I spent 80 hours making the most overpowered JRPG party I've ever had, and then a secret boss kicked my ass for 3 days

Octopath Traveler 2
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Octopath Traveler 2 is a fabulous but disappointingly easy JRPG. I finally got around to finishing it this month, and I enjoyed it even more than I did the original, with the caveat that the game only actually challenged me like three times in the 85 hours it took to fully complete it. Two of those times I was purposely under-leveled and still not in much danger. The third and final big challenge was Galdera, the game's proper, secret, for-real-this-time boss battle which, if you were to plot the game's difficulty curve, would be a line that goes straight up. 

Galdera is harder than the rest of Octopath Traveler 2 combined, by a factor of 10, and that includes the true final boss of the story. It's one of the hardest fights I've ever seen in a turn-based game, and I've played the most infamous of the Shin Megami Tenseis. I was on cloud nine with the most overpowered, game-breakingly stupid party imaginable, one and two-hitting story bosses left and right, and then Galdera folded me like a lawn chair. It took me five or six hours over the course of three days to beat it – partly because I was busy, and partly because sitting down to fight this demon felt like going to the gym. 

Warning: Octopath Traveler 2 spoilers ahead

Build a better party

Octopath Traveler 2

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Much of that time was spent in menus theorycrafting the optimal gear, jobs, and passive skills for my party. I know, I know; JRPG fans will stare at menus and unironically say the gameplay is peak. But sometimes it's true! After each defeat, I'd walk away bruised and bloodied but with a fistful of lessons to bring to the next attempt, tiny optimizations slowly inching me toward victory. This character needs more HP, this one needs more mana, this one can go all-in on damage, and so on. I also wiped out in the fight many, many times, with my final, skin-of-my-teeth attempt running upwards of 30 minutes. It was one of the most frustrating, confounding, and satisfying experiences I've ever had with a game. 

There are a few obvious things that make Galdera ridiculous. He has two forms that you fight back-to-back with unique parties of four, using all eight titular travelers. Both forms deal a lot of damage, have a lot of health, take multiple actions, and are so fast that they often get to act before you, but it's the unique mechanics of each that really put the boot in. Galdera counters the strategy I'd been abusing for most of the game: using my main character, the Thief Throné, to deal 99,999 damage to all enemies while remaining functionally immortal by overhealing with the Cleric Temenos. 

I thought ol' reliable could still work when I initially saw Galdera's first form, a hellish eyeball embedded in a mound of meaty souls, summon three ghouls that you have to kill before damaging the main body. I was still in 'this game is easy' mode at the time. Sure, I thought, they counterattack if I hit them with a damage type they aren't weak to, but that's not a problem if I one-hit them all, right? Wrong! From my testing, you can't one-hit them without breaking their armor by targeting those weak points. One will always survive, the backlash of using the wrong damage type will hammer you into a fine powder, and Galdera will revive the other ghouls if even one remains.

It bears repeating that I beat pretty much every other boss in this game while skipping all their mechanics by insta-killing them, and this was not only without grinding for levels, but also purposefully under-leveling myself. But not Galdera. Octopath Traveler 2 is a game full of butterflies with one killer hornet at the end. To put things in perspective, let me break down the mechanics and threats you have to deal with here. 

  • Break the three ghoul guardians by repeatedly hitting their weak points and then killing them all in one turn. Note that their weaknesses are only shared in wave one; the second batch has different weaknesses that change when you damage them
  • Using a damage type the ghouls aren't weak to will get you countered with a heavy hit, which is a problem because the second batch is only weak to elements and most elemental attacks are AoE, meaning you can easily hit one with the wrong damage type. The Inventor job's elemental bottle saved me here. 
  • You must kill the third wave of ghouls in two turns or, each turn, one of your characters will be permanently deleted. Not dead; they are gone. Dust in the wind. They cannot be used for the rest of the fight. Ask me how I know. 
  • Deal 600,000 total damage to Galdera's main body, plus another 100,000 for when he heals himself. I did this in three rounds by giving Throné extra turns and using her unique skill plus the Merchant Partitio to feed her BP to spam her strongest move. Sadly I couldn't consistently hit 99,999 because Galdera periodically removes all of your buffs.
  • By the way, the whole time Galdera will automatically eat a chunk of your team's HP or mana every turn. 

