(Tokyo) The latest episode of the iconic Japanese video game series Final Fantasy was released on Thursday, a moment eagerly awaited by fans of its slick graphics and intricate storylines, and which could boost PlayStation 5 sales.

Final Fantasy XVI, the latest installment of one of the most famous video game franchises with more than 173 million copies sold in total according to its publisher Square Enix, is available only on the Sony console.

In Tokyo, Naoto Nishimori, 37, made a detour before going to work to get his hands on the new episode, explaining that he had played all the titles of the series.

He says he was delighted when producer Naoki Yoshida – also renowned for bringing Final Fantasy XIV back to life – was selected to work on this new episode introducing a darker and more adult atmosphere, inspired by the Game of Thrones series. which Mr. Yoshida said he made his team watch.

Yuan, a 21-year-old college student who declined to give his last name, says he was drawn to the game’s story, whose dark atmosphere makes it “particularly appealing”.

South Korean fans also turned out for the release. In Seoul, 23-year-old Jo Young-min says he expects the game to be a hit because “Japanese culture is very popular, and also because Final Fantasy already has an ardent fan base.”

The series, which was born in 1987, is an institution of the Japanese RPG (role-playing game), now counting 16 numbered main episodes, but also dozens of other titles in various genres (combat, racing, rhythm…).

It was initially launched on Nintendo’s first console, but its developers migrated ten years later to the PlayStation, whose CD medium offered greater storage capacity than Nintendo’s cartridges, allowing the franchise to attract a new audience.

Final Fantasy games are renowned for their constant renewal, evolving over the decades from turn-based 2D combat to real-time confrontations.

Mr. Otani, a 36-year-old Japanese civil servant who only wanted to give his last name, says he took the day off so he could play Final Fantasy XVI.

“The graphics are beautiful, the story is moving, so I waited in line to buy it the day it came out,” he adds.

In Europe, where Final Fantasy is also considered a “legendary license”, the adventure offered by the latest opus “is both grandiose, but also imperfect in certain aspects”, according to French YouTuber Julien Chièze.

This video game specialist, who tested the game, cites in particular “uneven” graphics on the faces of the characters or even a “rhythm problem” which will “chop up the gameplay (game mechanics, editor’s note)”, due to including eleven hours of cinematic scenes.

Daniel Ahmad, of the analyst firm Niko Partners, told AFP that the release of this new episode, the demo of which received a positive reception, combined with a better availability of the PS5 on the shelves, could help boost sales of Sony consoles.

The Japanese giant’s console was released in November 2020, but its production has suffered from semiconductor shortages and supply chain disruptions related to COVID-19.