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Octopath Traveler 2 brings back one of the most ridiculous video game Easter eggs

In search of small-talk ammunition for the next party? Here it frickin’ is

A villain in Octopath Traveler 2 speaks to ghosts in the throne room Image: Acquire/Square Enix
Mike Mahardy leads game criticism and curation at Polygon as senior editor, reviews. He has been covering entertainment professionally for more than 10 years.

There is bad dumb and there is good dumb. When I talk about the naming conventions of Octopath Traveler and its upcoming sequel, out Feb. 24 for Nintendo Switch, I talk about the latter.

Do me a favor and peruse the names of Octopath Traveler’s playable characters, as pulled from the game’s wiki:

The characters from the first Octopath traveler, pulled from the game’s wiki page Image: Fandom/Square Enix

Now, do the same for Octopath Traveler 2’s characters:

Octopath Traveler 2’s characters lined up on a select screen Image: Acquire/Square Enix

Notice anything? Probably not, because you’re not on the level of these games’ writers. They, in an act of boldness and cunning the likes of which we rarely see, decided to spell out “Octopath” with the first letter of each protagonist’s name.

I know people who have put 200 hours into the first game and still didn’t know about this little nugget. I also know people who have never touched a JRPG in their lives, yet know about this master stroke regardless, and spread the word every chance they get. They, like me, appreciate brilliance when they see it.

Needless to say, I have questions! At what point in development did this idea arise? Did the writers know they wanted to do this as soon as they settled on a story about eight characters? Has this been done elsewhere, and is merely an homage? Or did someone awaken from a dream with the word “octopath” on their mind, write it in their journal, completely forget its provenance in the morning, but know that they needed to make a game about it, then have yet another dream the next night, in which some genius specter revealed the idea for the enigmatic initialism?

It’s worth noting that Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent, the mobile game that Square Enix released alongside the announcement for Octopath Traveler 2 last year, does not use this nomenclature. I assume this is a result of the many branching story arcs and dozens of characters in Champions, but still, I’m disappointed in the writers nonetheless. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

The next level of puzzles.

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