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  1. “Listen to my story.” Tidus, the protagonist of Final Fantasy X, opens the game with this line, and his voice carries its compelling tale to a thrilling conclusion. Fifteen years later, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XV and bet its protagonist Prince Noctis had a voice strong enough to carry a media franchise. The movie Kingsglaive showed Noctis’ home. The anime series Brotherhood introduced Noctis’ friends. The Omen trailer revealed Noctis’ worst nightmare. Final Fantasy XV would tell Noctis’ story… or would it? Beware: this in-depth analysis of Final Fantasy XV contains spoilers. Like how Tidus propels Final Fantasy X’s narrative, Noctis powers Final Fantasy XV’s. Almost every entry in the Final Fantasy XV franchise reflects his importance. The Omen trailer, which stars Noctis, depicts one of the series’ strongest creative visions, and his exclusion from the prequel movie Kingsglaive resulted in its pointless and convoluted story. Given this logic, Noctis’ story should be the franchise’s crown jewel, but many don’t even classify it as a good story in general. Unfortunately, the void Noctis left in Kingsglaive doesn’t end when the game begins. Noctis’ physical presence fails to compensate for his mental and emotional distance from the game’s events. Despite his appearance, he primarily functions as a vessel for the player. Such protagonists serve many games well, but when the story’s world, characters, and purpose rely on the protagonist’s actions and personality rather than the player’s, his absence spells disaster. Final Fantasy XV has many intriguing ideas and great potential to tell a rich story, but Noctis’ emptiness riddles it with character arcs that go nowhere, contradictions, and confusion. Noctis Lucis Caelum begins as a sheltered prince selected by a magic crystal to purge the world of darkness. As part of a peace treaty between Noctis’ kingdom of Lucis and the empire Niflheim, King Regis sends Noctis to wed his childhood friend Princess Luna, or so Noctis believes. He embarks on his quest in high spirits with his loyal friends and bodyguards Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus, but with his journey barely begun, Noctis discovers the forces of Niflheim have destroyed his home and killed his father. Regis expected their betrayal and only sent Noctis away to protect him. Frustrated and distraught, Noctis wonders why Regis only smiled as he left without saying what Noctis needed to do as Lucis’ sole heir or as the crystal’s Chosen. Advisors and guardians tell Noctis to gather his ancestors’ powers and earn the favor of the Six gods to fulfill the prophecy his father died to help him achieve. In response to the tragedy, Luna begins summoning the Six for Noctis to impress: Titan, Ramuh, Leviathan, Shiva, Bahamut, and Ifrit. As the Oracle, she speaks to the gods for the Lucian king. Before she can complete her duty though, Niflheim’s chancellor Ardyn Izunia stabs her to death. Greif-stricken, Noctis pauses his quest to visit Luna’s home Tenebrae, but his decision strains his friendship with his three companions. Additionally, his ancestors’ Ring of the Lucii, which Luna delivered to Noctis before her death, burdens his mind. Noctis begins seeing visions of Ardyn on the train to Tenebrae and attacks him with a blind need for revenge. When he finally throws the specter off the train, he realizes Ardyn has tricked him with an illusion into attacking Prompto. Noctis, Ignis, and Gladiolus continue to the empire’s capital Gralea to retrieve the crystal and rescue Prompto from Ardyn’s grasp. The dangerous conditions separate them as soon as they reach the fortress though, and Noctis discovers he can’t summon his weapons, leaving him no choice but to wield the ring. While enduring Ardyn’s mockery and threats over the base’s intercom, Noctis fights his way to Prompto and the crystal. He pleads with the stone to help him stop the daemons, and to his surprise, the crystal pulls him into it. Bahamut greets him inside and reveals Ardyn as an ancient Chosen king. After banishing the darkness two thousand years ago by absorbing daemons into his body, the crystal saw him as tainted and refused to bestow him its power. When his people rejected him as well, he sought revenge by embodying the Starscourge, the darkness consuming the world. To banish the scourge for good, Noctis must wield the crystal’s power and his ancestors’ might to kill Ardyn. Noctis must sacrifice his life, however, to receive their strength. Ten years later, when Noctis’ ring has absorbed the crystal’s energy, he emerges from the stone to reunite with his friends, sacrifice himself to the prior Lucian kings, and defeat Ardyn. The clues and lore littering Final Fantasy XV tease a thoughtful story, hint at deep themes and characters, and build players’ expectations for a satisfying conclusion. Overall, the game fails to deliver these promises, but its strongest elements show the potential Noctis’ story had if only he had told it. While Noctis ultimately feels shallow in the final game, certain elements paint him as a relatable character we can learn about the world through. As Lucis’ prince and the Chosen, he has great importance and yet has doubts and questions about his duties. He knows nothing about the Lucian souls and weapons Regis’ advisor Cor tells him to collect. As a child, he has trouble understanding the cryptic texts describing the Chosen and the Six and relies on Luna to give him simpler explanations. Even as an adult, he doesn’t know what the crystal wants him to do. Experiencing the story through his eyes should allow players to learn about the world as he does while playing a major role in the story. His skepticism makes him stand out when duty and ancient texts motivate everyone around him. As a child, Noctis asks Luna challenging questions about himself. “If the crystal belongs to everyone, how come only Lucis gets to use it?” When Luna tells him only the chosen Lucian king can use the crystal to save the world, Noctis asks, “You really think I can do that?” Still without adequate answers, his skepticism follows him into adulthood. “Legend has it the King once stood alongside the Six to banish the darkness,” Ignis says. “‘Darkness’ seems awfully vague,” Noctis observes. “A king is sworn to protect his people,” Cor says. “And yet [my father] chose to protect only one prince,” Noctis responds. “Was that his calling? Forsake the masses to spare his own son?” The uninformative answers he receives make one wonder if Noctis’ advisors hide a dark secret from him, if the crystal belongs to Lucis, if it truly chose Noctis, and if Lucis somehow caused the spreading darkness. Noctis does a poor job emphasizing Luna’s importance to him in the final game, but if used effectively, she had great potential to both motivate and corrupt him. Noctis spends the game’s first half pursuing Luna, always one step behind her. He begins with a journey to marry her but transitions to following the trail of gods she summons, knowing that each she calls drains her strength. Finally, he reaches her only to see Ardyn, a mysterious man of the empire, murder her. Luna, who even as a child understood Noctis’ destiny better than he did, dies with a smile on her face and Noctis’ secrets in her mind. As if Noctis pursued his nebulous destiny only for her, he laments, “All I wanted was to save you.” He puts his quest on hold, even refusing to wear the magical Lucian ring she died delivering to him. With his means of summoning the Six gone, he’s reached a dead end. The first scene with Noctis after he grieves Luna’s death opens with him illuminated in a blinding ray of sunlight. While light often symbolizes goodness or clarity, the exaggerated and unnatural lighting in this scene creates the feeling that something sinister and dark festers in the king of light. Indeed, players soon learn Noctis’ rage and despair has driven him apart from his friends, and he looks at the ring as if it holds a malicious temptation he fights against satisfying. Bent on revenge and aggravated by Ardyn’s illusion magic Noctis chases Ardyn up and down the train to Tenebrae until he realizes he’s pursuing a figment of his imagination or, worse, Prompto. The game offers a simplistic reason for Noctis’ lost abilities, but explanations with personal significance to him, derived from the clues presented within the game and surrounding media, instantly produce more satisfying scenarios. When his powers stop working and he learns Ardyn’s true identity, Noctis has even more reason to question his own identity and abilities. Losing his magic after his dark experiences on the train suggests that the scourge has corrupted him, leaving him unable to grasp the power the crystal grants him as a Lucian king. Perhaps the scourge begins as a darkness in the heart and then becomes a mental and physical disease. Such a condition could jeopardize his ability to fulfill his destiny. The burden the ring has on Noctis’ mind and his use of it visually and audibly support that it corrupts him. When Noctis’ uses it, players hear whispering like that of demons in horror movies. The Ring of the Lucii glows red. Fire-filled cracks appear on Noctis’ face and arms. As if he’s opened the gates to hell itself, nearby daemons shrivel and explode out of existence. Streams of light flow into Noctis’ hand, and he receives a health boost, implying he’s absorbed their power. If he does absorb them though, what stops them from corrupting him as they corrupted Ardyn? Perhaps Ardyn used the ring to absorb daemons into his body two thousand years ago and has since passed it to the Lucian kings with the myth that it holds great power when in fact it corrupts the wearer. Events in the Kingsglaive movie provide another alternative scenario for why Noctis loses his abilities. King Regis’ knights lose their magic when Regis dies because he lent them his abilities and can no longer power them after death. If Noctis weren’t a Lucian king, Regis could presumably lend him his power as well. When Ardyn reveals himself as Ardyn Lucis Caelum, he adds, “You’ll never guess who Izunia