Last week, I took a trip to London alongside my editor to attend Square Enix Plays 2022, an event that allowed us to get hands-on with numerous titles from the publisher, and on this occasion, it’s fair to say that the offerings were incredible. First of all, we got to spend a little bit of time with the Crisis Core remake, a game that’s been a long time coming, but more on that in a bit.
Other titles to appear at Square Enix Plays 2022 included Life is Strange: The Arcadia Bay Collection, Nier Automata: The End of Yorha Edition, The DioField Chronicle, Romancing saga Minstrel Song Remastered, Valkyrie Elysium, Harvestella, Dragon Quest Treasures, and Power Wash Simulator. All of these titles were playable on either PlayStation 5 or Nintendo Switch at the event.
However, before we dived into any games, we just had to visit the little marketplace Square set up, where we could pick out three free Japanese snacks – a difficult choice for sure, but we got there in the end. Following that successful haul, we couldn’t help but get some bubble tea (which was divine) and an assortment of Japanese cuisine, including a nut salad and sushi, though a salmon roe popping in my mouth like boba still leaves me in a confused and concerned state.
I can honestly say that popping salmon balls are not it. Please stick to apple bubble tea, as that tastes like apple sours. Nonetheless, after filling ourselves with tasty food and drink, the time came for us to dive into some games, and what better way to start than with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, a game that’s likely to be my boss’ game of the year on Switch. You see, we’re both huge Final Fantasy fans with what you might consider being an unhealthy crush on Zack Fair.
When I got my hands on the game, I couldn’t help but fall in love all over again. If I wasn’t already looking forward to having my heart broken all over again in December, I sure as hell am now. It looks stunning, the controls are fantastic, and the combat is as smooth as butter. Yes, this was just a brief tryout, but it left a lasting impression.
First of all, graphically speaking, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is an arch de triumph – Zack looks as beautiful as ever, as does Sephiroth. Yes, I know FFVII fans just want him to die already, but no one can deny he looks the part and has fantastic hair. Anyway, it’s not just the characters that benefit from the beauty treatment, as the few environments we got to see are also lovingly crafted.
Honestly, the pleasing aesthetic is hardly surprising. I knew the world of Crisis Core would pull me in with its beauty – just look at Final Fantasy VII Remake Part I. However, what did pleasantly surprise me is that the “activating combat mode” and “conflict resolved” messages are still present at the beginning and conclusion of combat. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think they’d be in the remake.
Oh, then there’s the voice acting. The few cutscenes I got to see demonstrate great acting that’s sure to add to the impending heartbreak we’re all sure to feel when this long-awaited remake reaches its climax in December.
As for the combat itself, what a joy, Crisis Core’s action is fluent, smooth, and almost feels as though you’re dancing around the battlefield – a funny thought considering the size of the sword that Zack wields. The dodge mechanic works wonderfully, and the use of materia doesn’t hinder the fluidity in the slightest. Trust me. You’re all in for a fun time with this delightful remake.
Of course, it’s not just Crisis Core that caught our attention, as Life is Strange happens to be one of my favourite games of all time, so we had no choice but to park our butts so I could spend a little bit of time at Blackhell, sorry, I mean Blackwell Academy. Admittedly, my initial hopes for the switch port were dashed due to some performance issues. This broke my heart a little and left me no choice but to reach for my Pocky in sorrow. That’s until my editor showed me Life is Strange on one of the handheld Switch stations.
It restored my faith, as the game looks exactly as it should, and then my heart fully repaired itself after we saw it on another TV, one that showed the game does, in fact, perform as it should. I guess the settings on our initial station were a little off. Either way, my excitement for the release of the Life is Strange Arcadia Bay Collection on Switch is paramount, and I simply can’t wait to share my thoughts about it with you upon release.
We also took the time to have a little look at Nier Automata, which, from what I could see, runs well on Switch and is sure to be a crowd pleaser when it finally hits the platform on October 6. Finally, we took a brief look at Dragon Quest Treasures and Romancing Saga, both of which appear promising. Then again, everyone at Pocket Tactics appreciates a good JRPG, so it’s like these titles are specifically designed for us.
All of these games are great, but do you want to know what else I love? Merchandise, and we got to look at some fantastic collectables that Nier Automata and Final Fantasy fans are sure to love. Yes, that includes both myself and my editor, as there’s a limited edition Zack Fair statue that belongs on our shelves. Not only that, but there was a little Sephiroth plushie hiding in a tree, and if that’s not the most oddly adorable thing I’ve seen all year, I don’t know what is.
Seriously, just look at these goodies (image above). There were two tables full, one just for Final Fantasy, while Nier Automata seriously dominated the second – that huge statue of 2B is meant to be in my house. But, you know, money is a thing, and with all the games set to come out in the coming months, I don’t want to make my bank account cry too much.
Overall, it’s fair to say that Square Enix Plays 2022 was a great event, and there are exciting times ahead for the Japanese publisher. We certainly can’t wait to share our thoughts on Life is Strange, Nier Automata, and Crisis Core in the coming months. Oh, and make sure you check out our The DioField Chronicle review to see whether or not the SRPG is worth your time.