Wait, 'Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition' is actually fun?

I'm as shocked as you are.

A part of the Final Fantasy XV universe (it's a thing), I wrinkled my nose at the news of Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition for smartphones. I've completed the game on PS4, have played through the episode content and will be playing the multiplayer add-on once I'm back from Gamescom, but this left me cold. This was a corporate mobile cash-in that vaguely tied into the original game, one that would relentlessly nudge players to either buy in-app items or the full console version. Nothing was appealing about this, whatsoever. That was, until I played an early beta on FFXV Director Hajime Tabata's phone. I was rude, it was in the middle of an interview but, hey, it was actually a lot of fun. Wait, what just happened?

I think what won me over was how faithful to the main game it seemed. I spent about 10 minutes working my way through initial cutscenes (including fateful timeskip exposition), roamed around the open world and beat up a few monsters on the way.

Tabata himself had input both at the initial stage, when deciding the direction of the mobbile game, as well as what art style of how it would "interpret" the detailed visuals of the console original.

Alongside voice acting, FFXV Pocket maintains a lot of its namesake's gameplay mechanics. The skill tree, unlocked by collecting AP, returns, Ignis will still (cloyingly) come up with meals to feed his buddies, Prompto relentlessly quips throughout battle, and Gladio is still bigger than the other three put together. It's surprising that most of the dynamics work so well.

I had to see how battles would play out, as that's where the gameplay really lies, and what Square Enix has even now, is a suprisingly tight stripped-down version of FFXV. Well-timed parries and cooperative attacks with allies are still in place, and key to slaying hardier enemies -- if you remember The World Ends With You, you know that action RPGs can be playable on touchscreens, it's just rare, that's all.

Even if you're unable to parry perfectly, protagonist Noctis will spryly dodge an attack if you make a passable effort at timing it right. It's as forgiving as a mobile game should be. Will I end up buying the entire game, chapter by chapter, to relive the entire story on my phone? I'm not sure, but I'm willing to play through the first part on my phone -- let's see if how the team attempts to deliver an entire flagship RPG.

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