• Pre-order bonus is cool! +1

  • Possibly recommended if you enjoyed the demo +1

  • Demo is beginning of game’s story

  • Play as Lighting, alone

  • Schemata are like outfits each with their own abilities and attributes
Pre-order bonus:
Lightning Returns has been out for two days now, so I've had a couple of days to play. One of my favorite things about the game is that I got Cloud's Soldier 1st Class garb due to pre-ordering the game. It's very nice seeing Lightning in Cloud's uniform. What's cool, too, is that if I finish a battle in that garb, the Fanfare from Final Fantasy VII plays. It has a pretty powerful attack, which uses up a good bit of the ATB Gauge, I use it when I can. The ability seems to change if the enemy is staggered, which is also helpful.

Spoiler-free story intro: The game works as I described in my first writing of the demo version. Lightning slept for 500 years in crystal form and was awoken by God (Bhunivelze) to do his bidding, in return he'll bring Serah (Lightning's sister and Snow's fiancee) back. However, there's an enemy roaming about, who seems to be able to control the Chaos that's spreading and bears a striking resemblance to Serah. Lightning's task is to save as many souls as she can in the thirteen days before God awakens and destroys the current world and creates a new one. All the souls Lightning saves get reborn into the new world.

Time is definitely not on her side! The clock is ticking and some quests can only be completed at certain times of the day. Luckily, Hope has returned, but for some unknown reason is a boy (as he was in FFXIII) and not the man he was in FFXIII-2. He is aboard the Ark guiding Lightning through her quest. At 6AM (game time) every day, Lightning must return to the Ark, where time stands still, to deposit the souls she's saved. This helps grow the Yggdrasil tree on board and with enough souls, Lightning can have more days until the end of the world. Currently, it seems that the world will be destroyed before the thirteenth day as Chaos is consuming the world, leaving only a handful of areas to venture to.

The demo version of the game is the beginning of the game. Lightning crashes in on Snow during one of his banquets and they have a bit of a duel while monsters pour in from a nearby Chaos infusion. Snow fights against Lighting and the monsters, but something is weird about one of his hands, it apparently seems able to suck up the Chaos. Snow later disappears into the Chaos as Lightning chases him.

Lightning cannot save all the souls in the world and she must act quickly to save as many as she can. She must use time management and decide whether to spend a lot of time saving a few souls, or spend less time saving more. It's a conundrum and there are five significant souls for her to save, my best guess is that these are fellow FFXIII characters. I'm already aware of Snow and I believe Noel (from FFXIII-2) was following me in another area.

This is the first Final Fantasy game I can recall where there is no party, just a single character controlled by the player. So far, I'm enjoying the game. The music seems new, but a few bits are obviously recycled. There was one character playing a familiar FF song, a bit remixed and I'm still not sure what it is or where it's from, my guess is FFVII.

Schemata are kind of like outfits that Lightning has access to. She can only switch between three at one time. Each have their own abilities and features. It’s very similar to the dresses used by Yuna and her companions in FFX-2. The pre-order bonus I got of Cloud Strife is just one of these (so far it’s my favorite). Although I got ingredients for three schemata for pre-ordering, so far the Cloud one is the only one I've really used. I set it as default, so that's what I see Lightning running around the game wearing, it's pretty cool. You have room to create more as sub-schemata and change them out (outside of battle) as you please. You can customize each schema with a different garb, shield, weapon (the three main ingredients), accessories, and abilities. So far, I've only explored two different places. I haven't completed every quest I've accepted, but I'm working on it. It doesn't seem too difficult, but I have died a time or two. You are limited to the number of restoration potions you can carry (six at first), which grows as Lightning grows by completing quests.

Recommendation: If you play and like the demo, you'll probably like the game. I think it's pretty cool and so far I'm not disappointed. I may even decide to play the other FFXIII games again. I know in the first one, I wanted to unlock the PS3 theme for Fang, but that required crafting everything. I also believe there were some areas I didn't unlock in FFXIII-2.

Update 11/2019: It's been quite a while. I don't recall how much I played this game or how far I made it. I don't think I made it very far though. I'm not sure what happened, whether it was that I didn't like it or that I decided to play another game. I tried replaying the FFXIII games almost a year ago and just found myself a bit disappointed in them. I can't quite explain this. On my last play through of FFXIII, I did get near the end, but then the game beat the crap out of me and I gave up. Otherwise, I couldn't "get into" the FFXIII games as a whole.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/14/2014 at 03:26am

I really liked FF XIII, but a lot of people had some legitimate complaints about it. What do you think about the progression of the series, especially taking into account what FF XIII brought to the table? I haven't played XIII-2 but I've heard it fixed a few of the complaints while adding a few more.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/14/2014 at 04:28am

What complaints? I'm not familiar with any specifically. I don't really have my own complaints, but some of the music was very depressing, considering what I was going through when I was playing the other two games in the series. I remember fighting a Giant Cactaur and losing badly.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/14/2014 at 04:55pm

It's linear, there are no towns, you only get to do any kind of free roam more than halfway through the game, so on. Those are the gist of the complaints people had.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/14/2014 at 05:00pm

Oh yeah, I forgot all about those complaints. I think that if that's what the majority of the complaints were then it must have been a great game. LOL In other words, I see those complaints as pretty petty. I think FFXIII-2 was less linear, actually that's true since you travel through time, whether it be to the past or future that you unlock by accomplishing some task in one of the three time zones (past, present, and future).

Timogorgon   Member wrote on 02/14/2014 at 08:05pm

I'll admit I'm one of those people who really did not like FFXIII. The only parts of the game I enjoyed in my 4 or so hours with the game was loading up the opening cut-scene after buying my new HDTV and the cut-scene where Lightning punches Snow, because seriously, F that guy. The story didn't grab my attention, I found the characters* all boring or, worse, annoying. And once people started telling me that the game doesn't really "get good" until 20+ hours in, I just said screw it, I'm out. Because I disliked the first game I completely ignored the sequels (this is the third or fourth game in the series now?)

On a side note, why on earth is Square rereleasing, HDing, or updating pretty much every Final Fantasy game except the one everyone is asking for? Where is FF7HD?!

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/14/2014 at 09:54pm

why on earth is Square rereleasing, HDing, or updating pretty much every Final Fantasy game except the one everyone is asking for?

AMEN! That PS3 tech demo had everyone drooling and practically begging for it.

Azurephile   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 02/15/2014 at 12:47am

I understand, Tim. I didn't like it as much as previous Final Fantasy games, I'm not sure why other than some of the depressing music. Oh, this new game is the third.

That is true and funny, about the re-releases. I just noticed today that the HD release of FFX and X-2 is coming out next month. I'm not sure I'll get it. I loved both games (even though most people hated the sequel), but I've played them enough and still have the originals and my PS2. Oh, and I believe I still have that tech demo for FFVII on my PS3.

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