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Creator of PS4 visual novel Root Letter talks its inspirations, potential sequels

Enthralling mystery showcases a Japan “people don’t often see”

Root Letter is a unique game in terms of atmosphere and people have always asked: “What was the inspiration for it?”

Root Letter is a very personal project for us. Character designer Minoboshi Taro and I share a passion for Japanese teen movies from the seventies. We always wanted to work on something inspired by those feelings. Things like first loves and memories from our time at school. The Kadokawa Group has always had a wealth of mystery series, either as books or movies, so we thought we should work on a videogame with similar themes too, following Kadokawa’s established tradition.

One of the main things we wanted to do was create a setting that was different, to show a side of Japan people don’t often see. Shimane is interesting in that there are not many cities where the mountains meet the sea. One such place is the town of Matsue. We also wanted to set the game in a little town, far away from a big metropolis like Tokyo. There is a good reason for this. In a small town, more than in big cities, people grow up and live their entire lives life maintaining the same relationships.

This game is about how those relationships evolve, while exploring one of humanity’s most enduring personal questions: “What if I made different choices in the past?”

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One of the embodiments of this feeling — of nostalgia, and the permanence of the past — is the letter. A means of communication that’s not often used anymore, but in our youth they were very personal things. They are the perfect means to explore the past of a person — but they can also be very misleading personal artifacts, especially when telling a story or recounting the past.

Also, letters gave the reader a big sense of expectation, especially in pen-pal relations. I think this is something everyone can relate to. I guess the modern day equivalent is the feeling you get when you eventually meet on online friend in person.

This is just one of the themes we wanted to explore. Relationships, and how human beings grow emotionally, are complicated processes, so obviously there are lots of nuances in the life of a person. When you are young, you have dreams and expectations that are not always met by reality. Somehow, through letters, we capture a moment in the life of the main characters. And then, like in a time capsule, we have them living it again through player investigations — and, of course, the various reactions are not always pleasant.

Ultimately though, we wanted to have a game that felt truly grounded in reality. We wanted the player to feel they grew to know someone for better or worse, but also to feel that they had come to know a location and its citizens very well.

Root Letter

We worked extremely closely with the authorities in Shimane Prefecture, for example. We went searching for locations and, during the process, we asked the people we met to be in the game. They also helped us to find more interesting places, they checked the script to add some colour with local dialect and expression — everything happened very naturally.

We are really looking forward to seeing players’ feedback on Root Letter, especially as it is rooted in Japanese culture. But we are also sure that the themes in the game — like nostalgia and youth — are universal. So I am sure that, on a certain level, there will be a connection that transcends cultural differences! We hope that western gamers can enjoy a journey in the life of a normal Japanese person and experience some thrill with the story — and perhaps a desire to come to Japan and visit Shimane prefecture!

As you know, Root Letter is the first in the Kadokawa Mystery Game series. We already have a few ideas for the sequel. We had three locations in Japan as possible settings. For the first game, Root Letter, we chose Shimane. The next title could be very different, but the Kadokawa Game Mystery series will be always connected by three elements: the digital actresses, a location with an amazing history and, obviously, an interesting story driven by a great mystery!

I very much hope you all enjoy Root Letter and thank you kindly for all your support!

9 Comments
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Pretty disgusted by the fact that you guys always mention only ps4 in the title. I don’t get why you would intentionally irritate your own niche.

1.1

They need to boost sales of the inferior version.
Every VN player obviously gets this for Vita :D

Definitely on my list :) I’ve absolutely no interest in the Vita, so thank you for bringing this to PS4.

ummagummachild 07 November, 2016 @ 18:42
3

I am surely gonna love this one. VNs are like my achillies heel and this one is looking mysterious enough to make me want it.

Just posting to remind you, Sony, that the Playstation Vita exists and that this game is available on it.

Pretty sure Sony had no hand in the matter and it’s all just PQube in their weirdish marketing glory.
I have no idea why they constantly think it’s a good idea though, but it’s the guys who refused to even send out review codes of Valkyrie Drive, now that surely should have boosted the sales. .

Not expecting the Director of the game to know the answer to my question, but perhaps a watching PR rep might chime in…

PQube have released a few games in Australia physically with local branding, etc over the past year, will this be another one at some point? I could very well import the game, but I’m one of the minority that like to have a true local physical version where possible.

So any possible chance in the future?

6

Thank you for bringing this gorgeous-looking and unique game to the West. I can’t wait to play it.

samtxtmissingu 13 November, 2016 @ 06:31
7

thanks for dragging it west side!

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