Fed up of chasing Pokemon out in the real world and having to dodge pesky obstacles like cliffs and cars? Now, Square Enix has the answer to all your problems with World of Final Fantasy. This cutesy spin-off version of Final Fantasy, a nostalgic trip down memory lane mashed up with Pokemon Go, has all the things you’d expect and shakes things (or should I say stacks things) up a bit, which is sure to appease die-hard fans and newbies alike. Giving gamers their Final Fantasy fix before XV releases, World of Final Fantasy will capture the hearts of a younger audience with its adorable tiny characters, small towns and engaging storyline while also returning to its roots with turn-based combat and the option to speed things up a bit when needed.
The story starts with Lann, your typical over-the-top Final Fantasy character on his way to work at the coffee shop with his sister Reynn. Portrayed as being extremely dim, Lann isn’t aware that everything is completely deserted and they are both alone bar a mysterious stranger who informs them that they are in fact mirage keepers and after proclaiming to be God, gives them access to a portal and the games true world, Grymoire. This floating magical world in the sky is where she promises they will discover more about their powers and their past. They’re also accompanied by Tama, a the-cute agony aunt mirage, who dishes out more advice than The Sun’s, Dear Deidre column. What starts off as cute and fluffy soon turns irritating when she the-chooses to say the in every the-sentence.
World of Final Fantasy: PlayStation 4 [Reviewed], PlayStation Vita
Developer: Square Enix, Tose
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: 25 October 2016
Price: £49.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Upon entering this fantastical world, two things become abundantly clear. One, the world has shrunk and miniature people called Lilikin’s adorn every corner of it and two, monsters start attacking every five seconds, seemingly from out of nowhere and you have the ability to imprism them and use them in battle. Which makes up the unique combat system, and where the likeness to Pokemon Go comes in. Both Reynn and Lann can capture mirages, after fulfilling a certain condition during combat which allows them to do so, and like a cuter more deadly game of Jenga, has the ability to stack monsters based on their size, with three slots for each stack including them.
While sounding easy enough, with Square Enix aiming to appeal to a younger audience, I feel like the combat system would be very confusing. Lann and Reynn can switch between Jiant and Lilikin form with ease but doing so changes up the stacks, with each mirage being either small, medium or large and only one slot for each that can be filled with multiple skills, resistances and stability, finding the right stack is not only rewarding but it can take a long time to do. Returning to turn-based combat, players can speed things up at the press of a button which is somewhat of a mercy, as there will be A LOT of battles that will become annoying especially when you are trying to revisit an area, and with the dungeons being so linear there are no ways to avoid them, forcing you to stop every 30 seconds or so to fight the same enemies over and over.
Stacking monsters with similar abilities also unlocks stronger versions of those abilities which is great for encouraging players to experiment with stacks and scour the linear corridor dungeons in search of more powerful monsters to use, sadly stacking them all up because you think they look cute won’t really cut it (sad face) and each monster adds to the stability of the stack with some making it very easy for the enemy to knock down, stunning you for a short time. The game allows you to carry a limited number of mirages at a time, and even if they aren’t in your current stack, all will earn XP as you battle your way to the next cutscene. Leveling up is done on a grid with each mirage able to unlock bigger versions of itself with more powerful abilities and yet another stack change if you wish to incorporate them into your fights.
It’s all tied together pretty effectively with Lann and Reynn able to equip jewels to make up any abilities their stack is lacking and blank spaces to use within your mirages grid that are filled using skill seeds. Every part of the experience is crafted with care, this isn’t Square Enix milking a beloved series, they are listening to their fans and have provided a game which oozes everything Final Fantasy ever was and everything it could be, filled to brim with characters and references to previous titles. Fans of the series will find the experience all that more exciting when old characters return to help during the story, in their new pint-sized, adorable cartoon style.
Although only appearing for a small time during your adventure, all the past game champions you meet can be summoned during combat to help with unique skills after purchasing medals. With long cutscenes always being a prominent feature in past games, World of Final Fantasy delivers an extremely comical tale, with their latest being the funniest yet. When you’re not laughing at Lann and his crazy behaviour, you’re laughing with him and revelling in Reynn’s frustration at her idiot brother. Yet somehow, they make it through facing deadlier monsters and memorable foes. The assortment of enemies faced on your adventure is exceptional, from the cute to the ugly, in Final Fantasy you never know what’s around the corner, be it a unicorn, pile of goo or sphinx-like cat and collecting them is even more satisfying, as you’ll truly want them all.
Every setting in the fantasy handbook has been beautifully created into wondrously detailed gorgeous regions that will leave you gasping for breath upon arrival. World of Final Fantasy oozes a blend of bright vibrant colours mixed with moments of sheer darkness as the stunning art direction of Yasuhisa Izumisawa and Tetsuya Nomuraand shine through onto the screen. World of Final Fantasy has a whimsical charm to it that will draw in both fans of the beloved series along with newcomers as Lann and Reynn’s embark on an adventure you’ll want to be a part of. From the games opening moments in the region of Nine Woods Hill to The Land of Naught, an area shrouded in almost complete darkness where vampires lie in wait before venturing onto the picturesque seaside village of Besaid, where the games characters scavenge for items inside the walls of a sunken temple deep beneath the shark-infested waters; Square Enix and Tose have not missed a single beat in the ultimate quest to offer players a plethora of regions and characters that feel lovingly crafted in equal value.
Always one for giving players more bang for their buck, there are plenty of things to draw you away from the main adventure, be it fighting all the enemies you’ve previously encountered in the Coliseum, partaking in various “intervention” side quests that give more of an insight into the lives of the characters that the siblings meet along the way, some with hilarious consequences or finding all the “secret areas” in dungeons to find a rare mirage to capture, World of Final Fantasy has it all and will keep you occupied hour after hour, if you can survive the sometimes tedious battles in-between each story segment.
Although its story takes place in an entirely new world with chibi-esque characters, World of Final Fantasy manages to brilliantly encapsulate every trope that makes the Final Fantasy series such outstanding games to experience, while also introducing enough to the mix to entice new gamers. Both rewarding longstanding fans of the series with in-jokes and cameos from past titles whilst not alienating possible newcomers, World of Final Fantasy will keep players wholly entertained as they patiently await Final Fantasy XV’s long overdue release later this year. Final Fantasy‘s veteran composer Masashi Hamauzu makes a triumphant return to the series to encompass the game with a soundtrack befitting of its wonder and beauty. So what are you waiting for? open your heart and allow yourself to be whisked up into the wizard of oz style tornado that is Final Fantasy as Lann and Reynn pull you into an artistic dream you won’t want to wake up from anytime soon.