The upcoming Root Letter: Last Answer is certainly an interesting project by Kadokawa Games.
Not only are they releasing an improved version of the game, but they’re adding an entirely new (and optional) live-action mode featuring real people instead of the original characters designed by Taro Minoboshi.
In order to learn more about the project, we talked with President Yoshimi Yasuda at Kadokawa Games’ headquarters in Tokyo.
Of course, we also tried to get some information about the still-mysterious Root Letter 2.
Giuseppe: What inspired you to add live-action scenes to Root Letter: Last Answer?
Yoshimi Yasuda: Root Letter and Root Letter: Last Answer are literally set in my hometown.
The prefectural office of Shimane actually approached me and asked me to try to promote the prefecture via games and anime, since it isn’t very popular or well-known. That’s how the idea for Root Letter was born.
They asked me to showcase the beauty of Shimane Prefecture to young people so that they’d want to visit, including people from overseas.
Initially, they wanted to showcase the charms of the area through animation, so I approached Taro Minoboshi to create the character design. In the end, we decided to make a game with anime-style visuals that would enhance the attractiveness of Shimane prefecture.
We wanted to portray the real Shimane prefecture, so we approached real people actually living there, and turned them into characters of our game.
To tell you the truth, Yaegaki shrine’s keeper, the teacher from Minami High School, the Nakamura Bar’s owner, the owner of the cafe, and the anchor from San-in Chuo TV aren’t just real people, but they are actually my old classmates.
We had people from overseas like France or England visit Nakamura Bar and they were surprised that the owner looked exactly like the character of the game. That created some nice interaction, and it happened in other places as well.
That gave me another idea: why don’t we just make a live-action version as well? The characters are real people to begin with, so why not?
On top of that, we had collected a whole lot of reference photos to create the original illustrations, so using those was a natural evolution.
Giuseppe: So the actors who appear in Last Answers are still your old schoolmates?
Yoshimi Yasuda: Yes, it’s still them. I know them all well. Of course, the voices had to be performed by professional actors, but the people portrayed are real people living in Shimane.
Giuseppe: Besides the addition of the live-action version, what else can those who already played Root Letter expect from Last Answer?
Yoshimi Yasuda: I believe there were two points that needed improvement from the original Root Letter.
There are five different bad ending scenarios, but they were too blurry and ambiguous for players to truly understand them. That’s why we added more flavor to the bad endings to make them more understandable and enjoyable.
The happy endings were also very short and didn’t really provide much information on what would happen afterward, so we extended them to let players get a better idea of what happened to the characters.
Giuseppe: Could you provide any hint about Root Letter 2 and possibly an idea on when we’re going to hear more about it?
Yoshimi Yasuda: First of all, the title may be different, and we are aiming to make an announcement this fall.
Thirdly, since the prefectural office was very happy about the first Root Letter, we decided that the second game will still be set in Shimane prefecture.
The first game was mostly set around the cities of Matsue and Izumo, but the prefectural office asked to include a wider variety of places for the next game, like Iwami, Oda, Tsuwano, and Okinoshima. The game will include the almost whole prefecture.
Giuseppe: it’s going to be a true Shimane tourist guide!
Yoshimi Yasuda: On top of that, we won’t use my old schoolmates anymore. This time the game will be more mysterious. There may also be more murders. It’s going to be darker and more of a hardcore mystery story.
Giuseppe: do you have any message for the western fans of Kadokawa Games?
Yoshimi Yasuda: for God Wars 2, I created a questionnaire and sent it via Twitter. I received lots of comments from both guys and girls from the west, especially the United States, giving me lots of ideas on what to do with the game.
For example, many asked to improve the graphics. Some even asked to include middle-age Europe as a setting and told me that God Wars was the best SRPG they played since Final Fantasy Tactics, and more.
This made me really happy, and while we’re a relatively small company, we would like to continue to work hard to introduce more fun, exciting, and unique games not only to our fans in Japan but also worldwide.
Thank you very much, and please look forward to what will come next.
It launches for PS4 and Switch in Europe on August 30, while the PC and digital version will come on September 3 (the North American retail street date is TBA).