After reading Game Informer‘s May cover story on Final Fantasy XV, I got interested to finally try the Platinum Demo that came out around a month ago. I downloaded it while playing a few rounds of Rocket League, then I dove right in.
In the demo, you still play as the main character from Final Fantasy XV, Noctis, except you’re in his dream, and in the dream, you’re playing as a kid version of Noctis. A dream creature named Carbuncle (although you can name him whatever you like at the end of the story) guides you through the dream, communicating in text messages to Noctis’s phone. The beginning areas get you familiar with the controls and you move and jump around a rocky, forested environment. You can collect orange crystals along the way, and collecting enough of them gives you access to plates that are spaced around the areas. Stepping on these plates once unlocked do a variety of things, such as change the weather, switch the time of day, give you items, tease some of the summons you’ll see at some point in Final Fantasy XV, or even transform Noctis into numerous vehicles and animals. Depending on the time of day, you may get a different item or transformation from a plate, so experimentation is encouraged.
About halfway through the first area, your guide, the furry little Carbuncle alerts you of enemies up ahead and gives you some weapons to defend yourself, namely a toy sword and a squeaky hammer. The toy sword is quicker to swing, but the hammer hits harder, so it’s simply a matter of preference. You can bind each of your weapons or items to the D-pad. The enemies are known as Nightmares, and they don’t really pose much of a threat. They have a basic slash and a projectile, but they don’t really try to gang up on you. They’re about your size and look kind of like strange blue frogs. In combat, holding circle attacks continuously, while holding square causes you to defend, enabling you to auto-dodge, if the attack permits it. You can also tap square at any time to dodge in the desired direction. You’ll find items that you can use as spells in the game, like fireworks and thunderbolts, requiring you to aim them by holding down circle. While aiming, you’ll see their area of effect before tossing the item.
After the beginning area, things get a little more open, as the next area places you in a house, except you’re about the size of a mouse. You’re free to explore this large room, transform into a car or truck to move more quickly, knock down a block castle (if you want, and let’s be honest: you DO want to), and collect crystals before moving on the the next area, fighting Nightmares along the way. During the majority of this demo, I was heavily reminded of Kingdom Hearts, with the dreamlike fantasy settings, small shadow-like, bright colored enemies, and even the controls, movement, and attacks. I think fans of Kingdom Hearts will really enjoy the demo.
After you make it through your tiny escapade, you’re placed into a city square with plenty to do, including a plate that lets you respawn enemies at will, fighting indefinitely, if you want. Here you can transform into a number of creatures, a large giraffe-like creature with horns, a tusked-buffalo, and an alligator (or crocodile, sorry, I don’t know my lizards) with wings. Once you’re done in this area, you’ll move on to the final area of the demo.
The final area appears to be the city streets of Noctis’s home, Insomnia. Walking forward reveals a giant iron demon with a huge sword appearing, and for this short-lived part of the demo, you transform into Noctis in his adult form and are given real weapons and a fire spell. The demon can be tough, and it actually reminded me of a Dark Souls style boss battle, where being greedy will certainly get you into trouble, and that you need to learn the tells of enemies to be fairly successful. The toy weapons and items prepare you well for the real deal, as the control is all the same.
After you’re able to down the enemy, you’re free to watch the ending cutscene, or you can spawn the creature again, this time much more powerful than the last. This time however, Carbuncle gives you the ability to teleport with your smaller sword, enable warp strikes, and sticking to pillars and street lights to get out of the monster’s reach. Part way through the fight, Carbuncle will also give you access to the Armeger, a number of magic swords that float around Noctis, enabling him to attack with each one, kind of like a super or limit break attack. This fight is much faster paced with the ability to warp and the increased threat from the beast, but really shows what Final Fantasy XV will be capable of once it release September 30th.
I hope that they keep up the good work with Final Fantasy XV, as I really don’t think the Final Fantasy brand can really take another bad game. I’ll be on board at release, just as I was when XIII came out (ugh), but here’s hoping I’ll get a better experience than I did with XIII.