Final Fantasy XV is a fun and emotional ride that finds the game’s protagonist, Prince Noctis, hitting the road with his pals to attend his wedding not by his own will, but the order of his father. Noctis is to wed Lady Lunafreya to bring two kingdoms together and end the threat of war.

The camaraderie between Noctis and his friends is beautifully told, as is the turmoil plaguing the kingdom. Political jargon is kept to a minimum, and the focus is placed on developing the characters. Prompto is a photographer, and he snaps as many photos as he can throughout the trip. Ignis loves, loves, loves food. Whenever he sees someone eating a new dish, or discovers an ingredient, he has a “eureka” moment, and jots down a recipe.

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The group’s car, the Regalia, is as much a character as they are. Although most of the game takes place on roads, the car cannot be controlled in a traditional way. The top speed is roughly 50 mph and its basic movements, like turning or changing lanes, are predetermined. It feels like it’s on rails — you’re more of an observer than a driver.

Combat, though, is nicely crafted, offering a wide variety of team-based strategies on top of the need to be swift and skillful. Noctis’ weapons are greatly varied in functionality and power, but the best (and flashiest) attacks are the link strikes that Noctis coordinates with his friends.

The battles are mostly about weapon play. Magic is relegated to the role of expendable items rather than skills, meaning you won’t use them much since they are low in supply, but they do pack a satisfying punch (and will even hit your characters if you aren’t careful).

Final Fantasy XV succeeds and struggles in finding its unique stance, but a few problematic designs don’t hold it back from being a hell of a journey.