Right after the "Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV"event finished last night, Square Enix released a free demo for the game, simply titled the Platinum Demo. Obviously, the demo didn’t take long to finish (it took me less than an hour), but it did provide an idea of the new gameplay elements featured in Final Fantasy XV.
Unlike the Episode Duscae demo, which was packaged alongside Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, the Platinum Demo isn’t part of the Final Fantasy XV storyline. However, you still get to play as the upcoming game’s main character, Noctis, who’s currently stuck in this dream world. With the help of your Carbuncle creature companion, you have to find your way through this dream state and wake up.
If you’ve played any of the Kingdom Hearts games, you have an idea of how the gameplay mechanics work in the demo. You can run around in the environment and then press a single button to attack enemies, or hold that same button to initiate a string of attacks. You can also roll around to dodge attacks. Obviously, this is a departure from the usual Final Fantasy combat system, where you would initiate combat with an enemy and then the actual fight takes place in a separate location.
There are also crystals scattered throughout the game, which, if you collect enough of them, activate various plates throughout the demo. These plates allow you to manipulate the world around you by changing the weather, time of day or even turning you into a car or animal.
A Long Dream
The worlds of the Final Fantasy series are always a sight to behold, and the legacy continues with this demo. Levels vary from a forested area to a large city square, and each area seems to be beautifully crafted along with various lighting and water effects. One level even had a series of wooden blocks that you could knock over to showcase various physics effects. For Square Enix, this isn’t just a gameplay demo; it’s a tech demo to give fans an idea of what to expect, visually, for the final game.
As you collect items, you can store up to four of them in active slots, so you can use quickly use them in combat. Aside from sword and hammer variants, you also have a variety of bombs to use against foes, such as a small burst of fireworks or a deadly shower of bright meteor strikes. The enemies were all low-level creatures, so defeating them wasn’t much of a challenge.
The main event, however, occurs near the end of the game with a boss fight--a large figure wielding an even larger sword. It’s during this conflict that Noctis' true powers come to life. Instead of a toy sword, squeaky hammer and small bombs at your disposal, you’ll be able to use his real arsenal: two swords (a broadsword and regular sword) and the ability to cast fire.
The fight is somewhat more difficult than previous encounters, but it’s exciting nonetheless. By unleashing a fury of attacks at the right time, as well as continuously dodging each devastating hit from the enemy, the entire battle looked like a well-choreographed fight scene. I was also able to try out Noctis’ Warp Strike ability, which allows him to use his main sword to warp away to various locations in the area. You can also use it to get a surprise attack on the enemy. By itself, the attack doesn’t deal too much damage, but you can combine it with multiple attacks to create combo moves for heavy amounts of damage. After a few minutes of varying moves and constantly using Warp Strike, I was victorious.
Most of my attacks against enemies were physical ones, along with the occasional use of a bomb or magic attack. As Final Fantasy XV is full of enemies of varying abilities and weaknesses, I’m quite interested to see how this fast-paced format will work when you have to strategize about how to attack each enemy on the field.
A Taste Of What’s To Come
As fun as it was to take down that final monster, part of me was saddened by the fact that I never played the Episode Duscae demo, which would enable me to use more of Noctis’ real powers. Sure, I could press a plate in the town square to start the battle again, but I wanted to try his abilities against varying types of enemies instead of the same foe over and over again.
Still, that doesn’t detract from the fact that the Platinum Demo was an enjoyable hour of gameplay. The controls were easy to understand, the combat system kept me on my toes, and each location was visually appealing.
The last Final Fantasy game I played (not counting Final Fantasy XIV) was Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which was an excruciating experience due to its gameplay elements and time-based constraints. Based on what I played on the Platinum Demo, it seems that Square Enix learned many things to improve the series’ overall gameplay and visuals, which makes me all the more excited to play Final Fantasy XV.