Final Fantasy XV’s whimsical Platinum Demo reminds me even more of Kingdom Hearts

Download it before the servers explode

During tonight’s Final Fantasy XV Uncovered event, Square Enix revealed what it is calling the Platinum Demo, which is a side story that explores a young Noctis’ dreamscape. In keeping with the rumors Chris reported on this morning, you can download it right now on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, if the servers aren’t getting smashed into oblivion by hungry would-be players.

It starts with Noctis following his “friend,” a small carbuncle, through a forest. Since dreams are weird, he shrinks to action figure size and runs around environments like desks and up stairs made of books. There are also transformations, allowing Noctis to turn into what looks like a weird Elk/Giraffe/Tiger Thing or a Crocodile Thing. You can also drive a teensy tiny car!

When I asked Hajime Tabata if there was more of a Kingdom Hearts influence in the demo than the game proper, he said “Though some of the team that made Kingdom Hearts is working on this, we are going for more of a Disney influence for the Platinum Demo.”

This demo serves both to acclimate players to the main game’s battle system and to give a taste of the final, high graphic quality. Noctis will use toy swords and squeaky hammers to fight enemies, and it looks stunning, with a much more stable framerate than Episode Duscae.

If you want to go in blind, I recommend stopping here.

I played through the Platinum Demo earlier today at a media event. Despite what Tabata said, I found heavy Kingdom Hearts influences in this demo. Following the carbuncle around (which you unlock for Final Fantasy XV upon completion) and battling little goblin enemies in a large open area reminded me more of fighting the Heartless than anything. This also brings our first chance to use magic. Since Noctis is young, he has fireworks instead of a full-on fire spell. It occupies a weapon slot and it’s similar to throwing a grenade in a third-person shooter. There’s more of a focus on traversal, which we already knew, but it feels more apparent when there’s the option to turn into an Elk and roam around a small section of a city or drive a tiny car across a shining hardwood floor.

My biggest takeaway though is that this is more a tech demo than Episode Duscae, which felt like a chunk of the game proper. By platforming to obtain crystals or defeating enemies, I was able to use panels that were spread across the environments to change the weather or time of day, better allowing me to ooh and ahh at the world, which now has a much more stable framerate. It’s also very short. I finished it in about thirty minutes or so.

Most of the fights err on the side of too simple, but towards the end of the demo, I was able to play as present-day Noctis and one of the panels I stepped on summoned a more difficult Giant for me to take on. This battle was more challenging and gives me hope that as the game progresses, it’ll have more to do than holding the circle button and dodging occasionally. 

By the way, the carbuncle communicates with Noctis using text messages complete with Final Fantasy emoji, such as a sad chocobo. It’s about as as bizarre as it sounds.

Final Fantasy XV will release on September 30, 2016. It’s finally happening!

Zack Furniss