My time with Final Fantasy XV was a confusing jumble of ideas. There’s no mechanical focal point, no one thing Final Fantasy XV hangs itself on that kept me coming back. It tells a garbled heap of a story, with combat that’s often imprecise and messy. And yet I spent more time than expected wandering the world of Eos, collecting frogs for an off-beat scientist, and driving aimlessly with my entourage. In Final Fantasy XV’s attempt to pump new life into the series, it’s developed a bit of an identity crisis.
Final Fantasy XV opens on a high-note; with Prince Noctis waving his father goodbye, off on a road trip with his buddies/bodyguards Prompto, Gladiolus, and Ignis. Skip forward and the first input the game asked was to push a broken down car (the Regalia) towards a nearby garage, as Florence and the Machines rendition of “Stand by Me” whimsically plays over the title splash. It was a surprisingly heartfelt moment, and one that frames Final Fantasy XV’s best component – the relationship between the four protagonists.
From this point on it’s a thematic jumble, as the story juggles (early game-spoiler) the death of your father and destruction of your kingdom, brotherly love, a near hopeless war, riding a chocobo, and regularly visiting a garage where the mechanic still sees whale-tail as the height of fashion. That’s a lot of plates to spin. The tone was an unfortunate casualty for the sake of the open world, which may be why the latter half of the game is a linear experience more akin to past games. It feels like Square-Enix jammed the broody Final Fantasy Versus XIII shown previously, with a more light-hearted re-write and never knew how to reconcile the two.