Published on February 27th, 2017 | by Paul Graham0
World of Final Fantasy Review
Summary: Something that every Final Fantasy fan should get around to playing but maybe wait for a sale.
On December 18, 2017, Final Fantasy will have officially have been around for 30 years. What started as a last ditch effort by developer Square to land a hit on the Nintendo Famicom before possibly going bankrupt has now turned into a global phenomenon and staple of the video game industry. Over the past 30 years over 30+ games with the Final Fantasy moniker on it have been released and that does not even include the numerous remakes and releases the series has spawned either.
Since Sakaguchi (the father of Final Fantasy) left in the early 2000’s and Squaresoft merged with Enix the series has been meet with generally mixed reactions. While Final Fantasy X-2, XI, XII were meet with positive reception at launch, they are generally not at the top of many gamer’s list of Final Fantasy titles. Furthermore, Final Fantasy XIII was a polarizing game and was heavily critiqued for being a narrow hallway-crawl RPG. Despite this, two sequels were made to this entry in the series with each selling progressively worse. Final Fantasy XIV was not met well upon release either with many people saying it was plain broken and it took a re–release of that game to turn people’s opinion on the game around. That said, with the release of Final Fantasy VX it seems like the series is on the up and up again. The release of this high profile title may have overshadowed another entry in the Final Fantasy series, World of Final Fantasy however which saw a dual release on the PS4 and the Vita. While Final Fantasy XV might have revitalized the franchise, World of Final Fantasy is an experience jam packed with nostalgia, fan service, and even some humor at almost every turn.
Story wise, World of Final Fantasy, is nothing special on the surface. It starts off with a pair of twins, Lann and Reynn waking up from a dream like trance in a deserted city. They are told by an omnipotent being that they are Mirage Keepers and in order to discover their past they must go out into the world of Grimoire to catch monsters, spirits, and summons called Mirages. They then go on a magical journey, with a Mirage called Tama, to recover their lost memories and to fulfill a mysterious prophecy while protecting the residents of Grimoire (Lilikins) against the dark Bahamutian Federation.
In terms of RPG plots it is as generic as it gets. Amnesiac Protagonist(s), check. Quest to Save the World, check. Annoying side character, check. As the story progresses however, the game steers away from many of these tropes and develops an interesting narrative that tackles matters like responsibility, alcoholism and even touches on genocide.
At the end of the day what really drives this game is its characters, both new and old. Most of the story will be spent with four main characters: Lann, Reynn Tama, and a sarcastic, awesome fairy by the name of Serafie. Their dialogue will be the main force pushing you through some of the slower moments in the game as the story does not kick into high gear until the third act of the story. Along their journey they will encounter numerous Final Fantasy characters ranging from popular character like Cloud & Leon to lesser known characters like Chocolatte (from FF XIII-2) and Shelke (from FFVII-Dirge of Cerberus). Each Final Fantasy character is handled really well and compliment the main cast, with the vocal talent they brought on to do each character fitting spectacularly well. In particular, Vivi’s voice actor, who is played by Kath Soucie (the voice of Phil and Lil from Rugrats), nails the character in such a way Kingdom Hearts II did not.
While the game itself is a celebration of all things Final Fantasy, certain iterations of the series definitely have more of a presence in the game. For example, Final Fantasy VI contributes four characters whereas other entries in the series only have one character represented. Additionally, there are certain Final Fantasy titles that have no representation what so ever in the game like Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy XII. While these may not be the most popular entries in the series I feel like if they can include a character from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Echoes of Time they could have at least included someone from either of those two main series entries.
The gameplay associated with World of Final Fantasy is a callback to earlier Final Fantasy games with Active Time Battles or Classic turn based combat available. They try to shoehorn in a new system where each button is associated with a certain action (attack, magic, etc.) but I found myself ditching that system early on in favor of the classical style of Final Fantasy where you choose your move from a list of options in a text box. One of the biggest features of the game is the ability to speed up combat and narrative sections if you’ve already heard them before. It makes the game much more user friendly and makes the tedious grinding a bit easier to stomach, especially when you do not want to wait for an entire Magic Move or Special ability.
Another key feature of the game’s combat system is the collection of mirages and using said Mirages to build a stack with your main character. Each Mirage is assigned a size and each stack can fit a small, medium, and large character/mirage. This makes for hundreds if not thousands of different combination you can assemble to make your way through Grimoire. In many ways this system is similar to Pokemon with your stacks using prism cases to catch Mirages. However unlike Pokemon each Mirage has a certain type of move/status effect that needs to be inflected in order to catch them. For example, you might have to cast oblivion on a certain monster before you are able to add them to your team. It makes things more interesting and gives you an incentive to use Libra (a spell that gives you a description, the stats, and the weaknesses of an enemy). You then can level up said Mirages on a grid based level system similar to Final Fantasy X’s. And you can even transfigure them into different creatures who have different sizes and abilities.
The plethora of options is daunting but always gives you a goal to work towards. One of my complaints however is the lack of customization from Lann and Reynn themselves. They do not have a similar grid based level up system and you cannot even buy weapons or armor to increase their attack/defense power. It makes the towns feel pretty empty aside from the side quests you can amass from talking to people in each town. Another is that with each stack you are recommended to have a small mirage. The problem is as you transfigure mirages they get bigger. Meaning your stock of small mirages is always declining leading you to use the same small mirages throughout the entire game while you can change it up with medium and large mirages on the fly. While that may not seem like a big problem, one of the funnest parts about this game is the variety of mirages you can capture. This limits the combinations of monsters you can compile and because of this it is a bit of a disappointment.
Without a doubt though, one of the main selling points for World of Final Fantasy is the art style. While a lot of games these days try increasingly to look more and more realistic, World of Final Fantasy ignores that trend and fully embraces a cell-shaded art style. The lilkins (chibi characters) and the mirages present in the game come off as both adorable and beautiful. On top of that the giant characters (Lann, Reynn, and some of the antagonists) do not feel at all out of place with the cartoony chibi characters present throughout this game. It gives me hope that future Square Enix games like Kingdom Hearts III, can incorporate Disney characters alongside Final Fantasy characters with each not taking anything away from the other in the graphics department. While this art style may not be for everybody I think it is something that will age very well with time, not unlike The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
While I primarily played on the PS4 during my time with the game the differences between the Vita version and the PS4 version were minimal. As should be expected the graphics are a bit crisper and more fluid on the PS4, but that does not mean that the Vita version suffers in the visual department. Also, unsurprisingly, loading times on the PS4 seem to be better across the board as well. Similar to the graphics however, the difference in loading times is minimal. World of Final Fantasy incorporates a cross save feature however like many cross save games it requires both versions of the game. So if you own both a PS4 and a Vita I would actually recommend going with the Vita version of the game. Not only does this add to the Vita’s slim line up but some of the mechanics associated with classic JRPGs (like grinding) work better on a portable as it allows you to multitask a bit easier. The only downside to this is that you might miss some of the dialog uttered when traversing the world of Grimoire, which is one of the best parts of the game in my opinion.
World of Final Fantasy is a good game. I personally spent 80+ hours trying to platinum this game and enjoyed about 80-90% of that time. There are frustrating moments to be sure but, the charm and style present within the game is something that I think every Final Fantasy fan should experience. Is it something that I would recommend a person pay $60 for? Short answer is no but god knows you certainly get your money’s worth for a very unique game and a must have for every fan of Final Fantasy.