Axe of the Blood God Reviews Octopath Traveler!

AXE OF THE BLOOD GOD | GameXplain's Derrick Bitner joins Kat and Nadia to review Octopath Traveler on our RPG podcast.

Article by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey and Nadia Oxford. You can find the previous episodes here.

Octopath Traveler is officially available now, and Kat and Nadia are here to review it alongside GameXplain co-host Derrick Bitner! [download link here]

We shared our initial thoughts on Octopath Traveler last week, but this is a much deeper dive into Square Enix's new RPG. We talk about the graphics, the story, the boss battles, and whether Alfyn is actually good (spoiler: nah).

Also in this episode, I'm joined by guest Ryan Allen to discuss #22 in our Top 25 RPG Countdown: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. We talk about its rich RPG heritage, how it overcame its troubled development, and why it's still beloved to this day!

Where to find us (Subscribe, rate, and review!)

Show Description

GameXplain co-host Derrick Bitner joins Kat and Nadia to review Octopath Traveler. Do the sprites match the quality of the environments? Which character did each host pick first? And can Nadia and Derrick convince Kat to upgrade from Prologue? Then, Kat is joined by guest Ryan Allen to add Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines to the Top 25 RPG countdown. They talk about how it's risen above its troubled development history, its amazing roleplaying possibilities, and why it's still supported by a cadre of dedicated fans to this day.

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at Check it out!

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 24

  • Avatar for Drachmalius #1 Drachmalius 3 months ago
    I've been enjoying Octopath Traveler more than I expected to. The story hasn't done much for me, but the combat system is very addictive. It's also nice that they give you those little checkboxes for the enemy weaknesses, because otherwise I'd never remember what attacks to use. I played a lot this weekend, about 20 hours in and looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

    One thing I have to mention. Kat's comment about it looking not much better than a 3DS game had me curious if the 3DS could support the game's engine. Did a little digging and it can't, Octopath runs on UE4 and the 3DS can only run UE2-3 going by the googling I did. But I do understand the sentiment that it looks more like a handheld game than a full console game.
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  • Avatar for GreatLordAbsu #2 GreatLordAbsu 3 months ago
    Corner shadows are what give the game's presentation that vignette effect. Turning them off makes the overall image much brighter and crisper.

    Thanks for mentioning that, Nadia. I've been playing with that setting ON and OFF trying to determine what I prefer. I wish the shadows came with a slider as I find OFF is a bit too bright but ON is too dark.
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  • Avatar for mrhumble1 #3 mrhumble1 3 months ago
    Sorry guys. I have ZERO interest in paying $60 for 8 separate side-quests. I love JRPGs for the stories and character development that happens over the course of a game. This game makes no attempt to explain why a Cleric or merchant would team up with a thief to help him steal stuff, or why a hunter would help a scholar or escort (Primrose) on their very personal quests. I have no desire to play such a disjointed mash-up of characters thrown together for no reason and with no common goal.
    You have fun with it, but it's not for me. I was VERY disappointed to hear the game was like this. I even had the Wayfarer's Edition pre-ordered so I was really looking forward to it. Oh well.

    EDIT: HA!! Love the down-votes for my on-topic and respectful post. If someone would like to comment on it and discuss like grown people, please feel free to do so.Edited July 2018 by mrhumble1
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  • Avatar for ariankavoshadv #4 ariankavoshadv 3 months ago
  • Avatar for ariankavoshadv #5 ariankavoshadv 3 months ago
    great game & I love them
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  • Avatar for orakiorob #6 orakiorob 3 months ago
    Kat, you were on fire in this episode, I laughed so much ^_^

    I played Primrose's story in the demo and quite liked it, but I'm too busy with the games I already own. I'll have to wait a bit, and so I might wait for a sale, but it looks pretty good to me.

    I mostly disagree with you about the game, but it was really funny when you said the sprites weren't very good, because I could almost see Nadia and Derrick in tears ^_^ You have such different opinions on the game that the episode turned out hylarious!

    While I liked the demo a lot, I kind of disagree with Nadia and Derrick about one thing: I don't think you should buy it. From your comments, I get the impression the game just isn't for you. There is something (maybe many things) in Octopath that pisses you off, that's what I think. And that's totally fine, of course. If the game feels meh to you, maybe you should try something else, because even if the combat gets more interesting later on, the graphics and the plot are a big part of what make the game great, and you clearly aren't enjoying it.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #7 Nuclear-Vomit 3 months ago
    One of the best RPG dancing experiences exists within Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. The dancing is just too good. At first, It seems like an insane frantic 2-second loop, but if you experience it longer, you'll find that it expresses true unbridled freedom. The dancing is second only to Alex Wright's dancing in WCW/nWo Revenge for the N64.

    Mass Effect dancing, eat your heart out.
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #8 Gamer-Law 3 months ago
    @mrhumble1 - I have always believed that you cannot talk someone out of a position that they were not talked into, but you are missing out on an absolutely incredible game.

    The narrative structure is not “eight side quests” as you have characterized it, but rather should be thought of in the same light as a traditional D&D campaign where party members join together while retaining their own interests, backgrounds and motivations.

