Look, I know that Final Fantasy Origin trailer sucked. I know deep down that it falls firmly into the 'bad E3 trailers' category. But when I woke up last week in a post-E3 daze and saw my PC Gamer colleagues had taken the liberty of dunking on it, I was pissed. After not-so-quietly seething about it in our Slack channel for several days, I'm ready to proudly declare: I don't care if people hated that trailer. I thought it was rad, and I'm here to kill the hell outta Chaos.
Final Fantasy Origin's E3 trailer tapped into some weird dormant fragment of my teenagehood. It's the kind of game that would've directly appealed to 15-year-old Mollie, who adorned her bedroom with posters cut out of Kerrang! (a popular rock and metal magazine in the UK) and was brimming with teenage angst. Final Fantasy Origin is cheesy, moody and painfully unaware of how cringy it is, just like my younger self.
I love the overuse of the word chaos, with a strained emphasis on it every time it's spoken. I love that the main character looks like he's wearing clothes that he slept in the night before. Despite Tetsuya Nomura heading up character design, it feels so distinctly unlike Nomura. Where are the belts, the leather straps, the goddamn zippers? He's such an averagely rugged dude that I can't help but respect it. More people need to be destroying world-threatening villains in a henley tee and jeans.
After playing the demo, has my opinion changed? Admittedly, a bit. On the one hand, I was surprised by how satisfying and often gruelling the combat could be. I'd almost forgotten this was a Team Ninja collaborative effort until I was slapped in the face with the game's Nioh-esque fighting. I'm a bit shit at parrying in games, which means I didn't have the best time dealing with an onslaught of bomb monsters lobbing their fire spit in my face and at the grass beneath my feet.
But when I managed to break an enemy's stagger bar, opening them up to a finishing move, I found it a mighty fun time. One particular finisher involves prying a wolf's jaw open before headbutting its throat. Pretty damn rad.
On the other hand, Origin's demo is admittedly a bit rough. Playing it reminded me of squinting through the Long Night episode from Game of Thrones. I'm here for a dark and brooding game, but not when I have to play it after 10 PM just to see anything on the screen. Even after blowing up the brightness, I found myself struggling to parse its murky palette. Also, the main dude's name is Jack. Who the hell looked at this guy and thought Jack would be a good name? Granted, I have a somewhat irrational dislike of people named Jack (I'm yet to meet one I liked), but even so, Final Fantasy protagonists have names like Cloud or Tidus or Sponge, not Jack!
I'm rooting for Final Fantasy Origin to be fantastic. The original Final Fantasy's plot was of its era, so I'm excited to see its lore expanded upon. Garland is still a badass boss, and I'm looking forward to another reimagining of the Warriors of Light. But right now Origin feels like an early 2010s action game on the PS3—something which endeared me to its trailer but feels a bit off-putting in practice. Plus, the word chaos was somehow said less in the hours-long demo than it was in a two-minute trailer. Shameful, if you ask me.
Regardless, I have confidence in this angsty cringefest. Team Ninja and Square Enix have what it takes to pull this off—just lean into the chaos and maybe bump the brightness up a bit. My eyes will thank you for it.
The Final Fantasy Origin demo is currently exclusive to PlayStation 5 and is available until June 26. The full game is due to release on PC in 2022.