Final Fantasy XVI ... [sigh]

So, I played the Demo - and found it interesting enough to buy the game. It certainly is technically (technologically) impressive - and the gameplay (combat mechanics) good enough to make me not want my money back. But that's also ... in about as much praise as I can give it.

Well ... the Main Menu is actually quite good ... so, the Status Screen and all that ... . Which makes it a pretty decent and well polished ... tech demo ... I guess. Which is kind-of the stuff we've come to expect from Final Fantasy games - but this particular iteration is particular devoid of quality outside of that.

So, I found it interesting - from a ... "I.T. + Art" perspective. But if you have the hardware to actually run the game, I'm not sure if ... it does anything for you.

Now, I have watched J.S. Sterling's review after I had formed my own opinion - and I don't think I'm far enough into the game just yet to relate to that. But I'm already in a mood of vomiting all over it.

It's like ... pretty much everything - other than the few things mentioned so far - is either a complete let-down or somehow sub-par. I guess the latter would be more prevalent because ... it at least seems like they were trying. Maybe too hard at times.

The pacing is incredibly off - for once, like - the little animations (and sometimes they are really not even a thing) that take their time to play out before the next menu or thing appears ... it's like a road-bump; Which usually come during stretches that are anyway already on the boring side. Like ... between gameplay segments you get what feels like an equal amount of time in cutscenes - and me wanting to continue playing the game has me extremely unwilling, at this point, to do sidequests because it slows the time down even more.
And within all that, they made the peculiar choice, that you have to manually give NPCs whatever item they 'fetch-quested' you on. So there's a menu with one item. And you press confirm - the cursor goes to 'accept' - you press confirm again ... and some animation plays. Apparently with a brief pause just prior and after.

That 'playing' of the game thereby is also ... very odd. I mean, I've been playing ... like ... maybe an hour or more ... with one hand. Bored out of my mind. So, "standard enemy encounters" ... and I don't use any of the gimmicky accessories ... are super unchallenging. You hit attack the whole time - which works because of auto-target - occasionally you do the dash which also auto-targets the closest enemy - then attack again - and so on - while occasionally adjusting the camera. Like, there is no reason to use the directional stick - until it's back to walking.
Then on the other hand there are the challenging enemies. And here it makes sense to try and play properly - because, well, it's like trying to get it over with.

"L3+R3 to accept the Truth" - LOL.

Which takes me to the story. Uhm ... maybe it's not entirely uninspired - but oh boy. Well, it certainly IS inspired, like ... a lot ... by the Witcher. The beginning is still kind-of interesting - and then it felt to me like the game was trying to Gaslight me.

So, at some point I just had to "press L3+R3 to accept the Truth" - which is like, whatever. The game tells me that it is so, therefore it is so. No point to argue against it. It's worse than the writing of DC. What DC does I can for the most part get behind or at least beyond. What goes on in FFXVI ... that's just whatever. Mental check-out, resignation ... and 'let's just say that it makes sense eventually'.
I mean, I don't want to argue that they are inconsistent with their storytelling. Maybe I took a misdirect they threw into the game too seriously. But the moment I mentally checked out doesn't even have to do with that.
So, there is this ... Person ... who's a Dominus. A Dominus is a person that is like ... chosen by an 'Esper' - these ... huge ... Kaiju-like demi-Gods, Angels, whatever ... which are like ... key actors in large scale battles (which is, I would say: Accidentally Great World-building) - and "you", "the Hero", of course - because it's Final Fantasy - thinks it's a great idea to run into a storm (think: F5 Tornado) that's created by a Dominus that has transformed into their respective Esper and is currently throwing a major Tantrum - and I was still flabbergasted by this turn of the story that the subsequent Boss (yes, that very same Esper) had to hit me once or twice before I regained a firm grasp of the controller and slowly inched my way back into taking this game at least somewhat seriously.

