Six, yes, six years ago Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced alongside last year's
beyond terrible Final Fantasy XIII. I know early announcement and long dev cycles have become frustratingly common place in the modern gaming industry but still...six years later there isn't so much as a hint of a release date. It only just recently entered full production.
Let's also think about this: Final Fantasy XII was
flawfree and better than your faves met with mixed, though generally positive, responses but flew under the radar outside of Japan. Final Fantasy XIII received such terrible criticism that Square-Enix made a sequel that underminded all of the original's gameplay mechanics. Final Fantasy XIV might as well have not been released at all, after underwhelming its core audience from Final Fantasy XI to the point that the entire game is being overhauled and every effort is being made to try and appease upset fans.
When you look at it like that the main Final Fantasy franchise hasn't had a certifiable hit in over a decade.
Add to all of this the fact that the next entry in Square-Enix's other big name franchise,Kingdom Hearts 3, won't even begin development until Versus XIII is finished (despite Tetsuya Nomura having time to develop numerous handheld spinoffs...) and one is left wondering 'what the heck has Square been doing all this time?'
Okay, so not just this one tech demo, obviously. I'm not that much of a conspiracy theorist. But one can still see why this is so frustrating.
Via our friends at IGN:
Square Enix took a hurdling leap into the future with its unveiling of the Agni's Philosophy demo at E3 2012. Running on the next-generation Luminous Studio engine, this is the same cutting-edge game technology that will be found in PlayStation 4 and the next-generation Xbox. ... Demonstrated in realtime to E3 showgoers, Agni's Philosophy: Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo combines the technical skills of Square Enix' top studios, including its Japanese Visual Works development group and Crystal Dynamics in the UK, as well as INEI Inc., Art Spirits, and YEBIS (makes of high-quality effects middleware.) The demo was designed to showcase the magic and emotion of the Final Fantasy saga, and "was created through the lens of the FINAL FANTASY series, where ancient magic and advanced science coexist in a near-futuristic world. The video depicts a life-changing encounter for our heroine, the magic-wielding protagonist Agni."
Final Fantasy fans may recall Square-Enix's Final Fantasy VII tech demo for the PS3 that sparked incessant rumors of an HD remake. Before that Squaresoft rendered the Final Fantasy VIII ballroom scene to show off the PS2's capabilities. And way back in the day they recreated scenes from Final Fantasy VI for the N64, before ultimately developing Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation.
Basically this is nothing new; Square likes making tech demos for the next console cycle.
This wouldn't be frustrating if it weren't for the fact that so many of Square's triple-A titles are still MIA and their most recent efforts have all failed, rather publicly, to grab audiences.
One can only wonder where Versus XIII and maybe even Kingdom Hearts 3 might be at this point had the time and effort gone into making this rather snazzy tech demo gone into their development instead. And it truly is snazzy: The mix of real-world-esque environments with monsters, machine guns, and magic is very reminiscent of the PS1-era games which just so happen to be some of the most universally well loved in the franchise. Of course it also goes without saying but I will anyway: this is capital G GORGEOUS to look at. And all in real-time, no less. But then again, when has Square-Enix ever not had the pretty on their side?
More frustrating still is that, as of now, this tech demo is just that and nothing more. For now.
It would appear that Square isn't abandoning Agni (the tech demo's protagonist) and her philosophies just yet. After taking a visit to www.agnisphilophy.com one can find a survey about the demo.
Curious...the other tech demos never got a survey. The plot thickens.
After answering some basic questions about one's country and gender (which includes a decline to state response, probably the closest to trans one can get with a major corporation like Square-Enix) gamers will get to answer some questions about the content of the demo; namely what they thought about the magical Agni.
Perhaps Square is laying the groundwork for Final Fantasy XV? Perhaps surveying their audience to see if this direction is worth their time at all?
Well I'd be all for it, personally. That four minute tech demo was exponentially more exciting than any of Final Fantasy XIII or XIV.
That being said, though, maybe Square-Enix should focus on finishing the games they've already started before they even think about starting another.
Just a thought.