With only two full-blown games played in one year, my Switch is not exactly risking a burnout. And mind you, that second game might not even have come to pass: for indeed, my first steps with Octopath Traveler's were not exactly stellar. I went for the safe and classic choice of character and started playing with good ole warrior Olberic, only to get more and more disheartened as time went on: Olberic's battle skills were limited and boring, his Path Action was borderline useless, his Talent was hardly noticeable and, last but not least, his story left me completely cold. I just couldn't imagine handling such a lacklustre character for 60-or-more hours; I needed a trump card if I wanted to keep playing OT, and quick. That's when I decided to play each character's intro sequence, and see which one of these appetizers proved palatable enough to warrant more bites.
The result of those mini trial runs pretty much stands in this post's title: all hail happy winner Tressa, a.k.a. OT's very own Torneko! Damn, that lass completely and utterly stole my heart with her high levels of sass, her cheeky battle dialogue and her story. My Landstalker days in the '90s left me with a soft spot for treasure-hunting stories, so Tressa's own personal tale of discovering the world and amassing riches while doing so was right up my alley. And pray tell, how could I resist her miraculous Path Action that lets her purchase wares from NPCs at a discount price, and her magnificent Talent that lets her find lost money lying on the ground every time she enters an area? Tressa was purely and simply made for me, that's how utterly awesome she is.
Still, my run was not out of the woods yet, oooh no precious. I had the hardest time finding my stride in battle, and the sheer slowness of all things fighting was doing a serious number on my RPG morale. Why did even the meanest trash mob put up such a fight before kicking the bucket, dang it? Having HP bags as bosses is one thing, and a fully normal one as far as RPGs go; but having regular field foes boast mountains of HP was another animal entirely, and one I was not sure I wanted to humour. I also suspected the game of being guilty of level scaling, which could have constituted a surefire dealbreaker given that I despise the very existence of level scaling. The five hour-mark was a particularly tricky point that saw me very close to giving up indeed; however, I decided to soldier on a mite longer, just to be sure I was not missing out on something. This turned out to be the right decision, as things subtly improved during the next couple of hours. My strategies got better, fights got faster and, last but not least, my sneaking suspicion of level scaling was dispeled; and lo and behold, I started enjoying the game in earnest around the ten hour-mark, and my love for it has grown stronger and bolder ever since.
I'm now done recruiting all eight characters and polishing off the first round of chapters for all of them, and my winning party is pretty much set. Tressa's battle prowess as my main is neatly supplemented by Cyrus' and Ophilia's; together, they make a well-assorted and formidably efficient triad. The fourth slot is reserved for the character whose story I'm currently toiling on, and I make sure I switch them on a regular basis to keep everybody evenly leveled up. I'd have Alfyn as a permanent party member if I could have my way, because he's as sturdy as heck and his battlefield-sweeping Axe abilities are just too awesome; however, since I want to polish off all eight stories and level up in the process, a compromise has to be reached. He's still definitely in my top four — but more on that later, as I'm planning to write my own personal ranking of OT's cast.
I'm planning to write many more things about OT indeed, so better not overdo it for the time being. I'm going to wrap up that post by saying that although I still have reservations about a couple of things, I am, on the other hand, utterly and desperately in love with OT's aesthetics and atmosphere. That game is so deliciously quaint it hurts, and it routinely sends me into the most painfully exquisite bouts of gaming fernweh. I want to be immersed into that world, to roam those picturesque landscapes and drink in those scenic vistas until my head swoon with elation and my eyes get teary at the beauty of what I'm seeing. I thought Squeenix went overboard with the blur effect at first, but I'm used to it now and wouldn't want it any other way. I cannot wait to discover all the lovely locations OT still has in store for me — and since, I'm mentioning this, my Switch is done charging, which means that the time is ripe for a well-deserved playing session. I'll see you very soon with more OT tidings, dear fellow gamers; as usual, thanks a lot for stopping by!