World Of Final Fantasy Review – TheSixthAxis

World Of Final Fantasy Review

2016 has been flooded with Final Fantasy content leading up to the highly anticipated – and far too frequently delayed – launch of Final Fantasy XV. With an anime series, a CG movie, multiple phone games, and even a Final Fantasy branded sports car, Square Enix has been pulling out all the stops to make sure people have the franchise on their minds. Now, with just less than a month left until the release of Final Fantasy 15, World of Final Fantasy aims to celebrate the history and nostalgia of the iconic, long-running franchise.

It kicks off with some vague JRPG weirdness that feels more in line with Kingdom Hearts than Final Fantasy. Fraternal twins Lann and Reynn wake up one day to discover that their entire town is empty. They also happen to have amnesia, but a mysterious woman is thankfully on hand to tell them that both they and their mother were once in control of huge armies of monsters called Mirages. Also there’s a talking floating fox! And the mysterious woman might be god?

It’s a very strange setup, and it takes more than a few hours and a handful of chapters for the story to really kick off and set up the overarching plot. Thankfully, my interest was always maintained thanks to the great writing and acting in the game. The main trio of Lann, Reynn and their cutesy mascot Tama have a lot of great pun-laden banter amongst each other, and the way their wacky antics sometimes clash with the more stoic and serious characters in the story is even more amusing. The English voice cast does a superb job of keeping things fresh and natural, although there are plenty of times where the wacky body movements of characters feels like it was more suited toward Japanese voices.

Now, if you’d like to experience those Japanese voices and see if my hunch was correct, you can’t. Like many localisations, World of Final Fantasy only has English audio on disc. However, many games either provide a free download at launch that contains the Japanese voices or, at worst, might charge some money for it. Square Enix, however, has gone even further than that, and decided to make the Japanese audio exclusively available in the Day One edition of the game. There is no PSN listing for the content as of release, and no word on if, or when, it will come. It’s a disappointing and slightly shady decision, but I’d be a lot more upset about it if it weren’t for the excellent English voice acting.

The comparison I made earlier to Kingdom Hearts is also amplified by the visuals of the game. In World of Final Fantasy, most characters appear in adorable, bite-sized Lilikins forms, and even legendary monsters like Ifrit show up with adorable toy-like proportions. Some characters, such as your main duo, have more normal human proportions in their Jiant forms, and the art style in which they’re rendered is very reminiscent not just of Kingdom Hearts, but specifically the character models of The World Ends With You characters from Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. Even character designs for the World of Final Fantasy characters share the same sharp, fashionable sleekness you’d see out of those games. Environments also look equally sharp, and almost every dungeon and town I set foot in was beautiful to behold.

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These cutesy characters aren’t just an artistic liberty, though. They’re also tied into the plot and gameplay in an interesting way. Rather than the usual fare of recruiting friends into a party and upgrading your weapons and equipment to take on enemies, World of Final Fantasy has you capturing and raising hundreds of different creatures, and using their skills and abilities to best the many enemies you’ll encounter over the 50-ish hour long story.

These monsters, or Mirages, come in three different sizes, and your main characters can choose to stack monsters on their head with the Stack system to pool together HP and abilities. If you’d rather have a big Mirage in your stack than a big protagonist, our heroes can instantly switch between Jiant sized and bite sized, opening up even more Stack options. Stacking comes with pros and cons, and in the heat of battle you might even decide to unstack and have all of your characters on the field together in a ‘quantity over quality’ approach.

These systems of monster management and training are wildly different from anything else in a Final Fantasy game. At first, it was weird to not even have any options for equipment or weapons. However, these unique gameplay elements work, and they work really well. Combat is fun, and with the ability to level up Mirages and access new skills via a Final Fantasy X style orb grid, you gain even more options in battle. Some of these skills even have uses outside of battle, such as letting monsters stroll alongside you in the world, or having them melt away ice that’s blocking your path.

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You also have tons of options concerning how you want to experience battles. The game operates on an Active Time Battle system, where all characters wait for their turn to come up, and then act. In the game options, however, you can choose whether time stops or continues to flow once your own turn comes up, giving you control over just how turn-based you want your combat to be. You also have convenient single-button command shortcuts that let you quickly use your favorite abilities or skills, but if you want more detailed control, simply hold down L1 to access a more traditional Final Fantasy command menu.

Battles are fun and addictive, but as you progress through the lengthy game, you’ll start to feel a little weighed down. Dungeons are fun to explore and hold plenty of shortcuts and treasures, but there are a number of puzzles you encounter that feel like they serve as nothing but a way to eat up your time.

Once you get past the bogged down dungeons, though, you’re always rewarded with new fun story encounters. As you progress through the game, you run into a number of classic Final Fantasy characters, environments, and experiences. Seeing Lightning in action or visiting Midgar will be sure to flood fans with nostalgia and warm feelings. All of these characters are rendered in the cutesy chibi art style, and hearing things like Snows gruff voice come out of his tiny baby body are so fun and endearing. It’s a shame that you never really get to see these characters in action in Jiant form. The game doesn’t suffer for it, but if anything, seeing these characters rendered 1:1 would have made these moments even more special.

