Octopath Traveler’s soundtrack is one of our recent favorites, and the game’s composer Yasunori Nishiki recently talked about what inspired him into creating the game’s main theme.
Here’s what the Yasunori Nishiki had to share:
“For our inaugural entry in this deep dive into the music of Octopath Traveler, I’d like to talk about the main theme.
The main theme is the “face” of the game, as it were, but I can tell you that this one didn’t come out easily. Thinking back, all I can really remember is how much I struggled with this—that’s how much pressure I felt having to compose the main theme of this game.
At the point I wrote this, I had already finished about half the songs from the game. We recorded the whole soundtrack in two sessions, and I composed this theme just before the first session. I remember spending about a month composing something, tossing it out, and so on over and over again.
It took me about two weeks to compose my first version of the theme, which—after agonizing for quite some time—I decided to submit as my initial draft.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well received. I remember thinking to myself, “Yikes…I really messed this one up, didn’t I?” And so I was given five days to submit a second draft. Which I did, but again, the response was…less than enthusiastic.
To be honest, at this point I was in complete disarray. It was like I was lost in the woods, with no clue of how I could emerge with a completed piece. I mentioned this in my Famitsu interview as well, but I honestly considered resigning from the project (even though I’d already composed half the soundtrack!).
So I asked for a one-day extension. I had a feeling that I’d just get even more lost if I tried to start over from scratch, so I presented the idea of trying to combine the first and second versions into a third draft. On top of that, I structured it so that the melody repeated, helping it to stick in your head as much as possible, and the theme you hear today finally came together.
The main theme that I arrived at after this long road starts off in the key of C, with a melody taken from the first draft of the piece. The original version had more of an extended intro, but I decided to cut it and have players hear the main melody right from the start.
The string melody that follows is from the second draft. It has a hint of melancholy while also being full of hope. I’m quite pleased with it, and I’m glad I was able to preserve it in the final version.
After this comes a trumpet melody that’s also used in the victory fanfare (the lead-in to the victory fanfare is from the original draft, while the part that loops after is from the second draft).
After this, the melody from the first draft returns, this time in the key of D-flat—this is the intentional repetition I mentioned above.
Transposing it up a semitone, we bring back the melody with even more spirit and energy. We then repeat the melody once more with an added fill to make a further impression, then bring the piece home with the ending. I was asked to make a lavish (but not too long) ending that would be suitable for trailers and the like, and this is how it turned out.
And that’s the main theme. While it was a struggle all the way, when I listen to it playing now at the character selection screen, I feel it really evokes the feeling of these eight travelers and their journeys. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t quit the project after all, haha.”
Octopath Traveler is available on the Nintendo Switch.