World of Final Fantasy is a very cute game. It’s maybe a bit too cute, a bit too saccharine for my tastes, but for a Final Fantasy fan or someone looking for a new JRPG to load onto their PS4 and PS Vita, this game could be right up your alley.
As Reynn and Lann, a sister and brother pair, wake up with a bad case of amnesia, they set off into the world of Grymoire to try and figure out who they are, accompanied by a magical white fox thing called Tama. Along the way, they encounter, battle and capture little monsters known as Mirages, who can then fight alongside them. With a little word replacement, that sounds an awful lot like a certain child friendly JRPG series with diminutive monsters. I am, of course, referring to Yo-kai Watch.
Every character and Mirage in the game is created in a chibi art style – the Japanese anime and manga art style that often features diminutive characters with oversized heads – and this includes Lann and Reynn. Sometimes. They can run around in their little chibi “Lilikins” forms, but they can also become “Jiants” and stand literally twice as tall as every NPC in the game, having to stoop down to actually talk to them.
Wandering around the town of Cornelia, a lot of the inhabitants had something on their head. There were a few hats to be seen, certainly, but then there was this one guy with a fish on his head, I’m sure another had a cat perched up there and plenty others had baskets or pots. I’d walk up to them, try to engage in conversation, and they’d simply marvel at how Jiants were actually real, and not the fact that there’s an animal just chilling out on their noggin.
You can see the ties back to classic Final Fantasy games most clearly in the battle system. It’s an Active Time Battle system, for one thing, with each character earning their turn at different rates, their little icons racing along the ATB meter until they’re ready to make a move. Additionally, it’s not just one on one fights, but your party can line up against half a dozen enemies at once, and there’s plenty of strategy to be found in targeting certain Mirages to try and knock them out of the fight sooner rather than later.
It turns out there’s a good reason for all the NPCs having Mirages on their heads, and this becomes clear in the stacks system. Lann and Reynn can head into battle like an ungainly totem pole, with Mirages on top of them to lend their particular stats and abilities. When in Jiant form, our two protagonists are at the bottom of the stack, with space for a medium and small Mirage on top of them, but they can both be in the middle of the pile if they’re Lilikins, with a much larger Mirage underneath them doing the fighting.
Mid-battle, you can actually unstack, and stacks can be toppled if hit by a move like Ram enough times, stunning everyone as they tumble to the floor. That’s bound to be quite helpful against stacked enemies. Like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, you’re much, much stronger when combined, but the bonus to unstacking is that each character and Mirage gets to take their own turn, which could be an advantage if you want to cast a few spells or use multiple items in quick succession.
A lot of thought has gone into the Mirages and how they exist in this world, making it fairly unique in comparison to other monster collecting games. Catching a Mirage isn’t always as simple as lowering their health to the point that you can catch them with a Prism. No, to get a “prismtunity”, you might have to put them to sleep, poison them, or even heal them before they’re surrounded by a pulsing light to suggest that you might be able to “imprism” them. Additionally, you need to have a Mirage specific prism in order to even try and catch them.
You can then level them up until they’re ready to
evolve transfigure into larger forms and let them take up other slots in the stack. Some Mirages have multiple transfigurations, others will simply go from small to large and skip medium entirely, and each has its own upgrade tree, lending even greater depth to the system.
Many of the Mirages you’ll encounter are going to be steeped in the common ideas that permeate the Final Fantasy series. Chocochicks can be transfigured into Chocobo, there’s boss-like Mirages for Shiva, Ifrit and Ramuh, and there’s more than a few cameo appearances from popular characters like Cloud, Lightning, Tidus, etc…
The script brings up so many conflicting emotions within me. I’m not sure whether to stand and applaud the localisation team for managing to make it so horrifically, cloyingly full of puns, or whether to grab them by their shoulders and shake them until they promise to stop it.
Tama is like a cut rate Yoda, the-randomly inserting “the” before other words in a cutesy the-fashion – seriously, the voice actor earned every penny of her paycheque on this gig. Even worse is the game’s fast travel system of portals. Of course, they can’t simply be called portals, and the script careens off a tangential cliff until Lann is calling them “buzzcuts”… and Tama and Reynn start to play along, and my god, why is it trying so hard to be so damned cute the entire time?
Weirdly, I almost wouldn’t want it any other way. So much of the game’s setting is just terribly silly, but as I roll my eyes, I have to admit it actually works really quite well, especially when considered with a younger audience in mind. Though there’s obvious parallels to Pokémon, it’s more just than a Final Fantasy themed clone, instead drawing upon and adapting a lot of what people have loved from the series over the decades and building something that’s unique. It’s just very, very cute at the same time.