Root Letter Explores Mysteries in a Seaside Town, Out Tomorrow

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Root Letter Explores Mysteries in a Seaside Town, Out Tomorrow

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 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?”

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 an 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.

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 color 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!

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4 Author Replies

  • Very much looking forward to this and hopefully any and all sequels will also get localized.

  • I have the Pen Pal Edition preordered, can’t wait for this game. But I do have some feedback that can improve future PQUBE game releases and that is to give the distribution rights of the physical copies and any limited or collectors editions to an actual North American retailer instead of giving exclusivity to Rice Digital, a UK based company. Being in UK, their prices and shipping is grossly overpriced when converted to dollars and is a great deterrent for many fans when a Vita collectors edition with an art book, soundtrack and a few small trinkets costs $130 CDN.

    • You can always use instead

    • They do make physical available on a couple of online retailers, but not the Collector’s Edition, which is kind of bad practice when you’re selling a US version of it that can only be shipped from the UK.

      It would be cheaper for everybody involved if they shipped CE’s in bulk to the US (or Canada) and maybe added $10 to the base price, instead of forcing the consumer to pay $30 to ship an individual CE.

    • Well when you think about it the price of the items can roughly add up to $80 USD especially with the game already being half the price (now Shipping is a different story)

    • Agreed, will be getting the digital version but would have liked to get the Collectors. The overseas aspect makes it too expensive.

  • “Digital actresses”? Are you guys doing what Kenji Eno and Warp Games were doing with Laura and the D games(D, Enemy Zero and D2)? If so, that’s pretty interesting to see someone else trying it.

  • Also, really been looking forward to this since it was announced, and I’ll be getting it tomorrow or Friday(digitally; shipping prices are too expensive). ^^

  • Was on the fence about the game at first, but after reading some more impressions I pre-ordered the game last week. I am excited to play it!

  • I have been trying VNs as a nice, relaxing change of pace from games like Dark Souls 3. Thank you for bringing this to the PS4.

  • Looks interesting, I’m wondering…is this cross-buy?

    • Its not, well the EU version which was released last week was not cross-buy from my understanding and if the EU version was not cross buy I don’t see why the NA version would be cross buy

  • Not my thing, if these visual novels had at least some gameplay to them I’d probably look more into them. However as they are now they simply do not appeal to me.

  • Excited for this! Also very confused when it is actually released since this says tomorrow amazon still sticking to Thursday… which only kind of sucks cause I’m getting dishonor 2 as well that day…

    Anyways, excited and love vn. So any that come west I try to pick up. Hoping the rest of the series comes west.

  • Already finish the game. Like the three main digital seiyuu, but I round the second one is the best, her voice when telling me time to say goodbye (without knowing her real name) sadden me at most.

    Overall, this is a tour guide retold as a videogame for Shimane Prefecture, Japan. Like all the places and they are so interesting.

    The only flaw I could say is the main character personality is bad. Another thing is while the gameplay of investigation is not bad, the Max Mode here is ultimately useless and feel out of place.

    Overall good VN with the story, but gameplay not good (not as good as Phoenix Wright or Danganronpa)

  • why ps4 don’t get digital of this game?

    • Who said the PS4 isn’t getting this game digitally? According to The Drop, every PS4 game releasing this week is available digitally, and most of them are also at retail. Nowhere in the article does it say this game is physical only.
      It’s official release date is November 10th, so while a bunch of stores may already be selling it, it won’t be available on PSN until Thursday.

  • Thank you for bringing this to the west, and the PSVita.

    Will get to enjoy this someday….but got a lot of Vita games to complete for now.

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