Nier creator Taro Yoko has some strong opinions about how to keep games interesting.
Last time, we heard how he felt that modern triple-A games were often fun for the first twenty minutes, but that he often became concerned these initially impressive titles would become tiresome after twenty or more hours. It was this mindset that caused him to design the original Nier with so many unusual features to it, and many of these — and more — have carried across to Nier: Automata.
Today, then, we’ll take a look at Nier: Automata’s mechanical aspects — and how Yoko’s collaboration with Platinum Games has helped him to realise his vision better than ever before.
Continue reading Nier Automata: Creating a Game That is “Unexpected”, That “Keeps Changing Form”
For all the criticisms it’s possible to level at Final Fantasy XV, post-launch support isn’t one of them.
Square Enix has not only been preparing for the release of character-centric DLC packages focusing on each of protagonist Noctis’ companions, but also refining and expanding the base game into something that the company clearly intends to be a “platform” for substantial added content for some time yet.
The first of these DLC packages, Episode Gladiolus, is now available. Is it worth your time if you, like me, already sunk a hundred or more hours into Final Fantasy XV when it was first launched?
Continue reading Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus – Reinventing and Refining
Although computer and console role-playing games share a lot of common ground with their tabletop predecessors, over time the two media have diverged significantly.
Western role-playing games arguably remain the truest to tabletop role-playing, which remains very freeform, flexible and sometimes even completely free of violent conflict. Titles such as Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls series allow the experience of living in a virtual world, exploring as you see fit and seeing what happens as you interact with it in various ways.
Japanese (and Japanese-inspired) role-playing games, meanwhile, are typically (though not exclusively) handled almost as “interactive storybooks” punctuated by regular, predictable and abstract battle sequences. This isn’t a criticism, mind; as any JRPG fan will tell you, this approach allows the games to focus on strong storytelling and characterisation at the expense of allowing you to steal every spoon in someone’s house.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: The Last Story and the Art of Encounter Design
How do you describe a piece of interactive entertainment? Chances are the first thing you mention is the way it plays, or the supposed “genre” it is part of.
Final Fantasy is a JRPG; Gears of War is a third-person shooter; Mario games are platformers. And this isn’t only true for mainstream games, either — even the most esoteric indie games tend to be described in terms of their mechanics. Fez is a puzzle-platformer; The Binding of Isaac is a roguelike shooter; Minecraft is an open-world building and survival sim.
While you may then elaborate on that by describing the setting — sci-fi, fantasy, cartoonish crazytown — it’s highly likely that this is not the first thing you mention. Interactive entertainment is pretty much the only artistic medium in which we do this.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: A Question of Genre
Gust, as we’ve established, is a company that doesn’t like to do things completely conventionally. As such, it’s entirely fitting that a Gust action RPG isn’t quite what you’d normally expect from the genre.
Nights of Azure is a fascinating game from a mechanical perspective in numerous different ways. Drawing influences from a variety of sources including From Software’s popular Souls series, Falcom’s Ys franchise, monster-raising games such as Pokémon and even elements of tabletop role-playing, the whole experience is one you can easily lose yourself in.
The result is a game that is initially surprising and baffling in roughly equal measure, but taking the time to get to know what makes the game tick really pays off in the end: it’s one of the most interesting takes on the action RPG for a long time.
Continue reading Nights of Azure: Hack, Slash… and Command
As we discussed last time, the Final Fantasy series is one that has rarely stood still or grown complacent.
Each new installment has represented a reinvention of the basic formula to one degree or another, with some offering a more radical new take than others.
Latest installment Final Fantasy XV is arguably the most significant and noticeable reinvention of the series since X abandoned the Active Time Battle mechanic the series had used between its fourth and ninth installments. And it’s an effective new approach that offers a blend of spectacular real-time action and the strategy of more traditional, conventional role-playing games.
Let’s delve into Final Fantasy XV’s battle mechanics in depth.
Continue reading Final Fantasy XV: The Latest Reinvention
Alongside Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series, Falcom’s Ys was instrumental in helping to establish and refine the Japanese take on the action RPG genre.
Both were designed with accessibility and ease of understanding in mind — Zelda through stripping out complicated RPG mechanics like statistics, experience levels and dice-based mechanics, and Ys through simple, straightforward implementation of these mechanics — but both very quickly diverged in their own distinctive directions.
Let’s take a closer look at how the mechanics of the Ys series have evolved and changed over the years.
Continue reading Ys: Evolution of an Action RPG