World of Final Fantasy Review

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Game Title: World of Final Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 2.7 GB (Extra Usage required for Voice DLC)
NA Availability: Retail | Digital Download
EU Availability: Retail | Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

Fans of Final Fantasy have been waiting a long time for Square Enix to finally make another classic turn-based game in its famed franchise. Most of the latest releases that aren’t remakes of past games have not been turn-based in the slighted. Final Fantasy Explorers for the 3DS was an Action RPG in the vein of Monster Hunter and Bravely Default, while turn-based, can’t really be considered a part of the Final Fantasy series.

Last week, that all changed. A melding between Final Fantasy and what seemed to be Pokemon, Square Enix brought a new turn-based game in the franchise to the PS4 and PS Vita. Here is my review of World of Final Fantasy!

Story

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The story revolves around two siblings, Reynn and Lann. They wake up to a seemingly empty world with no memory of their past. In a chance encounter, they’re told that they were once Mirage Keepers, people who can tame and command monsters from a strange world known as Grymoire. For reasons unknown, they lost all of their Mirages and their memories, taken to a different world. They then set foot back into Grymoire to recapture their Mirage companions and find out who they really are.

The plot of World of FF is both a giant love letter to Final Fantasy and a story both serious and fun. You will constantly be running into characters from Final Fantasy games, like Warrior of Light from the original all the way to Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. And while the game does have a very serious inner-tone and lesson, the dialogue keeps things fun with sarcasm thrown in from Reynn and Lann, making it fun not only in the dialogue but how the FF characters react to this way of speaking.

Gameplay

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World of Final Fantasy is a turn-based RPG with monster catching and taming elements thrown in pretty heavily. As you travel from town to town, you’re going to be fighting a lot of monsters as well as recruiting and incorporating them into your battle party to help you fight your future battles for you.

Main progression is like you’d expect from a console Final Fantasy game. The story pushes you forward as you explore each area, discover new towns and dungeons, and proceed towards a story boss to complete that story arc and move onto a new area of the World Map. You also have a hub world you can always go back to, if need be, that houses certain services, like Side Quests, a Shop, and others that unlock later in the game.

The biggest bulk of the game, though, will be fighting and monster catching. In a normal FF game, you would have your party of characters and fight monsters. In this game, you catch monsters and those monsters then become said characters that fight alongside you. Catching monsters is dependent on conditions. When in battle, you must do a certain task for each monster to make them available for catching, be it reducing their HP or inflicting a specific status ailment. Finding what this requirement entails is as simple as using one turn to cast Libra on the monster.

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Once they’re ready to be captured, you launch a prism, using a battle command. They are then encased in a sphere which goes through 3 blinking phases, where the monster has a chance to break free and escape. If the entire sequence goes by without issue, they’re caught and yours to control. If they break out, keep trying until they’re caught. Sounds easy, but some are tricky and will flee after the first attempt, so not everything will be as simple as their description says.

Once they’re caught, you can incorporate them into your Stacks. This is also new. Your battle party consists of two stacks. Party Monsters come in 3 sizes. Small, Medium, Large. Each stack must be comprised of a Large on the bottom, Medium on top of the Large, and Small on top of the Medium. Reynn and Lann can move between small chibi forms and normal-sized forms to be either the Medium or Large part of the stack. The other two slots are for monsters you’ve caught.

This feature is much deeper once you get into battle, itself. If you’re stacked, then all 3 characters’ stats will be combined and with certain stacked monsters come special unlockable abilities only available when stacked. There’s also a topple effect where if you take so much damage from attacks that affect stack stability, you can fall over and have to restack on your next turn. You can also do this to your enemies, so it’s important to always keep an eye on that.

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Now, let’s talk about how battle works. You have classic turn-based battles, but instead of MP for skills, you have AP. You gain AP every turn, and every action you take uses a certain amount of AP. Let’s say you have 10 AP. You could use all of that to use a powerful spell, but then you’d have 0 left and your next turn will have limited options. You could, instead, use a weaker ability or support skill and then have more AP for your next turn. This is all about strategy, especially in boss fights.

Once you win a battle, you gain EXP for all characters involved in combat as well as all other Mirages/Monsters you have with you. When you level up, your stats increase, and Mirages gain SP (Skill Points). You can then go to their Mirage Board to learn skills in a manner similar to Final Fantasy X’s skill boards. These can be as simple as stat increases to opening slots that lets you use items to teach the Mirage any ability you want.

