This review contains minor spoilers for the entire story of Final Fantasy XV.
Episode Prompto had so much potential in its character interactions and intriguing story, but the incredibly poor gameplay and empty time-padding makes this Episode a boring and sometimes borderline broken slog.
Episode Prompto: Final Fantasy XV DLC
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
I like Prompto a lot. I liked him in Brotherhood, I loved him in Final Fantasy XV, and I was looking forward to loving him in Episode Prompto. The story sounded interesting and the Episode was set to fill in an important gap in the main game’s story, but the sheer mediocrity of Episode Prompto in everything but its story and music made this an enormous disappointment.
Episode Prompto takes place after Prompto is tossed off the train headed for Gralea. Prompto is wandering through a frozen wasteland, hurt by Noctis’s actions (accidental as they may be), and steadily losing consciousness. Eventually he is found and taken into custody by the Imperial army, only to wake up in an Imperial lab with a barcode on his wrist. It’s a solid start for the Episode, though that may be because the player barely has to do anything.
As you run through the laboratory, Prompto learns that he’s one of many clones made by the head Imperial scientist, Verstael Besithia. It’s a very Final Fantasy VII-esque story, especially once you find a bunch of healing-tanks that contain identical clones of Prompto. This extra layer of mystery works well with Prompto’s secret Imperial heritage, and perfectly sets up his fear of revealing his heritage to the party in the main game. Watching Prompto overcome his self-doubt through the use of his younger self works well and gives you a lot of empathy for the guy, making it a strong way to give Prompto some extra depth.
Aranea’s appearance in the story is rather stand-out, as she ends up having to talk Prompto into going back to his friends. Aranea was an interesting character in the main game, but her time in the spotlight was limited since she isn’t a major character. Showing a bit of humanity towards Prompto portrays Aranea as less of a hard-ass, giving her an extra bit of depth that isn’t really expanded on in Final Fantasy XV. Aranea’s interactions with the less-than-enthusiastic Prompto is especially entertaining, as their relationship both softens Aranea and helps Prompto get his groove back.
Episode Prompto turns into a third-person shooter for some reason, but unfortunately it doesn’t transform into a good one. Enemy hitboxes are off, aiming is slow and clunky, and shooting feels unnatural. There are three guns outside of your pistol (a sniper rifle, an SMG, and a Bazooka), though only one can be carried at a time. Dropped weapons disappear, and weapon racks take a bit of time to restock, meaning certain encounters are prolonged and needlessly boring. Even the major boss fights are slow and dull, as enemies have a great deal of health that even the Bazooka can barely shave away at. It’s a broken and dull system that falls flat when compared to the combat of the main game, so I wish Square Enix had instead found a way to make Prompto’s playstyle work in an action-RPG instead of in a flawed third-person shooter.
Part of the Episode takes place on snowy plains outside of the facility, which can be explored through the use of a snowmobile that is shockingly buggy. The model will flip, bug out, and flicker when confronted with rocks or ramps on the ground, making exploring anything outside of the main story feel like even more of a chore. The Regalia, this is not/ The Episode is heavily padded by “side-missions” that can be found throughout the snowy plains, but the missions are a pain to find and not fun enough to care about, which makes the Episode far shorter than intended. It’s just messy overall, which is a real shame since the base game handles an open world and side-missions far more adequately.
The music in Episode Prompto is primarily composed by Naoshi Mizuta (Final Fantasy XI, Mega Man and Bass) and Yoshitaka Suzuki (Bayonetta, Metal Gear Solid 4), who serve as the guest composers for the Episode. A lot of the tracks are memorable and adrenaline-fueled, especially the main battle theme “Trigger”. Even if the Episode itself is mediocre, the soundtrack is definitely worth checking out.
The Final Word
Episode Prompto is a major disappointment outside of its story. The gameplay and open-world are boring and almost broken, making the entire Episode feel like a slog. While Aranea and Prompto both receives some well-done development, these positives can’t save Episode Prompto from its own overambitious genre-jump.
– MonsterVine Rating: 2.5 out of 5 – Mediocre