New dungeon crawler from Final Fantasy vets hopes you like grids

On Friday, Square Enix revealed Dungeon Encounters, a new dungeon crawler led by Final Fantasy veteran Hiroyuki Ito, the director of Final Fantasy 6, Final Fantasy 9, and Final Fantasy 12, and the creator of the franchise’s classic Active Time Battle system. To describe Ito’s new game as minimalist might be underselling it; players appear to walk through grid-based labyrinths, are rewarded for mapping them out, and occasionally fall into menu-based battles against monsters. Dungeon Encounters’ first trailer is perplexing and perhaps a bit distressing for fans of Ito’s past work — but I remain hopeful.

In addition to Ito, Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age producer Hiroaki Kato — who also worked on Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together and two Final Fantasy Tactics games for Square Enix — is also working on the game. Musical director Nobuo Uematsu is “overseeing” the soundtrack, and Dungeon Encounters features character art from designer Ryoma Ito, whose talents are on display here.

Image: Square Enix

While it appears we’ll see many of the game’s characters in 2D static artwork form, there is a big fat cat named Sir Cat and a dachshund with a sword in its mouth named Jufren, and I already want to spend time with them.

Beyond that, Square Enix promises “100 levels of thought-provoking challenges,” so I’m approaching Dungeon Encounters from the angle of “this looks like a good puzzle game, not something with an actual budget” and hoping for the best.

Dungeon Encounters will be available digitally for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC via Steam on Oct. 14. The game will cost $29.99, but is currently discounted to $23.99 for pre-orders.

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