    Moreover, you should not be disappointed by the the game’s story arc because the final product is consistent with the way in which Nintendo marketed it. Their theme of “Eight Adventurers. Eight Stories...” was a constant refrain in the months leading up to the game’s release.

    I will concede your point that the game is not for everyone, but I get the sense from your post that you have not yet given it a fair shake. Edited July 2018 by Gamer-Law
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #9 Gamer-Law 3 months ago
    Just finished listening to the podcast and Kat’s ambivalence (I was originally going to say ‘mild hostility’ but did not want to come across as hyperbolic) toward OT left me shaking my head.

    I respect Kat’s insight and opinions on the game, but remain unclear as to how it failed to win her over. Sure she can say that she did not hate it, but when Kat is questioning whether a JRPG like this is worth her investment, it is clear that the game was not to her taste.

    In so many respects, OT is the game traditional, old school JRPG fans have been waiting for. The combat system presents a near-perfect evolution of turn based combat. Battles seem fluid and incorporate just the right amount of strategy. Both the character and world graphics are stunning. From my perspective, the graphical fidelity of OT rivals that of the best SNES games—including FF VI.

    The soundtrack places high in the game’s highlights reel. It deserves to win any and all “Best Of” awards in 2018 because of the way in which it aligns with the moods and events of the game.

    I find the disconnect on this game between individual fans of the genre and some professional reviewers interesting. Opinions differ and I certainly would not want an echo chamber of game reviews, but it is somewhat surprising how vast the disagreement is on this particular game.Edited 4 times. Last edited July 2018 by Gamer-Law
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  • Avatar for mrhumble1 #10 mrhumble1 3 months ago
    @Gamer-Law Hey trust me I would like to give it a try, but I know myself. I know I would not like the way the game is structured. I also know that several of the stories are too heavy for me. I would not play Primrose's story at all (that story is too dark for me to enjoy) and likely a few others would not be enjoyable as well. I listened to the podcast and they said someone else's story was dark and sad, and I don't want dark and sad in my entertainment. To some extent it's acceptable, but I got the impression some of these stories go to a very dark place and I am not into that.
    If I got the game for free I would totally give it a try, and likely would find a few characters I wanted to play as. But considering I have many games in my library to play (I just started Ys VIII) I have other things occupying my time. I also don't want to spend $60 on a game where I am guessing I would only be interested in 60-70% of the content (since some of the characters are not interesting to me at all).
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  • Avatar for pdubb #11 pdubb 3 months ago
    I get the feeling that the story of Octopath Travelller was less of an issue here as opposed to a proof of concept on the art style and game engine.

    It wouldn't surprise me if this game ends up being for all intents and purposes a trial run before they put together a game in the next year with a well detailed story.

    As far as Vampire:TM I always saw mentions of it on PC Gamer back in the day with really good review scores. But Vampires never were my cup of tea. Seems like a cool enough game though and glad it made the list.
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  • Avatar for Drachmalius #12 Drachmalius 3 months ago
    @mrhumble1 Respect. People need to judge for themselves if a game is for them are not, and god knows there's plenty to choose from. No need to force it, sorry it wasn't what you were hoping for.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #13 cldmstrsn 3 months ago
    @mrhumble1 Downvotes are there for a reason. maybe its your tone of what you wrote and try to see why you are in fact downvoted and then maybe build on it. Just coming out and saying you wont spend 60 dollars on a game just because it isnt what you thought it would be gets you the downvotes cause you sound petulant. Just a thought. Always happy to have a good discussion.
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  • Avatar for hiptanaka #14 hiptanaka 3 months ago
    I think the pixel art itself is pretty detailed, on par with FF6 in many cases, but I think what Kat might be getting at is the scaling method and post processing. They really do the sprites a disservice, making them blurry and distorted. I noticed this in the demo and hoped they would make it better, but it seems they didn’t.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #15 chaoticBeat 3 months ago
    I appreciate all the Octopath Traveler coverage on this site. I usually listen to these when I'm interested in the game being discussed but I am just enjoying Octopath so much that I want to try to limit the information that I take in about it as far as story spoilers go.

    I really love it and it's hit me in a way that I can appreciate it so well. Rpgs are so hit and miss for me when it actually comes to playing them and feeling really engaged. Persona 5 just bounced off me for instance after I really dug P3. I think it's fantastic that SquareEnix is investing more resources into the Switch. Rpgs like Octopath Traveler and indie games such as rogue likes are such a sweet spot for the system and gamers of my age I think.
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  • Avatar for KeroseneBlast #16 KeroseneBlast 3 months ago
    Kat, re the sprites, you're entitled to your wrong opinion =)

    Joking aside, what's really drawn me into 8T is the smaller scale of each story. Saving the world is great, but it's not relatable. Seeking adventure as a merchant or searching down a lost tome is much more tangible and engaging. It reminds me of the Ys games, which tend to focus on small areas of a greater world, and also feel more relatable.
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  • Avatar for nilcam #17 nilcam 3 months ago
    I often tell friends that Chrono Trigger is the end of the RPG genre for me. It's the last truly great traditional RPG, in my opinion. No other traditional RPG has even come close to it. That said, Octopath has really grabbed my interest. The smaller stories are super interesting and the battle system is one of the best ever. It's my go to game when I'm ready to chill.

