Tue. May 28th, 2024

Earlier than the discharge of the Last Fantasy XIV growth, Shadowbringers, sport director Naoki Yoshida joked that George R.R. Martin wanted to complete his A Track of Ice and Hearth books earlier than he’d think about a Recreation of Thrones collaboration with the MMORPG. 4 years later and with Winds of Winter nowhere in sight, it will appear Yoshida has merely determined to do issues himself.

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It’s maybe passé to instantly label any form of darkish medieval fantasy aesthetic as being like Recreation of Thrones, maybe in the identical approach gaming audiences are simply as fast to label that aesthetic as akin to Darkish Souls. However Last Fantasy XVI, the most recent within the venerable Japanese roleplaying sport saga, appears to embrace that comparability wholeheartedly, and with a sure degree of intent that units itself other than the prior, effectively, fantasies of the franchise.

Picture: Sq. Enix/Ps

Last Fantasy has after all completed traditional fantasy stylings previously—from its preliminary releases leaning towards traditional western archetypes of warriors and mages battling goblins and dragons, as much as Yoshida’s different Last Fantasy undertaking, the aforementioned MMO, XIV. The aesthetic continues to be probably the most distinguished even because the franchise has virtually as lengthily juked and jived between the steampunk of VI, the sci-fi techno fantasy of VII, VIII, and XIII, and all the pieces in between. Last Fantasy is after all no stranger to darkish storytelling both, thrusting its heroes into dreadful conflicts towards terrible villains, and forcing a few of these heroes and their allies into paying the final word value of their journeys. So what makes XVI’s return to each of these wells really feel each uniquely totally different and but additionally clearly within the footsteps of Recreation of Thrones’ affect?

The prologue demo for the sport launched this week paints an image of a Last Fantasy that’s fascinated not simply with the floor degree aesthetic of Thrones’ explicit thought of Eurocentric fantasy, however with the kinds of political and familial intrigues that made Recreation of Thrones the smash hit it was with mainstream audiences. XVI begins with the angle of Clive Rosfield, the older princeling of the ruling household of a small principality known as Rosaria. In a world the place highly effective nation-states have risen up round big, magical crystals and their gods, the Eikons, Rosaria is a area that worships the traditional Last Fantasy summon Phoenix, the deity of life and fireplace incarnate. A “First Protect,” basically a bodyguard, for his youthful brother Joshua—the avatar of the Phoenix—Clive finds his life upended when political machinations and betrayals violently usurp his father’s rule, resulting in an evening of carnage earlier than impending warfare that sees each his brother and father slain, his house usurped by his treacherous mom, and Clive put into army servitude by the hands of a previously allied nation.

Picture: Sq. Enix/Ps

All this human drama brings XVI’s world right down to the bottom degree in methods prior entries have by matching it with grim ranges of gore and casually foul language that really feel like they’re distinctly aping Recreation of Thrones’ personal preliminary strategy—when the sequence was lauded as in some way being fantasy for individuals who don’t like fantasy, even with ice zombies and dragons from the get-go. It looks like a definite differentiation from Last Fantasy’s previous titles—themselves no stranger to mature storytelling or darkish themes, after all—in a lot that the darkest moments of these video games had been usually both implied or introduced in a extra summary method, whether or not by technical limitations or stylistic selection.

In the meantime right here within the current, the fucks fly aplenty in XVI’s dialogue—no want for a fantastical substitute—and as usually because the blood does, and this sort of base primal darkness is shored up by the gradual and regular worldbuilding the sport presents to you within the political connections throughout its characters and areas. Is Last Fantasy XVI setting itself as much as be a nuanced, mature story of politics, nations in battle, and familial drama? Sure. Is it additionally a sport the place a child who’s round 10 years previous watches his father’s head get abruptly sliced off, turns into drenched in his father’s head’s blood, after which simply form of stares at that severed head? Additionally sure. It’s a little bit a lot at occasions, particularly when stated baby them traumatically explodes into a large firebird avatar and begins indiscriminately incinerating all the pieces round him.

Picture: Sq. Enix/Ps

However that conflict between the excessive fantasy of Last Fantasy and this much more grim aesthetic context is crafting one thing with lots of potential, even within the small glimpse we’ve had of XVI to date. In going for this Thrones-esque vibe Last Fantasy XVI isn’t embarrassed of its classical fantasy parts, if something it feels all of the extra emboldened: a Chocobo continues to be a chocobo, these classically faceted crystals are nonetheless a supply for the sequence’ conventional elemental magics. The summon creatures which were a staple of the franchise for generations stay as they at all times have been—the very starting of the demo, for instance, flashes ahead to a later interval of Clive’s life the place he witnesses an enormous battle between two warring nations give approach to a ginormous kaiju-esque struggle between Last Fantasy legends Shiva and Titan, and it’s as heightened and ridiculous as such a factor needs to be.

To date Last Fantasy XVI would possibly really feel, for all of the cursing and bloodlust of its prologues, prefer it needs to chase the cultural cache of what Recreation of Thrones did for up to date fantasy—however it doesn’t neglect that it’s nonetheless additionally a Last Fantasy sport, with an emphasis on the fantasy. We’ll see the way it nails that steadiness when Clive’s journey continues within the full sport’s launch on June 22, however for now, it’s shaping as much as have lots of attention-grabbing promise.

Need extra io9 information? Try when to count on the most recent Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on movie and TV, and all the pieces it is advisable to find out about the way forward for Physician Who.

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