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01/22/2019 20:30:53 •••

Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition

I am one of (probably) many tropers who no longer has time to sit down in front of a console for 60 hours. And I haven't been for a while; the last full-length FF title I bought was 12. So the idea of a slimmed-down portable edition appealed to me — especially since you can play the first chapter (up to Galdin Quay and the night before Insomnia falls) for free. But, of course, it's hard to play games on a cell phone. How well would the experience hold up?

The answer is, Astonishingly well.

Pocket Edition is a slimmed-down FF 15 in every sense of the word. The graphics are pretty low-poly — they didn't even animate Mouth Flaps — and the entirety of the Wide Open Sandbox has been stripped out. Elemancy is gone, leaving you instead with an extremely-neutered Draw system from FF 8 where you can only hold one spell at a time. No camping, no fishing, no photography (you don't get to choose the photo Noct brings at the end), no driving, no Item Crafting.

What's left is: all the original Cut Scenes, music and voice-acting; the entire plot; and a surprisingly robust battle engine. Instead of Button Mashing, battle is dependent on positioning, as Noctis will auto-attack anyone he's near. This leaves the player (and the screen!) free to focus on Quick Time Events for dodging, parrying and special attacks. Battles are fun and challenging without being overwhelming, and the game stands as a bastion of excellent Mobile Phone Game play control. (Ironically, by stripping many of those controls out.) And, of course, you get the whole story, though without the DLC add-ons.

I would love to see Square Enix do more Reformulated Games like this, particularly of my own favorite FF 8. But in terms of FF 15 itself, Pocket Edition is a strange testament. It validates the strength of the basic story and battle engine by removing everything that distracts from those elements; however, it also proves, by its own existence, that $40 of the original game's $60 sticker price went to filler, not to mention highlighting the game's Troubled Production. It's brave — perhaps foolhardy — for Square to undermine their own game this way. But the resulting product is a slim, elegant gaming adventure that I hope we see a lot of copycats of. Insofar as Triple-A gaming can exist on smartphones, Pocket Edition is the Ur-Example.

01/21/2019 00:00:00

To be honest, I don\'t entirely understand why playing long games wouldn\'t be feasible for someone with limited time for gaming, unless said games required you to play a long time in a single session (e.g. save points are few and far between). If those long games are entertaining enough to hold your interest the entire way through, then perhaps the length is a good thing, since it means they\'ll keep you entertained that much longer.

01/22/2019 00:00:00

Well, for a plot-heavy game like the Final Fantasies, there is the problem that the longer you take to complete it, and the more often you put it on pause, the harder it becomes to keep the whole story in mind. Maybe a useful feature for story games on mobile would be a way to quickly recap the story you\'ve played so far.

01/22/2019 00:00:00


That\'s possible. Of course, quite a few games have an in-game synopsis, such as a journal or a summary of the plot.

01/22/2019 00:00:00

@Valiona:True. I've been playing Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition on the Switch for the last 3-4 days, and a quick scan of the the synopsis page recaps your progress.

So does Valkyria Chronicles 4, which charts your progress with an in-game journal. That way, no matter how long you set the game aside, when you resume playing, you'll always know right where you left off and what your next objective is.

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