was.” Perhaps he means Noctis’ ancestors were Izunians who took the Lucian name after ostracizing Ardyn. Ardyn could have lent the fake Lucians his power to make them think they wield and protect the light. Now as part of his revenge, he crushes their hope of defeating him by revealing they never had any power to banish the darkness. Noctis spends little on-screen time contemplating his destiny, but this simple action could have given him more agency and better tied the story’s loose ends. Inside the crystal, Bahamut answers the question Noctis has had since his father’s death. Perhaps his father and Luna hid so much and treated him so gently because they knew his fate. His desire to protect his friends from Ardyn, avenge those who have suffered under him, and redeem his own ignorance and corruption could give Noctis the determination to meet his death. This interpretation of the game’s story may sound decent, but it accentuates and omits details to highlight its strengths. In reality, Noctis does not exist often enough to bring these themes and ideas to life. He has thoughts and emotions only often enough to contradict himself and alienate the player. Noctis’ naivety quickly disappears, leaving players in the dust. He may not know much about the Lucian weapons he must collect, but he recognizes when Luna summons gods before players even know she can do that. He greets a mysterious lady Gentiana like an old friend and accepts more duties from her with little explanation as to who she is. Noctis takes it for granted that Ardyn can perform illusion magic, leaving it to loading screen text to explain it to the player. He almost completely ceases questioning his duties in the same conversation where he shows the most frustration with how little he knows about them. Noctis wonders why his father would entrust protecting the people of Lucis to him when he hasn’t even bothered to prepare him for the task. Cor sates his frustration with, “He always had faith in you, that when the time came, you would ascend for the sake of your people.” Yet another synonym for “it is your duty.” Gladiolus questions Noctis at a couple future points, but players select Noctis’ response. He can either show ignorance and skepticism or resolve. These responses have no effect on the story though, making Noctis either a king who deeply questions his abilities but doesn’t care enough to investigate or a king who has resolved to save the world with a friend prone to pointlessly bickering with him. Admittedly, the story doesn’t give Noctis many reasons to question his destiny anyway. Anyone else proclaiming themselves the Chosen, such as Niflheim’s Emperor Aldercapt and Luna’s brother Ravus, are obviously wrong or evil mustache twirlers. The moral ambiguity Lucis portrayed in Kingsglaive doesn’t continue far beyond it. The people outside Lucis’ capital city, who hated Regis’ decision to give their homes to the empire in exchange for peace in the film, don’t seem to exist in the game. Nothing suggests that Noctis’ mission has terrible consequences or actually makes the situation worse. No one has an alternative method to ridding the world of darkness, so Noctis and his friends must try this one by default, even if they didn’t have prophecies to assure them they have chosen the correct path. Noctis’ lack of contemplation, however, results in a boring and insincere tale. Noctis pauses his journey, not because he legitimately questions his identity and actions, but because the whiny prince sets his arbitrary duties aside to mope. Noctis doesn’t lose his powers because his ancestor sent him down a path of corruption or because he never inherited Lucis’ gifts. He loses his powers because a random Niflheim invention disables him when someone turns it on. Supposedly, Noctis’ tale stars a prince who must get rid of his “slack jaw” and become a king, but by the game’s end, Noctis has matured only by growing a beard. His ever-increasing power and continuing blind belief in a prophecy hardly count as wisdom. Showing his contempt for introspection and critical thinking, he doesn’t wonder where the Starscourge originated or if he can find a way to defeat Ardyn without killing himself just because his ancestors demand it. While the idea of a prince pursuing his love across the land only for revenge and solitude to corrupt him sounds compelling, Noctis delivers it poorly. He and his friends discuss the burden Luna carries just ahead of them but only while the player explores the world. Luna slowly weakening and potentially dying receives less emphasis than Ignis announcing that he’s come up with a new recipe, and Noctis and his friends discuss it as lightheartedly as his terrible driving habits. Ravus arguably mentions her struggles in a cutscene when he says to Noctis, “You receive [Ramah’s] blessing. And yet you know nothing of the consequences.” He doesn’t make it clear, however, if his warning refers to Luna’s condition, and Noctis and his friends don’t care enough to wonder. Poor Luna receives so little attention that players can easily miss these details and see her as a distressed damsel who faints into armchairs for no reason. Noctis not only doesn’t care about Luna’s burden, but also, he doesn’t care that she carries it for him. He laments Luna’s death not because her duty to serve him sapped her strength until it killed her but because a bad guy decided to stab her. Like a cliché, he laments that he couldn’t save the woman he loved instead of wondering why yet another person who understood his destiny sacrificed herself without telling him how to proceed. Gladiolus is too busy calling him a mopey teenager for either of them to notice that Noctis can’t contact the remaining three gods to complete his quest. Ardyn murdered the one person who can summon them. Fortunately, Shiva decides to reveal herself by freezing Noctis, Gladiolus, and Ignis half to death for no reason. Bahamut and Ifrit also reveal themselves unprovoked. Thus, Luna becomes an inconsequential side note in Noctis’ journey. In fact, Noctis’ indifference belittles and muddles most of the story’s biggest revelations. Ardyn’s illusions could make a prince, who already questions his destiny, question his senses and the people around him. Instead, Ardyn’s random and pointless use of his abilities mostly just annoys Noctis. Noctis struggles desperately while the crystal slowly absorbs him, but then, he contentedly spends the next decade hibernating inside it. Ardyn reveals himself as a Lucian king, but Noctis doesn’t reflect on what that means for his own identity. Players spend the game collecting the weapons, souls, and powers of thirteen dead kings, the favor of six gods, and a magic ring and crystal only to discover that Noctis still has to die to gain the power to defeat Ardyn. Everything Noctis does seems like a pointless ritual to prove himself the Chosen when everyone already knew that. His arrogant ancestors apparently think the Lucian line can end, and they will never need to defend the world from the Starscourge again. But Noctis doesn’t see his destiny as unfair or arbitrary nor does he so much as wonder how much his father or Luna knew of his fate. Without Noctis, even Final Fantasy XV’s blatant brotherhood theme doesn’t quite translate in the end. The infamous Chapter 13 attempts to emphasize the importance of Noctis’ friends through their absence. Noctis wanders Gralea’s scary and lonely corridors while Ardyn taunts him for his powerlessness without his companions. Ardyn can’t convince anyone, however, with Noctis opening hellish portals and exploding daemons into screaming fire balls, which Noctis doesn’t find at all disconcerting by the way. Ardyn also tries to torment him with illusions, but rather than becoming paranoid and desperate, Noctis recognizes the tricks and snarls with annoyance. These failed tactics instead reveal the uselessness and superficiality of Noctis’ friends to the story. Noctis fights and defeats Ardyn by himself. His strength comes from kings, gods, rings, and crystals, not from the brothers around him. He doesn’t need them to tell him to do his duty. He doesn’t need them to tell him to move past Luna’s death. He never refuses to continue his quest, and he wears the ring on his own terms. He doesn’t need them to help him separate reality from illusion. He doesn’t need them to save him from corruption. They don’t transform him from a prince into a king, if he didn’t leave the castle as a king from the start. He doesn’t fear facing Leviathan, Bahamut, or Ardyn by himself. He cries the final time he sits around a campfire with his companions, but why? Does he wish his journey didn’t end in a path he must walk alone? Does he think of the hole his death will leave in his friends’ hearts? Does he mourn the life he will never know with them by his side? Is he only grateful they walked with him this far? Without Noctis to define what they mean to him, Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus exist only as replaceable clichés to entertain players on their journey. Final Fantasy XV asks the player to “reclaim your throne,” not to “reclaim Noctis’ throne,” and for this reason, unlike Tidus, Noctis never has the chance to say, “Listen to my story.” The game contains elements of an emotional and compelling tale, but Noctis’ emptiness transforms it into a shallow and confusing one. Players who can project themselves into Noctis and fill the gaps around him with their own speculation and experiences can fall in love with the world, its ideas, and its characters. The players looking for Noctis’ story, however, will only find the void he left behind. