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What Was So Incredible About The Final Fantasy Tech Demo?
Just like back in 2005, Square-Enix unveiled a new tech demo for their upcoming engine entitled Luminous at E3. This time, instead of taking a known classic like Final Fantasy VII and creating a ton of news about a possible remake, the RPG comapny went with an entirely new set of characters and world to show off the ridiculously powerful engine. Luminous is extremely detailed and does some nasty work with shaders. Everything from the characters to the buildings to the sand and even the sky looked marvelous. Still, this was billed as a “Final Fantasy Tech Demo”. It had a name, too. Agni’s Philosophy was the title for the tech demo. Is Agni, the red cloaked mage, the main character for an upcoming Final Fantasy game? Or are we looking at a new RPG series in the making?
Either way, Agni’s Philosophy had a lot to show not only with the engine but the future of RPGs. Specifically, the future of Final Fantasy.
- Full Realism: We’ve seen Square-Enix take a stab at realistic character models before. Final Fantasy X and XIII have done their best to make the stars look fantastic and real. However, both still had a quirky look to the characters that gave off a charm to them. Sahz’s hair and Snow’s entire face for instance hearkened back to an earlier time in the series. However, with Agni’s Philosophy we see characters who lose the quirkiness and head straight to the realism front. Agni alone is very real. She is young, caught up in an intense gunfight, and scared. She runs away and doesn’t try to be a hero. She has something very important in her possession. She needs to escape. There are no crazy, unrealistic jumps, flips, and cartwheels here. It’s all out of instinct. Then we look at the head mage who was performing the ritual. He is the only other face we see in this entire tech demo and the stern yet always focused nature was very present. Even after being shot up, his first thought was getting the crystal to safety. No words were needed. No last minute cutscene depicting a tragic death. He handed the crystal off and that was that. We’re seeing Square-Enix evolve here. I’m sure we’ll occasionally see some crazy flips and junk since it is Final Fantasy but right in that scene was as real as it can get. Fear and survival were the themes of this tech demo.
- Magic vs. Science: We’ve seen these themes clash many times over the course of the series but not as great as this. Magic users are hiding. They are trying to survive. They are no longer the dominate force on the world. Science is. Science has carried humankind to the future and seemingly outlawed magic for its destructive purpose and uncertainty. What we see is a ritual to bring back a creature of magic and help them. They are doing this in secret. However, it doesn’t stay that way. We don’t initially see the mages use their magic against the soldiers, either. They are using somewhat of a barrier spell to protect against the bullets. As the barrier fails, then the lightning arcs begin to fly. Bullets hurt. It doesn’t matter if you’re a young mage or a great one leading a strong ritual. If you get shot five times in the back, you’re going to die. Then we see more of how science has surpassed magic when the soldiers inject two creatures with some sort of bio-juice to make them ridiculous. It’s almost like they evolved. Still, magic proves its stature when the ritual finally completes and a winged dragon-looking thing comes out of the once secret hidey-hole and saves Agni. It is also a wonderful thing to see as the winged creature takes off into the background. Then we see the camera pane out to show us the incredible futuristic city that reminds me of City 17 from Half-Life 2. The conflict between magic and science here is the key for Agni’s Philosophy.
- Maturing Final Fantasy Items: We actually get to see a Potion in action! It isn’t just some drink you swallow up and feel magically great inside. It apparently tastes like crap as Agni coughs and gags while the liquid (which she throws not just down her throat but also on her arm) heals her injuries. We watch as the bullet pops out and the blood is cleaned and re-enters the body. This really makes me feel like Square-Enix is going to explain things for a new age. This is new Final Fantasy. What’s a potion? How’s it work? Well, now we know. How about a Phoenix Down? Now, that, I want to see.
Now this is all fine and dandy to me but the gameplay is the most important part. If Square-Enix can keep the same Final Fantasy charm but make it evolved like this, I’m in. There’s still nothing wrong with turn-based combat. In fact, a lot of Final Fantasy fans wish for Square to return to that type of gameplay. After the changes we saw in XII and XIII and a sort of amalgamation of old and new with XIII-2, I’d say its time to bring back the classic fighting system from VII, VIII, and IX but mixed with these new, mature themes. That is the Final Fantasy I want.
Please, make this story and Agni a part of Final Fantasy XV. You’ve got us excited Square-Enix. Keep us enthralled and introduce us properly to this new female protagonist.