User interface and menus
The menus in Episode Duscae are pretty basic and put emphasis on functionality rather than style, but the general UI is extremely minimal. The HP and MP bars are very very small, and at first it’s quite jarring, considering how important it is to pay attention to how much MP you have during battles.
Menus and the UI are backseat to the environments and visuals. Square Enix wants you to revel in their newly crafted world and behold its impressive splendor, and yeah, you get used to it after a while. But it would be nice if we got an option to make the status screen bigger.
Before every battle gamers are warned of impending danger with a flashing red stripe across the top of the HUD, and are treated to a dynamic battle UI once combat starts.
When you’re in a pitched fight the UI reminds you what your current actions are; if you’re holding down the L1 button to defend and automatically Dodge, it’ll list your status as “defending”, and the same for Ravage strikes or Crushing blows.
One of the most useful overlays in battle is accessed by pressing the touchpad button, which essentially acts like the freeze-frame tactical menu from Dragon Age: Inqusition. This overlay lets you access your weapon customizations, check and use items, and shows a nifty display of your current enemies as well as their respective levels and health bars.
Pressing the Options button brings up the main menu that hosts an interactive mini-map, inventory screen, options and a help section. The map screen is pretty nice and you can plot out custom waypoints on the fly and investigate your location.
You can even fast-travel to the camp you visited last to avoid having to run across the entire region just for a good night’s sleep.
Once you get past the aggravating combat system, the finicky camera and frustrating targeting system, Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae is a meaty, enjoyable and charming reflection of what may very well be a great Final Fantasy game.
That being said, Square Enix has plenty of work to do before the game is ready to be consumed by millions of avid fans, but the demo is a tasty morsel of progressive fun regardless if we have to chew the fat now and again.
In its current state, Episode Duscae is like an uncut gem. It has its rough edges, but it still shines true in the light, and once Square Enix smooths out this crystal, it’ll gleam with the radiance of a true marvel.