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  2. “Listen to my story.” Tidus, the protagonist of Final Fantasy X, opens the game with this line, and his voice carries its compelling tale to a thrilling conclusion. Fifteen years later, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XV and bet its protagonist Prince Noctis had a voice strong enough to carry a media franchise. The movie Kingsglaive showed Noctis’ home. The anime series Brotherhood introduced Noctis’ friends. The Omen trailer revealed Noctis’ worst nightmare. Final Fantasy XV would tell Noctis’ story… or would it? Beware: this in-depth analysis of Final Fantasy XV contains spoilers. Like how Tidus propels Final Fantasy X’s narrative, Noctis powers Final Fantasy XV’s. Almost every entry in the Final Fantasy XV franchise reflects his importance. The Omen trailer, which stars Noctis, depicts one of the series’ strongest creative visions, and his exclusion from the prequel movie Kingsglaive resulted in its pointless and convoluted story. Given this logic, Noctis’ story should be the franchise’s crown jewel, but many don’t even classify it as a good story in general. Unfortunately, the void Noctis left in Kingsglaive doesn’t end when the game begins. Noctis’ physical presence fails to compensate for his mental and emotional distance from the game’s events. Despite his appearance, he primarily functions as a vessel for the player. Such protagonists serve many games well, but when the story’s world, characters, and purpose rely on the protagonist’s actions and personality rather than the player’s, his absence spells disaster. Final Fantasy XV has many intriguing ideas and great potential to tell a rich story, but Noctis’ emptiness riddles it with character arcs that go nowhere, contradictions, and confusion. Noctis Lucis Caelum begins as a sheltered prince selected by a magic crystal to purge the world of darkness. As part of a peace treaty between Noctis’ kingdom of Lucis and the empire Niflheim, King Regis sends Noctis to wed his childhood friend Princess Luna, or so Noctis believes. He embarks on his quest in high spirits with his loyal friends and bodyguards Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus, but with his journey barely begun, Noctis discovers the forces of Niflheim have destroyed his home and killed his father. Regis expected their betrayal and only sent Noctis away to protect him. Frustrated and distraught, Noctis wonders why Regis only smiled as he left without saying what Noctis needed to do as Lucis’ sole heir or as the crystal’s Chosen. Advisors and guardians tell Noctis to gather his ancestors’ powers and earn the favor of the Six gods to fulfill the prophecy his father died to help him achieve. In response to the tragedy, Luna begins summoning the Six for Noctis to impress: Titan, Ramuh, Leviathan, Shiva, Bahamut, and Ifrit. As the Oracle, she speaks to the gods for the Lucian king. Before she can complete her duty though, Niflheim’s chancellor Ardyn Izunia stabs her to death. Greif-stricken, Noctis pauses his quest to visit Luna’s home Tenebrae, but his decision strains his friendship with his three companions. Additionally, his ancestors’ Ring of the Lucii, which Luna delivered to Noctis before her death, burdens his mind. Noctis begins seeing visions of Ardyn on the train to Tenebrae and attacks him with a blind need for revenge. When he finally throws the specter off the train, he realizes Ardyn has tricked him with an illusion into attacking Prompto. Noctis, Ignis, and Gladiolus continue to the empire’s capital Gralea to retrieve the crystal and rescue Prompto from Ardyn’s grasp. The dangerous conditions separate them as soon as they reach the fortress though, and Noctis discovers he can’t summon his weapons, leaving him no choice but to wield the ring. While enduring Ardyn’s mockery and threats over the base’s intercom, Noctis fights his way to Prompto and the crystal. He pleads with the stone to help him stop the daemons, and to his surprise, the crystal pulls him into it. Bahamut greets him inside and reveals Ardyn as an ancient Chosen king. After banishing the darkness two thousand years ago by absorbing daemons into his body, the crystal saw him as tainted and refused to bestow him its power. When his people rejected him as well, he sought revenge by embodying the Starscourge, the darkness consuming the world. To banish the scourge for good, Noctis must wield the crystal’s power and his ancestors’ might to kill Ardyn. Noctis must sacrifice his life, however, to receive their strength. Ten years later, when Noctis’ ring has absorbed the crystal’s energy, he emerges from the stone to reunite with his friends, sacrifice himself to the prior Lucian kings, and defeat Ardyn. The clues and lore littering Final Fantasy XV tease a thoughtful story, hint at deep themes and characters, and build players’ expectations for a satisfying conclusion. Overall, the game fails to deliver these promises, but its strongest elements show the potential Noctis’ story had if only he had told it. While Noctis ultimately feels shallow in the final game, certain elements paint him as a relatable character we can learn about the world through. As Lucis’ prince and the Chosen, he has great importance and yet has doubts and questions about his duties. He knows nothing about the Lucian souls and weapons Regis’ advisor Cor tells him to collect. As a child, he has trouble understanding the cryptic texts describing the Chosen and the Six and relies on Luna to give him simpler explanations. Even as an adult, he doesn’t know what the crystal wants him to do. Experiencing the story through his eyes should allow players to learn about the world as he does while playing a major role in the story. His skepticism makes him stand out when duty and ancient texts motivate everyone around him. As a child, Noctis asks Luna challenging questions about himself. “If the crystal belongs to everyone, how come only Lucis gets to use it?” When Luna tells him only the chosen Lucian king can use the crystal to save the world, Noctis asks, “You really think I can do that?” Still without adequate answers, his skepticism follows him into adulthood. “Legend has it the King once stood alongside the Six to banish the darkness,” Ignis says. “‘Darkness’ seems awfully vague,” Noctis observes. “A king is sworn to protect his people,” Cor says. “And yet [my father] chose to protect only one prince,” Noctis responds. “Was that his calling? Forsake the masses to spare his own son?” The uninformative answers he receives make one wonder if Noctis’ advisors hide a dark secret from him, if the crystal belongs to Lucis, if it truly chose Noctis, and if Lucis somehow caused the spreading darkness. Noctis does a poor job emphasizing Luna’s importance to him in the final game, but if used effectively, she had great potential to both motivate and corrupt him. Noctis spends the game’s first half pursuing Luna, always one step behind her. He begins with a journey to marry her but transitions to following the trail of gods she summons, knowing that each she calls drains her strength. Finally, he reaches her only to see Ardyn, a mysterious man of the empire, murder her. Luna, who even as a child understood Noctis’ destiny better than he did, dies with a smile on her face and Noctis’ secrets in her mind. As if Noctis pursued his nebulous destiny only for her, he laments, “All I wanted was to save you.” He puts his quest on hold, even refusing to wear the magical Lucian ring she died delivering to him. With his means of summoning the Six gone, he’s reached a dead end. The first scene with Noctis after he grieves Luna’s death opens with him illuminated in a blinding ray of sunlight. While light often symbolizes goodness or clarity, the exaggerated and unnatural lighting in this scene creates the feeling that something sinister and dark festers in the king of light. Indeed, players soon learn Noctis’ rage and despair has driven him apart from his friends, and he looks at the ring as if it holds a malicious temptation he fights against satisfying. Bent on revenge and aggravated by Ardyn’s illusion magic Noctis chases Ardyn up and down the train to Tenebrae until he realizes he’s pursuing a figment of his imagination or, worse, Prompto. The game offers a simplistic reason for Noctis’ lost abilities, but explanations with personal significance to him, derived from the clues presented within the game and surrounding media, instantly produce more satisfying scenarios. When his powers stop working and he learns Ardyn’s true identity, Noctis has even more reason to question his own identity and abilities. Losing his magic after his dark experiences on the train suggests that the scourge has corrupted him, leaving him unable to grasp the power the crystal grants him as a Lucian king. Perhaps the scourge begins as a darkness in the heart and then becomes a mental and physical disease. Such a condition could jeopardize his ability to fulfill his destiny. The burden the ring has on Noctis’ mind and his use of it visually and audibly support that it corrupts him. When Noctis’ uses it, players hear whispering like that of demons in horror movies. The Ring of the Lucii glows red. Fire-filled cracks appear on Noctis’ face and arms. As if he’s opened the gates to hell itself, nearby daemons shrivel and explode out of existence. Streams of light flow into Noctis’ hand, and he receives a health boost, implying he’s absorbed their power. If he does absorb them though, what stops them from corrupting him as they corrupted Ardyn? Perhaps Ardyn used the ring to absorb daemons into his body two thousand years ago and has since passed it to the Lucian kings with the myth that it holds great power when in fact it corrupts the wearer. Events in the Kingsglaive movie provide another alternative scenario for why Noctis loses his abilities. King Regis’ knights lose their magic when Regis dies because he lent them his abilities and can no longer power them after death. If Noctis weren’t a Lucian king, Regis could presumably lend him his power as well. When Ardyn reveals himself as Ardyn Lucis Caelum, he adds, “You’ll never guess who Izunia was.” Perhaps he means Noctis’ ancestors were Izunians who took the Lucian name after ostracizing Ardyn. Ardyn could have lent the fake Lucians his power to make them think they wield and protect the light. Now as part of his revenge, he crushes their hope of defeating him by revealing they never had any power to banish the darkness. Noctis spends little on-screen time contemplating his destiny, but this simple action could have given him more agency and better tied the story’s loose ends. Inside the crystal, Bahamut answers the