A King’s Tale is not your typical childish bedtime story

Chances are, I’m never going to play Final Fantasy XV–and that’s fine. I’m still currently plunking away at the original Final Fantasy, trying to earn enough gil for that mythril sword, and a part of me thinks that, after that, maybe I should try tackling Final Fantasy IV again. I have it on my Nintendo DS and played for a bit way back when I got it for myself as a birferday gift, but never stuck with it. Shame on me. This is me shaming myself publicly, so no need to add to the dogpile. Anyways, Final Fantasy XV is fascinating from the outside-looking-in. I mean, it stars what appears to be an upcoming indie hit boy band as they drive around some fantasy land and slash up monsters. In one way, I appreciate that, and in another, I want nothing to do with this timesink.

Thank goodness then for A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, which I finished in under two hours. In, out, done. If only all Final Fantasy titles could be this succinct. Just kidding. I do like long-as-the-day RPGs, quite a bit. It’s just that there are currently way too many of them to eat up at once, and so they all end of sitting, untouched, painfully ignored. I believe this thing was originally a pre-order bonus for those getting in on the Final Fantasy XV action early through their favorite retailer, perhaps GameStop only, but now it has been given out to all as a free download on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Maybe the PC, but I’m too lazy to confirm that. Either way, it’s zero dollars…and not at all an RPG.

A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV takes place thirty years before the events of Final Fantasy XV, for those curious and fearful of spoilers. Young Noctis can’t fall asleep and asks his father, King Regis, to tell a fairy tale brimming with fantasy and adventure. Anything but another boring, generic bedtime story. Regis begins with a peaceful day being disrupted when monsters raid the royal capital of Insomnia. Young Regis is joined by Weskham and eventually Cid and Clarus, where they travel to the plains of Duscae only to discover a mysterious cave where their true enemy resides. Sounds like a decent setup for…a retro-style beat-em-up in the veins of Streets of Rage and Final Fight, with some modern mechanics thrown in for good measure.

Yup, you walk from left to right and beat up enemies in your way. These enemies are, of course, taken right from the Final Fantasy mega-verse, so be prepared for lots of Coeurls, Behemoths, Goblins, and so on. Plus that ever-so-cute knucklehead Tonberry. There’s a pretty deep combat system here, with combos, counters, and Regis being able to warp around the screen wicked fast to keep the action moving and avoid dangerous swarms. Certain enemies will block specific attacks, which prevents too much mashing from happening and keeps you on your toes. As you level up your combo meter and refrain from getting hit, you can call in companions to perform special attacks, and if you continue to level it up even more, eventually you can user Armiger, which brings together all your buddies for a powerful, sometimes screen-clearing move. There’s also magic spells–lightning, ice, and fire–though I used them fairly infrequently. Lastly, in some areas, you can summon Astral entities to obliterate your foes, and these obviously look pretty good, but shouldn’t be relied on for surviving the moment-to-moment encounters. For most of the game, paying attention to enemy types and what type of attacks you are using are key, as is rolling around to grab health pick-ups when needed.

The story is ultra thin and throwaway. The bedtime tale for Noctis basically ends with a talking tentacle monster trying to steal some crystals. I’m sure if I knew more about Regis and his buddies I’d have picked up on more details via their conversations, but I rushed through most of it to get to the good part–fighting. After you beat A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, you can access Dream Battle Special Challenges. These are one-off challenges, each with their own requirements and varying levels of difficulty. Some ask you not to take any damage (yeah right) and others are more focused on doing something X number of times. I did a few, looked at the remainder, and decided that it was better for me to quit while I was ahead.

All in all, A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV was a nice, short distraction from my usual mainstays on the Xbox One. I’m still not interested in digging into Final Fantasy XV, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of other Final Fantasy titles in my backlog to get to, and, if anything, I’m now hungry for another 2D beat-em-up. Shank 2, perhaps? Now there’s a game I’ve let sit ignored for far too long.

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