Review: Final Fantasy XV: Episode Prompto 

 Final Fantasy XV: Episode Prompto

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Prompto (PS4 , Xbox One [reviewed])
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: May 27, 2017
MSRP: $4.99 (or part of the Season Pass)

Whereas Gladiolus’ tale felt like a weird extension to the main game, Prompto’s departure from the norm actually cements it as something that’s worth the effort to select it from the main menu. Yes, they turned Final Fantasy XV into a shooter, and that’s more than bearable for a few hours while this add-on plays out. Given that Prompto’s anime OVA was one of the better received and relatable stories, he’s ready for a moment in the sun.

I’ll spare you the spoilers of Prompto’s origin, but suffice to say it plays a large role in this episode. Instead of light exposition that mostly deals with Gladiolus’ will to fight and protect Noctis, we instead get an emotional look at Prompto as he plays off several other cast members, including a really important key player from the campaign. Episode Prompto isn’t going to provide any major revelations, mind, just some light character development.

You’ll get through this series of unfortunate events by way of gun and vehicular combat, which, when set to the tune of a massive laboratory facility, caused me to do a double-take on whether or not I’m actually playing a hidden Resident Evil spinoff. That comes with all of the good and bad a modern Resi game entails, from the roteness of using a snow mobile in a game that isn’t really suited for it, or the lack of a need to deploy any real tactics when blasting folks away.

That said, the act of combat is engaging even if you don’t need to rely on your array of abilities. Swapping between magic, guns, and grenades gives you an option for pretty much any scenario, and the few times that fights actually challenged me (read: there’s three bosses, two of which are worth fighting again via time trials), I was ready. In case you’re wondering, the shooter trope of regenerative health is present, but absolutely needed given the mostly solo framework. It also slots in perfectly with Prompto’s armory theme in particular.

The miniature sandbox was also a nice bonus and had me pining for a rework of the Gladiolus DLC to include one. It’s not sprawling or anything and the sidequests aren’t all worth doing, but the fact that there’s a place to mess around (finding hidden nooks in Final Fantasy games is my jam) will come in handy down the line when I’m replaying the entirety of XV more than the gimmick of running through Gladiolus again and again.

By the time Final Fantasy XV is fully finished, most of its mysteries and interludes will have been explained. It’s up to you if you want to discover them individually or all at once with the eventual Game of the Year edition (which might come a full year after XV‘s November 2016 release, given that Episode Ignis isn’t dropping until December). For me the main story juice has been worth the squeeze, but the DLC has not.

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