Back in March, Noctis’ comrade Gladiolus got his time to shine thanks to a bonus episode following a solo adventure. This time around, it’s Noct’s best buddy Prompto who gets his turn in the spotlight.
Episode Prompto seeks to flesh out the character, giving details on his backstory that you first learn about in a twist near the tail end of XV. It’s hard to talk about the story of the game without spoilers, but the gist is that Prompto, now separated from the group, ends up on a journey of self-discovery and encounters a familiar friend along the way. The overall theme of the DLC is best summed up by Prompto himself: “I can’t choose where I came from, but I can choose where I’m going.”
It’s a strong message that greatly ties in with Prompto’s overall character. He has always been someone who’s doubted whether he truly fits in with his friends and if he’s worthy of them. Noctis’ voice actor, Ray Chase, said it best in our interview when he described the character as suffering from imposter syndrome, noting that it was something a lot of young people can relate to. In truth, I did find that Prompto was the character who felt the most human in the game, if only because I think it’s so easy for anyone see themselves in him.
There’s more to the character than just his quips, passion for photography, and skills as a marksman. Prompto is almost constantly struggling with his identity throughout XV, and it’s great that this DLC wants to explore his backstory and give him room to develop. The problem with this episode isn’t the concept of the script, but rather its execution.
Episode Prompto suffers from awful pacing issues. We’re expected to believe that Prompto cares deeply about the life of someone he’s known for one minute, wallowing in sadness over what happens to the character, only for him to shrug it off after a quick cutscene. In the second act of the episode, he’s deeply conflicted as to whether or not he should rejoin the party; after being told to literally reconnect with his inner child, his conflict is once again resolved instantly in a short cutscene. The episode doesn’t need to drag out these plot threads throughout the entirety of its length, but everything is wrapped up with a neat little bow far too quickly for me to try and connect with Prompto’s storyline.
Prompto’s status as a sharpshooter is reflected with the new gameplay addition of third-person gun combat. It works surprisingly well, like your standard third-person shooter. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s nice to see that even the combat in the episode is unique to the character. Prompto can also silently sneak up on enemies and stealth kill them with flashy finishing moves. The episode also offers side quests and the ability to upgrade your snowmobile, should you choose to seek out the needed parts.
The DLC is fun from a gameplay perspective, but narratively, it’s a huge letdown. The script is too melodramatic, with all of Prompto’s inner turmoil feeling too cheesy. It’s in the moments between Prompto and his companion that real emotion is shown, and I wish that the rest of the script had been more nuanced like these scenes. If you’re a fan of the character, then Episode Prompto is worth checking out; if you could take him or leave him, however, then this is DLC you should feel free to skip.