Having never played any numbered Final Fantasy game in over 15 years (yes I’m old), I was curious by the new world created with Final Fantasy XV. The delays, hyper negative pre-critiques, and overall sourness towards this game never bothered me. Sure, it looked cool and promised an incredible experience, but would that be enough to hook me and others towards its release? Sadly, this demo did not leave me with that feeling.
The demo begins with some sort of “Fire King” sitting at his throne while the player and his subsequent team are trying to simply survive. In as quickly as it started, I was thrown into another throne room, this time with with the main character’s father, King Regis. The cutscene here was utterly beautiful – incredible detail to the character’s emotional faces resonated with most prominently. For a brief moment, I forgot that this was animated. I’m still thinking, “How did they do that on a standard PS4?”. This was also resonated with the world – beautiful detail in the environment and especially food (which made me quite hungry).
The high-caliber of cutscenes and graphics quickly vanished unfortunately. Many of those moments were fine, but throughout the rest of the demo there was sharp drops to visual quality. The most piercing culprit was the characters’ hair. I couldn’t believe how awkward it was with shades along with the backdrop elements. Once I noticed this on Noctis, a mental glass broke. Each character had this glaring issue throughout the cutscenes. It became very clear that some cutscenes were carefully crafted, detailing every freckle and wrinkle to ensure near perfect photorealism. It also became clear that others were either fine “as is” or that time continued to run out.
The gameplay itself was acceptable. Movement was fluid, items on the map were clear and easily identifiable, and battle mechanics were easy to pick up. There was also several decisions that I needed to make, determining how to react to Cid, for example, but none of the decision branches seem to make any drastic changes in the end result. One major issue I had occured before I fought the final beast of the demo. At first I thought I saw three rhino-looking creatures. I ventured forward and they disappeared. I ventured a bit further and they reappeared. Was this a new type of creature? Is their ability to disappear and reappear at will? Nope. This was a bug in the demo that was not creating the creatures correctly. When I asked the Square Enix representative about this, they did not have an answer. Befuddled, I decided not to pursue those creatures any longer and simply go to the endgame.
I wanted to love this demo, but like the love of my life in 5th grade, I was simply disappointed. With less than two months away from the release, maybe it really was appropriate to delay it for the few minor tweaks (hopefully in graphic fidelity and debugging). What I do know, regardless, is that this experience did not move me enough to pre-order. This will be a wait-and-see decision for me, and maybe for you too.