Enjoying the Journey – How Square Enix learned from the past for Octopath Traveler II

Prior to the game’s release, we had the opportunity to ask some members of this very team about bringing the sequel to life. We speak with producer Masashi Takahashi, character designer Naoki Ikushima and writer Kakunoshin Futsuzawa on topics such as drawing inspiration from the previous game, the evolution of the HD-2D style, and everyone’s favorite character…

Masashi Takahashi (Producer) – Image: Square Enix

Nintendo Life: Octopath Traveler was a huge success for you, what inspired you to revisit the concept of the sequel, and how devoted were you to staying at the core of the original game?

Masashi Takahashi (Producer): We were absolutely thrilled that the first Octopath Traveler was such a hit and so many people played it! Although we were very grateful for this success, to be honest it put a lot of pressure on us in terms of the second game. When we released the original Octopath Traveler, I said it was “a battle against people’s memories of the pixel games they played in the past”, but this time it was a battle against the first game we created. We aimed to evolve the formula rather than change it, keeping as much of what people loved from the first game as possible and trying to realize all the things we couldn’t do in it.

Octopath Traveler II takes place in a completely new world, Solistia, and with the passage of some characters it seems that we will be exploring settings inspired by different historical periods. Why did you want to create an entirely new world, and what opportunities did this open for the development team?

Takahashi-san: As indicated in the title, this is a game about traveling and enjoying a journey. We felt it necessary to set Octopath Traveler II in an entirely new world to give the player that sense of excitement and anticipation as they explore it, wondering what lies next or who might live in the next town.

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Time has passed so quickly, and now it’s been five years since the first Octopath Traveler appeared. I’m sure there are still people who didn’t play the first game, as well as those who did but have already forgotten the story, which is why we intentionally didn’t have any links to the story of the first game, so I can say with confidence that fans of the series and new players will enjoy the Octopath Traveler content II without worrying about the events that happened before.

In Octopath Traveler II, one of the biggest talking points is that there’s “more interaction, besides ‘Crossed Paths’.” Can you tell us more about how this happened in the game and why you decided to improve interactions?

Takahashi-san: Half of the reason we included these types of interactions was because we saw a lot of fans requesting them in Octopath Traveler. The other half of the reason followed later as the elements along these lines formed naturally as we put together the structure of the game.

I hope players will appreciate the new interactions in Octopath Traveler II that will open up opportunities for players to explore more and uncover interesting facts about the townspeople and characters.

The original Octopath Traveler was the first HD-2D game, and Octopath Traveler II is the fourth game in this art style. What did you learn working on the first game and seeing the style evolve in Triangle Strategy and Live A Live that helped inform the art direction of OTII?

I tried to write these characters by breaking down different aspects of my personality and then fleshing them out.

Takahashi-san: All games are produced by the Asano team, but Triangle Strategy and Live A Live are developed by different studios. Each is very different in genre and style, so we encouraged the teams that were working on it to challenge themselves in their own way, without getting caught up in sticking too closely to Octopath Traveler’s HD-2D style. So I have a feeling there wasn’t a lot of research into other games when making those titles.

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For Octopath Traveler II, we were able to ask ACQUIRE Co., Ltd, the developer of the first game and where the series originated from, to make the second game, so I think you can see a lot of development in it. When we put the “HD-2D” logo on the official websites of these games, we update it every time, so we used version 1.1. For Triangle Strategy, version 1.2 for Live A Live went to version 2.0 for Octopath Traveler II.

The sequel has the same eight starting functions as the first game. How did you aim to diversify the character designs and the actors’ personalities? Do you have a favourite?

Naoki Ikushima (character designer) Image: Square Enix

Naoki Ikushima (character designer): The original game was set in a fairly small area with a strong medieval European theme, but this time one of the main design concepts was to have a bigger world to explore, so we paid attention to show the changes over different eras and have a variety. of cultures.

This diversity is also represented in the characters themselves, so we have characters like Thronè and Partitio who wear more urban fashion, Hikari from a country with Asian styles and Ochette, who lives with monsters. Furthermore, we also wanted differences between the characters in Octopath Traveler II and their predecessors who held the same jobs in the first game, which were in keeping with the new setting. For example, the warrior from the first game was Olberic, who was physically imposing and used his great strength to swing his sword, but by contrast the warrior in Octopath Traveler II is Hikari, who is physically small but wins his fights using technical skill rather than brute force .

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Dancer’s personalities are very different too, so where Primrose had a dark, rambunctious sneer to her, her counterpart Agnea from Octopath Traveler II has a completely different personality and is a bright, sunny woman. I have a strong attachment to the eight new heroes, so I can’t really pick a favorite among them. Sorry!

Kakunoshin Futsuzawa (screenwriter) – Image: Square Enix

Kakunoshin Futsuzawa (screenwriter): I tried to write these characters by breaking down different aspects of my personality and then fleshing them out. If I had made characters based entirely on myself, people probably wouldn’t warm to them so much, so I made sure to rearrange them to make them all likable. I love them all, so I would be glad if my players liked them too. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably say Ochette. She is a simple person at heart and is happy as long as she has some dried meat to eat.

I’ve written about various greedy and materialistic characters (especially the bad guys), so an uncomplicated Ochette might be a bit of a relief for me.

Can you let Square Enix know we want to see more Octopath music in future Theatrhythm DLC? Or even an Octopath rhythm game!

Takahashi-san: Thank you very much!

Five tracks from the original Octopath Traveler will be released as DLC for Theatrhythm Final Bar Line! This music ranges from the main theme to battle music, so please enjoy these tracks filled with Mr. Nishiki’s passion while you play the rhythm game!

Octopath Traveler II
Image: Square Enix

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Our thanks to Takahashi-san, Ikushima-san, and Futsuzawa-san for taking the time to answer our questions. Octopath Traveler II is available on Switch now.

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