Octopath Traveler is the Right Kind of Simple

I’ve been finding myself drawn to games that don’t require all that much thought lately. I mean that’s not exclusively what I’ve been playing, quite the opposite actually. Now that I’ve finished Vampyr (finally!), I feel like I can act on this attraction (such as it is). It’s kind of strange, but as my working hours have grown in length and intensity, I’ve found that my patience for complex systems and fighting mechanics has dwindled dramatically. My love for a good story has remained as strong as ever, it’s just that I’m not necessarily in the mood to work for it at the moment. I suppose it’s this unusual (for me) state of mind that’s got me so invested in Octopath Traveler lately. It’s not a stupidly simple game or anything, it’s just simple enough in just the right ways.

Octopath Traveler is a JRPG of the old-school. It follows a small party of heroes on a journey, each hero has a little backstory to get you invested in them as a character, and they each have their own combination of job and skill set. Enemies are encountered randomly, and battles are turn-based. For someone like myself who already has a background in classic JRPGs, this is stuff that’s grasped almost immediately. No additional thinking required.

Design-wise, Octopath Traveler innovates in small and subtle ways. Shops are accessed instantly, no waiting to load in and out of them. When stuff is bought, it can immediately be equipped to your desired character; no fiddling around in the menus. Items are used easily, the map is simple to understand, and unique actions are tied to a single-button. When it comes to combat, there are only two deviations. Random battles come at a regular pace, no worrying about fighting another battle after only taking a step. In battle, it’s just a matter of determining the enemy’s weakness and then stacking attacks that exploit it. Once you learn that system, you can basically deal with anything the game throws at you (provided you’ve leveled up enough and know how to prioritize). In short, Octopath Traveler is a classic JRPG with most of the obnoxious, time-wasting garbage stripped out. And it’s absolutely wonderful because of that.

The only issue I’ve noticed so far is that the game doesn’t appear to have an overarching plot. Instead, it has eight stories focused around it’s eight main characters. Each character’s story is very interesting by itself, but the other characters hardly ever participate in it. There’s no real interaction between the party members, and that’s admittedly a bit disappointing. However, this also keeps the stories nice and simple. You can simply enjoy eight stories in nice bite-size pieces. I’d say that’s worth something.

I’ve only just started Octopath Traveler, so this could all change once I get twenty or more hours into it. For right now though, it’s nice and simple in just the right way. Right now, it’s the perfect RPG to pick up when all I want to do is sit back and relax for an hour or two.

What about you? Do you enjoy simple games or do you love the enjoyment that comes with mastering a complex system? What game would you say is just right for you as you are right now?

Lede image is an official promotional screenshot.