Some people might at this occasion also want to comment further on the Boss itself ... like ... uhm ... choices of artistic nature ... but I have erected enough of a wall of ambivalence towards this game to let that be.

At least the combat is interesting.

The most ... uhm ... confusing choice they made however, might be the way equipment ... is handled. Not what pieces there are - but ... uhm ... what pieces are sold/craftable and ... uhm ... . [Scratching my Head] ... . It's like ... after each or every second "gameplay segment" - there's new stuff that can be bought. That would be a sword, a belt and ... whatever it's called. They can also be crafted - and upgraded to +2. So, naturally you wouldn't buy/craft/upgrade every new item available - because one segment later there will be new stuff anyway. Occasionally a boss will drop an item that amounts to as much as a free sword that's better than any other available - so, not sure how smart it is to get like ... good gear prior to facing a boss. It's not a bad idea given the amount of resources you get on average. But, it also feels somewhat pointless. Like ... it's just there to be there. And crafting. It's like ... since you now only have to worry about one Character - the perceived amount of items available had to be maintained but only applies to one Character. It's neither good nor bad - it's just there.

What I did like is how they made use of the force feedback of the PS5 controller - so, some gates you have to first press X and then R2 - and the button then becomes harder to push down - and it feels great. Kind of. It's technically impressive. But it would have been better if there were like a sweet-spot. As it is you just press it down to the end where the timer progress the fastest - and once again the exercise was somewhat pointless.

Like, spoiler, that intro Fight of the Phoenix versus Ifrit. I mean, one is bottlenecked down that lengthy sequence during which one can game over - even - just to be killed anyway. Twice. But OK ... whatever. I guess ... it's a nice story beat ... and sure ... fits the theme rather well. I wonder if that was what they were going for.

At least Cid is cool. So, with all the convoluted nonsense going on - there's that ... little bit of something one can hold on to. Like, you can tell that you're probably not playing for the wrong team the whole time.

But yea, it's still - rather predictable. I mean, my "favorite" moment: King talks to his sages, scolding them that they waste too much effort on war. Basically. King them analyzes the problem and proposes a solution. If you now put your cynical hat on - you will probably guess right what that solution entails.
Yes, War!

Now, to be fair - because it's Final Fantasy there's probably a plot twist at some point. Except ... if this time around ... they moved it to the start of the game. So far however it doesn't seem promising. Like, there are only so many pieces on the storyboard so far ... . And somehow there has to be a final Fantasy Boss somewhere. And yea, I mean ... I'm a little bit curious. But I dread what it might take to get there.

If I'm lucky the worse part is behind me ... though Mx. Sterling has me think otherwise.

Well, I however don't think it's the right game for people that value their time. To me it's a bit of an edge-case. As I said - I don't feel like wanting my money back. But ... I almost don't know why. Or ... do I?

Anyway - at this point I also refuse to rate the game. It is what it is. Which is ... weird.
Also, if you lose to a boss you can re-enter the fight - into the phase you died in - with full health potions. ... [shrugs] I mean, the game is fast - and dodging and parrying is maybe not the easiest thing to do consistently. I suppose it's a quality of life feature ... . This is not a complaint by the way ... it just feels weird.

And that's that ... I guess.
Hmm ... oh yea ...

It's like ... also ... the definition of an uninspired game, I'd say. It's like ... trying to tell a story with a moralistic undertone ... and to do so picked some "wholesome important issue" from a jar ... . It's just tropes and special effects and cliffnotes and stuff somehow jumbled together with a vague idea of what the game might be outside of that - and called it a day. In that sense it is barely even a thing.
Like that one moment where you follow a Character into a Dungeon of sorts ... and then he isn't there anymore. So you go deeper into the dungeon - where there isn't anywhere where that person could have gone ... at the end you don't find him, you leave - and then in a cutscene he's there somewhere in the Bushes. I mean, that's just Next Level! ... "Magic" I suppose.