Are you hoping that Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be less linear than its predecessor? How about this for nonlinearity: You can travel through time.
The upcoming sequel to last year’s Final Fantasy XIII will have time travel as a central gameplay element, publisher Square Enix said on Thursday. Its characters will be able to jump forward and backward in time to see alternate paths, make different choices — and even find secret new endings to the game.
We already knew that XIII-2, to be released in January for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, would be a far different experience than its ill-received predecessor. Square Enix has already said that it will add many new features in an attempt to correct the thirteenth Final Fantasy’s flaws, including nonlinear areas, logic puzzle sequences and towns full of people.
Added to this is the new time-traveling mechanic, called “Historia Crux.” (That’s not to be confused with Radiant Historia, a recent well-reviewed time travel RPG from competitor Atlus, we’re sure.)
With the Historia Crux, you’ll be able to zip between what Square Enix calls “time-space locations,” which range from hundreds of years in the future to hundreds of years in the past. The developer says you’ll also be able to turn back time in order to explore different plot possibilities in each location.
“Casual players will be able to use the Historia Crux in a similar manner to browsing a favorite website –- picking and choosing between all the different links available,” said Final Fantasy XIII-2 director Motomu Toriyama in an interview on the Square Enix blog. More hard-core players will be able to find hidden paths and secret endings in the game’s varying branches, he said.
This time travel mechanic could be just the thing to make Final Fantasy XIII-2 more compelling than the first, adding some freedom to a series known for rigid linearity and spicing up a game that some fans have already dismissed as an unnecessary sequel. While some gamers felt turned off by Final Fantasy XIII’s series of tubes, a nonlinear feature like Historia Crux could bring them back in.
“I believe [Historia Crux] to be an optimal system for combining the best parts of open-world style games with the story-driven aspects of Final Fantasy XIII-2,” Toriyama said. “The player can adjust their play style to either delve deeply into everything available and be engrossed, or just make more straightforward choices while going along their adventure.”
The director also promised that Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be full of sidequests and mini-games, and stressed that thanks to time travel, players will have the flexibility to take them on at any point in the game. You’ll be able to choose whether to dedicate hours toward playing around with Historia Crux or just proceed through the story with no distractions.
That story might sound familiar to fans of Square Enix’s classic 1995 time-travel RPG Chrono Trigger. XIII-2’s leading man Noel, one of the game’s two main protagonists, comes from a post-apocalyptic future where humans are no more. Part of your job in Final Fantasy XIII-2 is to prevent that future from occurring.
“We really have received a lot of feedback about the game, but among the voices there are those who say it reminds them of the classic RPG Chrono Trigger,” Toriyama said. “For Final Fantasy XIII-2, we are aiming to make time travel a major thematic direction, and be able to express this on high-end game machines.”
Images courtesy Square Enix