Odencat Founder Daigo Sato Interview

To help mark the one-year anniversary of its title Meg’s Monster, as well as the game’s Michael A. Cunningham Memorial Award for 2023, RPGamer was given the opportunity to interview independent Japanese studio Odencat’s founder Daigo Sato. In addition to discussing the studio’s design philosophies and goals, Daigo talks about the influence of Suikoden and possible plans for the future. Our interview also comes alongside a Steam code giveaway for Meg’s Monster, details on how to enter the giveaway can be found here.

RPGamer: Who is Odencat? Can you describe the figures at the studio and how you work together?

Daigo Sato (Founder, Odencat): Odencat is a small game development and publishing studio based in Japan, known for our narrative-driven pixel art games. Our breakout title was Bear’s Restaurant, followed by the recent success of Meg’s Monster. Our team is primarily located in Japan, but we collaborate with talented individuals worldwide, including those in Denmark, Vietnam, and the USA, to bring our unique visions to life.

RPGamer: Is there a particular philosophy behind Odencat and the games you create?

Daigo Sato: Our core philosophy is to create memorable experiences that linger with players long after they’ve finished our games. It’s crucial for us that our games not only entertain but also leave a lasting, positive impact on players’ lives.

Meg’s Monster sees Roy attempting to return Meg to the world above.

RPGamer: Meg’s Monster is a short game, but it delivers a complete emotional experience. Are there special design considerations that go into shorter games?

Daigo Sato: In developing shorter games, our primary focus is on narrative potency. We meticulously craft each game element to serve a purpose and enrich the story. A prime example is our combat system, designed not just for engagement but as a storytelling tool, ensuring each battle is distinct and meaningful.

RPGamer: Is there anything you’ve particularly aimed to achieve with any of your past and present titles?

Daigo Sato: Operating as a small studio, we adopt a “build-up” strategy, leveraging our limited resources to innovate while retaining successful elements from past projects. This approach includes developing and refining our proprietary game engine, allowing us to amass a valuable arsenal of software assets for future endeavors. This methodology is deeply rooted in my engineering background, where efficiency and innovation are paramount.

RPGamer: Odencat games feel nostalgic because of their pixel art and familiar RPG interfaces, but they explore characters and emotions in ways that feel more modern. What is it that’s so inviting about using familiar styles to do something new?

Daigo Sato: Our emphasis on pixel art plays a significant role because it allows players’ imaginations to fill in the gaps. While a key motivation behind this choice is to reduce development costs, it also enhances the emotional experience. This is because the emotions are largely drawn from the players themselves, making the experience more personal and immersive. Less is more — that’s one of my favorite sayings.

The world if liable to end if Meg starts crying, making it a rather important quest.

RPGamer: On the Jace Varlet stream, you mentioned really enjoying Suikoden II. Is there anything from the Suikoden games that has inspired your own work? Is there any inspiration that you’d like to explore in a future game?

Daigo Sato: Suikoden I and II have been significant influences on our work, particularly in their emotional storytelling and effective use of pixel art. I’m not a game critic, so I’m not particularly skilled at analysis, but I believe in characters actually being there, having real emotions, and genuinely suffering… I think the game Suikoden expressed this through pixel art. My favorite character is the villain Luca Blight, partly because it feels like he acts on his own will rather than being merely moved by the plot. Of course, the duel scene between the protagonist and Jowy shakes the player’s emotions in a way unique to games, but that effect hasn’t faded even now. I also dream of creating a game someday that features an ensemble cast, with many characters appearing.

RPGamer: Dream Channel Zero, your upcoming game, has some real striking, surreal images. Do you recommend any other games, movies, art, or the like to get in the right mood?

Daigo Sato: For those intrigued by Dream Channel Zero’s surrealistic aesthetic, I recommend exploring Zelle, a game by the same creator, and titles like Hylics and ENA: Dream BBQ for comparable vibes. I believe this game incorporates a surreal comedic element akin to that of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (a Japanese manga). Frankly, this will be our first game that keeps you laughing non-stop while playing. I hope it also appeals to the sensibilities of non-Japanese audiences.

Surreal adventure Dream Channel Zero is currently planned to launch at the end of this year.

RPGamer: Are there any other genres of game you would you like to try out?

Daigo Sato: We’ll always stay true to the core Odencat philosophy of delivering emotional experiences, but we’d also like to challenge ourselves with various genres and possibilities. I’m currently fascinated by the farming simulation genre, inspired by games like Stardew Valley. After playing Palworld, I’ve come to see how much of a game’s success is determined at the planning stage and the importance of understanding the market. So with that in mind… I think I’ll try to find the best balance between “What we want” and “What players want.”

RPGamer: Can you give any hints for any upcoming projects and games to look out for?

Daigo Sato: We’re working on another narrative-centric game that embodies the distinctive Odencat style. It’s proving to be a challenging project, but completing it is crucial for moving forward. Regarding games that aren’t ours which I’d recommend to watch out for, Eiyuden Chronicle stands out, especially in light of the recent passing of the Suikoden creator. It’s a project I’m eagerly anticipating, as it represents his final contribution to the gaming world.

RPGamer would like to extend our deepest thanks for Daigo Sato for taking the time to answer our questions, as well as to Odencat’s Elisha Deogracias for setting the interview. Questions were also supplied by Zach Welhouse and Michael Baker. Meg’s Monster is currently available on Steam, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, while Dream Channel Zero is available to wishlist on Steam.


Alex Fuller

Alex joined RPGamer in 2011 as a Previewer before moving onto Reviews, News Director, and Managing Editor. Became Acting Editor-in-Chief in 2018.

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