Spoiler alert: We’re going to spoil some major story beats in some of the chapters 4s of Octopath Traveler in this article.
One major point of concern in most of the reviews we’ve seen in Octopath Traveler so far, including our own, was the lack of character interactions within the party and a unifying story that connects everyone together. For the most part, the eight stories are standalone, and they work well as separate storylines. However, after we discovered the existence of a post-game dungeon, we were excited by the prospect of seeing more of the story and how the game brings everyone together in one epic finale. The results are mixed.
Before we continue, I should make it clear that while the stories are mostly separate, there are lore connections and recurrent themes that you’ll notice as you play through them. The most obvious one is the Gate of Finis, which acts as a barrier between our mortal world and the 13th Dark God Galdera. Another character who gets name-dropped in a couple of the stories is Graham Crossford, who is revealed to be the apothecary who saved Alfyn as a child and is also the author of Tressa’s journal. These are all very cool connections, but while the stories do enjoy dropping hints about Galdera and the Gate, it’s still important to note that every story wraps up neatly and conclusively. Octopath Traveler’s post-game dungeon should thus be seen as a cool post-game bonus, but clearing it isn’t necessary for full enjoyment of the game.
Now, as for the dungeon itself, lore enthusiasts will quickly recognize the new area name: Ruins of Hornburg. Hornburg is where the Gate of Finis is supposedly located, and if the heavy name-dropping of the Gate in the stories is anything to go by, you can safely assume that we’re going to prevent Galdera himself from being summoned into the world. The eight characters then embark on a quest to stop the ritual and take down Galdera once and for all.
Once inside the dungeon, you’re then tasked with fighting eight story bosses all over again before you get to face the final boss. If you die, you’ll have to reset and do everything again, and there are no checkpoints even before the final boss – whether this is a good design decision is an argument for another day. After beating each boss, you’re then rewarded with a lore dump that offers more insight into how the NPCs you met along the way are connected to this huge conspiracy and re-summoning of Galdera. To give you a taste of what the connections are like, Graham Crossford turns into Redeye, which was the beast H’aanit was tasked with hunting. Primrose’s father was murdered by an organization that was aiding Mattias from Ophilia’s story in creating the black flame to open the Gate.
These are all really cool connections, but somehow, they still feel flimsy at best, and even forced in a few stories – Primrose, H’aanit, and Alfyn’s in particular. What’s even worse is that the game doesn’t provide a convincing explanation as to why these characters would suddenly want to get together and save the world from this overwhelmingly oppressive evil force. Some characters, like Cyrus, Ophilia, and Olberic who have a strong sense of justice and righteousness, certainly have reason to step up. But other characters like Therion and Tressa hardly seem like the type to just decide to go on a dangerous journey after wrapping up their personal stories.
This brings us back to Octopath Traveler’s biggest flaw: the lack of character interactions. With the implementation of the post-game dungeon and the quests leading up to it, the game could’ve fostered a sense of unity by at least having the characters remarking on the events that were unfolding before their eyes. Olberic, despite being the patriotic knight who loves his homeland, has nothing to say when we enter Hornburg and revisit the place where he witnessed Erhardt striking down his king. Cyrus, the knowledge-seeking scholar, has nothing to say about witnessing the opening of the Gate even as it’s happening in front of him. Ophilia, too, has nothing to say when she finds out that Mattias was the one who poisoned her father in his plan to use Lianna in creating the black flame.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The final superboss you get to face in the dungeon is an incredible and colossal challenge. It pushes your skills to the limit, and forces you to make use of every tool at your disposal. Just when you think you know the game’s combat system in and out after pouring in 70 hours, the superboss calls your skill into question, and finally getting to beat it feels immensely satisfying. But once that adrenaline rush wears off, I was left feeling a little empty. The quest ends with a nice shot of your characters standing together (who still don’t have anything to say, by the way), along with a few sweet words about adventure, and then you’re on your way again. No comments from anyone about how you apparently just saved the whole damn world from a Dark God that was going to consume everything.
At the end of the day, this dungeon is a cool bonus for lore fiends who want to learn more about the game’s history, and for those who want a proper gameplay challenge. But for everyone else, it’s worth noting that Octopath Traveler is still primarily an anthology or a collection of eight personal stories, and you won’t be missing out on a lot by not completing this dungeon.