The epic journey of Square Enix’s hunky anime boys continues with the spotlight set on its goofiest member, Prompto. Downloadable chapter Episode Prompto isn’t nearly as chipper as he is, turning him from the bright anime boy with a gun we all want to squeeze into a really sad anime boy we still want to squeeze, but with more guns.
It’s packed with brilliant bullet-slinging combat, a bittersweet story and lots of little extras to really spend time with, but is it worth investing in a side story? Very much yes and also no. Seeing as how you have to finish the main story before you can play the DLC, we assume you’re beyond spoilers, but if you haven’t, turn away now because you’re about to step into that territory.
Prompto’s chapter picks up where he was left in the main story. Noctis falls for Ardyn’s trap; Prompto gets abandoned and is all by his lonesome in the dreary, snowy wasteland of Niflheim. Ardyn, the mischievous and meddling man he is, takes Prompto back to his “home” and forces him to come to terms with who he is before he can return to his friends.
It succeeds where the previous DLC chapter, Episode Gladiolus, failed miserably: character development. This chapter is one that gives you a good, hard look into Prompto as a person, but parts of it won’t make sense unless you’ve seen the five-episode anime Brotherhood and know how Prompto got involved with Noctis, as well as what Noctis really means to him.
Prompto’s journey is one that feels like a slap to the face, but in a good way; it’s his reality check. It’s a full-frontal assault on his idea of himself and who he wants to be, but may never really be able to be 100 percent of the way. This chapter tackles this in two ways, both of them pretty obvious, but there’s something to appreciate about their deeper meaning. The majority of the storytelling is done through Prompto’s dialogue, but also through item collection of research logs, voice recordings and diaries. The game is pretty blatant about them, and doesn’t go out of its way to hide these things from you so you can get the story casually, unlike other epic adventures. cough, cough Looking at you, Tomb Raider.
The other way is simply through the environment. What Prompto sees and interacts with is just as stressful for you as it is him. His usual peppy and bright personality shines through quite a lot, but it also gets snuffed at points. I found myself laughing at his goofy ways and selfies during battles, but his horror was my horror, and while this does fall flat in some areas, the pain he’s experiencing is something I felt playing through. These details are in your face, but also have a lot of metaphors behind them that can’t be understood in a quick glance. It’s worth taking a step back from the action and chewing on the fat.
Though it’s very different from the main story, and not quite intuitive, the combat is top-notch and kept me on my toes the entire time, from the small-fry to the giant, fantastical beasts that Final Fantasy is known for. It does a phenomenal job of keeping things interesting and challenging, without being too overwhelming, and the pacing between battles and story allows just enough time to breathe before diving in again.
Both DLC chapters thus far has had just as many holes as the main story, which makes them feel rushed and underdeveloped. Gladio’s chapter lacked in the development of his relationship with his master Cor the Immortal and motivations behind pursing the trials; meanwhile the extra content tacked onto Prompto’s episode doesn’t have any sort of significance.
The neat aspect of this DLC is that it throws you out in the wilderness during the story and gives you other things to do besides the story, but these sidequests and options to beef up your snowmobile aren’t satisfying, and they don’t mean anything to the progression of what it’s trying to tell. I mean, I love me some badass monster slaying, but I only love it when I get something meaningful out of it. In the DLC, the battles you’re undertaking don’t do anything to strengthen your character in the main game or otherwise, and at the end it’s supposed to give you bonuses and gear, only half of those things actually appear when you return to Lucis. For me, the special moves the game supposedly unlocks didn’t appear for Gladio or Prompto. This is incredibly disappointing because they were so satisfying and spectacular to execute in battle.
Overall, this chapter would have been better off being a wholly linear experience, like Episode Gladiolus, because of the lack of meaning to the extraneous content. It was an extravagant idea that could have had so much potential, but the effort feels like it was only met halfway and leaves far too much to be desired. But it is worth it for the devoted fan because Prompto’s blindly optimistic character wasn’t truly developed in the main story. He’s just that dopey, slightly annoying guy with a handgun who sings the Final Fantasy victory tune when you’ve kicked some ass. But this chapter goes far deeper than that, and shows that even the sunniest of people can be fragile.
Final Fantasy XV: Episode Prompto was developed and published by Square-Enix. It is available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Aiden Strawhun is the Paste Games intern and gaming freelancer who somehow won an award once. On the off chance she isn’t drowning in words, she’s either stuck on Skyrim again or plotting to rule the world. Her work has also been seen on GameSpot, Extra Life and Naples Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AStraww.