If you haven’t read part one of this review in progress, I suggest you read that before reading this.
Once I got out into the overworld, I decided to walk around for a little where I knew wasn’t my destination and see what I could find. I didn’t find anything, but what I did find were random encounters. Lots... and lots... of random encounters. Eventually, I discovered that I could just put the game on auto-attack and the game would beat itself for me, which I did because all I was doing was spamming attack anyway. This got very boring very fast.
The way battle works in FFIV as I understand it is that all characters, two as of now, have a bar that when it fills up will allow your character to attack, do a special attack, or use an item. This means that the first 15 or so seconds of any given battle start with you being able to do nothing, then selecting something, usually attack if it’s a common enemy, as soon as the bar fills up, because I can’t think of any reason why I’d want to wait to attack and let the enemy hit me more times. Then you wait another 15 seconds, rinse, wash, and repeat. At my level, enemies took about three hits to die, and there were usually two to six enemies on a screen at once, so battles would literally be me pressing X to auto-attack and watching them take their sweet time hitting each other for a minute or two, walk three more steps, and repeat the process. As far as I know, there is no way to expedite the process. This is by far my biggest complaint with the game thus far: Random encounters are boring.
Eventually I decided to go into the nearby town and pick up some items to take on my travels. Most of the characters I met there would have pretty good dialogue, giving me lore or some interesting tidbit about themselves or what they thought about one of my characters. It goes a long way into creating this fantasy world by having the residents of a neighboring town have a generally lower opinion of Cecil and Kain than those from the castle. A pretty amusing encounter I had was with one lady who promised to “show me something” if I didn’t tell anyone she was saying anything bad about the king. I innocently thought she would give me an item or bit of lore, but no, she showed me something a bit more... personal.
I also came across a room where there were around eight people who all told me how to actually battle. This was incredibly helpful, but I wish the information was in some kind of tutorial you could pull up at any time instead of being contained within one room in one town, since I got the game used and without a manual.
I then journeyed out into my first cave/ dungeon, where I was told by the hilarious now “Mappington” or something that if I discover every part of a dungeon, I’ll get a reward. I absolutely love this idea. In FFXV, dungeons were easily one of the best parts of the game, and I would want to take every path I could so I could see everything and hear the guys’ reactions to everything, but what you got in return for exploring would vary. Sometimes you would find a cool item, boss, or flavor text, but you would also often find pointless dead ends with lame items or no items at all. By offering a reward for filling out an entire dungeon’s map, you have a concrete incentive for exploring dungeons, not just a chance to get something cool. The dungeon, however, itself was pretty standard. There were no encounters that I felt I had to disable auto-attack for and there were only a few very slight detours for some goodies. That’s to be expected with the first dungeon in the game, however.
The final boss probably took me more time to fight than traversing the entire dungeon. The dragon was weaker to Cecil’s attacks, so I had Cecil use Darkness, which cut some of his HP to do extra damage and had Kain do standard attacks, healing either character when necessary. After a while, the dragon turned into mist. I had made the unfortunate decision to have Kain “jump”, which is kind of like “fly” in Pokemon where he jumps up for a turn and attacks with more damage the next. I first attacked with Cecil, who dealt no damage and was dealt a ton, telling me to wait until the dragon had reformed to attack. Unfortunately, Kain was already up in the air and apparently didn’t get the memo, so he jumped down and just wrecked my team even more. Luckily both survived without needing a Phoenix Down, but it was close. Then, I waited... And waited. And then the dragon would appear and I’d attack it. And then it would turn into mist and I would wait some more. Eventually the dragon was taken down, but it wasn’t so much of a hard fight as it was a test of patience. Having an enemy become invincible but not fight you for a prolonged period of time isn’t interesting and wastes my time instead of making me think, and the boss fight left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Once I left the cave, I came across the town the king had ordered Cecil and Kain to go to, which triggers a cut-scene where the package they had burned the whole town down, and a whole bunch of melodrama ensues. They find a girl who’s voice actress I like a whole lot more than Cecil and Kain’s, showing real emotion rather than the other’s cheesy melodrama. We find that her mother died seemingly because we killed the dragon boss, and she summons a giant hand to split the land in two.
It seems that things are quickly scaling up, and I’m excited to see where the story takes me and whether I’ll warm up on the combat once I get used to it.