Fiction and Fantasy

The Long-Awaited Games Have Come – First Impressions of Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian



Updated article closing to include links to followup posts. Updated formatting to current blog standards.

…Also I totally missed last time’s update. I am so sorry! I’ll try to post for the next three Fridays in a row to make up for it.

Christmas came with a bang this year, and if any of you have read my Confessions of an Excited Gamer, you may recognize the titles of a couple games I got to play:

Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian.

I just sat staring at the game covers for a while before I could even bring myself to pop them into the console. Illnesses and obligations have kept me from completing either one so far, but I’ve played more than enough to gather a few first impressions…

Final Fantasy XV

I’ve tried to steer clear of the spoilers online as long as possible, but I’d gathered enough hearsay to know lots of people praised the game for its characters and complained about its confusing story and poorer pacing during the latter portion of the campaign. I haven’t gotten far enough to comment on the story or pacing, but I can say that the very beginning of the game hooks you in with its well-written, entertaining characters–and it hasn’t let go after my first five hours of wandering around its gorgeous landscapes.

These characters feel real. They feel meaningful. And they feel like they’re buddies who would give you the shirt off their backs–not because you’re a prince, but because you’re their friend.

The side characters make it just as fun to run off on hunting sidequests and random fights as it is to watch the main story’s drama unfold–and this coming from me, the gamer who plays for the stories, not the gameplay.

I’m not saying this game is perfect. There are elements of the story I have yet to see that still have me a little worried. The combat was tricky for me to get at first, and it throws a lot at you at once. But my biggest fear was that this game wouldn’t live up to its ten-year-long hype.

In some ways, it’s clear this is not the same game that was teased back in 2006, but it has maintained a lot more of its 2006 elements than I expected–a lot of the really good elements. In addition, right from the start this game proves it was a labor of love. Frankly, I’ll wait another ten years for a game this hand-crafted good.

The Last Guardian

This is yet another Team ICO game. If you loved ICO and/or Shadow of the Colossus (like I did), you will love this one too. The Last Guardian feels like a crossbreed between its predecessors: you and your companion must maneuver through wreckage shrouded in mist and mystery.

Oh, and your companion is a giant beast with mystical powers. No big.

This is not a puzzle GAME. It’s a story-driven puzzle EXPERIENCE. I feel like I’m actually there, running with this monster-pet-partner-friend at my heels. It’s true that he won’t always do exactly what I want, but far more often he’s steered me in the right direction without outright telling me where to go. That’s an invaluable asset to the puzzle-solving and to the immersion. Trico, your companion critter, feels like an actual animal rather than an AI.

Again, no, I won’t say this is a flawless game; but the depth and magic of the experience are many and the frustrations are very, very few.

Interested in more juicy details of my gaming experiences?

Check out my extended impressions of The Last Guardian here.

Or check out my extended impressions of Final Fantasy XV here.

For Him, to Him


  1. It's cool that you're still into video games. It's been tough for me getting back into that hobby.

  2. I don't play them as often as I used to, and I'm much more picky over which games I'll play as I just don't have the brainpower to play tougher games like I used to. One of the reasons I have a ton of games I started but have yet to finish. But these two have sure been a treat. I did complete The Last Guardian, but unfortunately, my sister has our PS4, so I haven't been able to play FFXV much since it came out. Someday I'll finish it, though, and give my full review on it. 🙂

  3. That makes sense. Of course I'm lost when it comes to the new games. I guess I just know the old stuff, but I'd like to try the more artistic games out there at some point.

  4. It's easy to get lost in the flood of games! Between all the Triple-A titles, the influx of the Indie scene, and all the different VR options, there's tons to choose from!

  5. I bet. I'd get lost real quick much like the newer anime series.

  6. Nothing to feel bad about. I don't understand how people have time to keep up with every new season of anime. I feel like I know so many people who really do just sit down and watch every single new show! Yikes! I'd never find the time to do that, let alone write about it!

  7. Sure. It's amazing how people do seasonal reviews on everything. When I review stuff it's on my time and my terms. That's saying nothing about my jobs and adult life preventing me to watch whatever I want whenever I want.

  8. I'm glad I can just let other people sort out which ones are gems worth lookin' at! :3

  9. Sure thing. I feel the same way, too.

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