question Noctis has had since his father’s death. Perhaps his father and Luna hid so much and treated him so gently because they knew his fate. His desire to protect his friends from Ardyn, avenge those who have suffered under him, and redeem his own ignorance and corruption could give Noctis the determination to meet his death. This interpretation of the game’s story may sound decent, but it accentuates and omits details to highlight its strengths. In reality, Noctis does not exist often enough to bring these themes and ideas to life. He has thoughts and emotions only often enough to contradict himself and alienate the player. Noctis’ naivety quickly disappears, leaving players in the dust. He may not know much about the Lucian weapons he must collect, but he recognizes when Luna summons gods before players even know she can do that. He greets a mysterious lady Gentiana like an old friend and accepts more duties from her with little explanation as to who she is. Noctis takes it for granted that Ardyn can perform illusion magic, leaving it to loading screen text to explain it to the player. He almost completely ceases questioning his duties in the same conversation where he shows the most frustration with how little he knows about them. Noctis wonders why his father would entrust protecting the people of Lucis to him when he hasn’t even bothered to prepare him for the task. Cor sates his frustration with, “He always had faith in you, that when the time came, you would ascend for the sake of your people.” Yet another synonym for “it is your duty.” Gladiolus questions Noctis at a couple future points, but players select Noctis’ response. He can either show ignorance and skepticism or resolve. These responses have no effect on the story though, making Noctis either a king who deeply questions his abilities but doesn’t care enough to investigate or a king who has resolved to save the world with a friend prone to pointlessly bickering with him. Admittedly, the story doesn’t give Noctis many reasons to question his destiny anyway. Anyone else proclaiming themselves the Chosen, such as Niflheim’s Emperor Aldercapt and Luna’s brother Ravus, are obviously wrong or evil mustache twirlers. The moral ambiguity Lucis portrayed in Kingsglaive doesn’t continue far beyond it. The people outside Lucis’ capital city, who hated Regis’ decision to give their homes to the empire in exchange for peace in the film, don’t seem to exist in the game. Nothing suggests that Noctis’ mission has terrible consequences or actually makes the situation worse. No one has an alternative method to ridding the world of darkness, so Noctis and his friends must try this one by default, even if they didn’t have prophecies to assure them they have chosen the correct path. Noctis’ lack of contemplation, however, results in a boring and insincere tale. Noctis pauses his journey, not because he legitimately questions his identity and actions, but because the whiny prince sets his arbitrary duties aside to mope. Noctis doesn’t lose his powers because his ancestor sent him down a path of corruption or because he never inherited Lucis’ gifts. He loses his powers because a random Niflheim invention disables him when someone turns it on. Supposedly, Noctis’ tale stars a prince who must get rid of his “slack jaw” and become a king, but by the game’s end, Noctis has matured only by growing a beard. His ever-increasing power and continuing blind belief in a prophecy hardly count as wisdom. Showing his contempt for introspection and critical thinking, he doesn’t wonder where the Starscourge originated or if he can find a way to defeat Ardyn without killing himself just because his ancestors demand it. While the idea of a prince pursuing his love across the land only for revenge and solitude to corrupt him sounds compelling, Noctis delivers it poorly. He and his friends discuss the burden Luna carries just ahead of them but only while the player explores the world. Luna slowly weakening and potentially dying receives less emphasis than Ignis announcing that he’s come up with a new recipe, and Noctis and his friends discuss it as lightheartedly as his terrible driving habits. Ravus arguably mentions her struggles in a cutscene when he says to Noctis, “You receive [Ramah’s] blessing. And yet you know nothing of the consequences.” He doesn’t make it clear, however, if his warning refers to Luna’s condition, and Noctis and his friends don’t care enough to wonder. Poor Luna receives so little attention that players can easily miss these details and see her as a distressed damsel who faints into armchairs for no reason. Noctis not only doesn’t care about Luna’s burden, but also, he doesn’t care that she carries it for him. He laments Luna’s death not because her duty to serve him sapped her strength until it killed her but because a bad guy decided to stab her. Like a cliché, he laments that he couldn’t save the woman he loved instead of wondering why yet another person who understood his destiny sacrificed herself without telling him how to proceed. Gladiolus is too busy calling him a mopey teenager for either of them to notice that Noctis can’t contact the remaining three gods to complete his quest. Ardyn murdered the one person who can summon them. Fortunately, Shiva decides to reveal herself by freezing Noctis, Gladiolus, and Ignis half to death for no reason. Bahamut and Ifrit also reveal themselves unprovoked. Thus, Luna becomes an inconsequential side note in Noctis’ journey. In fact, Noctis’ indifference belittles and muddles most of the story’s biggest revelations. Ardyn’s illusions could make a prince, who already questions his destiny, question his senses and the people around him. Instead, Ardyn’s random and pointless use of his abilities mostly just annoys Noctis. Noctis struggles desperately while the crystal slowly absorbs him, but then, he contentedly spends the next decade hibernating inside it. Ardyn reveals himself as a Lucian king, but Noctis doesn’t reflect on what that means for his own identity. Players spend the game collecting the weapons, souls, and powers of thirteen dead kings, the favor of six gods, and a magic ring and crystal only to discover that Noctis still has to die to gain the power to defeat Ardyn. Everything Noctis does seems like a pointless ritual to prove himself the Chosen when everyone already knew that. His arrogant ancestors apparently think the Lucian line can end, and they will never need to defend the world from the Starscourge again. But Noctis doesn’t see his destiny as unfair or arbitrary nor does he so much as wonder how much his father or Luna knew of his fate. Without Noctis, even Final Fantasy XV’s blatant brotherhood theme doesn’t quite translate in the end. The infamous Chapter 13 attempts to emphasize the importance of Noctis’ friends through their absence. Noctis wanders Gralea’s scary and lonely corridors while Ardyn taunts him for his powerlessness without his companions. Ardyn can’t convince anyone, however, with Noctis opening hellish portals and exploding daemons into screaming fire balls, which Noctis doesn’t find at all disconcerting by the way. Ardyn also tries to torment him with illusions, but rather than becoming paranoid and desperate, Noctis recognizes the tricks and snarls with annoyance. These failed tactics instead reveal the uselessness and superficiality of Noctis’ friends to the story. Noctis fights and defeats Ardyn by himself. His strength comes from kings, gods, rings, and crystals, not from the brothers around him. He doesn’t need them to tell him to do his duty. He doesn’t need them to tell him to move past Luna’s death. He never refuses to continue his quest, and he wears the ring on his own terms. He doesn’t need them to help him separate reality from illusion. He doesn’t need them to save him from corruption. They don’t transform him from a prince into a king, if he didn’t leave the castle as a king from the start. He doesn’t fear facing Leviathan, Bahamut, or Ardyn by himself. He cries the final time he sits around a campfire with his companions, but why? Does he wish his journey didn’t end in a path he must walk alone? Does he think of the hole his death will leave in his friends’ hearts? Does he mourn the life he will never know with them by his side? Is he only grateful they walked with him this far? Without Noctis to define what they mean to him, Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus exist only as replaceable clichés to entertain players on their journey. Final Fantasy XV asks the player to “reclaim your throne,” not to “reclaim Noctis’ throne,” and for this reason, unlike Tidus, Noctis never has the chance to say, “Listen to my story.” The game contains elements of an emotional and compelling tale, but Noctis’ emptiness transforms it into a shallow and confusing one. Players who can project themselves into Noctis and fill the gaps around him with their own speculation and experiences can fall in love with the world, its ideas, and its characters. The players looking for Noctis’ story, however, will only find the void he left behind. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  3. This will likely make more than a few people both excited and sad, however it still needs to be seen just based on how gosh-darn cool it is! Simon S. Andersen, known for his pixel art and for creating the successful indie platformer Owlboy, creates game concept teasers for fun. His most recent one, in collaboration with composter Jonathan Geer, hits right in the nostalgia gut: A hypothetical sequel to Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross titled Chrono Break. The teaser throws the series back to the classic Chrono Trigger aesthetic, but plays around with a lot of different pixel effects and transitions to give it a "new" feeling. The trailer jumps around to different scenes, hinting at some kind of cataclysmic dragon, dramatic encounters, and a few old friends. It's actually kind of painful that this isn't a real game. Square Enix, get on with a new Chrono game already! Heck, maybe even give it to Simon and Co. since they clearly seem to have some cool ideas of what to do with the series.
