written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It’s been ten years… ten long years since I first saw the Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer. Now rebranded as the 15th installment of the storied franchise, Final Fantasy XV has got quite a large pair of boots to fit in to. As a companion piece for the forthcoming game, Kingsglaive tells the story of a member of the elite force of the Kingdom of Lucis… drawing their warping powers from King Regus himself.
Set in a world gripped by war, the technologically advanced Empire of Niflheim seeks to control the lands governed by the Kingdom of Lucis, much of this is in part due to the last known crystal in the world being in possession of Lucis and its King.
While characters like King Regus (voiced by Sean Bean) and Lunafreya (voice by Game of Thrones alum Lena Heady) are characters from the game, the story revolves entirely around Kingsglaive member Nyx Ulric (Aaron Paul) and his ongoing battle against the Empire.
Steeped in intrigue, much like the many games in the series… not everything is as it seems. To set up the conflict of the game, the Kingdom of Lucis and its crown jewel city of Insomnia has to fall.Though this is a companion piece to the forthcoming game, unlike Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, you are not required to have played the game to really enjoy the movie. On its own, Kingsglaive wonderfully sets up the struggle Noctis will face in Final Fantasy XV… but by no means are you forced to have to play it to understand the film’s narrative.
Standing on its own two feet, Kingsglaive does get quite a bit right. The voice acting is top notch with both Sean Bean and Lena Heady in particular shining in their roles of King Regus and Lunafreya respectively. Aaron Paul ditches the throaty delivery he used in Breaking Bad to convincingly play the story’s main hero. The visuals are gorgeous, from the sprawling cityscapes of Insomnia to the lush forests of Tenebrae. Character designs rarely fall into the uncanny valley, and despite characters like Lunafreya looking quite different than her in game model, it never felt too jarring for myself as a viewer.
The stylized combat mirrors the game heavily, with Nyx being able to utilize the King’s teleportation ability to create combat set pieces that feel reminiscent of the big final battle between Cloud and Sephiroth in Advent Children.
As I was watching this with my sister, I mentioned to her that the combat sequences remind me of Advent Children on steroids… and it really does get that big. Satisfying action is peppered in throughout the whole movie, with the final sequence being the longest and biggest. My one complaint was that the movie felt like it did drag a bit long. It would have done well with some better editing, while exciting action sequences are a good thing… the old adage “too much of a good thing” does feel the best way to explain some of these scenes.
Ultimately, this movie plays out as an amazing form of marketing for the forthcoming game. Setting up the story while introducing new characters that won’t be part of the journey Noctis will have to face. It stands on its own yet compliments the whole package. Despite a few shortcomings, I found it incredibly entertaining and despite feeling quite salty that Square Enix delayed the game another two months… at least for now… I’m good.
Here’s hoping the game lives up to the already high level of quality the whole Final Fantasy XV experience is shaping up to be.