World of Final Fantasy has been one of the few games this year that I have been waiting to play and it did not disappoint. Since the days of Squaresoft I have not been happier with an IP from Square Enix.
For the first time in a long time I have not been able to put a game down. I have been up toiling into the wee hours of the morning playing during the work week! Some gamers may be put off by the chibi cuteness but do not let that stop you from playing this wonderful game.
*This review may contain some slight spoilers so take care when reading*
World of Final Fantasy tells the story of twins, Reynn and Lann as they travel to reclaim their lost memories. The game starts with the protagonists in an abandoned town when a woman named Enna Kros appears in their coffee shop. Enna informs the twins that they have been sleeping in Nine Wood Hills for an undetermined amount of time.
The twins were once known as Mirage Keepers, tamers of a powerful army of monsters aptly called Mirages. The twins have been exiled to their current world looked after by Enna until they awoke. After a bit of exposition and some slapstick humor with Lann and Tama, the heroes are on their way to adventures unknown in the land of Grymoire.
The environments are rich, lush and colorful. I enjoyed exploring every corner for a treasure chest or the Fan Service characters from previous Final Fantasy games. The towns and dungeons are unique with NPCs to interact with and collectibles to find. The towns have a distinct personality and never feel like they are repetitive. The first town players come across, for example, is called Cornelia. It has a traditional small town vibe with a set piece of Princess Sarah’s castle. You can even find baby chocobos resting outside near the save point.
Dungeons have a unique set of Mirages with appropriate elemental weaknesses if applicable. There are anime cut scenes sprinkled throughout the story which are a visual treat.
Did I mention that the dungeons have interactive field prompts? Players will need to make sure that they have the appropriate mirage on hand to access secret areas or to progress through the area. This dynamic can greatly impact the team you take with to explore.
Barring the issues I had locating and downloading the English voice over patch, (more on that later), the voice acting was top notch. Some of the FF characters featured had not been voiced before so it was nice hearing SE’s interpretation of their voices. I switched over to the Japanese voices and was pleased to find that the voices weren’t too grating on the ears. Recent FF game characters from Final Fantasy X to present had the voice actors reprise their roles.
Starting at the configuration menu, players can tailor the game to their play style. If your tastes change in the middle of the game it can be changed in game as well. Some of the choices include adjusting message and battle speeds, toggling character names during cut scenes, the look of the battle menu, in game volume, English or Japanese Voice actors etc.
This game is a love letter to every Final Fantasy fan. That is a bit hyperbolic because each of the FF titles have concepts that travel to every game. Most fans can rattle off what you can find in varying titles like summons, Moogles, monster mobs etc. It’s what we look for and crave whenever fans pick up titles in the series. There is no shortage of known staples and fan favorites to indulge. I was surprised during one cutscene to see Quistis from Final Fantasy VIII shows up. FF8 is one of the known black sheep of the franchise so to see her get some love was appreciated.
The battle system is also fun and engaging. On the left side of the screen there is a battle order bar that lets you know whose turn it is ala Final Fantasy X. The battle menus are displayed in either classic or normal mode. In normal mode, attacks mapped to face buttons but you may need to switch to classic mode to access other commands. Classic mode has the standard tabs for magic, attack, defend etc. The flow of battle can also be toggled to Active Time Battle or traditional Turn Based.
The bread and butter of the battle system is the stacking system. The twins can switch between Lilikin/chibi and Jigant/large forms so you can give them 2 different “stacks” as you battle enemies. Players have to “stack” their captured monsters by size. In chibi form the twins are medium-sized which means you can have a small and large monster in your stack. In large form the twins are large which means you can only place a small and medium sized monster in your stack.
The size of the monster and twins are located next to their portraits indicated by a S, M and L respectively. You can only take 2 monsters with you per stack which is definitely going to make it hard to choose the main party. Deciding which mirages to take into battle for potential imprisming and unstacking makes the combat dynamic and fun to do over and over again.
*Please note: players can speed up the battle by hitting the R1 button on the Vita. Players can also skip the victory scene by pressing the circle button*
This game has a sphere grid/Paradigm experience system called Mirage Boards for each monster. I adored both systems so it was definitely a welcome addition. Depending on which mirage players imprism (capture) first, this will dictate the direction of the Mirage Board. For example, if you catch the Transfigured form first there are some beginner level spells that you may miss and will have to work “backwards” to achieve.
The grid for each monster is small but at the end there is a spot with ??? with unlock hints for Transfiguration. As players level through the game their monsters will earn Sync Points (SP) that will be used to progress through the board. The protagonists are able to earn levels and learn spells via prisms found in game and unlocked on the Mirage Board. Yet there is no other way to customize them.
