Reviews, I Guess? – Final Fantasy XV

So I finished Final Fantasy XV last night and since a couple people asked me to share my thoughts on the game I thought I’d make a twitter thread to contain them so no one has to suffer through it all on their timeline. Unfortunately, this turned into a twenty-some post thing so I’m using the available webspace I’ve got to share it. Sorry if this is unprofessional, potential clients!

First up, there’s a wealth of information about this game that the game doesn’t feel the need to share with you. I felt like I was a prepubescent boy given a bra at times: I kinda know what it’s supposed to be used for but hell if I get it beyond that. I stumbled on entire series’ of game mechanics without meaning to – the most glaring one being the Ascension system which works like a skill tree in any other action RPG. There was apparently a pop-up that told me about it but I was being stung repeatedly by giant desert scorpions at the time so I dismissed it. This may or may not be on me, but it still seems like such a strange thing to leave for a pop-up to tell the player.

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The combat system works really well until it doesn’t anymore. Not over the course of the game, this happens about a dozen times PER fight. You’re zipping around like a badass and then suddenly you can’t see Noctis and your health bar is hemorrhaging. Why? Who the fuck knows. The particle effects can get completely out of control, obscuring your characters, and the action, from view from anyone who isn’t a fireworks technician. The warping technique is your friend and can let you pull off some genuinely amazing attacks, but the targeting system will jump between enemies on its own with the slight turn of the camera, so be forewarned.

The real star of the game is the characters and their personalities. I was especially pleasantly surprised by Noctis as a character. I was under the impression he was going to be a whiny teenage brat or a sadsack emo kid but he’s actually a dryly sarcastic regular dude. He makes jokes, he has some legitimate great points to make as a dude, and he loves hot dogs. I like that guy. The other characters are all fleshed out throughout the game and you really feel a real camaraderie with them that deepens throughout the story.

The story is where things tend to get divisive for people. A lot of folks who’ve talked to me about the game said they thought it was terrible or at least not great but I’ll go on the record with the hottest take of the century – it was alright. The story is a fairly loose framework of Final Fantasy-ian mystical mumbo-jumbo that works as a serviceable way to propel our heroes further on into the game. I felt the stakes were suitably high enough for our heroes to feel like actual heroes and the latter parts of the game really amped up the majesty and magic which I appreciated. My favorite part of the entire game is the fact that you’re living out this high fantasy story in such a mundane setting for the most part. The game takes place in what is obstensibly the modern era of a fantasy world. Cars, gas stations, convenience stores and cell phones proliferate right next to Chocobos, Wyverns, and Eidolons hiding within fallen meteors. It’s all such a great juxtaposition to me and really got me into the world. The story isn’t going to win any awards but it did it’s job and in the video game world, especially the classic JRPG vein of it, that’s alright.

The late game content as a whole though, felt very constrained. The moment you get on a boat (no spoilers) the game becomes almost claustrophobic in the manner it presents itself to you. You’re now stuck in a series of regular ass JRPG missions that shoot you down a metaphorical straight hallway to the finish of the game. The thing that saves this on the whole for me is that you can travel back to earlier points in the game at any time. That’s such an amazing thing to do for your players! I couldn’t believe how much I appreciated this. Especially when the game dickslapped me with a level cap for the final missions WAY above where I was since it hadn’t given me any levels or way to even gain them in a while. I just kind of went back in time and spent two or three days real time just dicking around and finding stuff I missed.

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In the end, Final Fantasy XV is a flawed game with a lot to offer fans of Final Fantasy, I think. I’ve never even been extremely into the FF series (my favorites are FF4 and FF9), but I’ve always liked them a good bit and this game still did it for me. Not really because it’s a Final Fantasy shoe-in (I mean you spend half the game driving around in a car with members of My Chemical Romance and taking selfies) but because the gameplay is engaging enough, the story propels you on your trajectory enough, the missions have enough meat, and the characters have worlds of charm.

I recommend it! 3.5/5.

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