Once again we return to Octopath Traveler with another exploration of a solo character. This time we'll be looking at Ophilia, this game's version of the Cleric or White Mage class. These characters often make for some of the most difficult solo variants due to a lack of direct damage capabilities. However, Ophilia has enough spellcasting power to avoid being a gimped melee attacker as readers might remember from the solo White Mage in Final Fantasy 5. She might only have two abilities that deal direct damage but that should be enough when paired with her excellent healing and defensive spells. Ophilia is also one of the two characters who gets to bring NPCs from town to fight at her side in battle and we'll be exploring that mechanic in detail throughout this solo report. Who hasn't wanted to see characters like the "Enlightened Aristocrat" and the "Genteel Madam" throw down in combat with the monsters?
As a quick refresher for our rules in an Octopath Traveler solo game, the seven other characters will all be recuited (to allow playing through their respective storylines) but won't take any part in combat. The lesson that I learned from my initial Tressa solo game is that the Path Actions of the other characters also need to be included or else it locks out too much of the gameplay. So that's the rule for this game: Ophilia can use the other characters to Scrutinize/Inquire for information, Challenge/Provoke NPCs in town, and Steal/Purchase items, but none of those other skills can be used for combat purposes.
Ophilia is a cleric following the teachings of the Sacred Flame, which seems to be the only major religion in the world of Octopath Traveler. We repeatedly see throughout the game that Ophilia is kind-hearted and determined but otherwise Ophilia doesn't seem to get much of a personality. She's a little bit on the bland side as far as characterization goes. Ophilia's background story is that she was an orphan adopted as a girl by the Archbishop of Flamesgrace Cathedral, growing up alongside the Archbishop's daughter Lianna. Every 20 years, one member of the church goes on a dangerous pilgrimage known as the Kindling (a very ominous-sounding name that disappointingly doesn't end up being as sinister as it sounds) and Lianna has been training her whole life for this quest. However, the Archbishop comes down with a serious illness and Ophilia impulsively decides that she'll take her adoptive sister's place so that Lianna can stay at home to take care of their father. This is a great setup for a plot that gets completely botched in the execution for reasons that I'll get into below.
Ophilia's Path Action is "Guide", an ability that lets her lead around various NPCs met in town. Almost every NPC in the game can be Guided and it's pretty hilarious to watch them walking around behind your party. Sadly the various townspeople blocking entry into houses can't be Guided out of the way and they form some of the few exceptions to this rule. Ophilia has the "light" version of this Path Action shared with Primrose's "dark" version of the same thing (Allure), which means that Ophilia is limited by her level as far as who can be Guided whereas Primrose can theoretically Allure anyone but it requires a successful percentage-based dice roll. Primrose is typically far better for a solo game since she can brute-force Allure successes at Level 1 through save scumming trickery, however with Ophilia as the featured solo character gaining levels along the way, Guide should work just fine for this playthrough.
The related Talent that goes along with Guide is "Summon", which allows these NPCs to appear in battle where they will use various different abilities. Some of the various Summons are pathetically weak and do virtually nothing while others have powerful attacks that can swing the flow of combat. Each NPC has a star rating in terms of strength (rated 1 to 10) and can be summoned a fixed number of times before running out. Generally speaking, the NPCs with low strength ratings can be summoned much more often than the NPCs with high strength ratings. However, that doesn't necessarily mean than an NPC with a 9 star rating is better for the purposes of this variant; there are some really useful buffs and debuffs available on NPCs with low strength ratings and they might be more useful to bring for a tough boss fight. I'll have to conduct some testing and figure out what works best for Ophilia as a solo character.
Ophilia has surprisingly useful stats for a solo character. Her greatest strength lies in spirit point (SP) growth where she ends up with more SP than any other character in the game. She also benefits from having the best elemental defense of any character, a perfect fit for her healing abilities since they scale off the elemental defense stat in Octopath Traveler. As a spellcaster, Ophilia also benefits from having the second-highest elemental attack of the group behind Cyrus. She grades out in the middle of the pack when it comes to physical defense, better than you mighth expect, and also gets an average accuracy rating. Ophilia suffers from several key weaknesses in terms of stat growth, with the second-worst health and the second-worst physical attack. These aren't as bad as it might sound, however, since Ophilia has an amazing passive support skill that lets her exceed her max HP total and she won't be doing very much physical attacking. Perhaps the biggest drawbacks for Ophilia are her critical and evasion stats, both of which are the worst in the game. She won't be landing crits (25% extra damage) and she won't be dodging very often. Ophilia also has the worst speed in the game but I still can't seem to find much of a purpose for this stat. It doesn't seem to have much of an effect since everyone always gets a single action each round regardless.
