The director of the best Final Fantasys releases his first new game in 15 years
The game in this trailer doesn’t look too bad. Really, that sounds like the furthest thing from a big deal: just a sort of experimental little game released by Square Enix. But to me it’s a bigger deal than anything Square Enix has done in years, bigger than the remake of Final Fantasy 7 or Final Fantasy 16 or Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s because of a name: Hiroyuki Ito.
I don’t think there is a game developer at Square Enix with a better CV than Ito, who has been with the company since 1987, his entire career. Ito went from designer of battles on Final Fantasy 4 to director of Final Fantasy 6, just behind series creator and producer Hironobu Sakaguchi. A few years later, Ito made Final Fantasy 9, and a few years later when Final Fantasy 12 was in trouble, he stepped in to co-direct it in addition to directing his combat system.
But after 2006, Ito apparently disappeared into the bowels of Square Enix, racking up numerous “special thanks” credits and a few combat system credits over 15 years. I didn’t think we would ever see Ito make another game, and I certainly didn’t think Square Enix was going to announce one on a random Friday two weeks before its release. But here we are: Dungeon Encounters, a dungeon robot for PC, PlayStation, and Switch released on October 14.
Okay, so Dungeon Encounters looks pretty weird. It’s made by one of the company’s most acclaimed designers and has music by Nobuo Uematsu, but it’s clear from the trailer above that it’s a low, moo budget game. The in-game map basically looks like a crossword puzzle with no texture, and the combat isn’t really lively, although it does have some nice artwork in it. This is clearly a dungeon crawler for players who like puzzle design and numbers and don’t care about layout at all.
Dungeon Encounters has the vibe of a personal project that turned out to be interesting enough for Square Enix to commit the bare minimum of resources it needed to get published, but I’m just happy to see Ito’s name again. associated with a new game. Although he made the best Final Fantasy games in the history of the series, his other design credits over the years indicate that he has always specialized in designing game systems. and combat. Battle in active time, for example. A game that takes everything away, but the numbers really seem to be its jam.
Dungeon Encounters may hint that Square Enix is trying to be a bit more nimble, giving the green light to smaller, cheaper RPGs to see what works: Yoko Taro’s Voice of Cards is another example that will be released soon as well. At $ 30, I think the art of Dungeon Encounters is going to make it a tough sell, but maybe the crowd of pens and papers will give it some wings.