World of Final Fantasy assessment: An enthralling mash-up of FF, Pokemon and nostalgia

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This Final Fantasy spin-off has its issues, however its attraction will win most over.

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World of Final Fantasy is in a way Final Fantasy’s 30th anniversary celebration recreation… besides it’s popping out within the sequence’ 29th yr. That’s sometimes Square Enix, to be truthful, however the recreation’s director describes it as a 30th anniversary celebration – and it’s a becoming one.

FF has a wealthy historical past, and it’d need to be a fairly good little bit of content material to be a correct celebratory recreation for the sequence. While I like combating sequence Dissidia Final Fantasy (additionally initially conceived for an anniversary) I all the time felt prefer it lacked quite a lot of the power of the particular FF sequence. Dissidia is an opportunity to see characters from the video games work together and combat above all else – it’s jam-packed with fan-service, however you possibly can’t actually say it’s an FF within the truest sense.

“That’s the beauty of World of FF – the fan-service is added as a bonus rather than used as the foundation for the very game.”

World of Final Fantasy is the alternative. It’s an authentic story starring a pair of authentic characters, however the world it takes place inside is filled with references to FF at massive. The first main location the sport deposits you into after its opening is a recreation of the dominion Cornelia (Corneria within the authentic translation) from the primary FF. The music is identical. Princess Sarah is there. Soon sufficient, the Warrior of Light, the unique FF’s anonymous lead, reveals up.

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All of those basic characters tackle cutesy varieties and aren’t simply ripped from their very own video games and universes – these are alternate variations of those basic characters that dwell in Grymoire, this recreation’s world. If you needed to tear out the fan service and exchange these characters with originals you can, and that’s the fantastic thing about World of FF – the fan-service is added as a bonus moderately than used as the muse for the very recreation.

The recreation itself is a few typical Japaense RPG stuff. It follows amnesiac (in fact) twins Lann and Reynn, and you’ll swap between both of the pair on the fly. Soon sufficient the pair study they’ve supernatural talents that principally make them FF-themed Pokemon trainers and in flip destined to avoid wasting the world.

There’s conventional turn-based JRPG battling from right here with the pair imprisming (catching) mirages (Pokemon) after which leveling them and utilizing them to combat. Some may be transfigured (developed) into totally different varieties with totally different skill-sets. The creatures are in fact direct representations of or derived from basic FF monsters and allies.

On high of merely catching and leveling them, every creature comes with its personal Mirage Board – a talent tree that resembles FF10’s sphere grid. It’s great things.

There’s a twist, in fact: moderately than utilizing the creatures to combat, the pair truly stack creatures on high of their heads to make themselves extra . The goal is to construct a strong, stack of three. The protagonist duo can both be a chibi measurement or full-size human sized, and thus can seem at totally different heights throughout the stack alongside creatures. Taller stacks are extra , combining the skills of a number of Mirages.

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“The combat keeps things simple at a base level but there’s a level of depth to unfurl that FF has actually tended to shy away from in recent years.”

There’s a method to stacking the fitting creatures or unstacking at strategic occasions, whereas additionally having your stack toppled over by forceful assaults can also be a continuing risk. Suddenly this cutesy recreation takes on a extra advanced and mechanically nuanced guise, one thing that’s very welcome certainly.

The battles are correctly conventional turn-based stuff. The recreation makes use of the Active Time Battle system popularized and used between FF4 and FF9. The recreation retains issues easy; characters don’t sprint throughout the battlefield to land a success however merely swing their swords at mid-air, SNES-style. One will get the impression all this labored for the sport on a number of ranges: It was cheaper, it allowed for a Vita model, but additionally it evokes the basic FF sequence on this, a celebratory recreation.

I actually just like the fight on this recreation. It retains issues easy at a base stage however there’s a stage of depth to unfurl that FF has truly tended to shrink back from lately. In this sense WOFF can also be a sensible counterpoint to Final Fantasy 15 – whereas the large, new and costly FF is switching gears to be extra like an motion recreation, this can be a staunchly conventional Japanese RPG.

Sometimes this made me chortle at its design. Relatively early on there’s a great quaint sliding ice puzzle in a dungeon. Of course there may be! Later dungeons particularly are filled with puzzles to finish and secrets and techniques to scratch out. They’re hardly ever authentic, however that’s high quality. It’s additionally kind of the purpose; many have been hankering for a conventional recreation of this kind for some time, and WOFF is arguably extra profitable at this than I Am Setsuna, one other Square Enix effort to recapture previous glories.

There’s a lot to like, but elements of WOFF really feel a contradiction. Director Hiroki Chiba says that the sport is designed with new followers in thoughts. It even comes with an additional simplified management possibility for these not comfy with FF’s basic menus… But on the similar time WOFF appears to take most of its pleasure in fanservice and cameos that shall be totally misplaced on these folks. That’s much more a disgrace due to how every fan nod is executed with a relish solely a developer that’s additionally a fanboy might handle.

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Early on, the sport has the plodding pacing and hand-holding of a recreation fearful it’ll confuse its viewers, nevertheless it additionally packs in a fast-forward performance so you possibly can watch scenes extra rapidly with out outright skipping them. The similar is true of the battle velocity even on the utmost setting. None of that is an absolute deal-breaker, however one can virtually see the to-and-fro of the little doubt impassioned debates on either side of its improvement.

This is in the end what WOFF is. It has the mechanical depth to please an old-school Japanese RPG nerd like myself however then in the hunt for that elusive new technology of followers goes out of its approach to make sure there’s no cause to actually dig into that depth – the sport is simply too straightforward. Classic FF heroes can later be earned as super-powerful summonable helpers in battle, however there’s little cause to name in Terra to smash an enemy together with her Magitek Laser – the fights are straightforward sufficient as it’s.

“In a sense, FF has become a typically JRPG-like amnesiac protagonist in its own story. It casts about in a search for its true identity, like Cloud in the Lifestream. Where does it belong? What is its place in the gaming world?”

Thanks to those contradictions World of Final Fantasy is probably a stronger 30th anniversary recreation that even Square Enix might need meant. It completely encapsulates a lot of the sequence: the surprise of the early days, the assured stride of the 16-bit outings and the energy of design that really put the sequence on the map from the PS1 on. On high of those, nevertheless, it comes wrapped within the final ten years of Final Fantasy: trapped between a need to please a discerning, difficult and getting older fanbase and absolutely the must convey newcomers into the fold.

In a way, FF has develop into a sometimes JRPG-like amnesiac protagonist in its personal story. It casts about in a seek for its true identification, like Cloud within the Lifestream. Where does it belong? What is its place within the gaming world? World of FF’s design appears to underline that wrestle, and it feels applicable that it arrives proper as FF15 takes a shot at redefining the sequence.

There’s nonetheless rather a lot to like in World of Final Fantasy, and it’s a recreation I actually loved my time with. I’ll most likely even give it a replay in its Vita iteration the following time I’ve a visit someplace.

Its script is charming (if testing in locations), its fanservice well-pitched and its mechanics satisfying. It received me over despite my complaints. It appears like a correct, basic FF with all of the whimsical enchantment you’d count on – and that’s one thing I’ve needed for some time. It’s fascinating simply how consultant its smaller issues are of FF’s challenges as an entire, although.

World of Final Fantasy is out now for the PS4 and PS Vita.


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