**This is a 100% Spoiler-Free Review**

It’s been years, YEARS since I played one of the new and/or popular games in the industry. I kept feeling like it was going to seem stressful after already long days on the computer at work, but, when the newest Final Fantasy game came out, I knew I had to play it. I love the entire franchise, and frankly, if Final Fantasy VII wasn’t one of your favorite games as a kid, you really missed out.

I definitely had to adjust to the open world play, some of the controls, etc. as I’ve only played simple games, if any at all, in the last decade. But, overall, it wasn’t as difficult to get back into as I originally anticipated, and I also found that playing the game was a great way to distract my mind from the stresses of everyday life – but at the same time, challenged my mind far more than say, re-watching 90’s movies on Netflix would…

Below you can watch the official PS4 trailer for the game (if you’re into that sort of thing):

 

 

Anyway, I have tons of great things to say about this game.

It looks gorgeous – just exploring the world is interesting, and I loved getting to each new area and seeing how they changed the scenery, weather and wildlife, etc., I also felt that having the ability to control multiple characters (even in a limited way) really built a sense of camaraderie within the group.

The different combat tactics and abilities were really well done, and there was a great mix of adventure and combat, that left me with a satisfying sense of balance overall.

The main characters are really fun; I found myself loving Noctis (center), Ignis (first on the right) and Gladio (first on the left)  – and as usual, I just can’t get into the young, loli type character, so Prompto (far left) was probably the least likeable (for me).

Throughout the adventure, the banter between characters is really fun, albeit repetitive once you’ve been playing for a long time. In everyday life, I can find myself saying some of their most-repeated catch phrases to myself, which is fun, but I wish there was more unique dialogue later in the game. I suppose if you played through at the recommended levels, you might not feel that way, as I spent a ton of time exploring and was WAY above the recommended levels of the main story by the time I got around to completing it.

The change from day to night was incredibly good in this game – whenever the sun would go down I’d get a sense of pure dread knowing that daemons of all types, sizes and levels could pop out at anytime to scare the shit out of me. And they definitely did!

I found myself planning my game play on the hours of daylight, etc. which gave the game a really cool, survival feel. I’m sure people who are more aggressive just went out running in the night, but as a cautious, tactical player – I found myself making camp and then continuing with my plans the next day.

One recommendation I have, would be to make sure you work on things evenly in this game. I spent a TON of time on side quests and dungeons, but not nearly enough time on the various hunts. On more than one occasion, I’d have completed a dungeon, killed all of the bosses, etc. only to find out that there was a hunt for that specific boss/creature (sigh).

Now I have to go back and do the dungeons again if I want the rewards. I want to say that I’m going to back to get all of the rewards, but now that I’m playing other games too, it’s harder and harder to want to redo content, when I have so much other new content to enjoy.

A few things that I think could have been improved would be the overall story – you definitely get the jist of what happens, but I feel like they leave a lot to be desired in terms of character/story development. I spent time talking to every NPC and listening to all the news updates throughout the game, and I still felt like some plot points would happen, and I’d think to myself, “umm, ok, so that’s a thing now.”

I know I’m not the only one who feels like the story was lacking, but, it just has to be mentioned. Additionally, I think some of the major boss fights got a little cloogy, and I felt like I was just button mashing for a long time, the camera was everywhere, I’d hit some buttons when prompted and then eventually it would just be over? Again, I’ve read other player reviews and others found the same things.

Of course, there is much debate regarding controversial Chapter 13, and without going into detail, while I absolutely hated playing the chapter – I think that’s how it was designed. You’re not supposed to love it, you’re supposed to feel what Noctis would feel, and they really drove that home.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so exhausted after playing a portion of a game, other than the Scar level of The Lion King on Sega Genesis… all jokes aside though, it’s an M.Night Shyamalan twist to your game play, and in retrospect, I think it made the adventure all the more immersive. I did save strategically, and do plan to play through the updated Chapter 13, just because I’m still really looking forward to more content.

Once you finish the original story and “complete” the game, I will tell you that there is no shortage of things to do afterwards. With some cool post-game goodies, limited time quests, unlocked dungeons etc. I still have hours of game play left, and at this point, I’ve already put over 80 hours into the game.

Long story long, I LOVED this game. It was so fun and entertaining, with a lot of different things to do. This game is the game that will get you back into gaming if you’ve been letting life get the best of your time, and if you’re an experienced player, I think it will leave you exceedingly satisfied.

I’m also thankful that I got used to the combat, etc. as it’s supposedly the same combat structure that they’ll be using for the reboot of VII (later this year?), and so I’m BEYOND ready to play that now. In fact, I feel like that game is going to take over my life, so I may need to get a second Playstation 4 for our house….#firstworldproblems.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game, as, I have fewer and fewer friends who have time to play games (damn kids and jobs and adulting), so feel free to comment (no spoilers) or send me your thoughts directly (open to discuss all parts of the game).