NYCC: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD hands-on with a title revived for the new generation

Final Fantasy Type-0 is probably one of the more fascinating entries in Square Enix’s RPG franchise if you live outside of Japan. For years, fans have requested the PlayStation Portable title be brought to the west, and Square Enix finally answered that call during this year’s E3. Say what you will about the direction of the franchise over the last few years, and where it’s heading with the most recent Final Fantasy XV trailer, but after a hands-on experience with a PlayStation 4 demo of Type-0 HD, it certainly comes off as the Final Fantasy people have been wanting.

The opening cut-scene suggests a wartime theme, and the demo opens up at the walls of a fortress. Not a lot could be said about the characters themselves in the demo, but they were three of a possible fourteen party members with different specialties and abilities. The very first thing I noticed the moment I had control was that this was a fast, fast game. Combat moved at such a rapid pace that it took me about two or three battles in its real-time combat system before I really had a feel for it. I noticed the game still went on even while accessing the menu, and with the fighting going on I couldn’t discover a way to adjust camera speed without putting my party in danger.

Reishiki06You can select through any character at a given moment with the directional pad, with their unique spell attacks assigned to a specific button. Your traditional elemental spells are accounted for, but I found myself enjoying the unconventional ones like throwing daggers, whip-blades, and playing cards. Although the combat is fast, flailing about like I initially did is not encouraged. Patience and timing are your friends, even against your common grunt who like to take pot-shots. After each enemy is down, the player can absorb their Phantoma, the game’s equivalent of souls, for a boost in MP.

My first real challenge didn’t start until I came across a locked door with a golem guarding it. Though the demo was set to automatically revive my characters upon a KO, I found myself down once or twice, a further lesson to focus and strategize. The fun didn’t really start until I unlocked the summoner ability, sacrificing my character to unleash a behemoth that could destroy foes in practically a single hit as well as easily destroy locks to new areas.

Having seen footage of the PSP version, the game has definitely has a improved look beyond a mere up-res. While the environments and characters didn’t look incredibly detailed, the entire aesthetic pushes Type-0 HD into ‘remake’ territory. I was also impressed that the camera followed the quick pacing of the action fairly well without stutter. It still left me feeling curious as to its absence on last-generation consoles or even the PlayStation Vita.

One of the more fascinating takeaways from my half-hour with the demo was that it embodies a darker tone than the last few Final Fantasy games we’ve gotten. Despite it being available for the last three years I do find myself curious about its narrative and its large playable cast. Hopefully it’s a satisfying package until we’re closer to FF15.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will release on March 17, 2015, on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and will include a voucher for a downloadable demo of Final Fantasy XV, set to release at a later date.

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Gustavo Lazo Twitter: @derekstruble