"With XIII the main concept was for it to be story-driven," explained director Motomu Toriyma. "As opposed to that, with XIII-2 the concept is player-driven. So with every single aspect of the game the player has to have some kind of access or they've got to be able to interact with the game in some way or another.
"When it comes to cut-scenes, cinematic action allows each player to take part in the decisions or create different ways [of playing the game] depending on what you want to do."
The combat system - the original's undisputed shining light - survives relatively intact, with the punchy Paradigm Shift and Staggering systems every bit as nuanced as they were first time around. However, Square has made a small handful of significant tweaks.
Though it refused to explain exactly how it will work, you'll be able to call on any creatures you've defeated in combat as a third party member. Your selected monster charges up a Feral Link power bar as a scrap plays out, which when maxed out triggers another quick QTE that, if completed, unleashes a brutal combo attack.
The Mog Clock adds an additional layer of depth too. When a potential encounter appears on screen a clock will start to run down. If you swipe at your foe while the dial is green you'll pick up bonuses when the fight proper kicks off. Strike while it's yellow however, and you'll go into combat cold.
New "Cinematic Action" sequences will break up boss fights by offering a pretty if unambitious QTE cutaway that gives you a chance to inflict massive damage on your foe by successfully matching the on-screen prompts.
The refinements on display, along with a few other noteworthy additions, such as the inclusion of a jump button, new puzzle interludes and a redesigned game map, all add up to a considered, appealing revision of the formula laid down by XIII.
Whether it will be enough to right the series' recent wrongs remains to be seen, but at the very least it should deserve a second look from those left cold by its predecessor's populist, linear twist on the franchise's decades-old formula. Toriyama for one certainly believes the brand is back on track.
"The core message we have about making XIII-2 is this game should be able to appeal and be enjoyed by those who bought XIII and enjoyed it, those who didn't buy the game and those who bought the game and gave it up because it wasn't good enough for them. It should have universal appeal to all Final Fantasy players.
"We're poised to make a really dramatic comeback with Final Fantasy XIII-2," he adds, confidently.