Ophilia only has two natural damage types: staffs and light element. Since she will almost never engage in melee combat, for practical purposes she only has one type of attack with her light-based spellcasting. Ophilia can pretty much sort all foes into two categories, weak against light or not weak against light. Fortunately her summoned NPC allies can make use of all 12 damage types and that will almost certainly come in handy throughout the solo run. I expect to spend a lot of time looking through the list of Guide/Allure abilities and figuring out what will be most useful for individual challenges.
The story begins with Ophilia recklessly deciding that she will undertake the Kindling quest in her adoptive sister's place. She doesn't tell anyone about this ahead of time and simply heads off to the Cave of Origin to pick up the Sacred Flame and begin the journey. I used the modest starting funds to purchase some improved armor (the Sturdy Vest) to cut down on incoming damage, then Guided a townsperson for use against the upcoming boss at the end of the dungeon. In terms of starting abilities, Ophilia has two innate skills named Heal Wounds and Holy Light. Heal Wounds does exactly what the name suggests, heals the entire party for a modest amount of health. The amount recovered is about half of Alfyn's First Aid skill, with the tradeoff of healing the whole group instead of one character. Sadly this is not as useful for a solo variant. Holy Light hits a single enemy for light element damage with exactly the same strength as Tressa's Tradewinds (wind), Primrose's Moonlight Waltz (dark), Alfyn's Icicle (ice), H'aanit's Thunderbird (lightning), and Therion's Wildfire. This is one of only two attack skills for Ophilia and it's by far her best option for any single-target opponent. Here's the full list of the Cleric skills from the mechanics guide for reference:
For a longer explanation of what all these numbers mean, I'll direct readers to this page in the solo Tressa game. The first skill that I would be taking almost immediately with Ophilia was her other attack skill, Luminescence. This is a weaker light-based ability but targets all enemies rather than a single opponent. Luminescence has the identical attack strength as Tressa's Trade Tempest (wind), Primrose's Night Ode (dark), and Cyrus' three basic attack skills: Fireball, Icewind, and Lightning Bolt. While it's far from the strongest offensive option in Octopath Traveler, Ophilia didn't have much of a choice available and this would be my staple attack for the vast majority of her character's journey. Other useful skills included Heal More, another healing ability that provided roughly 50% more health recovery at triple the cost in SP. It was a pricey option but definitely useful for keeping Ophilia safe. Sheltering Veil would grant several turn's worth of the elemental defense up buff, unfortunately not something as useful as it sounds since most of the worst boss attacks in this game happen to be physical in nature. It was also undercut by the presence of the much more useful Reflective Veil skill, something that would bounce back harmful magic against the caster. I had no experience with this skill and was curious to see how it would play out. Sadly, the Revive skill was completely useless for this variant - not much need to bring other characters back to life!
Ophilia used a combination of Holy Light and staff attacks to make her way through the Cave of Origin, not needing Luminescence yet since she was only up against single monsters. This brought her to the first boss and a chance to demonstrate her Guide/Summon abilities for the first time:
This Townsperson was one of the few individuals who Ophilia could Guide at Level 1 due to his minimal strength rating. As the cropped image suggests, this particular NPC could be Summoned into combat nine different times before running out of charges. These random tagalog characters will appear when Ophilia uses the "Summon" command, which eats up her action for that turn, followed by the Summoned individual performing some kind of action. Most of the Summons have at least two different actions (sometimes three) and it seems to be random as far as which one they will pick. The Summons will stick around for the next 2-4 turns of combat and take their own action following Ophilia's turn. For a solo variant like this one, there's a balancing act as far as whether it's worthwhile to give up Ophilia's turn to call in a Summon or simply take her own turn normally. The various abilities brought by the Summons can be extremely useful but they're also limited in number and losing that turn isn't always a good choice.