  4. This will likely make more than a few people both excited and sad, however it still needs to be seen just based on how gosh-darn cool it is! Simon S. Andersen, known for his pixel art and for creating the successful indie platformer Owlboy, creates game concept teasers for fun. His most recent one, in collaboration with composter Jonathan Geer, hits right in the nostalgia gut: A hypothetical sequel to Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross titled Chrono Break. The teaser throws the series back to the classic Chrono Trigger aesthetic, but plays around with a lot of different pixel effects and transitions to give it a "new" feeling. The trailer jumps around to different scenes, hinting at some kind of cataclysmic dragon, dramatic encounters, and a few old friends. It's actually kind of painful that this isn't a real game. Square Enix, get on with a new Chrono game already! Heck, maybe even give it to Simon and Co. since they clearly seem to have some cool ideas of what to do with the series. View full article
  5. The last time Square Enix held an E3 press conference was in 2015. When it was announced they'd be returning after a three-year absence, fans got excited... Perhaps unreasonably so. After all, the much-anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake was recently announced to be essentially rebooting its development cycle, so it was arguably unfair to expect that game to appear. Similarly, it proved to be way too early for a look at the upcoming Crystal Dynamics-developed Avengers title. Regardless, many were taken aback by the surprisingly short run time (only half an hour) of Square Enix's Nintendo Direct-style video presentation. Despite this, there were still some great nuggets of information and surprise announcements tucked away in the brief press briefing. Shadow of the Tomb Raider It's always tough to nail the ending of a trilogy, but we have faith that Crystal Dynamics can provide a satisfying conclusion to the origin story of Lara Croft, at least in terms of visuals and gameplay. While the story of the re-rebooted Tomb Raider games has proven divisive among lifelong fans of the franchise, few can complain about the winning mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, and engaging, cinematic combat offered by the new titles. And, of course, Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) is perfect as this version of Lara. In addition to the return of Jonah from the previous two games in the form of some cutscene footage, the main hook of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider presentation was an extended gameplay demonstration which showed off the breathtaking graphics and enhanced stealth gameplay of the title. A closing sizzle reel featured all the high-adrenaline moments fans expect, including surprises like Lara battling a moray eel, swimming freely in underwater 3D environments, and – naturally – exploring tombs filled with ancient relics and priceless treasures. Octopath Traveler Square Enix's gorgeous Switch exclusive, Octopath Traveler, is nearing release. Described as an HD-2D game, Octopath Traveler combines the sprite-based work of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI and combines it with more realistically-styled backgrounds and distinctly modern post-processing and lighting effects. The final result is nothing less than striking, and it's easily one of the most distinct-looking games in recent memory. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks and offers deep RPG mechanics for all eight of its protagonists. We'll find out for sure when the title releases on July 13. Final Fantasy XIV It's been nearly five years since the disastrous launch of Final Fantasy XIV was completely rectified with the game-changing release of A Realm Reborn. To this day, FFXIV is celebrated as a veritable phoenix which rose from the ashes of its own hubris as one of the hottest, most addictive MMORPGs on the market, and Square Enix is continuing to support the profitable powerhouse with a continuous outpour of new content for Eorzean explorers to devour. They showed off two significant additions, the first of which is Patch 4.3, "Under the Moonlight," which offers a ton of new quests, a new raid, and assorted quality of life improvements. All in all, it's a pretty standard update, if still satisfying for ravenous XIV fans. The other new event is far more provocative: a crossover with Monster Hunter World. Level 70 players who have completed the Stormblood quest will be able to take on the task of hunting one of Monster Hunter's signature creatures, the fearsome Rathalos. Meanwhile, Monster Hunter World players will gain access to exclusive armor sets courtesy of a new hunt: Final Fantasy's signature recurring powerhouse summon, Bahamut. The crossover is expected to launch sometime this summer, but no dates have been announced yet. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Dontnod have been keeping busy. Between the recently-launched Vampyr and their upcoming Life is Strange Season 2 and the mysterious Twin Mirror, they are juggling a great many high-profile projects. While Life is Strange 2 was a no-show at E3, they instead offered an adjacent spin-off, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which expands the Life is Strange universe. The new game stars Chris, a young boy with a vivid imagination, being raised by a single, widower father in Oregon. The trailer promises Life is Strange's signature mix of youthful whimsy and intimate characterization, though with perhaps a more childlike sense of wonder thanks to its ten-year-old protagonist. The biggest surprise about Captain Spirit is that it will be completely free when it launches on June 26. Dragon Quest XI Japanese players have had their hands on Dragon Quest XI since last Summer, but the epic RPG adventure is finally jumping shores and gearing up to debut in the West. While the game initially released on both Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4, it seems only the PS4 version is making the leap to American and European shores, in addition to a PC port. Nevertheless, the localization of DQXI is a huge win for JRPG fans. Worldwide, Dragon Quest is second only to Final Fantasy in terms of role-playing prestige, and the game has already sold over three million copies in Japan alone. Hopefully, the Western release, due out September 4, will be the breakthrough hit the series has long been seeking. Nier: Automata and Yakuza 0 proved to be surprise hits in the United States, so why shouldn't Dragon Quest XI follow in their illustrious footsteps? Oh, and by the way, the Nier sequel is making the jump to Xbox One X in the form of the "Become as Gods Edition," which includes the DLC and offers 4K enhancements. Babylon's Fall Platinum Games are always working on something new and different, and their latest project, Babylon's Fall, looks to be right in their wheelhouse... And by that, we mean it looks bonkers, full of dense lore, and impossibly kinetic action. Unfortunately, the trailer was purely CG and didn't appear to show anything from the actual game engine, so actual gameplay details are still unknown, but it's Platinum Games, so anything less than insane, over-the-top action spectacle would be way out of character for them. Still, the brief clip's focus on a historical timeline of lore suggests to us that Platinum are aiming to compete with the likes of Game of Thrones with their next game, which is due out on PS4 and Steam in 2019. Kingdom Hearts III The appearance of Kingdom Hearts III was hardly surprising during Square's press conference. However, its presence would have been more exciting if they hadn't announced the release date earlier in the week, and also released a nearly-identical trailer at the Microsoft Xbox press conference the day before. Basically, the Square Enix trailer was a rehash of the Xbox trailer, but with a couple of extra shots here and there, including the reveal of Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille, presumably as a summon character. Just Cause 4 There are few things more rewarding than causing ungodly levels or mayhem and destruction in a Just Cause game. Rico Rodriguez is back for Just Cause 4, which aims to be the most over-the-top entry yet. Boasting a new graphics engine and the most diverse setting yet seen in the acclaimed series, JC4 is aiming, like its predecessors, to be the open-world action game by which all others are judged. Our first reactions to the JC4 trailer can be found here. The Quiet Man Not much is known about The Quiet Man, other than the player character is more gorgeous than Cloud Strife and Squall Leonheart combined, and he has some sick hand-to-hand combat skills. The trailer incorporated live-action footage in addition to brief snippets of gameplay, but it's unclear if the New York City-based title will embrace a new-age FMV style, or if that was just a specially-shot sequence for the trailer. Square Enix, devilish teases as they are, promise more info is coming in August. -- Overall, Square Enix's show was short, but sweet. They brought some cool surprises like Captain Spirit and the Final Fantasy XIV/Monster Hunter World crossover, as well as fleshed-out looks at big-budget action/adventure titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 4. Like any good presser, they also teased us with brief, provocative glimpses at unknown titles like The Quiet Man and Babylon's Fall. And, of course, there's a significant group of people who are beyond thrilled now that Dragon Quest XI has a Western release date... And we don't need to explain that any look at Kingdom Hearts III automatically puts this squarely in the "win" column. How do you think Square Enix did with its E3 2018 showing? Let us know in the comments! You can watch the full press conference for yourself below. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  6. The last time Square Enix held an E3 press conference was in 2015. When it was announced they'd be returning after a three-year absence, fans got excited... Perhaps unreasonably so. After all, the much-anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake was recently announced to be essentially rebooting its development cycle, so it was arguably unfair to expect that game to appear. Similarly, it proved to be way too early for a look at the upcoming Crystal Dynamics-developed Avengers title. Regardless, many were taken aback by the surprisingly short run time (only half an hour) of Square Enix's Nintendo Direct-style video presentation. Despite this, there were still some great nuggets of information and surprise announcements tucked away in the brief press briefing. Shadow of the Tomb Raider It's always tough to nail the ending of a trilogy, but we have faith that Crystal Dynamics can provide a satisfying conclusion to the origin story of Lara Croft, at least in terms of visuals and gameplay. While the story of the re-rebooted Tomb Raider games has proven divisive among lifelong fans of the franchise, few can complain about the winning mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, and engaging, cinematic combat offered by the new titles. And, of course, Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) is perfect as this version of Lara. In addition to the return of Jonah from the previous two games in the form of some cutscene footage, the main hook of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider presentation was an extended gameplay demonstration which showed off the breathtaking graphics and enhanced stealth gameplay of the title. A closing sizzle reel featured all the high-adrenaline moments fans expect, including surprises like Lara battling a moray eel, swimming freely in underwater 3D environments, and – naturally – exploring tombs filled with ancient relics and priceless treasures. Octopath Traveler Square Enix's gorgeous Switch exclusive, Octopath Traveler, is nearing release. Described as an HD-2D game, Octopath Traveler combines the sprite-based work of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI and combines it with more realistically-styled backgrounds and distinctly modern post-processing and lighting effects. The final result is nothing less than striking, and it's easily one of the most distinct-looking games in recent memory. