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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 designed for multiple playthroughs

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 is the subject of a lengthy interview in this week's Famitsu, detailing the RPG's time focus, replay, and more, and more.

According to interview, as harvested by Andriasang, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 is supposed to be played through multiple times. Unlike most games in the sprawling RPG franchise, you ought to be able to complete a playthrough comfortably in something less than thirteen hours, the story's time limit.

Interestingly, Square Enix is only planning on one ending - a happy one, despite it being the last appearance of popular protagonist Lightning - so it's not quite clear why the player would repeat the game. That said, the developer keeps talking about how the game is "world driven", with player action shaping the environment, which raises some interesting possibilities.

The world will be full of clocks, apparently, constantly reminding us to leg it. One day in the game's world works out to about one to two hours of real world time, but there will be "increases and decreases" in time. Player action can end the game early, too; sometimes doing good deeds will shorten the time limit; sometimes killing monsters and completing quests will lengthen it.

On the story side, the ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2 hasn't killed off the world's population; instead, people have stopped ageing and don't get old. Presumably this has something to do with the time-travel plot of the previous game and the apocalypse time limit of this one. Hope will be an important part of the plot, feeding information via wireless communication. Of the four islands in Novus, two are cities and two are more undeveloped.

In battle, the player will control Lightning alone, so as to be able to concentrate fully. She has become "a considerably more refined person", whatever that means, moving freely around the battlefield. Although it's not an action game and uses an ATB gauge, some elements of battle will be timing based, and actions will be triggered by button press rather than selected from menus.

Development is currently estimated at 30% complete; Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 is expected on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013. It was announced at a 25th anniversary event, and the first art has been released.

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