This particular Townsperson had an ability called Wisdom of the Church which turned out to buff all of Ophilia's stats for three turns: physical and elemental attack and defense. Wow - that was shockingly useful for an unassuming villager with a 1 star rating! I would have killed for that collection of buffs with many of my other characters. Unfortunately this was only one of three different actions that the Townsperson could use, with the others being very weak fire and wind element attacks. Ophilia probably wouldn't be coming back to re-use this Townsperson again down the road. Those buffs were useful when they appeared though and this early in the game the modest damage from the Townsperson wasn't bad either. Ophilia was able to break the Guardian of the First Flame and hit it for a max boosted Holy Light for 500 damage. Only a single Dark Wisp minion popped up halfway through the fight and it was easily disposed.
So now I want to talk about the plot-related aftermath of Ophilia's decision to undertake this quest. You might think that there would be some serious repercussions resulting from Ophilia's impulsive act to start the Kindling despite not having permission ahead of time and taking the place of her adoptive sister Lianna in the process. As the text above indicates, this is a "grave sin" and I would expect a lot of people associated with the church to be visibly angry at Ophilia. Instead, when Ophilia returns and tells everyone what she's done, they turn out to be... totally fine with everything? What?! I'm not kidding about this, at no point in time does anyone get angry with Ophilia for her actions, nor does she ever suffer any fallout from her decision. Everyone seems bizarrely chill about this violation of the church's sacred mission. But what about Lianna - the Kindling was supposed to be her quest, a journey that she's spent her whole life preparing to undertake. She has to be at least a little bit upset about this, right?
Nope, she's totally cool as well! In fact, Lianna actually thanks Ophilia for stealing away the spotlight and allowing her to remain at home with their father. WHAT THE HECK, GAME?! Now don't get me wrong, it's certainly plausible that Lianna would be distraught by her father's illness and not want to leave on a dangerous pilgrimage at this exact moment in time. The problem is that this a bad choice from a storytelling perspective because it wastes such a fantastic plot setup. Ophilia's story is vastly more interesting if she recklessly tries to do a good deed but finds herself a reviled outcast as a result. Her story should be about trying to work her way back into the good graces of the church after violating their sacred shrine, with the various bishops and other church figures along her path initially acting skeptical and hostile to Ophilia until she can prove her worthiness. There's also the perfect recipe here for conflict with Lianna, who should be furious that someone else is stealing away her lifelong mission at the last moment. The scenes practically write themselves: "you wormed your way into our family, I knew you were always jealous of me, you're not my real sister" and so on. Making matters worse, Ophilia and Lianna really do have a falling-out at the end of the game, but it's based on unbelievable stupidity on the part of the characters instead of flowing naturally from this situation. The writing here is such an unbelievable missed opportunity, argh!
Anyway, the net result is that Ophilia faces no consequences for her actions and everyone seems completely fine with her starting up this quest even though it's explictly stated to be a "grave sin". OK then, guess we'll just carry on. I decided that I would head in clockwise fashion around the inner ring of towns while recruiting the other characters as I went. This would allow me to pick up each character in the official order (Ophilia - Cyrus - Tressa - Olberic - Primrose - Alfyn - Therion - H'aanit = OCTOPATH) while unlocking all of the various complementary Path Actions along the way. It never takes very long for characters to hit 100 job points and unlock the fourth ability, where I opted for Ophilia's Heal More skill. This also brought the first passive support skill so here's the full list for the Cleric job:
Persistence was the support skill unlocking first and it was very useful indeed. It adds an extra turn to all positive buffs and that was no mean feat, particularly since a lot of the Summons that I intended to use would be buffing Ophilia in some way. Getting 4 turns of benefit from something like Wisdom of the Church instead of 3 turns of benefit was quite nice. As for the others unlocking down the road, Inner Strength further accentuated the Cleric's innate high spirit point tally by adding another +50 SP. This meant that there was no need to use an early accessory slot on something boosting SP, freeing it up for more useful items without worry that Ophilia would run out of casting power. Evil Ward was pretty bad since I almost never run from battles, useful only when racing into a dangerous new area in the hopes of unlocking an additional town. Finally, Saving Grace is an extremely powerful support skill that would allow Ophilia to exceed her maximum HP total. I'll have much more to say about this when it unlocked later on.