You’ll even be able to utilize these famous characters in battle as classic Final Fantasy style summons that perform quick special attacks for you. On top of that, a number of side missions and activities open up involving classic Final Fantasy characters, giving you an opportunity to play as them in a unique quests that explore their own stories. You also get a number of mini-game activities to participate in, and a battle coliseum you can go to in order to win grand prizes. It can be a slog to get through such a long game, but all of the gameplay options available ensure that you’ll always have a way to break up the monotony.

What’s Good:

  • Great artstyle and visuals
  • Fun, addictive, deep gameplay
  • Quirky characters
  • Variety of modes and content

What’s Bad:

  • Dull dungeon puzzles
  • Japanese voice option only available for pre-orders
  • A bit too long

World of Final Fantasy is so much bigger than any other Final Fantasy spinoff I’ve experienced. Out of the gate, it’s an incredibly lengthy JRPG with full voice acting, cutscenes everywhere, hundreds of characters, and more. There’s a fair amount of fluff and filler spread throughout the lengthy RPG, but its tail end features some great nostalgia trips and fun character moments. It’s a great celebration of the legacy of Final Fantasy that’s a blast for fans old and new.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PS4

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I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.

12 Comments

  1. Is there a version that isn’t the day one edition with the Japanese voice DLC? More games need to separate out all the different languages into DLC, especially with all the european languages taking up valuable space.

    What’s more important than the Japanese voices (which let’s face it, most people won’t be using), is the other DLC included. Buy a theoretical not-day-one version and you won’t get Sephiroth! Who is ridiculously cute in his tiny, big headed version.

    I’m liking the whole thing so far though. First proper Final Fantasy game since X-2. And a surprising amount of depth to the battle system. Some potential for being clever with the stacks there. (Took a while to realise what happens if 2 mirages in the same stack have the same abilities)

    Just remember to go into the options and change the battle menu to the full version, not the useless simplified one. And remember R1 is your friend. And go back home often.

    Why did they release it a month before FF15 though?

    • right now, the only way for an English speaking player to access the Japanese voices, and the other little content bonuses like the Sephiroth summon and the exclusive Moogle, are through the Day One edition.

      • Just realised how badly I phrased that first sentence. I meant “Is there a version that isn’t the day one edition?”. The day one edition will probably be on sale for a lot longer than one day.

        And then I’m sure the other bits will be available to buy eventually. It’s Squeenix, who are about as greedy as it gets these days, in a slightly weird way.

      • its not letting me reply to your new comment for some reason, weird!

        Ahhhh, my bad. I looked into it and on some places like PSN and Amazon, the only real purchasable option IS the Day One Edition, but some places like Best Buy are already listing a normal version that isn’t Day One.

  2. O may have to get this on Vita

  3. Mines just arrived. So excited to kick off playing it this evening. Why its released now a month before XV I have no idea as it wont help it sell more but then unless its delayed 6 months its a bit stuck. Anyhoo looking forward to stacking my monsters :)

  4. You just know they’ll release the Japanese voice option as paid DLC within a few weeks of release, though. It’s inevitable.

  5. So basically, it’s Final Fantasy does Jade Cocoon? Cool. I would actually pick this up if I could. Sounds like a very solid entry that knows what it wants to do and doesn’t try to be anything else.

    Not really fussed by lack of japanese voice acting as well, I have been spoiled by the likes of Hayter, Blum, North, Baker, Baker as North etc…

    Is the too long negative a case of it dragging on after a certain point when it should just end or just feel that it is too long due to the content?

  6. So, I’ve never properly played a JRPG and only a bit of one FF game, which was Crisis Core, is this game a good introduction to it all? I liked the demo, I think I get how the fighting works but didn’t do any upgrading, is it too much of a nostalgia trip that I’m just not going to get? If so I’ll just go and buy FFVII.

    • From what I’ve played so far…

      Yes, it’s a good introduction to the whole JRPG thing. The whole battle system appears fairly simple at first, but there’s a decent amount of depth to it. The demo was mostly just hit things and they die. The full game, you need to think a bit more about enemy weaknesses and what your stacks are made of.

      For those that haven’t played a JRPG before, it does a good job of explaining it all (possibly too much for veterans of the genre), and dying isn’t going to lose you hours of progress. (Unless you don’t save when the opportunity to save presents itself)

      As for the nostalgia thing, I don’t think it matters if you don’t recognise everything. If you’ve played all the games, you might get a bit of bonus enjoyment out of various characters appearing, or the enemies, or the music. But if you don’t recognise all that stuff, it’s not going to ruin the game. It doesn’t rely on it, just a bonus for those that played all those games.

      It’s quite a funny game at times, and some of that humour is a bit fourth-wall breaking at times. Jokes about JRPGs, although they probably apply to all sorts of games, really.

      • Thanks mate that helps a lot. I’d like to give a JRPG a go but don’t want to waste my money like I did on Crisis Cores, which I just couldn’t get my head around but still bumbled through. I know this is a bit too Pokemon-ish for some but I’ll be happy if it’s fun to play, teaches me well and has a good story.

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