Now for part two 

Octopath Traveler 2

(Image credit: Square Enix)

That is phase one. I beat it with Throné as a Thief/Cleric, Partitio as a Merchant/Apothecary, Agnea as a Dancer/Inventor, and Osvald as a Sorcerer/Cleric. I genuinely don't see how you do this fight without Agnea. You need a lot of healing, if you couldn't tell, and Clerics can crucially grant extra turns with their Divine Skill. It also quickly became clear that one Apothecary per side would be essential for the Divine Skill that makes items affect the whole team instead of one character. This was one of the coolest bits of this fight, actually, because it meant I finally had a use for the zillion consumables I'd hoarded in classic gamer fashion. I kept telling myself I'd need them later, and later finally came; I had to use dozens of items to refill my team's resources every turn. 

Speaking of which, I had to move Temenos and Castii, arguably the two strongest characters in the entire game due to their team-wide healing and buffs, to the second half because Galdera's phase two is so much harder. I managed it with Temenos as a Cleric/Merchant, Castii as an Apothecary/Cleric, Hikari as a Warrior/Armsmaster, and Ochette (the real MVP) as a Hunter/Dancer. Obviously, everyone's jobs were totally maxed out (all around character level 60, if you're wondering), and I still nearly wiped multiple times even on my best attempt thanks to mechanics like these: 

  • Galdera's right hand will randomly block characters from using specific skills, including healing, or stop them from acting at all, while also buffing his other body parts. This is why I needed two healers. 
  • His left hand does big physical AoE damage, lethal single-target damage, is only weak to magic, and routinely gets an unremovable buff that reflects magic
  • His head constantly deals absurd elemental AoE damage that can instantly kill you if you're unbuffed, which is a problem because the head also frequently deletes all your buffs. 
  • Killing one part buffs the others. I killed the left arm last, and by that point it was permanently reducing my max health and stealing BP with each of its multiple actions. 
  • Once you kill all three parts, you still have to finish the main body, which has a demoralizing 20 base armor and gains more each turn (most enemies have two to six armor, for reference, and Galdera's phase one only has eight) . It only has a few weaknesses and takes four actions with extremely high speed. You cannot let Galdera act too many times in a row or the incoming damage becomes unsurvivable, so you have to play with the action order and break him fast enough to deny attacks. 

Octopath Traveler 2

That lizard guy on the far left was, believe it or not, key (Image credit: Square Enix)

I managed to beat this crock of horseshit primarily with multi-hit attacks from Hikari and Ochette, with Temenos and Castii healing the team with all the energy of sailors frantically bucketing water out of a flooding rowboat. With certain learned skills for Hikari and the right captured monsters for Ochette, I could reliably break at least one body part each turn, and then break the main body in only two turns despite his ludicrous armor stockpile. If phase two wasn't weak to dagger attacks, I honestly don't know what I would've done. 

Galdera was, in many ways, what I always wanted from Octopath Traveler 2: a brutal challenge that felt like a final exam for every aspect of the combat system. I used all of the character builds that I'd painstakingly refined, emptied the valuable items that I'd saved up, and actually had to experiment with new strategies because I stubbornly refused to turn to the internet for help. It was jarringly, excessively hard compared to everything else in the game, and I reckon a more consistent middle-ground difficulty would've been more fun, but this is definitely a boss fight I'll never forget. 

What did I get for my troubles? What priceless loot did Galdera drop? An amulet that totally prevents random encounters. It's handy for exploration, but it did not get any use. I'd already finished the main story, so immediately after beating Galdera I ripped the game cartridge out of my Switch with the might of Zeus. That's enough of that, thanks. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.