For the Love of the Gaming
Final Fantasy 16’s all-star team includes names like Ryota Suzuki, Director Hiroshi Takai (The Last Remnant, Final Fantasy 14), Writer Kazutoyo Maehiro (Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy 12), and composer Masayoshi Soken (Final Fantasy 14). Yet the name that everyone keeps coming back to is producer Naoki Yoshida.
Through his work on rebooting Final Fantasy 14, Yoshida has established himself as one of the most captivating creators in the gaming industry. Famous for his dedication to and honesty with fans, Yoshida and the FF 14 helped turn that game into this chaotic blend of world-class storytelling, airtight mechanics, soaring music, a genuine sense of community, and irreplaceable moments. There are times when it seems like it should all go off the rails, but the love and talent behind that game somehow keep it together.
Final Fantasy 16 is shaping up to be one of the best in the series
The same is true of Final Fantasy 16. Yoshida joked (though it certainly wasn’t entirely a joke) that working on Final Fantasy 14 and 16 at the same time cost him “sleep and his youth,” but the energy that made that incredible effort happen is all in the game. FF 16 was described to us as a rollercoaster ride, and it more than lived up to that billing. It was an almost non-stop onslaught of colors, sounds, stories, and action that somehow found ways to top the craziest bit of game design you’ve ever seen just moments after that bit happened. It’s a pure declaration of youthful revolt, enthusiasm, and optimism yelled out by the kind of industry veterans with the talent and experience needed to make their vision for something better happen.
The Final Fantasy 16 team clearly loves Final Fantasy. They love it so much that, in the words of Yoshida, they wanted to create something that felt real “not just for my generation but for the younger generation as well.” They didn’t try to use a Phoenix Down to revive the body of the Final Fantasy franchise that was. Instead, they really looked at what made the best Final Fantasy games special. All of those elements (memorable characters, incredible fights, a world to lose yourself in, and unrivaled presentation) are in the game, but they’re in the game in ways that allow you to feel like you felt when you experienced them for the first time or that you’re getting to experience them for the first time as others previously have if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.
Final Fantasy 16 will likely remind you of your favorite Final Fantasy game despite being nothing like it. I have questions about the game the demo didn’t answer and concerns it didn’t entirely address. Some will reject this game outright on the basis of what it is compared to a traditional Final Fantasy title, and some may find that it’s simply not to their liking. However, it’s difficult to deny that this team’s vision is worthwhile, that their hearts are in the right place, or that what they’ve put together isn’t one of the most exciting combinations of concepts a single-player Final Fantasy game has gifted us in years.
I didn’t know what to expect going into the Final Fantasy 16 demo. I now know the game sits comfortably near the top of my list of most anticipated games of 2023.
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