World of Final Fantasy is Square Enix’s latest spin-off of the long-running JRPG series, offering a new adventure that has players team up with the franchise’s most popular characters and take on recognizable enemies as twins Lann and Reynn. The twist however is that these familiar heroes and baddies are small, cute chibi versions of themselves, and the game returns to its heyday of turn-based battles, with some creature collecting thrown in for good measure. The result is that World of Final Fantasy is a very enjoyable – though not perfect – JRPG that fans of the series will absolutely adore.
World of Final Fantasy
Developed by Tose / Published by Square Enix
Available on the PS4 and PS Vita. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Square Enix
World of Final Fantasy features no connection to previous Final Fantasy titles, other than the appearance of a familiar cast. Lann, a young, energetic boy and his pragmatic sister Reynn, wield the power to capture and summon Mirages, creatures who reside in the world of Grymoire. Unfortunately, both siblings are suffering from amnesia and don’t know what’s going on, so they must explore the mysterious world and help those in need in order to remember who they are and ultimately stop evil.
World of Final Fantasy’s story is entertaining, but it’s not the strongest in the series, feeling akin to a greatest hits fan fiction tale with players teaming up with the series’ most popular characters to take on a plethora of foes. The writing and voice acting is solid and the cutscenes are great – thanks in part to Tetsuya Nomura’s impeccable art design, but it’s quite similar to what we’ve already seen in the franchise. It’s no less fun though, and it’ll keep you entertained throughout the whole adventure.
The gameplay is also pretty great, playing similarly to what you’d expect from the series. Players get to explore the lush and varied land of Grymoire – which is composed of locations from the Final Fantasy series – and interact with its many inhabitants, all the while completing quests and missions, and facing off a variety of familiar creatures and monsters known here as Mirages. The biggest difference from your typical JRPG however is that players can also capture these Mirages – a la Pokémon – and summon them to help out in combat or grant special abilities while exploring the environment. They can also level up and learn new abilities via a skill tree, transform (or evolve) into higher forms, and be stored and switched out to adapt to any situation. It’s a unique spin on the classic Final Fantasy formula, and while the system is a little tricky to get used to, it’s also pretty fun.
Size also matters in World of Final Fantasy, though it mostly affects the game’s combat. In the world of Grymoire, the citizens are small, chibi-like beings known as Lilikin, while large folk like the protagonists are known as Jiants. The combat in the game returns to the old-school turn-based active time battle system of earlier Final Fantasy games, and as before, players can attack, defend, and use a variety of magical and special abilities to take down the opposition while opponents to the same. But players can also use their captured team of Mirages in battle, both as combatants with individual turns and health, or stacked on top of the twins like a tower to combine abilities, health and stats. As Lann and Reynn can switch between the two sizes at any given moment, players can either place Mirages on their heads or stand on them (depending on their size), and create unique combinations to take on anything that stands in their way. Enemies however can do the same thing to get stronger, and there are abilities that both parties can use to topple stacks in order to weaken and stun enemies, as well as disable special skills. It’s a cool combat mechanic that offers some depth and variety to the overall turn-based combat experience, and it’s entertaining.
The rest of the game however is a straightforward experience, with players exploring, opening chests, buying items, grinding and leveling up, completing side quests, engaging in boss battles, facing off against special, tougher foes for unique Mirages, and teaming up with your favorite Final Fantasy characters. It’s a lengthy experience, and while repetitive at times, especially with all the random battles that catch you by surprise while exploring and the somewhat linear development, it’s a good time.
The game also has some small issues here and there that hold the game back a bit. Among the issues are the lack of visual indicators for status effects and buffs/protections, making it difficult to judge how long some spells will last or not. Additionally, the combat menus are a bit of a hassle, as they are split between a basic and classic view that tries to simplify the experience for newcomers while give options to veterans. The issue here is that players can only attack, defend or imprism in basic and need to switch to cast spells or use abilities, while Classic gives players access to all the options but hides direct information like the champion charge. One menu would have been the best option. These are hardly big problems, but are minor nuisances that I wish were better addressed.
Overall, World of Final Fantasy is an entertaining spin-off title that will amuse fans and newcomers alike. The stacking and mirage collecting mechanics are neat features, and while the gameplay is a bit repetitive and the story somewhat underwhelming, it’s still a solid RPG adventure that is worthy of your time.