Before the game’s release, we had the opportunity to ask some members of the same team about bringing the sequel to life. We spoke with producer Masashi Takahashi, character designer Naoki Ikushima, and writer Kakunoshin Futsuzawa about topics such as the inspiration behind the game’s predecessor, the evolution of the HD-2D style, and who your favorite character is…
Nintendo Life: Octopath Traveler was a big success for you, what inspired you to revisit the concept of the sequel and how faithful did you want to keep the essence of the original game?
Masashi Takahashi (Producer): We were very happy that the first Octopath Traveler was a hit and that so many people played it! Although we were very grateful for that success, it honestly put a lot of pressure on us in 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 basically a battle against the first game we made. We wanted to build on the formula rather than change it, keeping as much as possible of what people loved from the first game and trying to fully realize everything we couldn’t do in it.
Octopath Traveler II takes place in a brand new world, Solistia, and looking at some of the characters, it looks like we’ll be exploring locations inspired by different historical periods. Why did you want to create an entirely new world and what opportunities did that open up for the development team?
Takahashi-san: As the name suggests, this is a game about travel and the joy of travel. We felt it was very important to place Octopath Traveler II in a brand new world to give the player a sense of excitement and anticipation as they explore it, wondering what lies ahead on the next journey or who might live in the next town.
Time has passed very quickly, and it has already been five years since the release of the first Octopath Traveler. I’m sure there are still people who haven’t played the first game, as well as those who have played it but have already forgotten the story, and that’s why we intentionally didn’t have any references to the story of the first game, so I can safely say, that fans of the series and new players will enjoy the content of Octopath Traveler II without worrying about the events that came before.
In Octopath Traveler II, one of the biggest talking points is that “there’s more interaction here with Crossroads.” Can you tell us more about how this works in the game and why you decided to improve the interaction?
Takahashi-san: Half of the reason for including these kinds of interactions was because we saw a lot of fans asking for it in Octopath Traveler. The other half of the reason came later when the elements in this plan naturally formed while we were building the structure of the game.
I hope players will appreciate the new interactions in Octopath Traveler II, which will open up 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 was the fourth game in this art style. What did you learn from working on the first game and watching 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 separating different aspects of my own personality and then fleshing them out.
Takahashi-san: All the games were created by the Asano team, but Triangle Strategy and Live A Live were actually developed by different studios. The genre and style of each of them is completely different, so we encouraged the teams who worked on them to challenge themselves in their own ways, without sticking to the style of HD-2D Octopath Traveler. So I feel like there wasn’t too much looking at other games when making these titles.
For Octopath Traveler II, we were able to ask ACQUIRE Co., Ltd, the developer of the first game and where the series originated, to create the second game, so I think you can see a lot of evolution there. When we put the “HD-2D” logo on the official sites of these games, we update it every time, so we used version 1.1. for Triangle Strategy, version 1.2 for Live A Live and went up to version 2.0 for Octopath Traveler II.
The sequel features the same eight starting missions as the first game. How did you go about changing the character designs and personalities of the cast? Do you have a favorite?
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 create a larger world to explore, so we paid attention to showing the changes in different eras and having a diverse variety of cultures.
This diversity is also represented in the characters themselves, so we have characters like Throne and Partizio who wear more urban outfits, Hikari from a country with an Asian style, and Oshette who lives with beasts. In addition, we also need differences between the characters in Octopath Traveler II and their predecessors who filled the same positions in the first game to fit the new setting. For example, the warrior from the first game was Olberic, who was physically large and used his immense strength to swing his sword, but in contrast, the warrior in Octopath Traveler II is Hikari, who is physically small but wins his battles with technical skills. not raw power.
The characters of the dancers are also very different, so while Primrose had a dark and troubled look, her counterpart Agnea from Octopath Traveler II has a completely different personality and is a bright and sunny woman. I’m very attached to all eight new heroes, so I really can’t pick a favorite among them. Sorry!
Kakunoshin Futsuzawa (screenwriter): I tried to write these characters by separating different aspects of my own personality and then fleshing them out. If I just made characters that were completely based on me, people probably wouldn’t really relate to them, so I made sure to rearrange them so that people would like them all. I like them all, so I’d be happy if the players like 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 there is dried meat.
I’ve written about all kinds of greedy and materialistic characters (especially villains), so the easy-going Oshett might be somewhat comforting to me.
Can you tell Square Enix that we want to see a lot more Octopath music in the upcoming 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! They range from the main theme to battle music, so please enjoy these tracks filled with Mr. Nishiki’s passion while playing the rhythm game!
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
Thank you Takahashi-san, Ikushima-san, and Futsuzawa-san for taking the time to answer our questions. Octopath Traveler II is available on Switch right now.