Playing with fire
Final Fantasy has always revolved around its enemies as much as its party, an imaginative cast of stepping stones paving the way to your next levelled-up stat. FFXV (p38) isn’t making any concerted effort to change that, but it is presenting its ecosystem as a living web of placid and aggressive creatures that coexist in a deeper way than simply occupying the same field. It might be a presentational rather than mechanical shift, but it’s a fashionable one in light of the survival genre’s ever-swelling mass.
The Flame In The Flood (p48) is one of that legion, offering up a more intimately scaled depiction of battling the elements. What it and FFXV share is that both make bonfire light a ring of temporary safety – here discouraging wolves and drying out sodden clothes, rather than providing a node for cashing in experience points. Both games let you cook up a meal with ingredients found during the day as well, and the feeling of reaching a point of respite from the rigours of your journey is just as profound.
Whereas in Campo Santo’s Firewatch (p42), the bonfire we stamp out early on in our time with the game is used not to represent refuge, but an invasion of the natural habitat we’ve been charged to guard from harm – an open fire poses a danger to the dry woods of Wyoming. Still, the game is no less focused on replicating the sensation of being exposed to the elements. In Firewatch, that instead means you might find yourself clinging to a rock face as the threatening orange sun dips below the horizon, or holed up in a wooden cabin precariously raised a dozen metres off the ground on spindly, flammable wooden struts. (And that’s not to mention the rickety outhouse we’ve been provided for internal calls of nature.)
There will always be a place for broadsword-toting impediments, of course, but it’s good to spend some time with your thoughts in the great outdoors once in a while, even if being there might mean they’re your last.