Final Fantasy XV represents a bold change of direction for the iconic, longevous franchise. Booting up Final Fantasy XV, the screen simply reads “a Final Fantasy for Fans and First-Timers”. Long-awaited and repeatedly delayed, FF XV has evidently drawn inspiration from a range of role-playing and action/adventure games released over the last decade, making a concerted effort to appeal to a broader audience than ever before. Diehard fans have waited ten years which makes it an exceptional risk. It pays off, Final Fantasy XV as a sum of all its parts amounting to a truly heartfelt, tremendous experience.
I had little attachment to the Final Fantasy franchise, but almost immediately I connected with XV. A brief tutorial and self-guided tour explaining the lore of Eos gives you the confidence to jump into what is set out to be a narrative rich and mechanically deep, potentially hundred hour adventure. From there, the visually impressive pre-rendered cut scenes sweep you off your feet and the whirlwind adventure begins.
Overall, the story’s pacing is strong. Certain sections of the gameplay drew out a little longer than they needed to be. Plot points are skipped over and only alluded to in loading screens between chapters. However, climactic battles smoothly transitioned to more personal, human struggles as the character’s relationships developed as the focus of the game. Initially unable to really form a particular attachment to any of the characters – especially Noctis as the lead – I soon began to grow rather fond of the crew as they developed with the story addressing their flaws.