A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV is an entertaining little title that came as a pre-order bonus for Final Fantasy XV via Gamestop. For a freebie title, I actually have to say I came away pretty impressed at this throwback 16-bit style brawler that provides an hour or two of beat-'em-up fun.
Final Fantasy has spawned some interesting titles over the years with a variety of genre cross-overs. When it comes to a fighting Final Fantasy title, Dissidia comes to mind. However, A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV is a very straightforward, linear brawling game that follows the youthful adventures of not Noctis as in Final Fantasy XV, but his father King Regis some thirty years prior to the events of Final Fantasy XV.
There are some parallels to the core Final Fantasy XV game, with some characters (such as Cid, who makes an appearance in the core title as a grumpy old man but here is a youthful companion of sorts), and how you never take control of the companions themselves. You control only Regis while calling on the companions to perform special attacks. Even the the attacking style mimics the warping gameplay of Final Fantasy XV.
The attacks in A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV have a sort of stickiness to them due to the aforementioned warping. Attacks come in three basic flavors with light, hard and shield bash. There is a very rock-paper-scissors feel to the design here, with different enemies being vulnerable to different types of attacks. Use a shield bash a couple of times to loosen up skeletons that might otherwise deflect your sword slashes. Combat fast moving goblins with quick slashes or take on swordsman using heavier ones. There is a style or combination to beat every type of enemy. This plays out in the magic as well, as flans are immune to one of the three elemental types, forcing you to mix and match magic appropriately.
When the enemies come out in clusters of a single type, A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV has a tendency to devolve into repetitious button mashing, but when the enemies come out in mixed groups, that is when things can get a little crazy. Magic is handled pretty well, introduced about a third of the way into the relatively short (an hour or two to beat the main campaign) story. Magic can be charged to make it more effective, and magic has different effects too. Ice will slow them down for a period of time, lightning will stun for a shorter period of time and fire can burn for a little extra damage. Later in the game I found myself working up to the top corner of the screen, building up a big spell and hosing down numerous enemies before returning to my flurry of slashes and shield bashes.
Unlike a lot of brawlers, there is no jump button. However, Regis can perform flashy midair attacks that serve to juggle the target opponent for a few moments while he remains largely safe from harm up in the air. While there are only a handful of buttons to attack with, different combinations trigger different attack combos that add a bit more variety to the game. This feels like it could be the core to a longer, deeper fighting game, but given the provided depth what we have for content is probably just about right. You can also participate in a series of missions for extra trophies or to take on unique challenges such as clearing out all of the enemies in a set time or getting through a battle without using magic.
A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV doesn't really add much narrative to the core Final Fantasy XV experience. In fact the whole this is played off as a bedtime story. If anything, it shows an interesting, loving relationship between father and son that seems the opposite of the strained one we see during the introduction of Final Fantasy XV. The premise of A King's Tale is that Noctis has heard all of his father's usual stories he reads from books, and asks his father to tell him a unique one about himself, even if he has to make things up. So with this in mind, there is certainly room for embellishment. Kudos for a nice callback to The Princess Bride about halfway through the adventure.
From a visual and music standpoint, A King's Tale does a great job with its pixel art of recalling brawlers of years long gone. Even the music has a more upbeat tempo that hints of traditional Final Fantasy but better reflects the atmosphere of a beat-'em-up style of game. For a bit more of an idea of how everything looks, sounds and plays, you should check out my Play Time videos from last week.
In conclusion, A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV actually surprised me quite a bit. As a throw-in bonus I really did not expect much, but A King's Tale was a great diversion for me while I was installing the update patch for the proper Final Fantasy XV game. It's a little short, a little simple, but also pretty fun and worth a look if you have a chance to play it.
Article by Nick