All eyes are on Final Fantasy XV, but Square has managed to sneak in one of the best Final Fantasy game in recent memory. Turn based battle system, world maps, dungeons, and more take center stage in World of Final Fantasy—an RPG that celebrates the pillars of this long lasting JRPG franchise.
It’s easy to call this Kingdom Hearts minus the Disney worlds, and to a certain extent that’s kind of true but with a hint of Pokemon. World of Final Fantasy takes place in Grymoire where Final Fantasy worlds and characters all live under one plane of existence. Characters here appear in their Lillikin form (basically chibi’s) while the main heroes come from Nine Wood Hills where everyone looks normal (well, normal compared to FF standards). Our two main twin heroes Lann and Ryenn are gifted with the power to captures monsters known as Mirages. These monsters are based of the iconic beasts seen in most Final Fantasy games. With their help, the twins venture into the world of Grymoire with the intension of stopping a great evil army from destroying their world.
From a narrative point of view, World of Final Fantasy fared better than I thought. The somewhat cringy dialogue actually comes off campy here even if the puns do go overboard, and I honestly thought the English VO was surprisingly well done. It does seem to take itself too seriously at times but the majority of the tale is light hearted and rarely boring.
The gameplay does take more than few cues from Pokemon, in fact after the first dungeon you more or less pick your starter based on the popular summons Shiva, Ramuh, and Ifirit (each with their own elemental abilities). While it’s easy to point and shout “rip-off!” things are actually quite different. For instance each monster you capture has their own skill tree, some of which can be passed on to the characters for good. Evolving them or transfiguring them (I think I’ll stick to evolve) makes them grow bigger. Size plays an important role as both Lann and Ryenn can choose between their medium or large forms. Being large allows you to stack medium and small Mirages while medium allows you stack large and small. These stacks effect your stats and your overall abilities. It’s neat that even after you evolve your Mirages you can keep using the small ones. Mirages are also elemental so even out of battle they can be of help in solving dungeon puzzles such as melting ice or destroying boulders.
Speaking of dungeons this game is filled with them, including towns. With this being a being a celebration of sorts of classic Final Fantasy you’ll be seeing places from the originals including the Midgar (which for some reason was renamed Nibelheim). Eventually you’ll meet iconic FF characters who can be summoned as champions when the going gets tough.
The battle system is also quite easy and basic, it’s more or less your usual turn based battle system with the added flair of a modern menu that makes things even more basic. You can use the traditional battle menu but seeing as how you’re only managing two characters I didn’t see the need to make use of the traditional one. One thing I did love using was the fast forward button (which can also be used in cutscenes) which makes the usual slug of grindy battles feel more fluid.
Visually speaking the game looks wonderful. Bright saturating colors, cool use of depth of field, and animations that bring out the best in Square. There’s also the occasional anime cut scenes which is a great bonus. I was also surprised by the game’s OST. There is a good mix of ambient tracks along with remixes of classic FF tunes. Now it’s worth noting that there is a PS VITA port (which is also supports cross-save with PS4) but be warned that it runs at really low frames sometimes hitting the 15 range. It’s by no means unplayable but it does feel sluggish.
World of Final Fantasy was a pretty surprising experience. I honestly wasn’t expecting much when it was revealed right before Final Fantasy 7’s Remake E3 2015 trailer. It looked like a spin off and nothing more than a cash grab but now after playing I feel bad. This game deserves attention and recognition by FF and JRPG fans alike. Make no mistake, this is every bit a Final Fantasy game as the main numbered entries.