After experiencing the three titles that make up the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix compilation in quick succession last year, I needed a break. It was a desire to join in on the zeitgeist surrounding the release of Kingdom Hearts III that prompted me to finally jump into the series, though truth be told I’d always been interested. I started itching to get back into the series while playing the F.E.A.R. games last year, if anything to experience something a little more uplifting. First up: Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Continue reading Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix [PlayStation 3] – Review
Years after completing the previous entry in the series, and following its release for the Nintendo Switch and renewed hype for the upcoming PlayStation 4 remake, I’ve finally completed Final Fantasy VII. It’s hard to dispute the game’s status as the most popular Final Fantasy, and now that I’ve experienced it in full, it’s easy to see why. The game’s modern/sci-fi setting and appealing characters make for a more relatable experience than previous entries. The fundamental RPG gameplay is rock solid, and the Materia customization is addictively satisfying. Also, it didn’t hurt that this was the first entry to release with 3D visuals, or that the soundtrack was phenomenal. More than twenty years on from its debut, the game remains a standout entry in the series, and an enjoyable RPG in general. Continue reading Final Fantasy VII [Switch] – Review
I’ll keep this brief, since I’ve already talked at length about Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, two-thirds of the entries that make up Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX. They’re fantastic games in their own right, and the remastered versions included in this compilation are without a doubt the best way to experience them. Instead, I’ll turn my focus towards Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, which rounds out this compilation in cinematic form, and the Limited Edition release itself. Continue reading Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX [PlayStation 3] – Review
With Kingdom Hearts completed, the logical next step in my exploration of the series was Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories. Designed as a connecting thread between the first game and the then-impending sequel, Chain of Memories was outsourced to Jupiter Corporation, the Japanese developer perhaps best known for their Nintendo published Picross titles. It was released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan on November 11, 2004, with its American debut following less than a month later. Square Enix then remade it for the PlayStation 2 and included it as a bonus with the Japanese release of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix on March 29, 2007. This version received a standalone release in North America on December 2, 2008 and was eventually enhanced further in the PlayStation 3 compilation Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, which is the way I experienced it. Continue reading Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories [PlayStation 3] – Review
Up until my recent playthrough of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, I hadn’t touched a game in the series. More than anything, I just never started. The prospect of diving into a notoriously convoluted series of games was honestly daunting, especially considering my desires to experience the whole of a property when I dive in. Well, the hype surrounding the release of Kingdom Hearts III, the long in-development conclusion to the core trilogy, got to me. Continue reading Kingdom Hearts Final Mix [PlayStation 3] – Review
One of the first games announced for the Nintendo Switch, Octopath Traveler had me intrigued from the moment I heard its ludicrous name. Developed by Square Enix and Acquire, it was published by Nintendo on July 13, 2018. As indicated by its name, the game highlights the journeys of eight disparate individuals. They travel throughout the continent of Orsterra in separate adventures inspired by golden-age JRPGs. Unique turn-based combat and addictive character development kept me entertained for the hundred hours I spent playing the game, even when the game’s storytelling underwhelmed me. Continue reading Octopath Traveler [Switch] – Review
As a fan of Japanese RPGs, Project Octopath Traveler was one of the most intriguing games shown during Nintendo’s Switch reveal in January. Even though it was a brief trailer, we learned that Square Enix was supporting the platform with a previously unannounced RPG, a gorgeous looking one at that. Details have been scant since that January event but after last week’s Nintendo Direct, a demo was released. Now that I’ve had hands-on time with the game, I’m more confident it’s right up my alley. Continue reading Project Octopath Traveler [Switch] – Demo Impressions
Satisfied with my completion of Breath of the Wild, I was free to singularly devote time to another game on the Switch. Next in the queue: I Am Setsuna.
Originally released for the PlayStation 4 and Vita in early 2016, Square Enix announced I Am Setsuna would be a launch title for the Switch shortly before the platform’s launch. The game was developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a newly minted subsidiary of Square Enix with the primary intent of creating RPGs inspired by classics from the 1990s. The story and characters were fairly rote although a series of late game reveals caught me by surprise. Narrative and dialogue were compelling to the end, as was the soundtrack, which I’d go beyond and describe as exceptional! Lastly, the gameplay was immediately familiar thanks to the implementation of the Active Time Battle system. Considering the studio’s narrow purpose, I Am Setsuna was a success, albeit unambitious. Continue reading I Am Setsuna [Switch] – Review
Without getting into the long history of Final Fantasy XV and the middling decade the series has weathered since the game’s announcement as Final Fantasy Versus XIII back in 2006, I’ll succinctly say I kept my expectations in check. Square Enix finally released it last November and it immediately supplanted Pokémon Sun, which released the week prior, as the game I was focused on playing. It took a few sessions for me to grasp the combat and character progression but once I did, I couldn’t wait to get home from work, ignore my responsibilities, and spend inordinate amounts of time with it. On the flip side, I was letdown by the barebones narrative and practical absence of exposition. After eighty hours and a platinum trophy to show for my time, I’m certain I’ve never had such mixed emotions regarding a game. Continue reading Final Fantasy XV [PlayStation 4] – Review
Jeff, of just1morelevel.com, and I spent a few Fridays in December and January discussing our playthroughs of Final Fantasy XV. We’ve finally gotten around to publishing this content and you can listen to our four-part podcast below. Be warned: we discussed everything and cursed most of the time. Let us know what you think!