Octopath Traveler is boring

Last night, I suggested to my partner that we play some games. She replied, But Octopath is so boring!” She’s right. It is. So we didn’t play it. It’s not a great spectator game. And it’s not a great game when you want something exciting. It is boring. They should put that on the box.

What I’m trying to say is, sometimes a boring game is a good thing. Octopath is a nostalgia bomb, but it’s objectively less exciting than the plots of games its evoking. Final Fantasy VI has a great plot that really moves. Chrono Trigger doesn’t let up. But Octopath is content to just stroll. You can fast travel, but you don’t have to. You can skip stories, but you won’t. You’ll walk. You’ll fight in random battles that all feel pretty samey after a while. You’ll come to a town, talk to people, defeat a baddie, and move on to the next town.

Octopath Traveler might be the closest thing to an old-style sitcom. Everything is familiar. Everything is pretty low stakes. Very little seems in much peril here. If these characters never set out on their journeys, the world might just be fine. But it’s nice enough to spend time with them. You know these characters.

But in 2018, this is a perfectly fine decision for a game to make. Chill. Slow down. The actual world might be on fire. There are already lots of games about dystopia. The world of Octopath isn’t a Star Trek-ian paradise, but it’s fine, and fine is better than what the real world is right now. I’d much rather spend my escapist time in a nice place than a horrible one, even if nice is a little dull.

August 17, 2018