World of Final Fantasy Review
When I first saw the reveal trailer for World of Final Fantasy I honestly didn’t think much of it, in fact I was slightly worried for it. I mean, a cutesy spin-off Final Fantasy title among other E3 2015 news – like the Final Fantasy VII remake – didn’t really harbour my attention for too long. However, after venturing through the World of Final Fantasy I can say that I’m thoroughly surprised and humbled by this installment as it’s one of the most enjoyable (and cutest) games I’ve played so far this year.
The story in World of Final Fantasy depicts one of retracing your memories and discovering the world around you. You play as the twin siblings Lann and Reynn who awaken without their memories and are guided by the various characters throughout the world. While first seen as a tall human-like “Jiant” they eventually realize they can transform into a “Lilikin” – a big-headed, small-bodied chibi version of themselves largely common in the new world they have to venture through. Nonetheless, the biggest clue Lann and Reynn have is that they are Mirage Keepers who have the ability to control living illusions of creatures. This makes their mission simple: discover and recruit as many Mirages as possible to learn about their past.
“It’s a huge mash-up of various Final Fantasy characters, locations, and creatures that packs tons of nostalgia as well as laid-back fun.”
The title World of Final Fantasy can almost be taken literally. It’s a huge mash-up of various Final Fantasy characters, locations, and creatures that packs tons of nostalgia as well as laid-back fun. You’ll see characters all the way back from the first Final Fantasy to spin-offs like from Crystal Chronicles, landmark locations, and creatures throughout the franchise. While the game is noted to be aimed at newcomers and a younger audience, it mirrors the Kingdom Hearts franchise quite closely and is packed with tons of sequences and homages to past installments that returning fans won’t want to miss. It truly gives you that burning excitement to see what character will pop-up next to greet you and even jump back into past Final Fantasy games. The dialogue is also quite humorous and entertaining that everyone can appreciate as a lot of relatable, cheesy, and fourth wall breaking things occur.
The structure in World of Final Fantasy is you have a main hub where you can purchase items, participate in the Coliseum to earn some rewards, participate in an Intervention Quest involving a past Final Fantasy character, organize your Mirages, or hang around and chat with the NPCs. From here, you can venture out into Grymoire where all the towns, dungeons, story & side quests, and meat of the story will take place. The great thing about these areas is that you can revisit them at any time to battle certain bosses that were too difficult the first time you encountered them, collect treasure you missed, or even capture particular mirages exclusive to that area. Some Mirages also have special abilities that allow you to interact with the environment, so exploration is definitely encouraged!
Gameplay is where it gets interesting for World of Final Fantasy. Think a bit of Pokemon, dash of Shin Megami Tensei, and packaged up with Final Fantasy. Let me clarify. As a Mirage Keeper, your mission is to discover and “imprism” the various Mirages that roam the land in little prisms and use them to battle throughout the game. Mirages can also go through transfiguration (basically evolve) that manipulate the way they look, their size, and abilities. Basically, “gotta catch’em all”. After you capture some Mirages, you stack them on top of Lann or Reynn based on their size, abilities, and compatibility with other Mirages in the stack to have the best stack you can possibly achieve. Given that Lann and Reynn can switch between Jiant and Lilikin form, their own sizes allow different combinations of stacks. Like fusing, there are tons of combinations to choose from. All packaged up with Final Fantasy creatures like the behemoth, abilities like firaga, as well as a leveling system done through a board interface and you’ve got the gameplay mechanics for World of Final Fantasy. Also, everything is basically in chibi form so it’s adorable and absolutely addicting trying to find the perfect stack and hunting down more Mirages.
Aside from how Mirages work in the game, the other important feature is the actual battles. The battles in World of Final Fantasy pay homage to both classic and modern Final Fantasy games. Active Time Battle (ATB) is used for turn taking, but you ultimately have the option to make battles active, semi-active, or wait types. Depending on your play style, you may want things to be more lively and time-constrained or the extreme opposite. In addition, you can change the battle menu to be a more modern version World of Final Fantasy implements or the completely classic menu from the likes of Final Fantasy VII. World of Final Fantasy lets you choose how you want to play and are both great options that new players and veterans of the franchise can manipulate.
During battles, both Lann and Reynn are each part of their own stack of Mirages as well as some enemies being in their own stacks. Stacks can be knocked down causing a stunned turn if caused by an enemy. You can, however, unstack your characters yourself which can be a useful tactic for some battles. Depending on the stack formation, it could be attack, defense, elemental, or support focused playing into how you want to build your team. You’ll take turns attacking the enemy team all while the enemy team attacks you with various abilities, basic moves, or items until everyone on one side has fallen. While battles may progress a bit slow and the animation stays quite retro with the characters attacking where they stand instead of approaching and actually hitting the enemy, it’s easy to manipulate the battle settings or even fast forward during idle wait times and even become used to its style overtime. Battles aren’t particularly challenging and not much grinding is needed to strengthen your Mirages, but there are opportunities to test your skills at bosses scattered throughout the world that tend to be a much higher level than when you first encounter them.
Visually, World of Final Fantasy still attains that beautiful scenic art style as well as detailed characters and creatures. Although characters and creatures are mostly in a Kingdom Hearts art style as well as chibi form this time around, the visuals are still clear, beautifully pop with colour and spark, and crafted in a way that fits perfectly into the Final Fantasy franchise. The colors, lighting and shading, as well as animation all play its role in making this adorable world come to life.
“World of Final Fantasy is a surprisingly unique and entertaining addition to the Final Fantasy franchise that uses its cuteness, humor, and accessibility to draw you in.”
In terms of sound, there isn’t much music in the game in comparison to other installments, but once the music comes on, you definitely notice it. Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of voice acting or sound effects as the game is fully voiced in English (full Japanese voiceover is also available for Day One editions of the game) and loaded with tons of sound effects to top it off. It’s pretty solid work that keeps you entertained and even gets you smiling at times.
World of Final Fantasy is a surprisingly unique and entertaining addition to the Final Fantasy franchise that uses its cuteness, humor, and accessibility to draw you in. Having similar characteristics to that of Pokemon, Shin Megami Tensei, and Kingdom Hearts, it provides a medium many will appreciate and come to love. It brings accessibility for a new and younger audience while providing a deeply nostalgic experience to returning fans. While battles may not be as challenging as other Final Fantasy games, the customizability in stacking your mirages for battles maintains the interactive and intricate part of it. But most important of all, World of Final Fantasy brings back the past characters, locations, and creatures I have grown to love. So for that reason World of Final Fantasy is an absolute winner for me.
***A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher***
- Cuteness Overload
- Tons of nostalgia
- Accessible and easy to jump into
- Humorous/Breaks the fourth wall
- Beautiful visuals
- Fully voiced in both English and Japanese
- Lack of movement in battles
- Battles slow at times