One of the prettiest RPGs from the past decade is now on Xbox Game Pass.
Square Enix is known for classic turn-based RPGs like Final Fantasy, but that series has dropped its turn-based roots over the years. Over the past decade, it was up to smaller Square Enix games like Octopath Traveler are keeping the spirit of those classics alive. It managed to do that masterfully, all while featuring some of the most gorgeous pixel-art ever.
This RPG first released on Nintendo Switch in 2018 as one of the platform’s hallmark RPG exclusives. It has since come to PC and Google Stadia and finally Xbox One and Xbox Series X on March 26 as part of Xbox Game Pass. If you love RPGs but have somehow missed out on Octopath Traveler, you need to give this beautiful game a shot.
Ocotopath Traveler’s name is immediately striking, but it’s actually an incredibly fitting name. This RPG follows eight different heroes across the world of Orsterra. While they all eventually come together, players can choose to start with any of the game’s eight characters. As you come across each party member, you will experience their isolated origin story before they agree to join your quest and stop a world-ending threat.
Olberic, Cyrus, Tressa, Ophilia, Primrose, Alfyn, Therion, and H’aanit all have very distinct personalities from each other. By the end of the game, you’ll come to appreciate the distinctive charm of every character, whether that’s Olberic redeeming himself as a Knight or Primrose getting revenge on the men who killed her father.
Each character has unique actions they can do both in and outside of battle. With NPCs, a character like Therion can pickpocket them; meanwhile, Olberic could challenge that same NPC to a duel. Once you hop into a battle with an enemy, it plays out in a fairly traditional turn-based way, especially if you’re familiar with Bravely Default.
In this easy-to-understand, turn-based battle system, storing Boost Points for the chance to use multiple attacks in one turn If you’ve enjoyed Bravely Default 2, which just came out for Nintendo Switch, you’ll also like this battle system.
Octopath Traveler is a solid RPG with a narrative setup that differentiated it from classic games in the genre. The most distinctive thing about the game by far though is its style. Dubbed “HD-2D” by its developers, this art style gives the classic pixel art you’d expect from a retro RPG like this significantly more depth.
By making environments 3D and cleverly using lighting technique and camera focuses Octopath Traveller manages to make its retro look feel modern. Every new area and enemy design in this game has the potential to leave you in awe due to just how pretty it all is. This game directly challenges the notion that pixel art was old news and out of style.
It's such an iconic style that decided to use it in the upcoming tactics game Project Triangle Strategy (which has an even weirder name than Octopath Traveler). This game looks better than ever on Xbox Series X or a high-end PC, though you can also play it over the cloud on mobile.
Even if you don’t have Xbox Game Pass, this is a JRPG that's well worth the time of any pixel-art lover or hardcore role-playing game fan. Even if you don’t stick with it all the way through, you’ll get the chance to appreciate a lot of its gorgeous art.
Octopath Traveler is available now on Xbox Game Pass.