Archives by Day

July 2018

World Of Final Fantasy

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2016


PS4 Review - 'World of Final Fantasy'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 27, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

World Of Final Fantasy combines classic RPG gameplay mechanics with fresh and imaginative toy-like visuals, where players will collect, raise and take into battle the monsters of Final Fantasy lore, drawing on a rich history of iconic creatures, from the charming to the ferocious.

Buy World of Final Fantasy

In World of Final Fantasy, siblings Lann and Reynn wake up in their small sleepy town to discover it completely devoid of life. They meet a woman named Enna Kros, who reveals that  they're in an artificial world outside time. They used to be heroes who could command the loyalty of monsters, known as Mirages. Now, the pair must return to Grymoire and reclaim their powers to save reality. Grymoire is world that's a mix of every Final Fantasy, where the heroes of old have been reincarnated into new forms. Lann and Reynn must recover their lost powers, awaken the legendary heroes, and stop the Bahamutian Empire from conquering reality.

What is going to make or break World of Final Fantasy is how well you accept lighthearted humor. World of Final Fantasy is about 90% jokes and 10% melodrama. All but the most serious of scenes has someone kidding around, making dumb puns, or ragging on one another. If this tone sounds fine, you'll probably adore the game. If it doesn't, you'll likely find it insufferably cute. The worst is Tama, the mascot sidekick who would be reasonable if she didn't have one of the most annoying vocal quirks.

The plot is rather basic, but this works in the game's favor since it prioritizes the lighthearted adventure over the melodrama. As with any Final Fantasy title, that melodrama does peek through from time to time. In particular, the game takes a hard left turn into almost-humorless JRPG town for the very last segments. If you've come to like the characters enough by that point, it will probably work for you, but someone who came in looking for Final Fantasy inside jokes might be taken off guard by the serious endgame.

On the surface, the battle system seems very familiar to old-school Final Fantasy vets. It's a turn-based ATB system, which means the turns are determined by a meter that fills in real time rather than set turns in a specific order. You only have two characters, so combat goes back and forth until one falls. All spells and special abilities cost AP instead of MP. Characters have a set amount of AP, and stronger spells take more AP, which regenerates as you attack, defend and take damage. This creates an interesting balancing act since powerful abilities cost more, but it's sometimes worthwhile to cast a string of weaker spells without any downtime. Hitting enemy weaknesses also refunds part of the AP you've spent.

World of Final Fantasy has a very distinct gameplay mechanic: stacking. Everything is divided into sizes: small, medium and large. Lann and Reynn can change from M-sized Lilikin to L-sized Jiants at will. This is relevant because rather than a traditional job system, World of Final Fantasy allows you to stack monsters onto your characters to give them new abilities and increased stats. Each must be a L-M-S stack, with at least one of the protagonists in the slot. These stacks serve a single character who shares the combined stats, skills and elemental resistances of the entire stack. In short, you're creating one powerful character out of three weaker ones. All monsters are assigned a size, so figuring out the right combination is key.

To build your stack, you need to recruit Mirages. Almost every monster in the game can be recruited. Some monsters become vulnerable when you do damage, some when you use certain elemental spells on them, and some when they're the last enemy in battle. Regardless, a Mirage who is vulnerable is surrounded by a white glow, which grows more intense. As soon as this aura appears, you can attempt to Imprism (sic) the monster. To do this, you must have a prism tuned to that monster, but you'll get a free prism for each monster, so you can collect at least one of each. However, mechanical monsters like Magitek Armor require a special purchasable item to capture. As with Pok√©mon, there's a random element to capturing a foe. If you don't reduce the enemy's HP, they'll likely break free.  

Mirages can use stacking against you. A stacked monster has the same strengths and weaknesses as your party. If you run into a stacked enemy group, you'll face pretty powerful opposition. More importantly, you must topple a stacked monster before you get the opportunity to capture it. This leads to some unusual gameplay elements where you may buff or heal your enemy so they live long enough to be Imprismed. It adds an extra layer to fights, as breaking a stack is sometimes the easiest way to win a battle, and many abilities cater to that.

Every Mirage has two types of transformations: transmogrifying and new mirage boards. Transmogrifying changes the monster's size and abilities, but it retains all of its levels. Some skills are shared between the various forms, while others are unique to that specific form. Special abilities or generic spells learned in one form can apply to all forms, so it's worthwhile to invest in all of a Mirage's forms, even if you don't intend to use them.

