Gameplay screenshot of Square Enix's Octopath Traveler II

This Beloved Game Was Completely Snubbed by the Game Awards Nominations

The nominations for The Game Awards were announced today. The award show has been creeping up in popularity in recent years, with host and producer Geoff Knightly trying his damndest to make it gaming’s version of the Oscars or the Emmys.

Recommended Videos

Where the Game Awards stand apart, though, is that popular fan votes account for 10% of the outcome, with a jury counting for the other 90%.

As with any award show nomination announcement, there were some surprises and some nominations to be expected. While I was delighted to see Super Mario Bros. Wonder get nominated for Game of the Year, the big award will (rightfully) be a fistfight between Tears of the Kingdom and Baldur’s Gate III. (As much as I love Baldur’s Gate, I will be at your doorstep with a pen and clipboard campaigning for Tears.) Also, as with any award show nomination announcement, there were some snubs. And in this case, there was a big one: Square Enix’s OCTOPATH TRAVELER II did not get nominated for a single award.

OCTOPATH TRAVELER II was released in February of this astonishingly busy year for gaming, right before your gaming wish list started to stack up. It’s a turn-based JPRG in which you can control eight different characters, each of whom has their own engaging stories that eventually intertwine. The game is done in Square Enix’s retro-tinged and absolutely gorgeous HD-2D style. It’s highly narratively driven, and it also requires some patience from its players—with eight individual character narratives to develop and watch intertwine, it takes a little time to find your groove and for the game to sink its teeth into you.

But the result, at least going by the consensus of the gaming critics I follow, is not only far and away the best JRPG of the year but arguably one of the best JRPGs ever made. Following the nomination announcement, the game’s fan base poured onto social media to express their shock and disappointment.

Where—and maybe why—OCTOPATH TRAVELER II was snubbed

Admittedly, OCTOPATH‘s appeal in the West is rather niche—only a handful of super-mega-hit JRPGs have really made a mainstream impact here, namely Pokémon, Persona 5, and (most of) the Final Fantasy series. The busy year also seems to have hurt OCTOPATH TRAVELER II, which took three times longer to hit a million copies than its (beloved but now considered inferior) predecessor, Octopath Traveler. It’s possible OCTOPATH TRAVELER II suffered from being released in the same year as Square Enix’s mega-title Final Fantasy XVI. There wasn’t a huge wave of media coverage either, with the merits of the game primarily reaching me through word of mouth and podcasts like Triple Click. (Overwhelmed as I’ve been all year, I did try to share the love.)

That can serve to explain, at least theoretically, why The Game Awards chose to snub it for Game of the Year. What makes no sense at all is that OCTOPATH TRAVELER II did not get nominated for RPG of the Year. Instead, the RPG category includes Final Fantasy XVI, which was widely considered a huge shift for the longstanding series because it plays more like an action game than an RPG. (I happen to agree with this take—I mean, they got the Devil May Cry combat director and it feels like it.) Many have expressed similar confusion over Lies of P‘s place among the Best RPGs instead of the Best Action or Best Action/Adventure Game lists.

Fans were also shocked that Yasunori Nishiki’s score didn’t get nominated for Best Score and Music. Nishiki—who is a regular at Square Enix—really did make an astounding score, including some truly memorable and amped-as-hell battle themes and some gorgeous character songs.

Awards shows are always bizarre affairs that show the biases of the judges involved and thereby the biases of mainstream culture. With a year as bloated with amazing games as 2023, creating a list of nominees was always going to be difficult. But that’s not an excuse to snub the widely accepted best JRPG of the year from any nomination at all. At least the game has a passionate fanbase vying for it.

(featured image: Square Enix)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Kirsten Carey
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.