Review – Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future

Walk tall, my friends

cover

Overview

Synopsis The Dawn of the Future finishes the stories left untold by the game's canceled downloadable content.

Author Jun Eishima
Publisher Square Enix
Genre Fantasy

Length 377 pages

Release Date 7/14/2020

With the release of Final Fantasy XVI, I thought now would be a good time to take one last look at Final Fantasy XV’s story. Though I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, there will be minor ones for the game. Reader discretion is advised.

Content Guide

Language: D***, s***, h**, a**, and b***h are all common throughout the book.

Violence: There are many descriptions of battles that involve blood and dismemberment. Hundreds of civilians are charred in an attack on their city.

Spiritual content: The book is overflowing with spiritual themes. The six Astrals — Bahamut, Shiva, Ifrit, Leviathan, Titan, and Ramuh — are considered to be gods. Lunafreya’s role as Oracle means she devotes her life to prayer, healing, and carrying out the will of the gods. The crystal also has a role in the divine aspect of the world. The overarching theme of the book centers on the human characters defying the will of the gods and carving out their own destinies. Monsters called daemons are recurring foes.

Review

The Dawn of the Future exists because three planned pieces of downloadable content don’t. Square Enix had planned on releasing story episodes focusing on the characters Ardyn, Aranea, Lunafreya, and Noctis. Unfortunately, they were only able to release Episode Ardyn and canceled the latter three. But rather than completely scrapping the stories, they decided to adapt them into a novel format.

The book starts with a story recap. It covers from the game’s beginning to about the seventy-five percent mark. After that, it’s all new territory. I mean that literally, as the rest of the book does not follow the game’s plot. The book gives the story a new climax and a new ending.

Having only recently finished Final Fantasy XV for the first time, I wanted to get to this book while my memory of it was still fresh. I haven’t played most of the extra content, but I still remember the characters and events. So, I skipped the recap and jumped straight into the meat of the book.

A dark-haired man holds back a blonde girl while a silver-haired girl and brunette man look on
The DLC gang’s all here

There are technically only four chapters in the book. Each chapter is the full story from one of the pieces of DLC. “Chapter One: A Savior Lost” adapts Episode Ardyn, and it alone is nearly a hundred pages. It goes on in that fashion through the other three episodes.

The second part follows Aranea Highwind, the third follows Lunafreya, and the fourth follows Noctis. Each part starts somewhere in the game’s story. For example, Aranea’s chapter starts soon after the midpoint of the game, in the aftermath of Leviathan’s rampage.

I found Aranea’s chapter to be one of the most interesting. I liked how the author humanized her. Whenever she appeared in the game, we see her from an outside perspective; she comes across as laser-focused on the day’s mission with almost no emotion. In the book, she feels more like a person because we actually get to see her emotions and struggles.

One of the highlights is the artwork at the end. Square Enix included a ton of concept art for the DLC. Some pictures represent events in the stories, while others served as points of reference to generate ideas.

A man watching a battle from  rooftop. Text explains this is the fall of Niflheim and players would have been able to navigate Gralea like a dragoon, had the DLC come out.

Overall, the writing isn’t terrible, but it’s not the best either. There are numerous cases of the language being a bit flowery for my taste. Though it doesn’t make the book bad, it gets a little annoying after a while and breaks immersion.

It was also in Aranea’s chapter where I noticed some of the editing had gotten sloppy. In less than a full page, there were two instances of missing words. The most jarring was a sentence that said, “a nice, warm bed right.”

My biggest complaint is the book can read like a video game, in a bad way. There are times when a character encounters daemons at the exact moment a game would have you face them. The book often skips those fights, though, which raises the question of why the confrontation even made it in the book.

The novel has a high cost of entry, and I’m not sure it fully justifies it. In order to get the most out of the book, the reader needs to have played through the main game, as well as the Episode Prompto DLC, at a minimum. I caught something in the book only because I played that DLC. Unfortunately, it’s the only one I’ve played, so I can’t say for sure if I missed any other Easter eggs.

Fans who enjoyed all of the content released before Dawn of the Future will enjoy what’s in the book more fully. That’s not to say someone who only played — or watched — the base game won’t enjoy it, but the reader, die-hard fan or casual, has to deal with the author retconning the story. The ending is very different from the game.

Top picture: busy cityscape, Bottom picture: city on fire. Text discusses the Founder's Day Festival and allowing a player to roam the streets and cause chaos as Ardyn
Conclusion

I had a surprisingly difficult time with this book. The characters are interesting, and the events aren’t boring. Yet I found myself wanting to just be done. I wanted to move on from this story and let the era close. I liked both endings for what they were, but retconning is always a negative in my mind. It’s not a bad book, but I can only recommend it for the most dedicated FFXV fans.

Positives

+ Finishes FFXV's story

Negatives

- Occasionally sloppy editing
- Retcons the game's ending

The Bottom Line

Die-hard fans of the game will likely enjoy this book, but casual fans may not want to stick with it.

 

Story/Plot 8

Writing 7

Editing 8

Art 9

7.5

David Koury

I'm a writer and aspiring fashion designer residing in the wasteland called Nevada. Also, I'm trying to juggle learning both Korean and Japanese.

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