot – Quadrilogy Bundle ($27.99 from $69.99 until 3/22)
Crash Bandicoot Crashiversary Bundle ($39.99 from $99.99 until 3/22)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 ($15.99 from $39.99 until 3/22)
Blizzard Arcade Collection ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/22)
Diablo II: Resurrected ($13.19 from $39.99 until 3/22)
Diablo III: Eternal Collection ($29.99 from $59.99 until 3/22)
A Plague Tale: Requiem Cloud Vers. ($41.99 from $59.99 until 3/24)
A Plague Tale: Innocence Cloud Vers. ($26.79 from $39.99 until 3/24)
Wingspan ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/27)
Frontier Quest ($5.99 from $11.99 until 3/27)
Cosmos Bit ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/28)
Sumatra: Fate of Yandi ($2.09 from $6.99 until 3/28)
God Damn The Garden ($2.49 from $4.99 until 3/28)
6Souls ($2.39 from $7.99 until 3/28)
Chefy-Chef ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/28)
Deponia Collection ($3.99 from $39.99 until 4/3)
Harem Girl Isabella ($2.00 from $2.99 until 4/3)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 15th
Adventure Academia: TFC ($33.99 from $39.99 until 3/15)
Art Sqool ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/15)
Blazing Chrome ($6.79 from $16.99 until 3/15)
Boreal Tenebrae ($1.99 from $6.99 until 3/15)
Cardpocalypse ($9.99 from $24.99 until 3/15)
Cardpocalypse TW Edition ($7.49 from $29.99 until 3/15)
Crowdy Farm Rush ($1.99 from $5.99 until 3/15)
Detective Di TSRM ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/15)
Elemetals DMDM ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/15)
Faeria: Premium Bundle ($14.99 from $59.99 until 3/15)
Gal*Gun 2 ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/15)
Gal*Gun Double Peace ($25.99 from $39.99 until 3/15)
Gal*Gun Returns ($19.99 from $49.99 until 3/15)
Gem Wizards Tactics ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/15)
Gravity Heroes ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/15)
Gun Gun Pixies ($24.99 from $49.99 until 3/15)
Into The Dead 2 ($13.99 from $34.99 until 3/15)
Inukari ($1.99 from $7.99 until 3/15)
Lair Land Story ($11.99 from $14.99 until 3/15)
Little Bug ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/15)
Ori & the Blind Forest: Definitive ($4.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Ori & the Will of the Wisps ($5.99 from $29.99 until 3/15)
P.3 ($1.99 from $4.99 until 3/15)
Pang Adventures ($3.99 from $9.99 until 3/15)
Phantom Breaker Omnia ($9.99 from $39.99 until 3/15)
Pillars of Eternity CE ($12.49 from $49.99 until 3/15)
Quantum Replica ($3.99 from $9.99 until 3/15)
Raging Loop ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/15)
RazerWire: Nanowars ($1.99 from $9.99 until 3/15)
Sockventure ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Supermarket Shriek ($5.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Tears of Avia ($8.99 from $14.99 until 3/15)
The Good Life ($23.99 from $39.99 until 3/15)
The Hand of Merlin ($14.99 from $29.99 until 3/15)
The Last Survey ($1.99 from $14.99 until 3/15)
The Plane Effect ($7.49 from $14.99 until 3/15)
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge ($19.99 from $24.99 until 3/15)
Ultreia ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/15)
Under Leaves ($1.99 from $12.99 until 3/15)
UnMetal ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Warborn ($3.74 from $24.99 until 3/15)
Windjammers ($5.99 from $14.99 until 3/15)
Windjammers 2 ($12.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Wintermoor Tactics Club ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Wonder Boy The Dragon’s Trap ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Yaga ($9.99 from $24.99 until 3/15)
Young Souls ($14.99 from $24.99 until 3/15)
Ys Origin ($7.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
Zengeon ($8.99 from $19.99 until 3/15)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more new releases, more sales, and perhaps a review or two if I can spare the time. I hope you all have a great Tuesday, and as always, thanks for reading!