Today Square Enix released a whole slew of fantastic-looking screenshots of Final Chrono Trigger 2… ahem, sorry… I meant Final Fantasy XIII-2 (you can see them all past the cut).
Some of the information already trickled down to us thanks to Jump and Dengeki Playstation, but there’s definitely some new and quite interesting stuff to bite on.
Let’s start with everyone’s favourite pink-haired heroine. Lightning has become extremely strong after managing to save Serah in the first game, so strong that she’s been chosen by the goddess Etro as her protector (and she’s been given a really sexy armor). The problem with that is that now she’s stuck in Valhalla, fighting against the enemies of her goddess, and prominently the purple-clad warrior we saw in the first trailer.
That’s why she asks for Noel’s help to be able to see Serah again.
We already know that Noel comes from the future, as the last survivor of an era in which humanity has been wiped out. we also already know that players will be able to travel through time in Final Fantasy XIII-2, thanks to a mechanic called Historia Cross.
What we still didn’t know is exactly how that would happen and the scope of the new mechanic. It sure looks like the Historia Cross isn’t just a random additional element thrown in to make Final Fantasy XIII‘s sequel more appealing, but the whole foundation on which the game is based.
Players will be prompted to retrieve a number of artifacts that will unlock several time gates in the game. Those gates will allow visiting the same locations in different timeframes, accessing different items and quests and meeting different enemies and characters, including many known faces from the first game in different guises and in different stages on their life. Here’s hoping that when Serah and Noel will meet Hope when he’s grown up, and more importantly, he’s grown a pair.
Players will be able to move through time freely, facing quests and challenges in any order, often changing the course of future events and even being able to wind back time to replay an already explored area with stronger character, in a sort of new game plus for every time frame and area of the game.
Choices made by the player will change the outcome of their actions, building up to a number of multiple endings.
According to Toriyama casual gamers will be able to use the Historia Crux more or less like they browse a website, picking just their favorite links for a more streamlined experience, while hardcore gamers will be able to fully explore time and space to satisfy their completionist nature.
Many minigames will also be available, going back to a classic Final Fantasy tradition that was a bit absent from Final Fantasy XIII.
It’s not surprising that Toriyama explicitly mentions Chrono Trigger, as the Chrono vibes are definitely strong in this game, which is, in my opinion, a very good thing, considering how fantastic Chrono Trigger was.
Some may think that time travel is a cliche, but I don’t see that many games featuring it as a prominent feature. I would go as far as saying that there’s plenty space to see something new about it, especially considering that, if we really want to use the cliche argument, pretty much everything can be defined as one.
One thing is for sure, whether you like the time travel idea or not, as opposed to what some rather ill informed and quite probably biased writers said, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is shaping up as a completely different animal compared Final Fantasy XIII. It definitely doesn’t look like a “cheap and recycled sequel” that some raged about.