Once you arrive at the city of Ding Dong Dell, you are presented with one of the key mechanics in the game – repairing people’s hearts. There are two guards keeping the gate outside the city closed and in order for it to be opened, both guards have to agree. One of the guards, however, lacks “enthusiasm” and doesn’t care enough to open the gate for everyone, while the other guard is literally jumping for joy. Thus, you must transfer some of the enthusiasm from one guard to the other. This is a very simple mechanic in the demo, but I can image storing up different emotions and having to know which to use in different situations could lead to some very interesting moments.
In the second part of the demo, you have to make your way up The Mountain of Fire. This portion has you racing up the mountain on a timer and also introduces a few other new elements. You can watch my full video with commentary below, as well as continue reading.
This portion has environmental obstacles such as strafing along a while and avoiding geysers of lava spewing from the volcano, as well as a companion in battle. You are much higher level in this section (about 12 levels higher, to be precise) with a total of three creatures, a female friend named Esther and her three creatures. In battle you can swap between your different creatures (they all have different elemental alignments and get tired over the course of battles) and you can switch over to control Esther as well.
Oliver has different spells he uses, but Esther appears to either sing or play music for her abilities. The character you are not controlling takes care of themself (for the most part) but it can be a bit frustrating. In battle, orbs drop that either heal you or refill your magic meter a bit and Esther’s creatures seem to be fairly greedy in the demo. Even if they don’t need the orbs, they somehow manage to take them before I could (even if I was dangerously low and needed them.) I’m sure this was mostly a coincidence, but if not, it is definitely annoying.
After I reached the top of the mountain there was a cutscene with the game’s primary antagonist (I’m pretty sure) Shadar. He then of course, instead of killing me right there like a villain really should have done, decides to summon a fire beast from the lava that towers over the battlefield. This boss fight was much more dynamic and engaging than the last, as every time he breathed fire it would linger on the ground and damage me if I touched it. This was compounded by the fact that he was weaker from behind, so the battle required me to always be on the move and aware of my environment, while also switching between creatures frequently.
Overall I came away from this demo not only thoroughly impressed, but even more excited for its release early next year. This game is shaping up to be one of the best JRPG’s this generation and is yet another reason gamers should be happy to own a PS3. Lets us know what you thought in the comments below!