World Of Final Fantasy Review

By
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Gaming:
Jowi Meli

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4.5
On October 24, 2016
Last modified:October 24, 2016

Summary:

World of Final Fantasy is a loving 30th anniversary tribute to the beloved series, boasting an addictive monster-collection system and a fun (though admittedly goofy) narrative that brings together three decades of characters.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Final Fantasy franchise, which means some reflection is definitely in order. The series has been in my top three for as long as I can remember — I began with an old copy of Final Fantasy VI on a friend’s SNES, and I’ve caught up with every main entry in the years following (and most of the spinoff entries, too). Like every other fan, I’ve got my opinions about the highs and lows over the years, but I have to admit I’ve enjoyed every single game. (Yes, that includes the divisive XIII trilogy!)

With 30 years of titles behind us, and the fifteenth numbered installment on the horizon, I’m happy to report that World of Final Fantasy is a great way to reminisce. But it’s also more than that — whether you’re a dork who’s tackled every entry (like me) or you’ve yet to play your first title, this stands on its own as an addictive and fun monster-collecting RPG.

Narratively speaking, World of Final Fantasy feels like a collection of the series’ classic characters and tropes in the same way Kingdom Hearts does with Disney properties. It’s not quite as organized in its structure though; unlike KH, where every world is kept separate, WoFF’s Grymoire serves as a unified compilation of various towns and protagonists. The general feeling is still there, however: you play as Lann and Reynn, a pair of twins who — say it with me — have lost their memories. In order to bring them back, you’ve got to travel the land and hunt down “Mirages,” creatures which come from the series’ beloved stable of monsters. Along the way, you’ll battle the forces of the Bahamutian Federation, who seem to be kidnapping summoners for nefarious purposes.

To say the story is ridiculous is, as you might expect, an understatement. The series is both loved and reviled for its convoluted storytelling, and World of Final Fantasy goes right for peak absurdity — with shadowy villains speaking in maddeningly vague terms about prophecies and “chosen ones,” you’re kept in the dark about what’s going on until the end. But as someone who’s always fallen on the side of loving this schlock, I’ve gotten used to throwing my hands up and just enjoying the insane ride. Besides, the plot is secondary here, serving mostly as an excuse to send Lann and Reynn around the world to meet fan-favorite characters like Cloud and Yuna.

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I do have to single out one aspect of the narrative, though: the dialogue. Apparently, World of Final Fantasy’s localization team undertook some of the most complicated work of their careers for this particular game — and if you know a thing or two about Japanese language and culture, you’ll understand why when you see some of these cutscenes. Lann and Reynn constantly engage in a distinct style of comedic back-and-forth banter known as manzai, with Lann serving as the boke (funny man) and Reynn as the tsukkomi (straight man).

Since this style of comedy involves a lot of misunderstandings, double entendres and puns, you can see how localization would require a lot of work — particularly when developers requested the essence of the original script remain intact. I have to admire the team’s effort, but the results are decidedly mixed, with a lot of the “humor” inspiring cringes and eyerolls rather than laughs. Some of the jokes don’t even make any sense: when the duo’s Mirage pal Tama mentions a “bat” in one vampire-themed level, Lann pipes up as if he’s being addressed. Reynn’s retort: “She said ‘bat,’ not ‘batty!’” Um… huh?

Such issues aside, World of Final Fantasy’s real draw is in its gameplay, which is a perfect blend of the old and the new. Exploring the overworld and its various towns and dungeons is, for the most part, a familiar exercise. For the former, the extent of your interaction is generally limited to chatting with NPCs (all of whom are fully voiced) and undertaking quests for them. In the case of the latter, the paths branch in the usual way — one path leads you closer toward the boss, while the other leads to a dead end with a treasure chest — with the occasional puzzle thrown in for good measure.

Perhaps the most interesting gimmick comes in the form of the protagonists’ Lilikin and Jiant forms; while every other person in Grymoire is a chibi Lilikin, Lann and Reynn are able to switch between that form and their normally-proportioned Jiant state. This doesn’t come into play much in the overworld, but it plays an important role in combat.

Battles are, of course, the bread-and-butter of the series’ gameplay, and World of Final Fantasy has a winning combat system. The central gimmick is, as mentioned before, capturing and using Mirages to battle alongside Reynn and Lann. Unlike other monster-capturing titles like Shin Megami Tensei, though, the idea isn’t just to form a party — on their own, all the characters are fairly weak. Instead, players need to “stack” the characters on top of one another, combining their stats and abilities into a single unit.

Since Mirages come in different sizes (S, M, L and XL), stacking works differently depending on your form. If you’re a Jiant (L size), you can stack M and S Mirages on your head; if you’re a Lilikin (M size), you can stand atop an L Mirage while having a S stand on you. As for those XL Mirages, well, they’re essentially summons that stand in for the party temporarily, similar to the way Aeons work in Final Fantasy X.

Of course, you’ve got to capture Mirages before you can start stacking them, and it’s in this mechanic that World of Final Fantasy finds an addictive hook. The process of “imprisming” a Mirage begins with creating a “prismtunity,” the conditions for which vary from monster to monster. Some only require that you damage them, while others demand to be the only ones left standing on the battlefield or to be afflicted with a specific buff or status effect. The further you get in the game, the more varied a move set you’ll need to capture more Mirages — and, naturally, the best way to increase your abilities is by leveling up a diverse set of party members.

Also taking cues from Final Fantasy X, each character has a Sphere Grid-esque “Mirage Board” that unlocks stat upgrades and special moves. These systems combine to form a fun and interesting collect-a-thon that gets deeper as you go on; you’ll gather as many Mirages as you can without needing to swap members at first, but soon find yourself digging through your reserves and Mirage Boards to find the specific move you need to capture the trickier monsters.

Knowing that World of Final Fantasy was getting a dual release on PS4 and Vita, I went in prepared to be underwhelmed by the visuals… and came out pleasantly surprised! Sure, some of the game’s textures are decidedly low-resolution, but I was impressed by just how much Square Enix added to the console version to make it stand out. Most notably, characters and environments greatly benefit from the use of advanced lighting effects.

When it comes to the audio, I very much enjoyed the performances given by the voice actors. I was especially enthused by the fact that Square Enix not only saw fit to include both the Japanese and English language voice tracks, but also chose to list both of the respective voice actors alongside a given character’s bio in the “Who’s Who” guide. As for the soundtrack, this is one I’ll be playing in the background while writing from now on; it’s a collection of stellar remixes and energetic new tracks that franchise fans will love.

World of Final Fantasy is a wonderful celebration of the franchise’s last 30 years, bringing together people, places and monsters from across the 14 numbered titles (and even a few extra surprises). As a series fan, I relished the opportunity to revisit some of my favorite characters and environments in gaming, but you need not be nostalgic to enjoy what’s on offer here. World more than holds its own as a stand-alone experience, combining addictive monster collecting with classic, high-quality RPG mechanics. However long you’ve held the series in your heart, be it zero years, five, fifteen or all thirty, this is one well worth sinking your time into.

This review is based on the PS4 version of the game, which we were provided with.

World of Final Fantasy Review
Fantastic

World of Final Fantasy is a loving 30th anniversary tribute to the beloved series, boasting an addictive monster-collection system and a fun (though admittedly goofy) narrative that brings together three decades of characters.