Imagine that Pokémon and Yo-Kai Watch had a baby. Well don’t actually imagine THAT. Now imagine they couldn’t raise their baby so gave it up for adoption and Final Fantasy raised that baby like it was its own. That’s what World of Final Fantasy is like.
Convoluted metaphors aside, World of Final Fantasy takes the best and most successful elements from each of those titles mentioned. Then it blends them up in weird and wacky ways and comes up with something pretty special. Having only been able to spend around 10-12 hours total with World of Final Fantasy, I’m not yet ready — or able — to give my full review or score. But, these are my impressions of the game thus far.
There is a hell of a lot to like about World of Final Fantasy. It’s got a jovial, mocking tone, something that rarely appears in any Final Fantasy title. Though judging by what we’ve seen from Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix may be moving in a new direction. Twin protagonists Lann and Reynn are charming, funny and likable. And not just in the way video game characters are. These guys are Saturday morning cartoon characters. They’re living, breathing people and in-spite of the tropetastic opening (they have amnesia) and bizarre setting, I was invested in them immediately.
It’s largely to do with the voice acting and the script. There’s a playful quality to everything. Lann and Reynn seem like actual siblings, or at least on par with classic sibling duos like Violet and Dash Parr, Bart and Lisa Simpson (before the show declined) and Dexter and Dee-Dee. Although, Reynn is definitely the more clever, more grounded of the two. Lann is a big ol’ doofus and lovable through and through. His interactions with Tama, their Fox-like guide are definite highlights.
Complimenting the gorgeous dreamlike cartoon visuals and the fresh and likable characters is the pitch-perfect RPG gameplay. Like I said, it’s as if Square Enix took the best bits of Pokémon, Yo-Kai Watch and Final Fantasy and managed to create a Frankenstein’s monster of addictive gaming. Without getting too deeply into the narrative, Lann and Reynn were, prior to their attack of explosive amnesia, Mirage masters and with the prodding of a mysterious figure head into Grymoire to recover their lost mirages and hopefully some of their memories along the way.
Mirages are the crux of gameplay. Like Pokémon and Yo-Kai Watch players need to capture or Imprism the Mirages. In order to do so, certain conditions need to be met. So in some instances the tried and true, ‘bash them into submission’ technique works wonders, others require a bit more finesse. Once a Mirage has had its Imprisming requirements met, Lann or Reynn can attempt to Imprism it and if successful, it will then be selectable as part of the party. Each member of the party, including Lann and Reynn, come in one of three sizes, Small, Medium and Large. Lann and Reynn are able to switch been Large and Medium with the press of a button. You may have seen in the trailer how they switch between Lilikin (chibi) and Jiant (standard) forms. It’s not just a cute animation, it plays an important role in gameplay.
The most important and complex part of battles is Stacking. Party members can be stacked three high, with Large on the bottom, Medium in the middle and Small on top. With Lann and Reynn able to switch between Medium and Large, players will need to make sure they have four different stacks set up at all time. Stacking combines all party members HP and can unlock special combination moves, abilities and magic if specific Mirages are used. There’s a huge amount of depth and complexity involved in Stacking, especially give the huge number of Mirages available.
At this stage, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of World of Final Fantasy. So far, it’s been an unexpectedly cheerful, original and rewarding experience. If the strength of the characters, narrative and gameplay can be sustained for the duration, it’s looking like a definite must-play for gamers of all backgrounds.
We’ll be sure and post our final review, with review score over the coming days.
World of Final Fantasy will be available for PS4 and PS Vita on October 28.
World of Final Fantasy is being reviewed using a promotion copy as provided to PowerUp! by the publisher.