This week Square Enix finally broke the news about Final Fantasy XV, revealing a trailer, a movie, an anime series, a demo, a mobile game, a freakin’ car, and they stopped just short before they went completely mad and announced a theme park and an opera. Though much of the content will be out before the launch of the final game on Sept. 30, there were two pieces of content available immediately after the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event. The first was the free downloadable Platinum Demo available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the second was episode one of the five-part Brotherhood anime available on YouTube.
Me and another Fan Contributor, Joe Miller, delved into the content, here are our reactions:
By Joe Miller
Having had all my doubts about the success of the forthcoming entry in my favorite video game franchise squashed by the Uncovered event, I did not hesitate to download Platinum Demo for my PlayStation 4 immediately. It was only a few minutes later that I was playing the short demo of Noctis’ dream world.
The footage of this game has shown just how much the developers respect the Final Fantasy franchise, with references to previous games at every corner, and this dream world is yet another example. Dreams have been a common feature in the franchise since FFVI, with Cyan’s dream world. The unconscious drive behind the actions of the characters presenting themselves as visible daydreaming, as well as characters confronting their haunting trauma, has been a recurring theme, so seeing young Noctis searching this dream world for his “safe space” will be very familiar to fans of the franchise.
And for both fans and non-fans, it also serves as a great scenario to act as a tutorial. Players are gradually introduced to the weapons system, which is still limited but expanded from what was in the previous demo, Episode Duscae. Melee weapons feel just as fun to use, if not more because they’re a lot more impactful, and there’s an even greater contrast in feel between the sword and the ax. And for the first time, we get to use weaker versions of magic (before using the real thing at the end), and to get the feel of the car. The car had no major role other than just to show players how it controls. And of course, through our little companion who guides us through the world, we get a look at the smartphone, which appears to have some use in the final game.
While short, the demo was a blast. I admit, I found the magic tough to get the hang of at first and quite fiddly, but then it was just so satisfying to blast enemies in an AoE from a distance that I just loved using it. Between the car and the smartphone, and the radio we’ve seen in the footage, I get the feeling the developers were inspired more by Grand Theft Auto than by any Western RPGs, but this game feels like a love letter to past games through and through. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited to play the full game.
By Eric Fuchs
Two quick impressions of the upcoming Final Fantasy XV came out last night. I watched the first episode of the OVA anime, Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV. And when I say quick impressions, “quick” is the operative word. At only twelve minutes long, Brotherhood Episode 1 is little more than a nibble of the story. Together the two pieces make up an appetizer: while the demo offered a taste of the title’s gameplay, this shows you what the game’s presentation and tone will be. And it appears this game won’t be some action-packed blockbuster, but rather a slower, contemplative journey with massive cheeseburgers (off topic: I’m hungry now).
The episode is subtitled “Before the Storm”, referring to the fact that this is a prequel, though the events of the OVA seem to be plucked from a random part of the game’s longer story already in progress. It is assumed you already know these characters so no formal introductions are made, nor is there much exposition. It really feels like somebody animated a few cutscenes of the game around the twelve hour mark, then ended it right before a boss fight.
Brotherhood is produced by A-1 Pictures. A-1 have produced several JRPG anime spin-offs, such as Persona 4 The Golden Animation along with original shows like Sword Art Online, Black Butler, and my personal darling, ERASED. There is definite skill on display here with predictably gorgeous background art, fluid fight animation, and a delicious-looking bacon and fried egg cheeseburger (still hungry). Some of the animation on the characters is a bit rushed. However, Noctis’ hair looked great flowing in the breeze of their convertible.
The anime seems to capture perfectly the rhythms of combat that we have seen in the trailers and the Episode Duscae demo. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned it is also only twelve minutes long. So just when the episode gets exciting and the animation cuts loose, it abruptly ends on a cliffhanger.
Most of Brotherhood Episode 1 is spent with slow talking scenes. The plot is basically Noctis and his pals avoid some enemy troops who are hunting them while trying to get to the city of his girlfriend, Luna. The enemy forces seem to be mostly a nuisance to them at this point. There’s one fight scene and two scenes of eating. Though probably the best character-building moment of the entire twelve minutes is a gag where Noctis peels the vegetables off his burger (hungry) in disgust, revealing more about his character than a decade of trailers have managed. We do learn some details of Noctis’ past: He was found close to death by his father after being attacked by a Lamia creature, and was lying next to the corpse of a woman that could possibly be his mother, though this isn’t yet explained. Eventually, the Lamia returns to attack adult Noctis and… again, cliffhanger.
Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV Episode 1 is more of a trailer than a stand-alone product. You’re naturally meant to want to hold on and watch Episode 2, but I really doubt that even when all five episodes are viewed back to back it will add up to much of a satisfying experience on its own. For all we know right now everything that is happening in this OVA might turn out to be a quest in the main game. But for fans starved for Final Fantasy XV content, Brotherhood most likely does a great job presenting the rhythms of the game’s story. But again, only a taste. You’re supposed to be unsatisfied, there is a game to sell after all.