Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 10, 2018

Only Malstrom should be allowed to review Octopath Traveler

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Above: Malstrom looks at the Internet

Cue the music:

Now we can get this post going.

It is O Minus 3 days from when Octopath launches (maybe two in Japan land now). The reviews come out on Thursday, a day before.

So what?

Why do we even have reviewers at all anymore? The game will be in our hands just hours later. People on the Internet talk, and they can say whether or not the game is good. This is not ‘Word of Mouth’. This is customers posting their own reviews (trumping the ‘official reviewers’). In other words, Malstrom’s Review > Everyone Else. In the same way, Your Review > Everyone Else.

Octopath is not hiding what it is. Every trailer plainly says, “These are eight stories,” and “What role will you choose?” There are even multiple demos. NO ONE should be surprised by what this game offers. The only people who will be surprised by this game are the reviewers because game sites keep hiring from the shallow end of the gene pool.

Let us take a look at this video. Cut to 1:40 please.

It talks about Rogue and Noble actions. Cool stuff.

But then it talks about Side Stories. “A quest will often have more than one way of resolution. Do you want to fight your way through? Or do you want to steal the item that solves the problem? What will you choose? You decide.” This is what it is saying (paraphrasing).

Do the shitty reviewers know this? Probably not. This isn’t like in Final Fantasy 6 when Locke MUST steal the soldier’s clothes. This time, Locke could do something else such as fight his way though. Again and again, the trailers are emphasizing ROLE PLAYING.

“Where is the big baddy, Malstrom? We need to gather up and defeat a god!”

There is a reason why I did the ‘Origin of Worlds’ book (online for free). Ultima is a good measuring stick of the evolution of the RPG. The JRPG came from Ultima III (and to an extent, Ultima I and II). In both those games, you fight EVIL GOD. JRPGs have been stuck in an Ultima III timeloop forever.

After Ultima III, there were no more ‘EVIL GOD’s to kill (except for Martian Dreams, but that is a spin-off). In Ultima IV, eight travelers (you aren’t the Avatar yet) go from town to town, and it ends with going to the Abyss where your main character becomes the Avatar by getting the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. No EVIL GOD is killed. This… really hadn’t been done before in gaming. Ultima V and VI also had no EVIL GOD. VII, VIII, IX were more like YOU vs. EVIL GOD and the people were what you were fighting over.

There’s no Canterbury Tales here. Come on guys, look at gaming, not your High School Text Books. If I was a JRPG maker who wanted to go BEYOND the great 16-bit era Final Fantasy games, I’d follow the road Ultima took out of Ultima III. It’d be a game about multiple travelers in a happy renaissance type land with no EVIL GOD.

What I cannot shake is that Octopath Traveler keeps emphasizing ROLE PLAY in the definition that only Ultima used it. When we hear ROLE PLAY today, we think of systems or loot. Diablo is a role playing game, but do you role play? What games do you actually ROLE PLAY today? I can’t think of any. The only I can think of I would have to go back to Ultima. It certainly isn’t in any Final Fantasy game. Maybe Elder Scrolls but that is all I can imagine.

Above: My favorite Octopath trailer

“What’s it like to play a role?” I don’t know. There’s been no true role-playing game in decades.

Readers, I am going to take a sabbatical. This game has already leaked out, and I don’t want to stumble upon spoilers and worthless reviews. When I return, you’ll see my review on it.

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