A merchant and a scholar walk into a bar.
After Octopath Traveler’s success on Switch in 2018, Square Enix (without Nintendo’s international publishing help this time) is returning to the eight-character well with Octopath Traveler II. It’s not a direct sequel (or so they say) and focuses on a new set of eight heroes all with their own paths that they’re traveling. The early promises have been good in terms of more directly connecting the stories and making it more cohesive than its predecessor. Square Enix revealed details about two of the playable characters and now I will harshly judge each of these characters. But first, OH MY GOD - IT’S A SHARK!
You can ride on boats in this game, which is neat. It also seems necessary because the world of Octopath Traveler II features two continents separated by a body of water. The boat seems necessary unless we want to crack out an airship. On second thought, we should crack out an airship. But let’s get to the characters!
First up is the merchant named Partitio Yellowil, who seems like he saw the results of late-stage capitalism and decided to engage in charity work. He leaves his pioneer shanty town as he yells to (possibly no one?) "I'll be back once I eliminate that devil called poverty from the world!" with all the authority of a politician trying to appeal to certain demographics. His voice also has the air of a huckster in the same vein as Lionel Hutz. I’m hoping for Partitio to have a side quest selling a town on the vision of a monorail.
He ventures out into the Wildlands, a barren portion of Octopath II’s world, and goes out on his quest armed with two Path Actions. He can purchase from folks during the day and then hire folks at night. Hiring folks looks like it could be a neat twist, as the hired hands can lead to help in battle or even in negotiating prices for goods. All in all, Partitio seems fine I guess. At this juncture, I will rate him two out of eight Octopaths (that’s the scale I’m going to use to harshly judge these characters).
The second character is a scholar named Osvald V. Vanstein who hails from the Winterlands, likely the area with the best music if it’s anything like the first game. Osvald has a much more metal story setup when compared to Partitio’s “I want to help the poor people” slant. Osvald is in prison serving a life sentence for allegedly killing his wife and kid. Surprisingly, he probably didn’t do that. It seems like that Harvey, a rival scholar, set him up. There are big-time Count of Monte Cristo vibes.
Spoilers: Osvald doesn’t rot in prison and eventually gets out to explore the Winterlands, which has a fishing town called Cape Cold. Not sure if it’s necessarily relevant to this assessment of his character, but I like the name. His Path Action during the day is scrutinize, where he tries to get information from those around him. Fail the scrutinize check and the town you’re in will like you less. At night, he can mug people. Honestly, Osvald seems pretty bad ass. He’s a magic user accused of a crime he didn’t commit who will straight up murk a dude when night falls. I give him seven out of eight Octopaths.
Octopath Traveler II comes out on February 24, 2023 on Switch. We have six more characters to hear more about and we’ll hopefully judge them the same way we judged Partitio (2/8) and Osvald (7/8).