Every monster levels up on a mirage board, which is a "lite" version of the sphere grid from Final Fantasy X. Every time a monster gains a level, they gain 1 SP to spend on its mirage board to unlock new skills or forms. The boards are shared across all of a monster's forms, but when you unlock a new board for a monster, it lets you change them into a palette-swapped version. Like transmogrified monsters, these have different skills and abilities, but unlike transmogrifying, they are a blank slate but retain the same levels of SP to spend on new stats and skills.

If you've been using a Mirage for a while, you might grow attached to it only to discover that it's a liability in the next dungeon. If you unlock a mirage board, you can shift it to a new form that works better without any loss of power. Since swapping mirage boards is completely free, there's no punishment for adjusting your lineup. It's also important to finish a mirage board, since it unlocks special boons and skills that can't be obtained elsewhere.

If I had one major problem with the Mirage system, it is that capturing monsters is too finicky. You don't always have the tool you need to capture a monster, but the game is pretty good about giving you ways around this. For example, you can go to the Colosseum, where you can refight most enemies so you can recruit new monsters and find ones who escaped.

World of Final Fantasy isn't a particularly punishing game, but you can occasionally get in over your head. The average monster probably isn't going to threaten your party, but scattered through the game are hidden challenging enemies. Some are generic foes while others are hidden bosses, like Phoenix or Cerberus, which gives you a chance to recruit a high-powered Mirage. If you're not careful, high-level foes can wreck your day, but fortunately, the punishment for death is relatively minor. You're booted out of the dungeon and have to start over. There are a few times when it's a game over if you die, and there are a few nasty enemies who can make it tough.

All in all, World of Final Fantasy's combat is excellent. The Mirage system might sound weird on paper, but it all comes together perfectly when you're playing. The immense amount of customization, variety, and the constant influx of new skills and abilities keeps the game from getting dull. You'll probably settle on a few favorites, but diversifying your party and figuring out the best monster stacks offers you a lot of opportunities. It's not very hard but pushes you just enough to encourage you to change up your Mirages to deal with challenges. The worst thing I can say about the combat is that the basic battle speed is pretty slow; you can hold R1 to speed it up, but it's still annoying to hold down.

Of course, any good JRPG needs dungeons, but World of Final Fantasy is fairly middling in that regard. The dungeons are average, mostly linear, and have some basic puzzles. The encounter rate is a little high, which makes sense for a game about capturing monsters, but it can get tedious if you revisit a dungeon looking for hidden areas. You can find skills that reduce enemy encounter rates, but they're not available until later in the game. The worst part is that certain areas are gated by specific monster abilities. It's annoying to have to trudge back to a save point or use a somewhat expensive item to change your team. There's usually a monster in the area who fills the need instantly, but if you've already captured them, you're out of luck. It's a minor flaw that I encountered perhaps three times in the entire game, though.

However, World of Final Fantasy can feel thin in some spots. Special skills almost vanish entirely in the second half, and many are barely used. The last 15% of the game feels like the developers ran out of steam. Rather than continuing to find new dungeons and new areas, you're relegated to viewing a series of cut scenes that are interspersed with boss fights. They're some of the best boss fights, but once you finish the final dungeon, there's still a good chunk of the game to go with minimal new content. Without the extra material, there's a good 35-40 hours of adventure in World of Final Fantasy. You can do side-quests do, including special Intervention quests that let you see more interaction with the Final Fantasy cameo characters. There's just a lot of material that feels like the development team had more ideas than time.

Visually, World of Final Fantasy is a mixed bag. It feels a little small and relatively low-budget at times. The character models are bright and expressive and do a good job, but it's obviously not the top of the line when it comes to the graphics. There are so many nostalgic touches that it's easy to overlook some average visuals. In particular, I was very fond of a near-picture-perfect re-creation of the Mako Reactor dungeon from Final Fantasy 7. The combat animations veer from simple to stylish, and it's tough to tell which you'll see.

One area where the game falls flat is in its animated cut scenes. They're clearly cheap and low-budget and leave a few dramatic action scenes feeling underwhelming. The loading times are a bit excessive in places. The voice acting is mostly excellent. Lann and Reynn both do a fantastic job, and Lann's actor nails some lines. The rest of the cast does a lot of excellent voice work. The soundtrack is solid, with a mix of brand-new songs and remixes of older Final Fantasy tunes.

World of Final Fantasy is a solid, enjoyable and nostalgic trip through the history of the franchise. It's cheesy, cheery and a lot of fun to play. The solid combat system and enjoyable humor carry the game through some noticeable bumps in the road. A few half-baked mechanics and a somewhat unnecessary turn toward the serious dull some of the game's shine, but the issues aren't enough to take away from the enjoyment. Fans of the franchise should find a lot to like in this well-made JRPG.

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about World Of Final Fantasy
blog comments powered by Disqus