How Octopath Traveler Uses Unreal Engine 4 to Blend Old and New School Graphics

How Octopath Traveler Uses Unreal Engine 4 to Blend Old and New School Graphics

You see a lot going on with Square Enix's new RPG when you take a deeper look.

Octopath Traveler's unique blend of modern and retro visuals is very pretty to behold, but how much do you know about these graphical tricks beyond "It's like Final Fantasy VI made a baby with a pop-up book?" As usual, our friends at Digital Foundry are on-hand with a detailed breakdown of the magic behind the game.

Despite its obvious visual callbacks to classic 16-bit RPGs, Octopath Traveler was developed using Unreal Engine 4—the same engine that powers many modern games, including Fortnite. To put it simply, the game's environments are built out of polygons, but are "papered-over" with tile sets meant to emulate SNES sprites.

Digital Foundry's video also makes you appreciate how Square Enix made careful choices about when and how to lean on the old versus the new. At first glance, Octopath's sprites pay clear homage to the likes of Chrono Trigger, but lean in closer and you'll see how each character throws an accurate shadow. Old RPGs weren't capable of much beyond parking a uniform black circle under each character.

There's a lot to absorb in this breakdown of Octopath Traveler, and it's worth your time. If you need more Octopath in your life (hint: You do), listen to our latest episode of Axe of the Blood God, where Kat and I discuss the game in-depth. You should also check out our guides, tips, and hints for Octopath Traveler.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve,, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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