As of July 13th, Octopath Traveler is out on Switch. An initial demo dropped in September of 2017, which featured only Primrose and Olberic’s prologues. After this demo, I had serious reservations about what kind of game Octopath Traveler would be.

Despite being on the fence, I still bought Octopath Traveler anyway, and it is due in no small part to the simple brilliance of the more recent Prolouge Demo. Here’s a quick rundown of what made it so effective.

1. Transferable Save Data

RPG Demos are a hard sell. Most RPGs tend to be lengthy 30-to-80 hour experiences. Huge, never-ending timesinks. I can’t even tell you how long it took me to finish Bravely Default because I maxed out the game’s time clock at 99:59.

As such, a demo for an RPG doesn’t tell you much about what to expect. The opening to most RPG’s tends to be story-heavy. The first hour will (hopefully) set up the plot, establish a tone, and maybe include a tutorial dungeon or battle.

There are few people who would want to replay these opening sequences multiple times, and Octopath Traveler has eight of them.

Square Enix solved the problem by allowing players to transfer their save data to the full game upon release. Knowing I wouldn’t have to replay the opening stories I’d seen so far encouraged me to stick with the demo until the end.

2. All Characters Available

Not all of Octopath Traveler’s stories are winners. A good handful do nothing for me, honestly. I don’t care about Ophilia’s religious olympic torch run or H’aanit’s quest to...

you know, I’m not sure what she wants. Whenever she talks, I zone out.

During the three hour demo, I did finally someone whose story I wanted to see - Cyrus the Scholar. His first chapter intrigued me enough that I wanted to venture out and find this long lost archaic tome.

Having access to all these character's opening tales increases the chances you'll find at least one storyline to entice you, thereby also increasing the chances you'll be willing to pay up for the full thing.

3. A Demo in 2018

Playing the Octopath Traveler demo made me realize how many games I buy these days sight unseen.

Well, I suppose "unplayed" is more accurate.

I rely on YouTube previews and let’s plays to see if a game looks any good now, as companies rarely put out demos anymore. The mere fact Nintendo announced a release date for an Octopath Traveler demo put the game on my radar.

Looking Forward

It’s been a while since demos have been a regular thing in this industry, but after playing Octopath Traveler I wonder if there’s a different way forward for testing games. A 3-hour head start gave me all the information I needed to know if Octopath Traveler was worth a purchase.

I have to imagine a similar approach would behoove games with a longer playtime, and give players a chance to test the waters without also losing their progress if they end up hooked.

I don't know if I recommend Octopath Traveler--more on that later--but I do recommend the Prologue Demo as a means to discover if you're interested.

And that's the best thing you can say about a demo, isn't it?