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks and offers deep RPG mechanics for all eight of its protagonists. We'll find out for sure when the title releases on July 13. Final Fantasy XIV It's been nearly five years since the disastrous launch of Final Fantasy XIV was completely rectified with the game-changing release of A Realm Reborn. To this day, FFXIV is celebrated as a veritable phoenix which rose from the ashes of its own hubris as one of the hottest, most addictive MMORPGs on the market, and Square Enix is continuing to support the profitable powerhouse with a continuous outpour of new content for Eorzean explorers to devour. They showed off two significant additions, the first of which is Patch 4.3, "Under the Moonlight," which offers a ton of new quests, a new raid, and assorted quality of life improvements. All in all, it's a pretty standard update, if still satisfying for ravenous XIV fans. The other new event is far more provocative: a crossover with Monster Hunter World. Level 70 players who have completed the Stormblood quest will be able to take on the task of hunting one of Monster Hunter's signature creatures, the fearsome Rathalos. Meanwhile, Monster Hunter World players will gain access to exclusive armor sets courtesy of a new hunt: Final Fantasy's signature recurring powerhouse summon, Bahamut. The crossover is expected to launch sometime this summer, but no dates have been announced yet. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Dontnod have been keeping busy. Between the recently-launched Vampyr and their upcoming Life is Strange Season 2 and the mysterious Twin Mirror, they are juggling a great many high-profile projects. While Life is Strange 2 was a no-show at E3, they instead offered an adjacent spin-off, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which expands the Life is Strange universe. The new game stars Chris, a young boy with a vivid imagination, being raised by a single, widower father in Oregon. The trailer promises Life is Strange's signature mix of youthful whimsy and intimate characterization, though with perhaps a more childlike sense of wonder thanks to its ten-year-old protagonist. The biggest surprise about Captain Spirit is that it will be completely free when it launches on June 26. Dragon Quest XI Japanese players have had their hands on Dragon Quest XI since last Summer, but the epic RPG adventure is finally jumping shores and gearing up to debut in the West. While the game initially released on both Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4, it seems only the PS4 version is making the leap to American and European shores, in addition to a PC port. Nevertheless, the localization of DQXI is a huge win for JRPG fans. Worldwide, Dragon Quest is second only to Final Fantasy in terms of role-playing prestige, and the game has already sold over three million copies in Japan alone. Hopefully, the Western release, due out September 4, will be the breakthrough hit the series has long been seeking. Nier: Automata and Yakuza 0 proved to be surprise hits in the United States, so why shouldn't Dragon Quest XI follow in their illustrious footsteps? Oh, and by the way, the Nier sequel is making the jump to Xbox One X in the form of the "Become as Gods Edition," which includes the DLC and offers 4K enhancements. Babylon's Fall Platinum Games are always working on something new and different, and their latest project, Babylon's Fall, looks to be right in their wheelhouse... And by that, we mean it looks bonkers, full of dense lore, and impossibly kinetic action. Unfortunately, the trailer was purely CG and didn't appear to show anything from the actual game engine, so actual gameplay details are still unknown, but it's Platinum Games, so anything less than insane, over-the-top action spectacle would be way out of character for them. Still, the brief clip's focus on a historical timeline of lore suggests to us that Platinum are aiming to compete with the likes of Game of Thrones with their next game, which is due out on PS4 and Steam in 2019. Kingdom Hearts III The appearance of Kingdom Hearts III was hardly surprising during Square's press conference. However, its presence would have been more exciting if they hadn't announced the release date earlier in the week, and also released a nearly-identical trailer at the Microsoft Xbox press conference the day before. Basically, the Square Enix trailer was a rehash of the Xbox trailer, but with a couple of extra shots here and there, including the reveal of Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille, presumably as a summon character. Just Cause 4 There are few things more rewarding than causing ungodly levels or mayhem and destruction in a Just Cause game. Rico Rodriguez is back for Just Cause 4, which aims to be the most over-the-top entry yet. Boasting a new graphics engine and the most diverse setting yet seen in the acclaimed series, JC4 is aiming, like its predecessors, to be the open-world action game by which all others are judged. Our first reactions to the JC4 trailer can be found here. The Quiet Man Not much is known about The Quiet Man, other than the player character is more gorgeous than Cloud Strife and Squall Leonheart combined, and he has some sick hand-to-hand combat skills. The trailer incorporated live-action footage in addition to brief snippets of gameplay, but it's unclear if the New York City-based title will embrace a new-age FMV style, or if that was just a specially-shot sequence for the trailer. Square Enix, devilish teases as they are, promise more info is coming in August. -- Overall, Square Enix's show was short, but sweet. They brought some cool surprises like Captain Spirit and the Final Fantasy XIV/Monster Hunter World crossover, as well as fleshed-out looks at big-budget action/adventure titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 4. Like any good presser, they also teased us with brief, provocative glimpses at unknown titles like The Quiet Man and Babylon's Fall. And, of course, there's a significant group of people who are beyond thrilled now that Dragon Quest XI has a Western release date... And we don't need to explain that any look at Kingdom Hearts III automatically puts this squarely in the "win" column. How do you think Square Enix did with its E3 2018 showing? Let us know in the comments! You can watch the full press conference for yourself below. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  7. It has been long requested and finally done: The Life Is Strange episode is here! Naomi and Jack dive into all things Life Is Strange, from the theories to the story and how meaningful it can be, warts and all. Dontnod, the creators of Remember Me and the recently released Vampyr, really did well with their sophomore effort - did they do well enough to make a game that transcends greatness to be considered one of the best games of all-time? Play it, listen to the show, and judge for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Undertale 'Glitterbomb' by LongBoxofChocolate and Philippe Delage (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03734) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  8. It has been long requested and finally done: The Life Is Strange episode is here! Naomi and Jack dive into all things Life Is Strange, from the theories to the story and how meaningful it can be, warts and all. Dontnod, the creators of Remember Me and the recently released Vampyr, really did well with their sophomore effort - did they do well enough to make a game that transcends greatness to be considered one of the best games of all-time? Play it, listen to the show, and judge for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Undertale 'Glitterbomb' by LongBoxofChocolate and Philippe Delage (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03734) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  9. One of the biggest surprises at Square Enix's E3 showcase was a provocative new IP called The Quiet Man (presumably with no connection to the 1952 John Wayne romantic drama). The trailer opened with a live-action segment showing off the picturesque scenery of Lower Manhattan, the heart of New York CIty. A lone, hooded figure carrying a paper bag walks into a dark alley where he encounters a trio of gaudily-dressed gang members. After they mouth off to him, he points to his ear, suggesting he is deaf and possiblly mute. As the two men approach the unnamed protagonist, the scene seamlessly transitions to what appears to be in-engine footage, and he beats them up while the tagline, Silence Rings Loudest. Square Enix is promising more from The Quiet Man in August, and there's evidence to suggest that this trailer is heavily edited, a tease of a greater reveal yet to come. The Quiet Man confronts three men in the alley, but only fights two of them in the brief CGI sequence. However, the third figure can be briefly seen sprawled on the ground behind the silent hero when the camera first pans around to his feet. Perhaps, when the game is fully revealed later on, an extended version of this trailer will present itself. The Quiet Man is a mysterious new game, and little is known about it. It appears to feature hand-to-hand combat it's set in New York City, and the lead character has beautiful hair, but it's too early to say anything more than that. Will the game feature live-action segments? Will it seamlessly switch between live-action cutscenes and high-adrenaline fighting gameplay? It's too early to say with any degree of certainty. Regardless, we're hyped to learn more about Square Enix's newest project. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  10. One of the biggest surprises at Square Enix's E3 showcase was a provocative new IP called The Quiet Man (presumably with no connection to the 1952 John Wayne romantic drama). The trailer opened with a live-action segment showing off the picturesque scenery of Lower Manhattan, the heart of New York CIty. A lone, hooded figure carrying a paper bag walks into a dark alley where he encounters a trio of gaudily-dressed gang members. After they mouth off to him, he points to his ear, suggesting he is deaf and possiblly mute. As the two men approach the unnamed protagonist, the scene seamlessly transitions to what appears to be in-engine footage, and he beats them up while the tagline, Silence Rings Loudest. Square Enix is promising more from The Quiet Man in August, and there's evidence to suggest that this trailer is heavily edited, a tease of a greater reveal yet to come. The Quiet Man confronts three men in the alley, but only fights two of them in the brief CGI sequence. However, the third figure can be briefly seen sprawled on the ground behind the silent hero when the camera first pans around to his feet. Perhaps, when the game is fully revealed later on, an extended version of this trailer will present itself. The Quiet Man is a mysterious new game, and little is known about it. It appears to feature hand-to-hand combat it's set in New York City, and the lead character has beautiful hair, but it's too early to say anything more than that. Will the game feature live-action segments? Will it seamlessly switch between live-action cutscenes and high-adrenaline fighting gameplay? It's too early to say with any degree of certainty. Regardless, we're hyped to learn more about Square Enix's newest project. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  11. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is Dontnod's heartwarming new story set in the Life is Strange universe. Instead of focusing on teenage drama, the game centers on a child with an imagination vivid enough to, seemingly, come to life. Though it occupies the same world as Max and Chloe's, Captain Spirit is a standalone story. A lonely boy named Chris lives as an only-child to a father who neglects him. In order to entertain himself, he turns to the world of make-believe. However, his fantasies seem to manifest beyond his thoughts, suggesting Chris may have posses supernatural abilities–a trademark element of Life is Strange. Dontnod states that the game acts a precursor to Life is Strange 2, a project that still has not been formally unveiled. Also, Captain Spirit appears to be a one-off installment as opposed to being a season of episodes. You won't have to wait long to play along with Chris. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit launches June 26 and will be completely free to download. The game is slated to release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. View full article
