The quest was long , the battles were tough and brutal, the quest sometimes lost it’s sense of direction but in the end ; we did it .
The last day I fully played through Final Fantasy XV was packed full of really intense moments. From the moment you leave Leide to head to Altissia everything gets kickstarted into full gear. Brief moments of open world exploration are peppered and contained within a specific range, such as Altissia or a train station in Tenebrae.
The story itself is still front and center through the last stretch of the game, albeit a little disjointed from itself. For example there are parts in the story that just happen and there is no explanation as to how or why, I understand that alot of these parts would make more sense in conjunction with the movie Kingsglaive, but until I watch it I will keep my “wtf” status open. The story outside of those few points keeps itself drama filled and emotional, you watch the bonds of the 4 characters grow, break, and then grow yet again in truly human ways. There are points where you may find yourself grimacing as blame shifts to you, other moments come up as well where despite hiccups your team bands together to take on a greater obstacles in grandstand and fist bumping fashion. Regardless of the story having a hit and miss feel , the relationship between the 4 main characters shows that Square Enix can still create depth to characters and have you emotionally invested in them, from cheering on their small victories or to dreading the moment where you know you will have to say good bye.
One stand out moment is a random event after you choose to rest for the night at a motel and Prompto approaches you to make small talk , the encounter that follows is a very deep and real conversation about his insecurities and him questioning his place among the party. Some characters could’ve deserved more time on screen like Ravus and Lunafreya, mainly because they intrigued me and there was little to no details given. By the end of the story though I was overly impressed with how it made me truly feel for all the characters, regardless of how disjointed it seemed at times. The game displayed a protagonist that allowed you to experience his growth from whiny prince to noble king and a terrifying antagonist with mysterious motifs causing you to dig deep.
Throughout the game the gameplay stayed as my favourite part, it kept things fast but also gave you time to compose strategy and how you can execute said strategy. Assist attacks allow you to have input on how your other party members act , giving a truly “well oiled machine” feeling to them; the assist attacks have their own leveling , and each character has their own traits. Gladiolus uses devastating attacks with his two handed weapon, Prompto relies on his pistols with either lightning fast barrages or pinpointed critical shots. Each assist attack gives you the ability to have Noctis chain in on the attack in the guise of a single button QTE. The shining star still will be Noctis’ ability to chain combos with ease and the variety of combos he has access to via different weapons and the Warp Strike ability.
Warp strike adds an element that the game greatly benefits from simply because it can be used to breach the gap from player to enemy as well as to retreat to a vantage point and restore health. Had their been no warp strike ability , FFXV would have been a beast of a different nature and difficulty. There is a wide diversity among boss battles, ranging from tiny enemies, to giant water snakes with nightmarish faces. A truly “oh $#!%” moment is the first time you do a quest to receive a summon, this comes in the form of “Titan” a gigantic humanoid who is literally expelling all of his strength holding a meteor up. Summons in the game work differently than seen before in the sense that they are not at your disposable, they only give you the prompt in times of need and when you activate them, hold on to something. Summons look cinematic when used, they clear most of the area in grandstand fashion and have you question if it was too cruel to use on the enemies in the first place .
The side quests in the game were pretty straight forward, ranging from collecting quests , car upgrades and plain old monster bounty hunting. Most of the quests were good time killers , especially if you were farming to get materials for upgraded weapons. The game gives you the ability to return to the open world and bum around doing side quests, discovering dungeons or optional bosses, this keeps me wanting to enter the world again, plus the addition of a new game plus doesn’t hurt either. The simple act of driving through the open world in your car itself is a treat on it’s own, given that you have the ability to purchase soundtracks from earlier FF games. Needless to say I spent most of time listening to the FFVII soundtrack whilst driving from point to point.
All in all my experience with FFXV was worth the wait , sometimes weak story but amazing characterization made the whole experience so much more elevated .
Bottom line: Slick combat, great characters, beautiful scenery, graphics galore. Time well spent in a familiar style universe created by everyone’s favourite JRPG company, welcome back Square Enix.
*based off a retail version of the game purchased through PSN .