As announced at the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event, a new demo titled “FFXV Platinum Demo,” became available for free download on the Playstation Network on March 30th. Though this demo was announced to be more of a tech demo, as well as a standalone story separate from FFXV, and is clearly different from the previous FFXV: Duscae Demo, which is part of the full game itself, the demo leaves me with some questions... One in particular being whether or not the story aspects of the demo are standalone or if they’ll play a bigger role in the finished game.
The demo starts players off in a forest setting, in what is apparently the main character Noctis’s dreamscape, where a fox-type familiar “Carbuncle” – present in previous Final Fantasy games – acts as Noctis’s guide. The Carbuncle communicates with a young Noctis through his phone with a cute text feature, so that you can understand his squeaking. The graphics and lighting functions are stunning, and the production team truly found a way to put a unique spin on something that could be as straight-forward or dull as a tech demo.
Throughout the different sections of the demo, the player is able to move Noctis onto metal plates placed on the ground, which change Noctis into things like vehicles or creatures, to presumably show off what these will look like in the final game. There are also metal plates that allow players to change the time of day and weather. One thing that differs from the original Duscae Demo, is the shortcut menu using the directional buttons that have been added to easily cycle through whichever weapons or magical abilities the player assigns to each button. This is an improvement to the Duscae Demo, in that it allows players to make more last-minute decisions and provides more adaptability for the player in assessing the enemy as they’re fighting. Rather than running by holding down “X,” players must now hold down the left thumbstick, as “X’s” function has been changed to Attack. Seeing this combat change in the final game, granted they don’t come up with something better, would be something to look forward to.
That pretty much covers the tech demo aspect of Platinum. Though there isn’t much to the demo aside from the technical features available to experience and play around with, the story aspects of Platinum are interesting enough to leave one wanting to know more. Towards the beginning of the demo, as you’re following the Carbuncle guide through an area, a somewhat sinister looking giant man bends down, looks at Noctis, and then disintegrates. Although the carbuncle attempts to reassure Noctis that the giant may look scary, but is in fact “gentle,” I can’t help but be skeptical. In the newest FFXV trailer, “Reclaim Your Throne,” this same giant is shown scooping up Noctis in his fist and slamming him into the ground. That doesn’t sound much like a gentle giant. This also brings the question of whether or not that part of the new trailer might be a dream too. Although, in the Duscae Demo, the group is searching for “an Archaean Titan” that has been dormant for a long time – which is probably this same “gentle giant” – to help them in their quest, the scene of Noctis and the Titan in the new trailer shows Noctis alone, unaccompanied by his friends. This makes it seem more like it could be a dream as well, considering that in his dream throughout Platinum, Noctis is alone.
Perhaps, the dreamscape that serves as the setting for Platinum might actually be part of the story in FFXV? Considering how much of the story in the tech demo is about Noctis and his feelings towards his father and home, there is a possibility that his dreams could be a tool in showing the audience more of his inner struggle and feelings throughout the game, unlocking more about him than what we might simply see as he interacts with his group of friends throughout the game.
This theory could also prove to be true, due to the change in the Rest function compared to previous games. Typically, in Final Fantasy games, when you rest, whether in a tent or at an inn, the screen simply goes black and shows that time has passed, and you go back to adventuring. However, in the Duscae Demo, eating and sleeping play a slightly bigger role than before. When you choose to rest, the game allows you to choose a meal and then leads into a small cut scene of the group eating together at their camp, while also displaying a summary of your stats. The screen goes blank and then returns with a transition of the young men coming out of their tent. This new set-up allows for the possibility of dream cut scenes between resting and the group waking up. The Platinum Demo puts an emphasis on Noctis’s relationship with his father and his home life effecting his dreams – the Carbuncle being identical to a small figurine his father leaves on his bedside table to protect him from darkness in his dreams – which leads me to believe that we might be seeing a bit more of this in the final game as we uncover the character and story backgrounds.
Being set in a dreamscape, the Platinum demo, overall, is much more whimsical and colorful than the Duscae demo. However, it does not seem too out of place, as you do play as a younger Noctis. Platinum does a fantastic job of displaying the technical aspects of the new game, while also leaving you to wonder how much of this is actually standalone, and what we could possibly see from Platinum in the final version of FFXV. The controls are as smooth as the graphics, and the changes that are being made only seem to be improvements thus far. November can’t come soon enough.
Though, we have already waited ten years – what’s another seven months?