When loading the demo you are greeted with a fantastic display of CG. Always a bit where SE provide a master class and this is no exception.
I'm not going to go into story specifics to avoid spoilers for myself and you readers. After the intro you are given an in-depth tutorial on the new battle systems. Personally I'm really enjoying it, it's along the lines of the systems used in Tales of games. You have a meter which lowers when you perform a move & builds back up over time, you need to judge and anticipate to get the best out it.
Complimenting that the new costume system is fantastic. Works along the lines of the Dress Sphere system in FF X-2, this means that different costumes grant you a different set of abilities. It's a fantastic fusion of X-2 and the Paradigm system.
This also changes your defence, some costumes guard, others dodge and some even have counterattack abilities, it's down to you to figure out what works best for you. Staggering also returns and largely works in the same way. Only major difference is rather than a bar it's shown as a Pulse of electric (or lightning!) through the enemies name. To help speed it along attack weaknesses and attack when it's vulnerable to help dispose of your foe and hit the 5 star mark.
The setting looks like a fantastic mix of fantasy and futuristic, a heavily populated city awaits you to explore every inch. Lightning' character model is very impressive and possibly her best looking yet! Snow also makes an appearance and also looks improved upon from XIII-2.
The demo & full game uses the internet through a feature called Outerworld. This basically allows you to upload pictures to Twitter/Facebook for bragging rights. You can also use it to leave people messages and items in games ala Dark Souls/Demon. These show up through various NPCs in the game. Honestly I didn't use this feature much as I was more focused on the battle system and general gameplay feel. As I'll be reviewing the full game at a later date I'll have a better grasp of that system then.
Overall I really enjoyed my time with Lightning Returns and will be returning to the demo a few more times before the release of the full game. As someone who didn't enjoy XIII but loves XIII-2 I'm quite excited to see just where this lands but I have a feeling from this demo it could be the best of the XIII Trilogy