  12. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is Dontnod's heartwarming new story set in the Life is Strange universe. Instead of focusing on teenage drama, the game centers on a child with an imagination vivid enough to, seemingly, come to life. Though it occupies the same world as Max and Chloe's, Captain Spirit is a standalone story. A lonely boy named Chris lives as an only-child to a father who neglects him. In order to entertain himself, he turns to the world of make-believe. However, his fantasies seem to manifest beyond his thoughts, suggesting Chris may have posses supernatural abilities–a trademark element of Life is Strange. Dontnod states that the game acts a precursor to Life is Strange 2, a project that still has not been formally unveiled. Also, Captain Spirit appears to be a one-off installment as opposed to being a season of episodes. You won't have to wait long to play along with Chris. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit launches June 26 and will be completely free to download. The game is slated to release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
  13. Continuing the trend of porting retro RPGs to mobile, Square Enix unexpectedly released the 2006 PSP remake of the classic Valkyrie Profile today on iOS and Android. The company had been teasing a Valkyrie-related release for 2018, but no information was available on it until today. Originally a PlayStation 1 exclusive, Valkyrie Profile follows the exploits of Lenneth, a Valkyrie in service to Odin and Freya. The godly duo assign Lenneth the task of obtaining and training powerful souls, Einherjar, for the coming of the final battle Ragnarok. Across a series of chapters, Lenneth travels the world of Midgard reaping souls and helping them make peace with their former lives so they can move on and focus on the coming apocalypse. Along the way, Lenneth becomes entangled in a variety of divine conflicts involving sorcery, elves, necromancers, and the Norse pantheon. The 2006 PSP release offers some higher quality audio and scraps the original animated opening and cutscenes in favor of reworked CG versions of those scenes. The portable version was based off of the Japanese version, which released a year before the North American release of Valkyrie Profile. That means that some of the tweaks that were present in the original version were lost, such as the ability to alter the entire party's armor instead of just active party members. However, additional scenes from the North American release made it into the remastered version. The mobile version has only a few minor tweaks to adapt it for new platforms. The most welcome of these being auto-save and the ability to save anywhere. There's also an auto-battle feature if you don't want to actually play the game. Unfortunately, Square Enix has also decided to add booster packs for sale on top of the $16 (soon to be $18) price of the base game, which... yeah, that's not great. All told, there's about $21-$28 (depending on how you bundle them) of these additional things in the base game that allow players to earn triple EXP, halve the cost of in-game items, heal instantly after fights, be immune to status ailments, and more. Each of those abilities cost about $4 on their own. There has been some poor reception recently of Square Enix's mobile offerings, so tread carefully.
  14. Continuing the trend of porting retro RPGs to mobile, Square Enix unexpectedly released the 2006 PSP remake of the classic Valkyrie Profile today on iOS and Android. The company had been teasing a Valkyrie-related release for 2018, but no information was available on it until today. Originally a PlayStation 1 exclusive, Valkyrie Profile follows the exploits of Lenneth, a Valkyrie in service to Odin and Freya. The godly duo assign Lenneth the task of obtaining and training powerful souls, Einherjar, for the coming of the final battle Ragnarok. Across a series of chapters, Lenneth travels the world of Midgard reaping souls and helping them make peace with their former lives so they can move on and focus on the coming apocalypse. Along the way, Lenneth becomes entangled in a variety of divine conflicts involving sorcery, elves, necromancers, and the Norse pantheon. The 2006 PSP release offers some higher quality audio and scraps the original animated opening and cutscenes in favor of reworked CG versions of those scenes. The portable version was based off of the Japanese version, which released a year before the North American release of Valkyrie Profile. That means that some of the tweaks that were present in the original version were lost, such as the ability to alter the entire party's armor instead of just active party members. However, additional scenes from the North American release made it into the remastered version. The mobile version has only a few minor tweaks to adapt it for new platforms. The most welcome of these being auto-save and the ability to save anywhere. There's also an auto-battle feature if you don't want to actually play the game. Unfortunately, Square Enix has also decided to add booster packs for sale on top of the $16 (soon to be $18) price of the base game, which... yeah, that's not great. All told, there's about $21-$28 (depending on how you bundle them) of these additional things in the base game that allow players to earn triple EXP, halve the cost of in-game items, heal instantly after fights, be immune to status ailments, and more. Each of those abilities cost about $4 on their own. There has been some poor reception recently of Square Enix's mobile offerings, so tread carefully. View full article
  15. Square Enix continues the trickle of Kingdom Hearts III news with a new trailer that shows off a collection of mini-games based on the handheld LCD systems that were popular in the 80s. Players take on the role of Sora and Mickey as they complete various tasks related to original Mickey Mouse cartoons from back in the day. The trailer shows four different mini-games titled The Barnyard Battle, The Karnival Kid, Giantland, and Musical Farmer, respectively. The Classic Kingdom trailer comes courtesy of the Kingdom Hearts Union X fan event being held in Anaheim, California. Kingdom Hearts III will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The release date has not officially been revealed quite yet, though there are hints that it could be coming sooner rather than later. I'd put money on us learning that information sometime during E3 2018.
  16. Square Enix continues the trickle of Kingdom Hearts III news with a new trailer that shows off a collection of mini-games based on the handheld LCD systems that were popular in the 80s. Players take on the role of Sora and Mickey as they complete various tasks related to original Mickey Mouse cartoons from back in the day. The trailer shows four different mini-games titled The Barnyard Battle, The Karnival Kid, Giantland, and Musical Farmer, respectively. The Classic Kingdom trailer comes courtesy of the Kingdom Hearts Union X fan event being held in Anaheim, California. Kingdom Hearts III will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The release date has not officially been revealed quite yet, though there are hints that it could be coming sooner rather than later. I'd put money on us learning that information sometime during E3 2018. View full article
  17. Over a decade after its release on the Nintendo DS, the quirky JRPG The World Ends with You makes its way onto Nintendo's flagship console. The remastered game will be fully titled, The World Ends with You -Final Remix- and offers a slew of improvements over the DS cult classic. For the uninitiated, The World Ends with You tells the story of a teenage boy who becomes trapped in an insidious game that threatens to erase him from existence. Other players become both allies and enemies as they all race to win the game and avoid a fate worse than death. Relying on a unique rhythm combat system, The World Ends with You has stuck with fans for years. Visual improvements are apparent in the trailer, but perhaps the most interesting addition will be a "new scenario" for players to dig into. Nintendo was a bit vague on exactly what that new scenario might entail. Perhaps the expanded content might hint at a possible sequel to The World Ends with You, something that both the fans and the original creators have been wanting for quite some time. The appearance of characters from the game within Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in 2012 helped to keep the hope alive. The World Ends with You -Final Remix- will release sometime this year for the Nintendo Switch. View full article
  18. Over a decade after its release on the Nintendo DS, the quirky JRPG The World Ends with You makes its way onto Nintendo's flagship console. The remastered game will be fully titled, The World Ends with You -Final Remix- and offers a slew of improvements over the DS cult classic. For the uninitiated, The World Ends with You tells the story of a teenage boy who becomes trapped in an insidious game that threatens to erase him from existence. Other players become both allies and enemies as they all race to win the game and avoid a fate worse than death. Relying on a unique rhythm combat system, The World Ends with You has stuck with fans for years. Visual improvements are apparent in the trailer, but perhaps the most interesting addition will be a "new scenario" for players to dig into. Nintendo was a bit vague on exactly what that new scenario might entail. Perhaps the expanded content might hint at a possible sequel to The World Ends with You, something that both the fans and the original creators have been wanting for quite some time. The appearance of characters from the game within Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in 2012 helped to keep the hope alive. The World Ends with You -Final Remix- will release sometime this year for the Nintendo Switch.
  19. It's official, the game that took 10 years to develop is one year old. Final Fantasy XV celebrated it's first birthday today and to celebrate Square Enix made a few announcements. To commemorate the event, Square Enix held what it called an “Active Time Report” which was a live stream with voice actors from the game and Kingsglaive and discussed "the past, present, and future of Final Fantasy XV." The biggest news to come from the stream was the details of December update. It was revealed that players will be able to switch between Noctis Ignis, Prompto and Gladio during the main campaign of the game. While there are some restrictions to this, notably the Chapter 9 Leviathan fight, this feature is available mostly in the open world. During the Japanese stream, it was revealed that there would be more episodic installments for the game with Episode Ardyn being confirmed as one of them. There was no word on the character focus for the other two, but there has been speculation that they might be about Aranea and Lunafreya. Yes please. The goal for release on these is 2018. In addition to all of that, we also got to see the first three opening minutes of the upcoming Episode Ignis which will be released Dec. 13. The multiplayer expansion Comrades made an appearance as well with the update on that coming out around the same time as Episode Ignis. Updates for Comrades are also planned for next year, with the possibility of a playable Noctis, Ignis, Gladio and Prompto. FFXV wouldn't be anywhere without its fans, and Square included its players in the celebration with a Moogle Fan Art Competition. "To help celebrate the one year anniversary of FFXV, we’ve made a limited number of handmade FFXV moogles, kupo!" said the announcement. The competition is open now until Dec. 31.
