I’ve played the Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo three times since its release, and that should speak for itself. It’s gorgeous, interesting and totally refreshing, yet somehow it still feels familiar – in the best possible way.
The hype for FFXV has been plentiful for quite some time. Yes, the last few additions to the Final Fantasy anthology have been less-than-impressive. And yes, the development process for FFXV has been far from smooth. So, it’s amazing that the hype for this release has endured. But I think the reason it has is because fans are hoping for a return to form from the series. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a quality game in a series that had previously be renowned for the quality of its instalments. And from the looks of the platinum demo FFXV is shaping up to be exactly that.
The levels showcased in the demo aren’t included in the full release of Final Fantasy XV. Though, both the game and demo revolve around the same protagonist – Noctis – the demo occurs in a period of time long before that of the full release. In the demo, Noctis is a child, and we navigate through his dream worlds. We don’t get a taste of the greater story, or really of the grown up character that Noctis will become. What this demo and its setting does, is allow the developers to weave together the various mechanics of the game.
Visually FFXV looks dazzling. But we’ve learnt to expect dazzling visuals the Final Fantasy series, even from the lacklustre titles. Still the game boasts some interesting mechanics. The environment has various environmental conditions, which you can experience in the demo courtesy of weather-changing pressure plates throughout the dream worlds. It’s quite spectacular how the changes in time and weather affect the game; the lighting, for starters, is breathtaking.
If this demo is anything to go by, then FFXV should have an explorative element to its gameplay. We know that the game is adopting a pseudo- open-world approach, and the demo’s levels were detailed and incredibly explorable. Exploration is a great love of many an RPG player, and while it’s had a place in previous Final Fantasy titles (the celestial weapons in FFX, for instance), it’s never been a focus of the games. It’d be nice to get the Dark-Souls-esque urge to explore, to adventure through the world simply for the sake of adventuring through the world. And with the car, the next-gen graphics and the sounds of FFXV’s game world, we may get just that.
We get a small taste of combat in the demo. And it’s a far cry away from what we’re used to in FF games. For starters, it’s not turn based. Like, at all. Admittedly the series has been moving in this direction for quite some time. We haven’t seen a traditionally turn-based instalment since FFX, but I imagine that a real-time combat system will rustle the proverbial feathers of some of the series’ adherent fans. In the demo the system seemed fine, the final fight was challenging and fun. But this super fast-paced combat isn’t something us Final Fantasy fans are used to. And it runs the risk of seeming out of place in such slow moving games as these.
This said, I’ve played the demo three times and I’ll probably play it again. Speaking personally, I haven’t properly loved a Final Fantasy game since FFX. While the Platinum demo didn’t have that same effect, it was nice to return to a world that’s beautiful and addictive – the worlds that were previously plentiful in the Final Fantasy universe. I was excited for Final Fantasy XV before I played the Platinum demo, and I’m even more excited now. Here’s hoping my hopes aren’t shattered.
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