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Review: A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV

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Just a king and his bros

The opening salvo of the overwhelming marketing push that is Final Fantasy XV is upon us. We've recapped all of the different things that Square Enix is pushing to unite this one world, and now, against all odds, we're doing our best to cover them.

One such thing that falls under that giant black leather umbrella is A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV.

A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV (PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: November 29, 2016
MSRP: Free with pre-order (GameStop and EB Games)

[Billed as a "pre-order bonus" in the west, A King's Tale was delivered to us directly by way of a code, so we'll treat it like a full game, because it is.]

A King's Tale takes place before the events of XV proper, placing you in the shoes of King Regis -- Noctis' father. And much like the Brotherhood anime, it does a decent job of fleshing out the cast in a way that the main game doesn't, providing us with motivations and backstory, and a slight glimpse into how Regis became the king he is at the start of XV. But of course, since this is a side project, the team wasn't given too much leeway. All of these tales are told through from the perspective of Regis, framed by a bedtime story. That way they can say that they were embellished and not true canon if they want. Regis' retinue is also primarily relegated to a set of power-ups, so you're not getting much there either. It's a cop out, but one I'm okay with as the retro presentation really sells it.

Although it only has a few tracks (one of which sounds like it came straight out of an NES Castlevania) and assets to its name, King's Tale is created to feel like an homage to the SNES era. Even the cutscenes are something you'd normally see out of a Capcom platformer like Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, which ultimately just made me wish this was a full-on project (with real features like multiplayer) that wasn't relegated to a fleeting bonus.

Despite its fate as a pre-order game, it has a surprisingly deep combat system. You're able to use your typical quick and strong flashes, as well as pop off a shield bash, use three forms of magic (fire, lightning, and ice) and roll-dodge, which are all incorporated directly into counters for specific enemies. Take the Bomb, which can be pushed into enemies with a shield bash for a quick explosion, or the Midgardsormrs (snakes), which you can prevent from borrowing with a heavy, heavy, bash combo. It tugs at those nostalgia strings with models like Behemoths and Cactuars, but all of that pandering is more than excusable when they operate on different wavelengths.

The animations have a certain "stickiness" to them (think auto-aim for console FPS games, mostly due to the teleporting attack style that's also employed by Noctis in XV), which makes everything look a little cheap in action, but are actually pretty helpful from a beat-'em-up standpoint. The telegraphing of attacks (through audio or visual cues, something that's becoming a pretty big trend nowadays) also helps guide players into those last-second dodges. It's not something that's going to blow the doors off the action industry, but it looks cool and is a functional design decision. It doesn't look so pretty when enemies clip or glitch into each other though.

It's all good fun when there's one of each type of enemy on-screen, forcing you to change up your tactics every few seconds, but not so much when the game throws four of the same type at you at once. At that point you're basically just spamming one combo until the screen is clear before moving onto the next wave, which may or may not be the exact same style of foe. The patterns feel really rushed after each type is introduced. And at roughly 45 minutes, there isn't much time to really dig in, even with the "Dream Battles" unlocked after the story that are basically rehashed challenges.

A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV isn't anything special, nor is it essential to understanding the main game you're buying into, so don't bust the doors down tonight trying to get a pre-order in. But at the same time, proponents of old school beat-'em-ups will enjoy a few hours of fun, which counts for something.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV reviewed by Chris Carter

7

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide

 
 
 

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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 


 


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