After Final Fantasy XV, Is Final Fantasy Still “Dead”?

It's reasonable to be apprehensive about the Final Fantasy franchise after all these years. Once the undisputed JRPG king, it has slumbered its way into an undignified existence represented by countless spin-offs and underperforming releases. For older gamers who are familiar with the golden days of the franchise, it's a sad reality that seems unexplainable.

When this all began is widely debated. Some would blame Final Fantasy X's divisive character design for the downturn of the franchise, while others would fault Final Fantasy XII's uninteresting story. Whatever the case, what most people can agree on is that Final Fantasy XIII and its subsequent sequels were indicative of a serious problem.

Final Fantasy XV has represented a huge opportunity for the franchise, so much so that Square Enix would ensure that it received enough development time prior to release. Although it would nearly fall into development hell during its 10 years of creation, all the investment may have been worth it.

Final Fantasy XV has arrived to good reviews, although they just so happen to fall precisely where Final Fantasy XIII stood (82 Metascore vs 83 Metascore). But that doesn't tell the whole story.

Final Fantasy XV put in effort where Final Fantasy XIII didn't. It strives to be an entertaining game that prioritizes gameplay over assuming you'd like to hear its characters talk for 15 minutes at a time. The combat system has been accepted as one of the best in modern RPG design, making encounters thrilling and skill oriented.

It also provides a sense of freedom that is as engrossing as it is liberating. There are dozens of hours of optional quests to participate in, supplemented by side activities that reward you for your time. It's like the good old days of Final Fantasy where you actually enjoy being in the world and taking it all in.

This begs the question: is Final Fantasy alive again? Or perhaps the right question to ask is, when the next mainline Final Fantasy comes around will JRPG fans buy it without question?

I'm not so sure that Final Fantasy XV is enough to right all the missteps made during the past decade. It is a good albeit flawed release that shows Square Enix's capabilities without blowing anyone's mind.

While it might let you listen to its music through a digital CD player, Final Fantasy XV is no Final Fantasy VI or VII. Actually, you can find more compelling JRPGs from other recent franchises, namely Persona and Xenosaga. But the truth is that it didn't need to reach that level to be great. I can personally recommend the game to friends of mine who I grew up playing Final Fantasy with, which is something I haven't been able to say in a long time. And in that sense, this is a game that demonstrates Final Fantasy's pulse.

If you've played Final Fantasy XV, what do you think of the game and its impact on the franchise? Let us know in the comments below.


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