The immediate target though was Russell, the boss at the end of Cyrus' Chapter 1 story. I looked at the list of different NPCs hanging out in Atlasdam and found that Ophilia's level was now high enough to Guide characters with a strength rating of 2. This allowed her to recruit an Apothecary who I was bringing along for an action called Mental Augmentation: both elemental attack/defense boosted. I actually didn't realize that this Apothecary had a secondary action (since it wasn't listed in my reference material) named Fireball, which as expected hit all enemies on the screen with minor fire damage. Everything worked out perfectly though as the fire element broke through the shielding of Russell's Water Wisp minions and then Ophilia could deliver a max boosted Luminescence against all opponents at once. I love the way that the lighting effects look in that screenshot, with a soft holy glow reflecting off Ophilia's face (and the random townie, heh). Once the Water Wisps were gone, Ophilia could switch over to the single target Holy Light spell as it picked up extra damage from the Mental Augmentation buff. Russell's one of the easiest bosses in the game and he went down very quickly without any need for healing items.
I made sure to pick up the hidden Medium Soulstone in Atlasdam using Cyrus' power of Scrutinize and it came in handy on the journey south when a Cait appeared. One smashed soulstone turned into 1000 XP and almost a dozen additional levels for Ophilia. Aside from significantly increasing her HP total, this also meant that Ophilia could Guide more NPCs in the following town of Rippletide. Guide is based on Ophilia's level and every five levels seems to translate into another star rating for NPC strength. (That appoximation doesn't work in all cases but it's generally correct.) With her new Level 15 status, Ophilia could recruit NPCs with a 3 star rating and she leaned on a familiar face for help in the Cave of Maia:
That's Tressa's mother Marina casting the pictured Wind Blast spell above. I couldn't make use of Tressa for this solo variant but nothing stopped Ophilia from bringing along her mom as a Summoned helper! Both Mikk and Makk were weak against wind element and Marina's spellcasting was helpful in breaking through their shields. Her alternate action was an Arrowstorm bow attack which hit a weakness on Makk if not on Mikk. One of the downsides of the Summons is that the player can't control what they target (or which one of their actions get used) and that can mean some attacks landing in places where they aren't ideal. For her part, Ophilia kept hitting the two pirates with Luminescene whenever she could cast at full boost and otherwise healed or resummoned Marina. This tends to be another one of the easiest boss fights in Octopath Traveler and I enjoyed watching Tressa's mother smack around these salty interlopers.
Afterwards, Ophilia had enough money saved up to return to Atlasdam and purchase an expensive Mage's Staff. This item cost 18,000 money and was only available for sale because I had used Cyrus to Scrutinze the additional weapons/armor for sale in town. It represented a huge increase in her elemental attack (+98 points) and the damage from Holy Light and Luminescence went up by almost 50% afterwards - money well spent. As Ophilia continued on her circuit of the inner ring, I stopped in Rippletide again to recruit another member of the Colzione family:
That was Tressa's father Olneo who I captured above blocking an attack intended for Ophilia. This is another extremely helpful aspect of the Summons that I didn't even know about before starting Ophilia's solo run: they will occasionally tank an incoming hit! I don't have any kind of formula for this but it appears to take place roughly a third of the time. The Summon can only block physical attacks (not elemental abilities) and they can't block an attack that targets the whole party. But for single-target melee attacks, having a Summon active on the field seems to be worth something like 30% physical evasion and that's utterly fantastic for a solo game. It doesn't matter if the attacker is a forest critter or a ravenous demon, the Summons will hop in front and take the blow equally well in all cases. Great stuff.
Anyway, Olneo was a fantastic pickup at this stage of the game and not just because of that damage blocking property. He was rated at 4 strength, the highest that Ophilia could Guide at the moment, and he only had one attack named Exploit Weakness that involved stabbing opponents with a big spear. Since this was the part of the world near Tressa and Olberic's starting towns, everything imaginable here was weak against spears. The portly Olneo was absolutely slapping people by one-shotting every monster that he attacked. It was hilarious and it made walking through the Highlands an absolute breeze.
By way of contrast to the previous bosses, Gaston is arguably the most difficult of the Chapter 1 opponents due to his powerful melee attacks. I decided to have Ophilia Guide a townsperson with the Physical Boost ability, giving up the possibility of direct offense from my Summon in exchange for the physical defense up buff. This came in very handy during the lengthy boss encounter since all of the incoming damage was physical, though when Gaston landed his Mighty Blow attack it could deal over 300 damage even with Physical Boost in play. That poor villager was kind enough to absorb several different Mighty Blows over the course of the fight and Ophilia dodged two of them herself. That attack seems to have decreased accuracy compared to Gaston's normal melee strikes. Ophilia was helped here by the fact that Gaston was weak against staff blows and she was able to land a max boosted Holy Light against a broken Gaston for 1500 damage at one point. Having Heal Wounds on hand throughout the battle was a major help since it was now restoring about as much HP as a Healing Grape. This was one of the few times that I managed to complete this battle without needing to resort to the more powerful Medium Healing Grapes.