Once the monsters have progressed enough in their Mirage Boards, they can be transfigured. Transfiguring is this game’s version of “evolving”. The main difference is the option to change the monsters back to their original forms. Depending on the battle, the ability to change the monsters to a bigger or smaller size adds a layer of complexity. To achieve all the transfiguring forms it is necessary to battle the monster first before it unlocks on the Mirage Board.
From the moment I began Imprisming, I became hooked on battling to see which monsters would turn up next. If you want to imprism monsters effectively, remember that the spell “Libra” is your friend. There are 150 monsters to capture and transfigure which is the right amount to start. Via the Mirage Board, any monster you capture can be added to your collection without having to catch each individual monster.
In Pokémon games it may have been impossible to catch the pre-evolved form of the monsters but that is not the case here. It may take more SP to complete but every form can be achieved on the Mirage Board.
The visual presentation of the game is not very smooth on the Vita version. The textures of the characters include some jaggies in certain areas and the lighting appears a bit off. I have not played the PS4 version of the game to confirm if there is a difference in the platforms.
The only thing you can do in any given town is talk to the NPCs and move the MSQ along. There are no shops to visit or other open buildings to explore. In this game I didn’t dwell on it much because I would rather catch monsters anyway. But it is an unusual choice for a JRPG but may be reminiscent of Final Fantasy 13.
All of the Final Fantasy games until 13 had distinct towns that offered more than NPC dialogue. Players don’t even need to return to town to turn in quests picked up during your visit! The main hub world is called Nine Wood Hills and that is where you will spend most of your time. This is where the one shop in the game is located, and just like the rest of the towns, it’s not very interactive.
I mentioned it earlier but I was a bit disappointed that the twins don’t at least have any costume options. I had to get my mind back into the Pokémon mindset that the trainer doesn’t matter and it’s all about the Mirages. This isn’t a deal breaker but it was something I noticed.
Until players unlock the gil earning skill from a mirage or get to higher levels, earning money can be a bit hard. Since the save points are far in-between not having potions and phoenix downs at my disposal in the early game was anxiety inducing. I don’t necessarily want them to change that in future games, weirdly enough. It has been a long time since I had the level of panic that causes me to be cautious before I engaged a boss or an enemy. I enjoyed it but some players may not.
Tama and Lann have some of the quirkiest speech patterns in the game. There are some others but theirs may become grating on players. Tama will put “the” in a sentence arbitrarily and Lann will substitute curse words like “hell” with honk. After a while I started fast forwarding through the spoken dialogue or tuned it out altogether.
In true JRPG fashion, everything starts off slow. There is a lot of exposition that may interrupt the flow of battle for the first hour. Once it gets going players have free reign to do what they want. The story can be the same way. From the beginning, all the twins know is that they are trying to find their memories by wandering around. Because there was no sense of urgency I was able to mindlessly level/monster grind without moving the MSQ forward. I can assure you that it gets better as it gets fleshed out. For players who are apprehensive about playing the game due to the cuteness, the slower start may not help them stay invested.
There was a large day 1 patch that needed to be downloaded for the game. Players are able to let it download in the background to start playing immediately but I waited for it to finish so my gaming was unhindered. I am unsure if this patch exists in the PS4 version.
Players will have to go to the PSN Vita store to download the FREE English Voice Over patch. I am unsure why it was not included on the cartridge but that needs to be downloaded as well and can be large. To get this review out on time I started the game listening to the Japanese voices with English subs until it finished. I am unsure if this issue exists for the PS4 version.
It was also unclear where players could redeem the Day One Edition DLC or where they could find their White Magiteck mount for completing the demo. At the time there was no DLC on the PSN store so confusion set in hard on reddit and FAQ boards. For the curious, you redeem them at the Coliseum when it unlocks. But you don’t simply have them dropped into your inventory. You have to battle and Imprism them. Sephiroth appears when the twins unlock the Champion Metal box in game.
In conclusion, World of Final Fantasy is a fun mix of Final Fantasy and Pokemon that we never knew we wanted. The cuteness factor of the game may be a deterrent for some players but don’t let that stop you from one of the best IPs Square Enix has put out since the SquareSoft era. The game has a distinct personality that makes me hopeful for the future of Square and its JRPGs. For a while I thought the company may have lost its way but maybe this is a good sign with Final Fantasy looming around the corner.
What did you guys think of the game? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Until next time guys,
Edited to update information.
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DreaPoetic is your favorite neighborhood Otaku and JRPG enthusiast for the TAY family. You can follow me on Twitter at @Drea_Poetic04.