Final Fantasy XV review: A flawed, but memorable journey

Image courtesy of Square Enix.
Image courtesy of Square Enix. /

Final Fantasy XV doesn’t come without its problems. But at its core, it’s an incredible game full of memorable moments and enjoyable gameplay.

It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for this game to finally drop. At first, Final Fantasy XV was originally known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. In reality, it most likely would have been a completely different game. But it’s safe to say that we’re very content with the finished product.

When you think of RPGs (role-playing games), the Final Fantasy franchise is one of the first that comes to mind. The series began back in 1987, and from there on out, it has become one of the most critically acclaimed game series to date.

A number of games in the series have been released, including some spinoffs. The standout is obviously Kingdom Hearts, which combines some Final Fantasy characters with iconic characters from Disney.

But that’s just a bit of the history behind the series. Let’s talk about the latest entry in the Final Fantasy franchise, Final Fantasy XV. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here.

The huge open world

At first glance, what stands out the most are the visuals. It’s definitely no surprise that this game is absolutely stunning. It’s one of the best looking games of the year. From the realistic characters, to the world you explore, sometimes you just want to sit back and take it all in.

That being said, although the world is beautiful, it can be a bit tedious to get around. If you aren’t driving around in the Regalia (your car), then you have to resort to going on foot.

The only redeeming factor about this is once you’ve visited a specific area, you can just fast travel back to it if you ever need to return. Still, walking very long distances on foot is very annoying.

Driving around in the Regalia is slightly better, but it doesn’t really feel like you’re driving, if that makes sense. Yes, you can drive, but the car practically guides itself. It’s better off just assigning one of the characters (Ignis) to drive you around.

The best and most enjoyable form of transportation is definitely riding the Chocobos, a species of birds well-known to gamers. You can rent them out and ride them to any location. It’s definitely a blast.

Another great aspect of the world is what you find as you’re exploring. Other than the main story missions, there are a handful of side quests to complete. In this side quests, you’re asked to complete specific tasks which make you travel the world.

More from Gaming

In this world, you’ll encounter countless dungeons to explore and find all sorts of things, like evil creatures. If you’re lucky, you’ll even find some treasure.

Touching more on the creatures, most of them feel very unique. In every area, you’ll find a whole new species of animals/creatures. Some can be friendly, but others are just violent and will attack you if you get to close.

Yet there’s definitely some laziness in that aspect as well. Some of the creatures also look the same and can get a bit repetitive. For the most part, you may be running into the same creature over and over. Sometimes, some of the creatures look alike, which definitely feels lazy.

Despite some minor annoyances related to familiarity, the attention to detail in the visual realm is there.

The gameplay/combat

In every Final Fantasy game, one of the most unique aspects is the combat system. Most of the games in the series, and RPG games as a whole, utilize a turn-based combat system. Developer Square Enix decided to go a different route here.

If you’ve played Kingdom Hearts, then this combat system will seem very familiar. This game is definitely an action RPG. At first, it may seem like way too much to remember, as there are a lot of combos and specific moves to memorize.

However, once the game starts going and you’re fighting waves of monsters all at once, it becomes second nature. Not only does it look extremely cool, but it’s an absolute joyride. There are numerous ways to take out enemies, so your options are definitely open.

Combat is a focal point in this game. In almost everything you do, you’re going to have to kill something. Whether it’s a creature, or other forms of enemies, combat is always involved. It’s, easily one of the best and most enjoyable parts of the game.

Let’s also talk about the quests. As stated before, there are numerous quests to complete. You can strictly bang out all the main story quests and finish that part of the game. You can also tackle side quests at any time throughout your play-through — including returning to them once the main storyline is finished.

Most of the quests are different, so you can pick and choose which you want to do next to avoid getting bored. Unfortunately, that’s inevitable. The quests are lots of fun, but as you put more hours into the game, they start to become a bit repetitive.

Most RPGs suffer this fate. You complete the same day to day tasks to try and get rewarded with in-game currency, experience to level up or gear/weapons. It definitely pays off since your characters’ skills and attributes are improved, but some additional variety wouldn’t hurt.

The story and characters

This part of the game was very surprising to us. The plot has some bumps on the way, but it’s very hard not to get emotionally invested in it. A key factor that contributes to this are the characters.

You can only play as one character named Noctis, but he isn’t alone on his journey. He is joined by three friends named Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto. The developers did a phenomenal job distinguishing these characters and making them all feel important in one way or another.

Noctis is the leader of the group. He basically calls the shots, but he never goes on a power trip. He’s always working for the best interests of the entire team, which was great to see. He also possesses unique powers and abilities, and when you put them to use, they’re incredible.

Gladiolus plays more of the big brother role. He’s the biggest and strongest one of the team, so he’s basically second in command. He and Noctis butt heads in certain parts of the game, but they have nothing but love for each other. At the end of the day, he always has Noctis’ back. He’s trying to protect him and help him reach his full potential.

Ignis is the voice of reason. Arguably the wisest out of the four, he always tries to keep the group together. Noctis usually has the last word, but Ignis always gives his two cents. Usually, he’s right. Plus, being the chef, he sure can hook up a good meal. Meals are important in the game since they boost your health and attack.

Finally, there’s Prompto. You’ve got to have love for Prompto. The character is great even though he’s practically useless in fights. He’s always the one character that dies in the middle of that huge boss fight. It’s unbearable sometimes. But as the youngest of the group, he’s full of bright ideas and always ready for an adventure.

The best part about these four characters is the relationship they have with one another. They all display a variety of emotions that feel very genuine and real. If they’re happy, you can tell. There are also moments when they’re serious and even sad. They definitely grow on you throughout the game, and it’s hard not to like them.

They’re a pivotal part of this game’s story, and at the end, you’ll want to know more and more about these characters. That being said, the story definitely has some flaws.

Getting caught up with all that the game has to offer, the story can become very confusing. For example, you know who Noctis is and what he has to do. But there are certain areas in the game where everything feels rushed, and some things happen without explanation. A lot of questions have yet to be answered. Unfortunately, they probably won’t be either.

In the end, though, it’s the characters here that are the highlight of this game. Ultimately, it’s more of a game about friendship, and it’s amazing to see that come to life.

The verdict

Final Fantasy XV is nowhere near a perfect game. It has its flaws, like many games. The world is gorgeous, but the means of transportation vary from good to very bad. Some of the creatures are unique and some aren’t. The quests can become very repetitive after a while. These are some of the negatives that stand out the most.

Fortunately, it’s the positives that leave a lasting impression. The visuals are absolutely stunning and you’ll find yourself exploring the huge world just to see everything you can find. The combat is amazingly fluid, making for an incredible action RPG experience. Finally, the characters. The four main characters are some of the best characters you’ll encounter in any video game. They truly leave a mark and add a lot to the story.

Next: What may be coming to Pokemon GO's future

Despite some flaws, there’s definitely a lot of good in this game. Final Fantasy XV was worth the wait. and it’s a memorable experience.

Score: 8.8/10