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Square Enix's Path to Octopath Traveler

by Neal Ronaghan - July 31, 2018, 10:37 am PDT
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We take a peek behind the curtain to see who made this new Switch RPG.

Octopath Traveler is out on Switch and across the board has positive reception. My review was high on it and a lot of people seems to dig its blend of classic Super Nintendo JRPG feelings and modern touches. Overall, the 2D sprites and turn-based combat appear to be like something right out of an old Final Fantasy. While the style might not be something foreign to the catalog of developer Square Enix, the main minds behind Octopath Traveler don’t quite have the ‘90s pedigree you would expect. However, for the better part of a decade, Tomoya Asano, Keisuke Miyauchi, and more have been cultivating a corner of Square that is committed to making well-crafted modern takes on old-school ideas.

Tomoya Asano’s game career started off at Enix, working on Grandia Xtreme. However, following Square’s merger with Enix, Asano started dipping his hands into the Final Fantasy series. He was a producer on the remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV for DS, both of which had an art style that would be a precursor to his later original works. The first of which was his last in the Final Fantasy series for the time being as he worked on Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light - a throwback RPG that paid homage to a lot of the older games in the series. That game directly led into working on Bravely Default and its sequel, Bravely Second. A lot of that core team stayed with Asano throughout his path from 4 Heroes of Light to Octopath Traveler. Masashi Takahashi - who has recently been making the interview rounds for Octopath Traveler - started off working under Asano, going from an assistant producer on 4 Heroes of Light and eventually being the primary producer on Octopath.

Octopath Traveler’s Director Keisuke Miyauchi doesn’t have the same journey as Asano and his team at Square Enix. Working for Octopath’s co-developer Acquire, Miyauchi’s background is more in the Tenchu series. His team at Acquire actually didn’t work on Asano’s previous Bravely games, so the bulk of the staff that created Octopath Traveler actually have no history with Bravely Default and Second.

With the early returns on Octopath Traveler being strong, the team behind it will likely go back to making more RPGs for Switch and maybe other platforms, too. Takahashi and Miyauchi are both in their early 30s so their game-making careers still have a lot of legs. Knowing that their first collaboration wound up being a game I enjoy very much, I’m hopeful that if they work together again, it’ll also be something cool and worth paying attention to.

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