Final Fantasy XV, video game

There is now a second Final Fantasy XV demo available for download, the Platinum Demo that is completely different from the first one, Episode Duscae. Released first, the latter is an open world action role-playing game, that despite its real-time combat feels like a Final Fantasy game. On the other hand, the Platinum Demo, is more of a button mashing action-adventure game that resembles Square Enix’s Disney crossover, Kingdom Hearts, more than a typical Japanese RPG. So, what kind of game is Final Fantasy XV going to be when it releases at the end of September?

If nothing else, it should be big. Make no mistake about it, Square Enix really is Final Fantasy, and it seems that the publisher really wants to remind us all of that fact. The marketing push they have made for their upcoming flagship RPG is unprecedented, at least for them. Besides the two demos, there is an anime series, Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood, available on YouTube, and a CG feature film to support the title. Most of that was announced at special “Uncovered” event in Los Angeles, CA, last month. If you have a couple of hours to kill, you can watch the whole thing here.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t initially all that excited about Final Fantasy XV. I played all three of the Final Fantasy XIII games, and for the most part found them “okay,” but I didn’t have anywhere near the patience to actually finish any of them. In addition to my ambivalence over the last iteration, I wasn’t really all that excited about what looked like four bros taking a road trip. I typically appreciate a little more diversity in a large cast, and from what I had seen of XV, there was none, just a handful of emo guys.  Luckily, I overcame my initial skepticism, and actually dug a little deeper into what Square Enix is trying to sell.

The first leg of my journey into the Final Fantasy XV rabbit hole was downloading the Episode Duscae demo. Unfortunately, that demo is no longer available for download. It’s unfortunate, because that demo is actually a small slice of the actual game, and is fairly representative of what the core gameplay of Final Fantasy XV should be like, to play. It is worth noting, that the segment is pretty combat heavy. The final product should actually offer quite a variety of gameplay. There will be vehicles to drive and even Chocobos to ride around large open areas.

Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix, video game

Being able to run around the world in Episode Duscae did seem a little strange for a Final Fantasy game. What was more strange was the combat. As I mentioned before, it is real-time. It is also prone to button-mashing, however it is actually pretty deep. The main character Noctis, can actually warp around the world. There are certain locations he can zip to, or use that ability in combat situations with a warp attack. He can also coordinate attacks with team members. Once you get into the menu screen, it can get even more complicated, but on the battlefield, it is pretty much hack and slash with some quick time elements.

This is in complete contrast to what is offered in the Final Fantasy XV: Platinum Demo. Not only is the button-mapping completely different, but smacking around “Heartless” type creatures with a squeaky hammer is nothing like combat in Episode Duscae. The new demo does however allow players to drive vehicles around larger areas. You can also activate buttons that demonstrate the game’s dynamic day/night and weather system. Though the content in the Platinum Demo will not be part of the final game, it does reveal aspects of the narrative that aren’t really addressed in Episode Duscae.

Speaking of narrative, it seems that Square Enix has decided to tone down Final Fantasy XV’s connection to the “Fabula Nova Crystallis” mythos. Personally, I couldn’t be happier. While I really like the characters in Final Fantasy XIII, I absolutely hated the setting, and found the whole premise overly complicated. It seems that Final Fantasy XV’s plot should be a lot more straightforward. Along with ditching a lot of baggage, the new game will also attempt to bridge the modern world with the fantastical. It is also interesting that the main theme song, a Florence and the Machine cover of Stand By Me was chosen, which draws parallels with the classic Rob Reiner movie.

Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix, video game

Despite the inconsistencies of the demos, the more I dig into Final Fantasy XV, the more I’m intrigued. The story should be easier to get into, and the Brotherhood anime series should also add some depth to the main characters. The open world and more action-oriented combat are also welcome additions. In some ways, what I’ve seen of Final Fantasy XV’s scope reminds me of a more cinematic, fantastical Shenmue. That actually makes me pretty happy, since I have some serious apprehension about the development of Shenmue 3. Regardless, Final Fantasy XV will likely redefine the JRPG genre, and should be big a step forward for the franchise.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@Official_OnlySP) and Facebook where you can also sound off your opinions.

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

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Lance Roth
Writer, musician, and indie game developer in the Land of Enchantment.

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