I must have been out of the loop when Square Enix announced World of Final Fantasy, because I hadn’t heard of it up until I was asked to review it by my Editor-In-Chief. I’ve played practically every Final Fantasy game released, and am highly anticipating the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, so I figured “why not?” Much to my surprise, World of Final Fantasy turned out to be a fun, charming, and wonderfully paced RPG that eases players into their systems as well as tells a fun story with a lot of well known characters from some of my favorite games.
World of Final Fantasy stars Lann and Reynn, twins who are coffee shop workers who one day find themselves in a world not their own. Come to find out, they are actually Mirage Keepers who have been living in an alternate dimension for some time, and have had most of their memories erased. Now they travel to the world of Grymoire to find out who they are exactly and hopefully stop the evil Bahamut Army that has taken over many parts of the world.
Platfroms: PS4, Vita
MSRP: $59.99 PS4/$39.99 Vita
Price I’d Pay: $59.99 PS4/$39.99 Vita
World of Final Fantasy is broken down into four main aspects – fighting, character progression, capturing mirages, and environmental puzzles/travelling.
The battle system is a traditional Final Fantasy system. Utilizing the Active Time Battle system from previous games, party members as well as enemies will take their turns in battle based on their agility, which is represented by character portraits that move up a line on the side of the screen. When ready, players will run through either a simple menu or a “classic” menu to choose what to do during their turn. For more advanced actions, players will have to use the classic menu which makes the quick menu a bit arbitrary, unless I want to just quickly attack with physical damage. The classic menu will have attack, defend, escape, summon, use items, and abilities – standard Final Fantasy stuff. In fact, this game feels like a simple version of a Final Fantasy game, almost like Mystic Quest in a sense. What abilities are learned and available depends on the mirages that are stacked on Lann and Reynn.
That brings me to the character progression system. You see, World of Final Fantasy is a mixture of Final Fantasy and Pokémon. Since the twins are Mirage Keepers, they can capture and use Mirages in combat, much like the popular pocket monsters. The difference here is Mirages fight alongside (or rather on top of) Lann and Reynn. This is where stacking comes into play. Lann and Reynn are Jiants, special large people that tower over the regular chibi people in Grymoire who are known as Lilikin. Luckily, the twins have the ability to morph on the fly to their regular Jiant form and Lilikin form. This comes into play for stacking their party. Alone, the twins and the mirages they carry are weak and have very limited abilities, but when combined together via stacking them on top of one another, they combine their stats and hit points, as well as have special abilities that can be used in combat. Stacking is essential for survival in battle, and be careful, if a stack gets hit with too many hard hits, they can tumble and fall and have to use up a turn to re-stack. Mixing types of mirages together in stacks will grant new abilities and buffs. Experimenting on the best combinations is really rewarding.
After battle, all mirages that are currently on hand will receive experience points. The active party will receive more, but even ones I didn’t use gained a bit. Think of it like the EXP Share from Pokémon. Leveling up grants points that can be used for each mirage to learn new abilities as well as buff stats in a form a Mirage Board – much like the Sphere Grid or the Crystarium system from Final Fantasy XIII. After making it to a certain point on the grid and making it to a certain level with the mirage, they can change forms or essentially “evolve”, just like their Pokémon counterparts.
Doing all this is well and good, but how do players even capture these mirages? Well, it’s rather simple. Every new mirage players come across offers them a special capture device that can be used to capture them once. Players can attempt it as many times as they like, but once it is used, it is gone. Players can get more by finding nodes on the mirage boards and obtaining them there. Using Libra on a mirage will tell the player what they need to do in order to make them “captureable” this could be using a weakness ability, hitting with physical attacks, landing a critical hit, and much more. Of course, lowering the mirages hit points will also help with the capturing, since it is not always guaranteed. Yeah, it really is a lot like Pokémon. There is one issue I have with this system. That is the fact that every new mirage I capture always starts at level one. That means I have to go through numerous battles just to get the mirage caught up to my current party. Granted, it only takes maybe five battles or so, but it really makes me think I should just stick to the party I already had because I’ve worked so hard on them.
Along with all this, there are also a few environmental puzzles to solve while traversing the world and lands of Grymoire. Most of which are never too difficult but can sometimes lead to hidden treasures and powerful mirages to obtain. Using special powers outside of combat can reveal new paths to take. Say a giant block of ice was blocking my way. I can use the Ifrit I had in my party to melt the ice to get past it. Certain things like that will pop up every once in a while. There is a slight issue here. Some require these abilities to progress, and sometimes I don’t have a mirage with that ability or they haven’t learned it yet, which means I either have to grind for levels to gain the ability or catch a mirage that can learn it. I bumped into that issues twice, and both times it was annoying.
“Where are all the Final Fantasy characters?” You may be asking. Well, they come up all the time in the story. While not part members, they can offer up help at times, and certain ones the player meets will become summons they can use in battle. What’s really great is it changes up the battle music to their corresponding game, which is just fantastic since Final Fantasy soundtracks have always been some of the best.
World of Final Fantasy is not a very difficult game, but still can offer up a challenge at times with some battles. It gives off this simple feel even though it can be rather complex when it comes to the customization of mirages and stacking. But it eases players in to the entire thing while still staying interesting. Even dying in combat, aside from boss fights and a few other ones, doesn’t result in a game over, it just takes players back to the hub world, and because there are so many doors that lead to the hub world scattered throughout the land, I was never far off from when I last left.
The presentation is actually what first hit me. It has a rather cutesy art style, but the cut scenes are very well done and the voice work is pretty great too. It gives off this children’s movie feel, and I’m totally fine with that. In fact, this is a pretty funny game, too. The characters are likable even when annoying, and the overall story is compelling.
Along with all that, there are also a few things players can do in the hub world. The coliseum allows player to take on battles that can offer up special items as rewards, and the tea room is where players will gain new summons and allow them to experience the lives of these character in short battle-themed stories.
In the end, World of Final Fantasy feels like an RPG aimed at children or people that are as experienced with RPGs. At the same time, there is enough here as far as customization goes to keep the veterans busy for a nice long time as well. It took me by surprise, and I think RPG fans will really enjoy this hybrid mix of Final Fantasy and Pokémon. It has a few setbacks, but for the most part, this is a charming, fun, and fantastically paced game many can enjoy.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.