Ophilia reached 500 job points during Olberic's story sequence and unlocked the Reflective Veil skill. This would remain in her back pocket for the moment until finding some enemies that relied on elemental attacks. Learning her fifth Cleric skill also unlocked the Inner Strength passive support skill for +50 SP, quite useful to have more casting power before running out of juice. I was confident at this point that she could make the quick jaunt up to Noblecourt and she did indeed reach the town with no problems. That allowed me to use Tressa's Purchase to pick up some of my usual equipment for a solo character: the Imperial Vest for much better physical/elemental defense and an Empowering Bracelet for +500 HP in the accessory slot. I would come back later for the Spiked Shield and then again after recruiting Therion to Steal the Oasis Hat from the Impressario outside of town. Noblecourt is both easy to reach and has great stuff on hand which ensures that it's always one of the first places that I visit.
The back half of the Chapter 1 stories tend to become increasingly easy since a solo character will continue to gain in strength while the bosses don't become any more challenging. I had Ophilia bring a Summon with the Steel Defenses action for the Helgenish battle, an ability that buffed her physical and elemental defenses. Helgenish was limited to about 100 damage when he used his big "Know Your Place" attack which was something that didn't particularly worry me. This boss was weak against light element and Ophilia pummeled him with Holy Light spells without worrying about his minions (since the boss would only resummon them if they died). Pretty easy stuff. Ophilia used the resulting job points to unlock the Sheltering Veil ability (elemental defense up) and the mostly-useless Evil Ward support skill. Easier running from battles wasn't something that I would need very often.
For Alfyn's story sequence, Ophilia recruited one of Primrose's associates in the form of the Star Dancer NPC. This woman had two different actions that were both useful against the Blotted Viper: Spirited Dance for physical/elemental attack up along with Dagger Storm for direct damage. The viper boss was weak against daggers and this granted Ophilia a way to break through its shields that she otherwise would have lacked. The damage from the daggers was also sizable for this portion of the game at 500 or more, plus the Dagger Storm could hit multiple times for multiple shield breaks. Ophilia put that elemental attack buff to good use by hitting the Blotted Viper for 2300 damage after the Star Dancer had broken it, the biggest output that I'd seen from Holy Light thus far. She spent much of the battle using Healing Herbs to cleanse the poison that the snakes kept applying while letting her Summon carry the offensive load. This was a useful enough Summon that I might come back to her later; as I've repeatedly written, several of the endgame bosses have dagger weaknesses to exploit.
Now the Blotted Viper was a bit of a challenge thanks to its poison and the need to keep one of its minions alive to prevent the boss from using its stunning attack. Heathcote at the end of Therion's Chapter 1 story posed no such obstacles, having no status ailments to inflict on Ophilia and only a weak melee attack. She brought Dan the windmill guy as her Summon of choice for this battle, with Dan employing another (less effective) version of the same Dagger Storm used by the Star Dancer. I don't have much to say about this fight because Ophilia crushed it with ease. She had enough healing power and defensive equipment by now that there wasn't much the early bosses could do to touch her.
I did discover something useful against the final Chapter 1 boss, the Ghisarma:
This creature will set up to counterattack any incoming physical damage; that's the little indicator with a sword on its status bar. I was curious how the beast's counterattacks would interact with Ophilia's Summons - what would happen if one of them made a melee attack? The Star Dancer tossed a dagger at the Ghisarma and ate the pictured counterattack in return. However, this had exactly the effect that I wanted: it used up one of the counterattack charges on the boss! Therefore it looks like the player can use Summons to burn through a monster's counterattacks by having them splash harmlessly against the NPC's immortal body. I don't know if I'll ever be in a position to do something with this knowledge but it was noteworthy all the same. Anyway, the Ghisarma couldn't hurt Ophilia in any significant way and she blasted it out of this world with purifying light to bring the collection of Chapter 1 stories to a close.
That victory also finished up with the opening stages of the game. Ophilia didn't run into anything too challenging along the way and her relatively modest offensive output hadn't caused any problems thus far. I was looking forward to experimenting with her remaining upcoming abilities, the excellent final Cleric support skill and then her Divine skill once it unlocked. The journey was only just beginning, stay tuned.