Lost Odyssey - first hands-on

Later in the demo, after defeating the crane and witnessing an apocalyptic (and unexplained) scene in which fire fell from the sky, leaving the battlefield charred and mostly lifeless, Kaim sets off for the mountains. Out in the countryside, there are crates containing treasures - a tribute to RPG traditions we could actually do without - which can be broken into with a swipe of Kaim's sword.

There are also random battles. When these occur, the screen fills up with purple gas and then cuts to a Final Fantasy-esque battle screen. We fought against a number of creatures in the hills, including something that looked like a toad-crocodile crossbreed and an oversized dragonfly. Battle menus are easy to navigate, and all the staples of turn-based RPG battles are in place: attacks can 'miss', potions can heal and resurrect, and it's possible to 'flee' the scene if you're in a really bad way.

Eventually, some soldiers living in the mountains offered Kaim a ride and we came to a city - the capital city of Lost Odyssey's world, in fact, which reminded us a bit of Final Fantasy VII's shimmering, metallic metropolises. After speaking with a few key characters, we boarded an airship and set off for... Sakaguchi knows where. Demo over. Anticipation high.

Alas, we'll have to wait until sometime next year for the chance to see a finished version of Lost Odyssey. And we have to say we're not yet sure what we think of the fact that nearly every piece of it feels like Final Fantasy - it's tough to complain about a game knocking off that series, especially when it's created by some of the same brilliant minds.