Square Enix has just announced a new entry in its whimsical franchise titled Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. They promise a “brand-new story and world” for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013.
As fans will know, each numbered Final Fantasy game tells a different story and a different cast each time. More “direct” sequels in the series have been done before; X-2 was a continuation of X and of course we’ve had XIII-2 earlier this year, making this new announcement the third chapter in the XIII saga. Renowned for “cash-cow” antics with the constant spin-offs and convoluted sequels, a third direct chapter release a first for even Square Enix.
In this new title, Lightning is stronger than ever before and will face her final battle, states Director Motomu Toriyama. During gameplay there is a constant doomsday clock that is counting down 13 days, wherein the world will end. There will also be a heavier emphasis on the customisablity options for Lightning’s appearance, and the combat will again be revamped into a new mix of real-time and turn-based, combining elements of the previous two entries.
Despite their odd numbering system and reputation for weird title names (Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, anyone?), it seems even Square thinks “XIII-3″ would be going too far. It seems strange that they are continuing to push the XIII label, considering the mixed reception of the original’s release and the criticism of the game’s linearity. Since the name XIII has been tainted with a negative association in some fan’s minds, many would think that the company would decide to focus on the next numbered entry. My guess is that they feel almost apologetic for their mistakes and are persistent to prove that they can make a memorable experience with the XIII storyline and characters.
Let’s not forget that there is also Versus XIII that is supposedly still in development, as confirmed by CEO Yoichi Wada back in July after a long and bumpy development cycle. Whether this remains the case is uncertain – perhaps ideas from Versus have been moved and changed into this game?
Well, best of luck to them. XIII may not be the most successful FF game, but it still has its fans which will undoubtedly be very excited at this news.