The road to getting the chance to play Final Fantasy XV has been a long and arduous one. Since the game’s initial announcement at E3 2006, Square Enix has put their epic RPG through an epic development cycle, console switch and even a name change. The former Final Fantasy Versus XIII is finally heading towards the finish line of completion, which is something we never thought we’d see. A special portion of the game came packaged in with the release of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, which has been referred to as Episode Duscae. We spent a lengthy amount of time with this extended demo and we’re ready to talk about our full experience.
Things start off with a tent full of young cast members that make up your hunting party – main character and prince Noctis, the powerhouse of the group Gladiolus, the more strategic-minded Ignis and the gun-wielding hothead Prompto. You’ll take control of Noctis throughout the entire demo and run into a vast wilderness alongside his companions. Each of these four young allies come off as very likable, since their random banter during exploration and intimate moments are endearing. The incredible graphics on display and wonderful audio styling of Yoko Shimomura combine to make each and every instance between each character all the more interesting. The vast area that is Duscae provides the perfect environment to grab you and keep you enthralled for hours on end.
The demo progresses at a nice, manageable pace. Your most important mission entails hunting down a massive Behemoth, who has a bounty on its head due to it terrorizing the area in its vicinity. Before making a move to take down this threatening creature, you’ll be granted the chance to get hands-on time with the game’s battle system. The real-time, action gameplay you’ll head into here is quite fun. Noctis is the only character you can actively utilize during multi-beast skirmishes, but he’s a very fun and fluid warrior. His special abilities rely on the use of multiple swords, which magically appear during your combo maneuvers. Each of the enemies we encountered will make you change your strategies each time, so there’s no use for button mashing here. Properly managing your other party members, taking on enemies that you can handle and camping out to level up will get you prepared for the tough battles that lie ahead.
It’s great to know that the usual challenge associated with Square Enix’s RPG series is also evident here. You’ll feel a high amount of satisfaction as you continually power up your party and rise to meet the challenge of besting the Behemoth. The progress needed to finally down this intimidating creature starts well enough and ends in the most jaw-dropping way possible. Once you’ve put down the rampaging Behemoth, you’ll meet another young character that’s also a joy to listen to. The individuals introduced in this demo give us hope for the rest of the full game’s cast. While Episode Duscae kept us highly entertained throughout, a few issues hold it back a tad – the camera can become quite unwieldy during battle and visual frame drops hamper the visuals from time to time. And we were pretty disappointed to learn that we couldn’t use the other members of our 4-man party. It would have been a true thrill to swing Gladiolus’ oversized sword just one time.
We have a feeling these issues will get rectified before long, so we kept out expectations in check for this Final Fantasy XV demo. At the end of our hands-on time with this short bit of gameplay, we came away impressed with everything we played. Square Enix is handling this huge project the right way and we’re pretty confident RPG fans will be pleased with the little piece of gameplay released for them all.