Worth the wait? Or just a taste of the problems to come?
Fans of the long-standing and storied franchise, Final Fantasy, finally get a chance to take the game for a spin with the newly announced “Platinum Demo” released by Square Enix on March 31st. Although the demo contains content that won’t be present in the final release, coming on September 30th, this is still a great opportunity for fans and non-fans alike to become familiar with what the title has to offer as well as a chance to earn in-game rewards upon the final release of the game.
Players take control of the protagonist Noctis, as he “masters various weapons, magic skills and driving”, according to Square Enix. The demo itself is relatively short, taking less than an hour to complete. Having personally played through it, I can say that while the game appears polished and the environments are graphically pleasing, the gameplay is flat-out boring while in combat. When engaging an enemy, the player simply holds down a button to attack which triggers a flurry of preset animations. The only other interaction needed is the occasional second button press to dodge incoming enemy attacks. The result is like watching a fight sequence play out on its own, completely lacking the immersion the game does so well in other areas.
Combat in Final Fantasy has always been a crucial part of the gameplay system, from the early days of turn-based encounters, to the more modern, free-flowing approach. The issue here is that just this past year we’ve seen games whose combat is far superior, with titles like Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, and undoubtably the upcoming Dark Souls 3. Those games provide dynamic combat systems that feel grounded in their respective worlds, not alienated by them. So it’s disappointing to see that despite the long development time, Square Enix still hasn’t quite gotten it right.
While final judgment must obviously wait until final release, the demo did not make a great first impression. If you wish to formulate your own opinion on the game, the “Platinum Demo” is available for download for free on PlayStation Store and Xbox Games Store.