Tag Archives: Square Enix

From the Archives: A Square Sequel

Final Fantasy is probably one of the best-known names in the JRPG genre. And yet even within this long-running series there are titles which have had more attention than others.

Everyone can vouch for the quality (or at least impact) of Final Fantasy VI and VII, but what about the ones people don’t talk about in quite such reverential tones?

Today I’d like to talk about one of the less fondly-regarded entries in the franchise and explain why you should give it another look.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Wandering the World

I’ve asked this question before in our visual novel column, but it bears repeating: why do we play?

The answer is different for everyone, even between fans of the same type of game. Some enjoy JRPGs for their heavy focus on story and character development in a narrative sense; others enjoy the gradual process of building up their strength and power and being able to take on the toughest challenges the game has to offer. Others still enjoy finding all the secrets there are to find in the game — and there are usually a lot.

For me, as a self-confessed narrative junkie, I primarily enjoy the experience of hanging out with the characters, of fighting alongside them and, eventually, taking on some sort of earth-shattering, physically-improbable Big Bad, probably in space. Battling against all odds. Building those bonds between people that the Persona series is always banging on about, you know?

But this isn’t the only way to enjoy a JRPG.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Nier Automata: A Game Better With — And Because Of — Its Narrative

Writing for The Atlantic, academic and media commentator Ian Bogost put forth the rather bold claim that “video games are better without stories” and asked “film, television and literature all tell them better, so why are games still obsessed with narrative?”

This is an interesting question to ponder in light of any discussion of video games, but it’s a particularly pertinent discussion to have when we’re considering something as ambitious and audacious as Nier: Automata — a game which not only tells a compelling story, it tells it in an incredibly fascinating way.

Bogost’s article meanders around the point somewhat, but ultimately seems to come to the conclusion that purely environmental storytelling — be it through the use of audiologs, a la BioShock, or less explicitly through the environment itself, as in “walking simulators” such as Gone Home — is not a particularly effective approach to presenting an interactive narrative, though it can provide an interesting playground for a player to explore.

And he’s not really wrong in this regard… apart from the fact that it’s only in relatively rare cases that a game exclusively relies on this approach.

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Nier Automata: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Nier creator Taro Yoko is particularly fascinated with death: not only the concept itself, but also how different people respond to it.

Yoko’s interest in the subject, as we’ve previously discussed, stems from a traumatic experience in his youth when he witnessed the accidental, easily avoidable death of a friend and discovered, to his surprise, that there was something oddly humorous in the moment as well as it being horrifying. Someone’s existence had come to a premature end, yes, but there was something fundamentally ridiculous about how it had happened; how sudden it was; and how everyone was powerless in the moment to prevent it from happening.

The inherent ridiculousness of death — particularly accidental death — is something that gamers have been familiar with for many years. And so what better medium through which to explore the concept itself — and what better characters to do so with than those that can’t die through conventional means?

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Nier Automata: Creating a Game That is “Unexpected”, That “Keeps Changing Form”

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.

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Nier Automata: Introduction and History

Nier: Automata is a fascinating game in its own right, but it becomes even more of an interesting story when you take it in context of everything that led to its creation.

In order to understand Nier: Automata and its predecessors, it is particularly important to understand creator Taro Yoko, one of the most distinctive “auteurs” in all of video game making — albeit one who, until the release of Automata, had largely flown under the radar in stark contrast to his contemporaries such as Hideo Kojima.

Yoko is a creator who, it’s fair to say, has consistently pushed back against the boundaries of what is “accepted practice” in video game development — both in terms of subject matter and mechanical considerations. And the results of his resistance to conventions and norms are some of the most distinctive and interesting — albeit sometimes flawed — creations in all of gaming.

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Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus – Reinventing and Refining

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?

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