Final Fantasy XV has been one of the most anticipated games of the last decade. For many, it has not fulfilled its purpose, although for many others it has done so. But today we are not here to talk about the game, but about its protagonist. I had the opportunity
to exchange words with Ray Chase, the voice actor in charge of dubbing Prince Noctis.
He is not the only character to whom he has given a voice. And we have been able to see him playing the Master of Masters in Kingom Hearts Back Cover and Eve, in Nier: Automata, with whose members we have also had the pleasure of collaborating. Both Kira Buckland (voice of 2B) and Kyle McCarley (voice of 9S) lent themselves to talk about their work in previous interviews.
Without further delay, we let it be Ray who speaks to us today, not only about his role in Final Fantasy XV, but about his time in the world of videogames:
How did you first get started in voice acting? Has it been difficult for you to get where you are now?
It has certainly been a long and winding road from when I first started out about six years ago! I first started auditioning with sites like Voice123 and only booked my first job for $100 after six months of auditioning with no results – it was an iphone hangliding game that only had one other person audition for it! From then, it was a slow road of finding little jobs in all sorts of unexpected places, like e-learning modules, and one particularly long sojourn into audiobooks.
I did almost 200 in a three year period which taught me a great deal about keeping your vocal cords working well through a lot of stress. A few years after audiobooks, I went into auditioning for video games and animation, and soon found myself as the role of Noctis in FFXV. A few years after that, I finally had the chance to talk about it and the game was released!
Through it all, it was extremely difficult, but I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life and so I always kept at it through a host of failures.
I think that being a voice actor goes much beyond giving voice to a character, especially in terms of the inclusion of the interpretation. How is that process?
Most of the time, your job as a voice actor is to get as much information as possible. Due to the secretive nature of the video game industry, your normal voice acting jobs are presented with as little context as possible. If you are lucky, you get to see artwork of your character, but not always!
Fortunately for Final Fantasy XV, the complete opposite was true, and Dan Inoue and Keythe Farley were always there to answer my multitude of questions that were always on my mind. I feel that because of that, the sense of real banter that the cast has really comes through, even though we never recorded together!
I’ve seen you say more than once that you’re a big fan of Final Fantasy. What was the first one you played? What do you think is your favorite?
The first one I played was technically not an official Final Fantasy – Final Fantasy Legends for Game Boy. But it was my first real RPG, and its sense of mystery and sorrow really shocked me as I never had encountered a game like that before that told such a harrowing story.
But as far as real Final Fantasy are concerned, I really like V and VIII, with Tactics being up there of course! And I really like how complete XV is getting these days as well!
For now the role of Noctis is one of the biggest you’ve done. Could you tell us some detail about your audition?
The audition for Noctis was sent the same night as the other main characters in the game – and I gravitated toward his role since it was the one that most resembled my natural wheelhouse of roles. I spent a great deal of time on my audition – they were looking for a ‘rock star’ sound, someone who is naturally charismatic, even though they might be a bit prickly at times.
Kurt Cobain was a reference, and Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in the Batman films. I’m glad I spend so long on that audition!
Noctis is a very peculiar character, very human. And besides that, it goes through some very abrupt changes. Did it cost you a lot to put yourself in their shoes and give voice to their evolution?
The thing any actor is always looking for is a dynamic character, one who changes a great deal during the course of the story. Playing a character’s arc is very satisfying to sink your teeth into, and I was really fortunate that Noctis is precisely one such character.
I was also lucky that Square recorded the game in chronological order, so I got the chance to mature alongside my character. From starting out as my first time in a real video game recording session, to being able to confidently speak those final summoning lines at the end, I’m really glad I got to be on Noct’s journey with him!
Final Fantasy XV has a lot of dialogue between the main characters, especially when they travel. How was the experience of recording it with the other voice actors?
As I say before, surprisingly, we did not record any dialogue together! It is due completely to the talents of our director Keythe that all the lines were able to sync up and sound very natural. Because the entire game was dubbed, it was too cumbersome to have more than one person in the booth at a time – each line had to be as long as the Japanese to the millisecond.
But because we had enough time to really take our time on this project, Keythe was able to listen back to each conversation at multiple points and make sure that it all sounded like we were all journeying together in real time – if it didn’t work, we had the luxury to re-record with better context.
You have played Noctis in Final Fantasy XV but you have also done roles like Artorius Collbrande in Tales of Berseria or Eve in NieR: Automata. Do you like to play hero or villain more?
What is easier for you? To me, playing a villain is just like playing a hero. They both have goals and desires, just simply different values that set them apart. I find both to be equally as compelling, although usually villains get to have more fun!
Lastly, last year you worked on a lot of projects. Do you have something in mind, or is it already in process?
I’m so grateful to be attached to so many different projects in the last couple of years. Being Roy in Fire Emblem for example was really a dream come true! I am working on some things right now that I’m certainly very proud of, but unfortunately due to NDAs I can’t just yet… Stay tuned!