    My Switch is a home console. If I'm playing in bed or outside, I use my 3DS or Vita. The Switch is a bit large for a portable and, as I play BlazBlue Cross Tag on it daily using an arcade stick, it lives in its dock. Octopath looks amazing on my TV (1080p, 42"). It evokes FFVI but with more advanced lighting and environmental effects.

    I hated hearing that OT doesn't look like a $60 game. It's definitely a step up from the pseudo 16-bit look that's super popular; there's more fidelity here for sure. I cannot stand the aesthetic of modern AAA titles. That uncanny valley look isn't worth $10 to me. Give me an interesting art style, like Deus X Machina or Guilty Gear Xrd, and then we'll talk.
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  • Avatar for Fog-Index #18 Fog-Index 3 months ago
    I don't want to sound reproachful, but I have to strongly disagree with Kat regarding the quality of Octopath's Sprites, particularly as compared to FF6.

    As someone who primarily plays in console-mode, I have to wonder if some of the details, particularly the small movements of monsters and party members when they are not acting in battle, are more difficult to discern in hand-held mode. The small movements make them far less static than FF6's sprites. Additionally, Octopath's monster sprite detail is easily the equal or better of FF6, and that really comes out in later boss encounters and in the iterative version of monsters that are not simply recolors, as Derrick tried to gently point out.

    Opinions are one thing, but you've only played the demo! The discussion would have benefited, I think, if you'd been willing to entertain the opinion of the reviewers on the matter.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #19 Nuclear-Vomit 3 months ago
    I didn't play the game, but from the screenshots I've seen I get a Golden Sun pixel vibe... which is blah.
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  • Avatar for Mola_Ram #20 Mola_Ram 3 months ago
    Kat, if you're going to go all "devil's advocate" on the merits of a game, then it would help to have played as much of it as the people you're debating. I mean, I guess one could find the sprites not immediately aesthetically pleasing or whatever (I love it, though I know people who don't). But it still feels slightly weird when you're getting into arguments over its graphics, writing and technology with people who have played more than 40 hours to your... 3?

    If you don't want to pick up the full game, fine, but that's going to limit your ability to participate in a discussion about the full game.
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  • Avatar for Arvis-Jaggamar #21 Arvis-Jaggamar 3 months ago
    20 Comments on this episode up to this point, only two mentions of Vampire. That says it all, really.
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  • Avatar for ArdeaAbe #22 ArdeaAbe 3 months ago
    I am loving your 25 list. After hearing about V:tM I really want to get a copy of this game. I would absolutely adore to play as a Tremere... Even more than that I would love to get a copy of the Vampire tabletop game and flip through that bad boy. I was one of those guys dressed up and LARPing Vampire politics at the student union. I wore a suit because I didn't want to break the Masquerade so no trench coat and katana.

    Octopath Traveler seems fun, but I'm a little put off by the idea of an 80 hour game. I liked Persona 5 but it was exhausting. Went on too long without really adding any new mechanics and the story just felt stretched thin. I am excited about Octopath's mechanics and I love that the stories are personal vignettes. I'm getting very tired of save the world plots. There's a lot more that can be done in the narrative space. Most video game narratives are pretty bad.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #23 NiceGuyNeon 3 months ago
    Regarding the overarching story hurting The Elder Scrolls: I think it hurt it from Oblivion onwards. Morrowind was my first Elder Scrolls game and as a kid it was my first massive RPG not named Diablo or Pokemon, but I discovered a few quests into Morrowind that I didn't care for Bethesda's quests much and would rather just explore the game world. In doing so I stole from someone's home, he found out and attacked me so I killed him.

    AND THE GAME TOLD ME I SCREWED UP. A message popped up saying this was a crucial character and that by killing him I had doomed the world. It gave me two options in a menu: reload to my last save or continue in this doomed variant of the world I created. And I loved it. I kept my doomed save file and rolled with it. There was a sense of wonder to each step I took from there because for every conflict all I could think was: it doesn't matter, you're all going to be wiped off of this world. Then from Oblivion until now Bethesda started making these losers invincible and it breaks your immersion knowing there are no stakes to how you play, that you absolutely cannot fail, and the worlds became so cookie cutter compared to the very alien Morrowind.

    This probably has no relation to Octopath which I'm sure every story you go through will be resolved just by going through the motions, but I'm glad to hear some words against that overarching plot to tie things together. It's OK to be a stranger in a strange land where you just do your own thing without saving the whole world. There is great value in that role-playing experience as well and we don't get it enough.
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  • Avatar for BurantX40 #24 BurantX40 2 months ago
    Nadia is becoming THE GO-TO Rpg reviewer for this website. She represents that kind of under-the-surface explanation and exploration of systems, stories, and mechanics I'm looking for with impressions.
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