Typically, when we think of Final Fantasy dungeons, we think of monster-filled labyrinths that test your ability to prepare your party for difficult encounters. There have been many that have had some sort of gimmick, such as FFIV’s Magnetic Cavern, or FFVIII’s Tomb of the Unknown King. Final Fantasy XV is no exception, but one dungeon stands out from the rest: Pitioss Ruins.
It’s such a weird fit in the game. Unlike the other dungeons, this one features no combat and relies entirely on puzzle and platforming mechanics. You won’t be able to access it until you get flight capability for the Regalia after clearing the game, and then you’ve got to land it on a tiny strip of road in a far corner of the map (which, well, takes some real trial and error.)
My first time through took me nearly four hours, which left me rather bewildered that the game didn’t guide you here by way of any story or gameplay hints save for a few suspect harvesting nodes. Yet, here it is to be happened upon, which is kind of a weird and wonderful thing, given big budget games in FFXV’s class often lead you by the hand to every extractable ounce of content.
In the video below, you can see my return attempt that I’ve trimmed down considerably, though it posed no little challenge:
To me, it represents a lot of the weirdness of FFXV, in that, despite its laborious efforts to be a shade of its perceived contemporaries, there are attempts at some unique things that endear you to it. Sometimes it works, like Prompto’s photography of your journey; sometimes it doesn’t, like the infamous Chapter 13. I’m glad for the attempts.
Of course, not everyone likes Pitioss Ruins — I’m well aware. I’ve seen the gambit of reaction in my social media feeds and elsewhere. It’s not really unjustified, being that, the way Noctis moves isn’t really platformer-friendly, and the absence of combat or ultimate treasure might deter some. Completing the dungeon isn’t required for a Platinum trophy (and Xbox equivalent) either. Despite all that, I still think its brilliant.
I’m also a fan of the old Tomb Raider games — the ones on the original PlayStation by Core Design and published by Eidos. Despite its outward appearance, the games are less of a gun-toting slaughter-fest (the combat’s quite limp, even by the times,) but pretty good puzzle/platformers. Missing a jump by a hair in these games often means plummeting to a grisly death — sending you back to your last save. Mind, these games had tank controls, which — in current times — are generally viewed as an undesirable artifact from a bygone era. The setting and presentation also lent an unnerving experience much different than your average Mario.
So, in the video above, you can see me jumping from tiny wire to tiny wire in near pitch black visibility, dimly lit by Noctis’s flashlight. What I’ve always loved about these kind of games isn’t so much a need to finish within a time limit, but inching around desperately trying to find your next move, and the payoff when you figure it out. One tiny nudge revealing the next jump, one swing of the camera revealing the way through. While I make it look considerably easier in my second attempt, my first time through had no shortage of missed jumps and fumbling through the dark. It gets even more hectic when the dungeon begins to play with your perspective, making it easy to misjudge which way is up as you traverse over moving parts. It’s the first time in ages, since those old Tomb Raider games, that I’ve felt such a sense of vertigo… in a good way.
If you do manage to make your way through its entirety, you’ll be rewarded with a Black Cowl, which will let Noctis automatically dodge attacks. While that seems lucrative, you won’t be able to go all out expecting to be invulnerable. Also, by the time you obtain it in your travels, its usefulness is likely next to nil. You should probably be adept at dodging things by that point anyway.
Yeah, it’s not perfect — I’ll mention once again that Noctis’ movement isn’t particularly built for this kind of thing. You can even skip 90% of it with a tiny exploit — but I felt like it added something to FFXV’s world that was genuinely worth exploring. The team will likely have DLC roll out over the course of 2017, and I’ll personally looking forward to see if there will be more experiments like Pitioss.