  20. It's official, the game that took 10 years to develop is one year old. Final Fantasy XV celebrated it's first birthday today and to celebrate Square Enix made a few announcements. To commemorate the event, Square Enix held what it called an “Active Time Report” which was a live stream with voice actors from the game and Kingsglaive and discussed "the past, present, and future of Final Fantasy XV." The biggest news to come from the stream was the details of December update. It was revealed that players will be able to switch between Noctis Ignis, Prompto and Gladio during the main campaign of the game. While there are some restrictions to this, notably the Chapter 9 Leviathan fight, this feature is available mostly in the open world. During the Japanese stream, it was revealed that there would be more episodic installments for the game with Episode Ardyn being confirmed as one of them. There was no word on the character focus for the other two, but there has been speculation that they might be about Aranea and Lunafreya. Yes please. The goal for release on these is 2018. In addition to all of that, we also got to see the first three opening minutes of the upcoming Episode Ignis which will be released Dec. 13. The multiplayer expansion Comrades made an appearance as well with the update on that coming out around the same time as Episode Ignis. Updates for Comrades are also planned for next year, with the possibility of a playable Noctis, Ignis, Gladio and Prompto. FFXV wouldn't be anywhere without its fans, and Square included its players in the celebration with a Moogle Fan Art Competition. "To help celebrate the one year anniversary of FFXV, we’ve made a limited number of handmade FFXV moogles, kupo!" said the announcement. The competition is open now until Dec. 31. View full article
  21. Star Ocean faithful and newcomers alike will have the chance to experience the earliest point in the series' timeline. Square Enix announced that Star Ocean: The Last Hope is getting a 4K and HD facelift, launching for PlayStation 4 and Steam on November 28. The Last Hope is a prequel to the first Star Ocean game, taking place several hundreds years prior and features a heavier sci-fi theme than other entries. It originally released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. In addition to controller, the PC version of the remaster features full mouse and keyboard support. Naturally, the 4K upgrade applies to PlayStation 4 Pro users as well as PC players with a compatible setup. The remaster will release digitally for $20.99 (no word on a physical release). Purchasing before December 12 nets players a 10% discount, with Steam users also receiving an exclusive mini-soundtrack. PS4 players can get a special Star Ocean theme and 12 avatars if they pick up The Last Hope before January 12. If you're a Star Ocean fan, how do you feel about The Last Hope's remaster? What other entries would you like to see get the same treatment?
  22. Star Ocean faithful and newcomers alike will have the chance to experience the earliest point in the series' timeline. Square Enix announced that Star Ocean: The Last Hope is getting a 4K and HD facelift, launching for PlayStation 4 and Steam on November 28. The Last Hope is a prequel to the first Star Ocean game, taking place several hundreds years prior and features a heavier sci-fi theme than other entries. It originally released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. In addition to controller, the PC version of the remaster features full mouse and keyboard support. Naturally, the 4K upgrade applies to PlayStation 4 Pro users as well as PC players with a compatible setup. The remaster will release digitally for $20.99 (no word on a physical release). Purchasing before December 12 nets players a 10% discount, with Steam users also receiving an exclusive mini-soundtrack. PS4 players can get a special Star Ocean theme and 12 avatars if they pick up The Last Hope before January 12. If you're a Star Ocean fan, how do you feel about The Last Hope's remaster? What other entries would you like to see get the same treatment? View full article
  23. We finally have more details on the upcoming Square Enix title Project Octopath Traveler that was teased during the Nintendo Direct back in February. With Project Octopath Traveler, Square Enix seems to be angling to recapture the retro RPG fans with stylish presentation, a branching narrative, and a unique combat system. Watching Octopath Traveler in action and it immediately becomes clear that you've never seen anything quite like it. Square Enix announced that the title will make use of a new aesthetic technique that they have dubbed HD-2D. This new style looks like an old-school RPG format that has been tilted into a 3D world while retaining 2D characters. It's certainly unique and eye-catching while retaining that ye olden days RPG feel. We now know that the octopath in Octopath Traveler references the eight potential protagonists that players can select when beginning their adventure. Each character has their own story, motivations in the world, and a unique ability that will allow them to pursue their goals. The two characters shown, Olberic and Primrose, can manipulate NPCs. Olberic can challenge almost anyone to a duel to prove his strength or move characters out of his way. Primrose, on the other hand, can seduce NPCs to help her on quests or lure enemies into traps. While Octopath Traveler certainly seems like a retro RPG, Square Enix has been experimenting with combat mechanics. Turn-based battles that will be immediately familiar to RPG fans are present in full force, but the major difference in Octopath Traveler is the ability to gain Boost Points with every turn that passes. These points can then be used to boost attacks, doing two, three, or four times more damage. They can also be used to heal, cast spells, or even chain combos together. A demo for Octopath Traveler is currently available on the Nintendo Switch eShop. The full game is expected to release sometime during 2018 and, while it has certainly been covered in Nintendo events, it seems like it might be coming to other systems as well. View full article
  24. We finally have more details on the upcoming Square Enix title Project Octopath Traveler that was teased during the Nintendo Direct back in February. With Project Octopath Traveler, Square Enix seems to be angling to recapture the retro RPG fans with stylish presentation, a branching narrative, and a unique combat system. Watching Octopath Traveler in action and it immediately becomes clear that you've never seen anything quite like it. Square Enix announced that the title will make use of a new aesthetic technique that they have dubbed HD-2D. This new style looks like an old-school RPG format that has been tilted into a 3D world while retaining 2D characters. It's certainly unique and eye-catching while retaining that ye olden days RPG feel. We now know that the octopath in Octopath Traveler references the eight potential protagonists that players can select when beginning their adventure. Each character has their own story, motivations in the world, and a unique ability that will allow them to pursue their goals. The two characters shown, Olberic and Primrose, can manipulate NPCs. Olberic can challenge almost anyone to a duel to prove his strength or move characters out of his way. Primrose, on the other hand, can seduce NPCs to help her on quests or lure enemies into traps. While Octopath Traveler certainly seems like a retro RPG, Square Enix has been experimenting with combat mechanics. Turn-based battles that will be immediately familiar to RPG fans are present in full force, but the major difference in Octopath Traveler is the ability to gain Boost Points with every turn that passes. These points can then be used to boost attacks, doing two, three, or four times more damage. They can also be used to heal, cast spells, or even chain combos together. A demo for Octopath Traveler is currently available on the Nintendo Switch eShop. The full game is expected to release sometime during 2018 and, while it has certainly been covered in Nintendo events, it seems like it might be coming to other systems as well.
  25. Square Enix has a complete remake of one of the greatest RPGS of all-time in the works, and it's coming sooner than anyone would have expected! The reveal of Secret of Mana comes with a slew of information about what the remake changes and leaves the same, along with a hard release date. The team working on Secret of Mana has gone to great lengths to keep the classic, top-down gameplay the same while modernizing a number of other aspects. The most obvious change comes with the 3D graphics - a dramatic departure from the Super Nintendo original. The vibrant 3D might not be on par with the likes of the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake, but it holds a charm all its own. The developers also modernized the controls for the PlayStation 4 controller and the PS Vita. As the trailer demonstrates, actors will finally give a voice to the text players could only imagine when they played Secret of Mana back in 1993. Randi, Primm, Popoi, and many of the whimsical cast of Secret of Mana will talk and feel more alive than they ever have before. To go along with the new voices, a new soundtrack has been created to fully realize the dreams of the original's composer, Hiroki Kikuta. The soundtrack pays tribute to the original while introducing complementary elements and flourishes that weren't present previously. Of course, players will still be able to play solo or with up to two friends in local co-op. For players unfamiliar with Secret of Mana, the story centers on a young man named Randi, a headband-wearing rascal who stumbles upon the Mana Sword, a powerful weapon meant to bring peace to a world in turmoil. With the blade in hand, Randi can harness the power of Mana, a force of unimaginable power and a target for nefarious evildoers throughout the world. He sets out to defeat the forces of evil and is joined along the way by Primm, a fiery noblewoman, and a sprite named Popoi. Pre-orders are now open for Secret of Mana. Those who take advantage of the offer from PSN receive PSN avatars for the three main characters as well as a moogle suit and tiger suit option for all characters at launch. Secret of Mana releases February 15, 2018 for the PlayStation 4, PS Vita, and PC. Players too excited to wait can get their hands on the title a bit earlier at PAX West September 1-4.
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