Mirage Boards are key to evolutions. Just like in Pokemon and Digimon, Mirages/Monsters have evolutions. Sylph can evolve into Siren. Tonberry can evolve into Tonberry King. The more you have access to, the more evolutions you can get into for more powerful forms and skills. Though, when evolving, it’s important to note that different evolutions have different sizes, so If you use Sylph for your Small spot in a stack, once she turns into Siren, she then has to use up a Large spot instead.

Evolving is more than just for efficiency, though. One of my favorite features of the game is called Joyride. Some Large-class monsters like Behemoth or even the Chocobo can learn this skill, which lets you ride them around in dungeons. There isn’t any real change in dungeon exploration, but plowing through a dungeon on a behemoth is just fun.

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As you may guess, this is all comes together with the fact that there’s a lot of depth here. Even further than that is the Hero Gauge that allows you to use medals to summon legendary Final Fantasy characters, like Terra Branford from Final Fantasy VI or the Day One DLC-exclusive Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII. There’s a lot to the systems in this game.

Two final things: Difficulty and Length. It’s no question that there are a lot of reviews for the game out at this point, and most of them were written before the writer completed the game. This led to many saying that World of Final Fantasy is an easy game. Many parts of the campaign are pretty easy to figure out, but the further you go, the harder it gets.

If you aren’t fully prepared, battle strategy and all, you will not make it through many fights later on in the game. Many bosses require very specific strategies I would never know had I not bought the strategy guide for the game. So, if you’re worried about the game being too easy, don’t be. There’s a lot of challenge here, even before you get to the post-game dungeons.

And length. Length is one of the most confusing parts of this game. Square Enix said it was 100 hours of story content. IGN said it was 60 hours. Some other websites said it was 30 and under. When I finally reached and beat the final boss, I had logged around 43 hours in the game. So, anyone wanting to know how long it is, I would say 40-45 hours is a good estimate. Not the 60-100 hours we thought, but still quite lengthy.

Controls

First of all, World of FF is not compatible with the PlayStation TV and it probably never will be. Square Enix explicitly stated they weren’t supporting the PSTV. Does the game use anything the PSTV can’t do? No. There are no touch controls, motion controls, or camera controls. The game would not be hard at all to play on the PSTV. But, they still decided not to enable the feature.

As far as controls go, the Left Analog Stick moves your characters and Right Analog Stick will move the camera to take a look around dungeons. D-Pad is used for menus while the L and R triggers are used for switching menus in battle. X is used to confirm commands while Square can be used in the field for map features. Triangle pulls up the menu, and Circle can cancel commands.

Presentation

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Now, presentation. Let’s start with graphics. I, among others, was disappointed in the graphics in this game’s demo, and in the game itself. Environments look nice, and so do some monster renders, but a lot of the visuals are very jaggy and more like PSP graphics. For some developers, this can be tolerated. For Square Enix, a company known for making games look and run great on handhelds (FFX HD and Dragon Quest Builders for example), this is just disappointing. While the chibis do look much nicer than the normal sized renders, Square Enix could have done much better.

Let’s talk about music now. The game has some great remixes of classic Final Fantasy songs packed in here. From Castle Cornelia and Battle Scene from Final Fantasy I to The Decisive Battle and Dancing Mad from Final Fantasy VI, series fans are sure to get giddy the first time they see their favorite FF character show up with a new remixed theme song.

My first thought on the previously-mentioned degraded presentation would be for it to sacrifice graphics for performance, but that didn’t happen either. Load Times are bearable, but there are a lot of frame drops as you’re exploring dungeons and fighting battles. These are manageable in dungeons because the moment you switch from 3-4 characters running around to 1 character riding a monster, the frame rate drastically improves.

In battle, not so much. It is turn-based, so the frame rate won’t really cause you efficiency problems, but the fact that it lags quite a bit in battle is bothersome to many

Summary

World of Final Fantasy is an addictive cross between classic FF and Pokemon. The Vita version suffers from some graphical and performance mishaps from Square not spending enough time on it, but with the amount of classic gameplay and characters that are involved here, FF handheld fans can’t afford to turn this game down.

8/10

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