Is the long wait worth it?
Let me preface this by saying that this an overview of the free, widely-released Platinum Demo of Final Fantasy XV, as opposed to the Episode Duscae demo, which was only available with a purchase of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD.
Finally, the seemingly insatiable hunger that the gaming sphere has had for more details on Final Fantasy XV has been appeased, at least partially. It has been slightly over a year since we last got to experience the highly-anticipated, eternally-gestating game that is FFXV, and it’s safe to say that fans were damn near rabid to play more. Enter Platinum Demo.
Platinum Demo is absolutely worth your time. It’s very short – taking me about an hour, including extensive exploration and killing the secret boss two times just because. (More on that later.) There are only a few short stages to explore and collectibles scattered all over each area to encourage adventuring and ostensibly to tour the player through the gorgeous scenery. The graphics truly are a marvel to behold, and I guarantee that I’m not the only one who cannot wait to see the fully realized and optimized graphics and distinguished art in effect in the final version.
Platinum Demo unfolds over the course of a dream of the main character, Noctis. Noctis’ companion in his dream is a carbuncle, an adorable fox-like creature, and also a staple of the Final Fantasy series. The carbuncle leads Noctis through multiple levels of his dream (yes, just like Inception) with the end goal of waking up. Being a dream, it allowed the demo to get quite trippy in many points and not have to justify itself; such as being able to step on a pad on the ground and become a car, a bison-esque creature, a giraffe-esque creature, or a crocodile-esque creature. There were also identical pads that triggered immediate changes in the day-night cycle or in the weather. While just being part of a dream may be enough excuse for the inclusion of these seemingly random pads, after further mulling, I’m convinced that the dream state was a perfect place for the developers to show off the dynamic day-night and weather cycles and just to be silly by allowing you turn into vehicles and animals. I don’t imagine that these pads will be in the final version of FFXV, but that’s complete conjecture on my part.
The gameplay has distanced itself ever further from the traditional turn-based RPG combat that the Final Fantasy series popularized in its early days. The past few Final Fantasy entries (barring the MMO Final Fantasy XIV) have toyed around with a variation on an action-RPG style system, and FFXV pushes it strongly in that direction, even drawing some completely valid comparisons to the gameplay of the Kingdom Hearts series. Combat is somewhat fast-paced, while remaining measured, comparably so to the Dark Souls series in a way. I found myself frequently needing to dodge or roll, instead of continuing a combo, especially with the final boss of Platinum Demo, who proved to be a legitimate challenge compared to the other, mostly fodder-type enemies. There are also various weapon types that offer slow and fast-paced combat options, further adding to the available tactics in the evolving combat system. I was slightly disappointed in the overall presentation of the melee combat in Platinum Demo. The player can simply hold the attack button and Noctis will swing his weapon until he is hit by an attacker. There are no immediately available options for improvised combos or attack combinations. If the combat even slightly resembles this format in the final product, I fear that it will become tiresome and boring very quickly. Magic nor summons played a part in this demo but have already been confirmed to be in the final game. There were, however, projectiles like firecrackers, thunderbolts and more that could be thrown at the enemy in order to deal area-of-effect style damage.
Episode Duscae seemed to offer more overall things to do and see within the universe that Final Fantasy XV takes place in. The world seemed slightly more realized in the miniscule chunk of gameplay available in that first demo. Platinum Demo does take place in a dream though, which gives me hope that it plays differently and/or exists differently within the “real world” outside of the dream. While the second demo was gorgeous, offered some insight into Noctis as a character and showed the audience a different look at the game’s world, it almost felt like it would be a demo shown at a tradeshow to give people a basic look at what to expect from a very surface level at the game’s launch; a demo to explain gameplay, art style, scope and themes of the game, et cetera. I am very excited for Final Fantasy XV,but not because of Platinum Demo. I am a Final Fantasy fan, and, based on the trailers and what I have seen of the game so far, it looks intriguing to me. It will be fascinating to see what the final version of the game looks like and how much of the Platinum Demo is retained or scrapped.