Most Anticipated of 2014: Square Enix Edition

This week’s Most Anticipated of 2014 post takes us to a company who is a large part of the reason I’m a gamer today: Square Enix. And while their star has fallen a bit in many peoples’ eyes, I still always feel a little bit of excitement every time I see that they’re releasing a new title. Well, almost every time. But these four titles that are currently in development have me downright giddy – even if one of them is still unlikely to actually make it for next year.

Murdered: Soul Suspect

Many games have tried, and failed, to truly make you feel like a detective. Some have come very close, but inevitably one of two things goes wrong… either the perceived need for action spoils it, or the desire to make the game accessible ensures that the chance of failure does not exist. And, in any true case, you can never be certain the facts will line up for you. Square Enix hopes to overcome this obstacle in Murdered: Soul Suspect, a game that puts you in the shoes of a detective with the unenviable task of trying to solve the most difficult case of all: your own murder.

Yes, the opening of the game features you watching yourself die to a hooded figure and you get to try to sort out how it happened. Now, if that were all we’d seen I’d still be excited, but not as excited as I am after watching some of the coverage and footage from E3 this year. It sounds like they’re really taking the whole detecting aspect seriously – forcing you to not only discover things on your own, but also making you have to indirectly guide the living into assisting you in the investigation.

Now, since you’re dead, you aren’t able to interact with objects in the way a person would but you’re also not bound by the same restrictions. This is the main reason I’m so fascinated by this game… just thinking about the possibilities of how that can be used just seems so fascinating.

Now, I know this video’s a bit long – but it gives a really good showcase of some of the gameplay. Sorry for repeating the trailer, but I felt it was good enough to justify repeating. It truly is one of the best reveal trailers for a game I’ve ever seen. But the more important part of this video starts after the trailer – you get a bit of history, a setting, and a little slice of gameplay. Investigation as a ghost seems at once both easier and more challenging than it would be as a living being, and I for one am thrilled that someone was willing to put so much behind such a unique and fresh idea – you don’t see a lot of that these days.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

The Final Fantasy XIII series is easily the most controversial saga SquareEnix has ever released, with vast legions of people both loving and hating the games. I’m in the former category – aside from a few really badly designed characters like Hope and Snow I loved Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2. I admit, when I first heard about Lightning Returns, my initial reaction was one of disbelief and boredom. I didn’t see how they could feel the series needed a third game. I mean, I’d liked XIII and XIII-2, but I was content.

Then they started releasing details… and with every new detail they’ve made me a little bit more interested. Each new trailer has impressed me more than the last… and now, I can’t wait for February.

This is just one of several trailers and gameplay showcases they’ve released. I strongly recommend you look online to find more – because I’m not going to fill the page with them, we’d be here for hours watching them all. But suffice it to say, they’re really focusing where it counts – taking the best of the old and reiterating to remove some of the flaws as well.

I loved FFXIII/XIII-2’s combat system. To quote myself in my review of Final Fantasy XIII-2, “it is the most rewarding and enjoyable combat system I’ve seen in an rpg”. Now, Lightning Returns is taking this same combat system and expanding on it. Since the game focuses on a single protagonist in stead of a party, they’ve taken the team aspects out and focused this around Lightning herself. They’re adding various costumes Lightning can adorn, taking queues from one of the only good parts of Final Fantasy X-2, which drastically change her abilities and appearance. You control Lightning directly, and from the footage available, it appears as though the switching is even more dynamic and fast-paced than in previous iterations. For that reason alone, I will play this game – a combat system this good is worth enduring any story for.

But it sounds like they’re also taking some of the story criticisms to heart and expanding on the characters motives. And by focusing on one character, and a character we are already familiar with, they should be able to really build her into a very complex character, if they want to. We’ll have to see whether they really do want to or not, but it’s promising so far. And we won’t have to wait that long, with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII coming out on February 11th, 2014.

Drakengard 3

Now, I’ve never had the joy to partake of the Drakengard games…. but Nier, which I recently listed as one of the most underrated games of this generation, takes place in that universe… so I suddenly find myself fascinated by it. And to find out that they’re working on a new Drakengard game set to come out next year with a confirmed North American release has me excited to get my first taste.

I’ve been doing some reading, and the thought of a Japanese action RPG featuring dragons (and riding those dragons to blow stuff up) makes me wish I hadn’t missed the previous Drakengard games. They sound fantastic, and hopefully I can get the chance to someday… but the really important part to mention: Drakengard 3 is a prequel. So for those of you in my situation, you don’t need to feel lost and you still get to experience what will hopefully be awesome dragon action.

But the biggest selling point for me is that it’s being scored by the person who did Nier’s soundtrack, Keichi Okabe. I was absolutely blown away by Nier’s soundtrack, and I look forward to being further blown by Drakengard 3’s… if the trailer is any indication, I’m going to be in music heaven.

Final Fantasy XV

The last Square title I’m really excited for is most likely not going to land next year. But it still deserves a mention as it is just that exciting.

Yep, Final Fantasy vs XIII has been reborn as Final Fantasy XV and will be coming to the next gen consoles at some point. E3 gave us confirmation, we still don’t have enough details to really say more, but I am really excited for this one. The graphics look absolutely amazing, and everything sounds promising – it’s been a long wait, hopefully it will have been worth it. At this point, I’m optimistic.

 

If you enjoyed what you saw here, I’ve got another article in this series coming next Tuesday. I also just posted a Shadow’s Six list of Underrated PS3/360 Games and will be posting another Shadow’s Six on a related topic this Friday.