Here we are with yet another HD remaster to add to our collection – Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. What’s different about this HD remaster; however, is that the original was released about 4 years ago as a Japan exclusive PSP game. In addition, we’re not getting the HD version on another portable console like the PS Vita, but instead on home consoles – the PS4 and Xbox One. Numerous amounts of people, including me, yearned for Type-0 to make its way outside of Japan not only because it’s a Final Fantasy game, but because it’s a very different type of Final Fantasy game. It’s gritty, mature, a political drama, revolves around the lives of students, and is set amidst a war. Intrigued yet? Well without further ado, let’s see how this originally handheld game holds up on home consoles almost 4 years later as an HD remaster.
When you start up Type-0 HD, the first few minutes will put you through an emotional, heart-wrenching, and tearful experience. You see the effects of war scattered and projected not only by the environment through explosions and broken buildings, but through the emotions and actions of humans and animals. People are running, screaming, and holding on to their last breath of life and in particular, one man is aside with his dear companion – a Chocobo. If you’re familiar with Chocobos, you know how loveable and just damn majestic they are – you never want them to be harmed let alone die…ever. Type-0 knows that, and to show you just how much war is a nightmare, we are shown just that; a Chocobo being harmed and die. The brutality of war is shown in just the first few minutes of the game and does an amazing (almost too amazing) job of doing so. It’s something you have to experience first-hand by watching it yourself as it’s truly an emotional rollercoaster ride and an opening worth a round of applause.
The story is set in the world of Orience comprised of four Crystal States: The Rubrum Dominion, Militesi Empire, Kingdom of Concordia, and Lorican Alliance. Each Crystal State is in possession of a crystal that grants them a unique power that molds their society. Each of them proudly displays and represents an animal while basking in their particular lifestyle and outlooks. It’s sort of like Game of Thrones with the different houses which I am perfectly happy with.
Amongst the four Crystal States, our focus lies on the Rubrum Dominion in Vermilion Peristylium, Akademeia where the 14 stars of the story reside. All 14 of them are students of the elite Class Zero headed by Khalia who they view highly of and regard as “Mother”. Each member of Class Zero has their own look, personality, aura, and input to the class that makes it easy to find a personal favourite. The main antagonist, on the other hand, is head of the the Militesi Empire named Cid. The Militesi Empire and Cid are your typical militaristic, power-hungry, and aggressive baddies that broke the peace among the Crystal States by invading the Rubrum Dominion (and killing a Chocobo!). As you progress through the game, each member of Class Zero matures and develops in a way that not only exhibits their uniqueness, but also brings the uniqueness out of the characters around them. You’ll also experience the political drama and see the war play out between the Crystal States while realizing the secrets, darkness, and frightening methods that fuel the war. However, love, friendship, and compassion get into the mix with help from the characters that make the storytelling gripping and amusing. While at times delving too deep into the core of the story can get a tad bit confusing, that’s when you can start reading up on some lore provided in the game (which I will get to in a moment). Overall the story is compelling and enjoyable with Class Zero and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Gameplay is split between the main missions and free time which gives a balance between the intensity of battles and relaxing school-like environment. The main missions progress you through the story and simply tell you where to go and what you have to do. Getting to the place requires you to walk or ride a Chocobo across a field where you can have things such as enemy encounters. Occasionally, you’ll participate in a simple RTS game in the same field to claim territory or ward off enemy invasions. It’s sort of like a mini-game that lets you rest in between those fast-paced “real” battles, which is nice in its own little way. On the other hand, the free time in between main mission lets you roam around as one of the members of Class Zero and do quite of bit of things, but with a limitation. You only get 12 in-game hours before mission day in which you must proceed with the main mission. If for some reason you do not want to or feel like using any of your free time, you can choose to immediately proceed with the main mission instead. During the 12 hours you can mingle or fulfill requests for the people of Akademeia, attend class lectures, leave Akademeia, or breed Chocobos. Mingling, fulfilling requests, and attending lectures lets you easily delve into the dynamic and atmosphere of the world and characters in a fast and enjoyable manner. Also, some events can only be triggered when you use a particular character making sure you get to know all of them. As for the Chocobo breeding, the ones you breed can be used on the fields for battles and going from place to place and, well, who doesn’t like Chocobos? Depending on what activity you choose to do, a certain amount of time will pass. For example, talking to certain people causes 2 hours to pass while leaving Akademeia causes 6 hours to pass. It’s not an overly complex time management system. In fact, it’s a very simple one that makes you cautious of what you should do or not do instead of worrying how to manage actual time that works in its favour.
During your free time you can also read up on some lore, view character models, train in an arena, and upgrade Class Zero. Unlike the other activities you can do in your free time, these activities do not make time pass. Reading up on lore and viewing character models can be done at the main menu as well, but also accessed in Akademeia’s library. The training arena is a nice feature to let you try out the characters in a simulated battle before you take them out for the real-deal while earning some EXP. Meanwhile, upgrading Class Zero can be done through EXP earned, equipment, and the Altocrystarium. While the first two are straightforward, the latter is where it gets cool. The Altocrystarium is where magic abilities can be upgraded with a substance called “Phantoma” that can be collected from enemies when they die. Depending on the character’s specific magic element, the Phantoma collected will be in coordination with it which can in turn be used to upgrade specific magic skills. For example, if the character’s magic element I use to draw out an enemy’s Phantoma is fire, the Phantoma will be red and used to upgrade fire based abilities. It’s a pretty neat way to upgrade abilities and get you focused in collecting more Phantoma.
Fighting in battles is where the heart of Type-0 resides. You’ll fight various types of enemies throughout the game that include other humans to massive machinery, but once you kill the leader the combat ends. The main battles have you construct a party consisting of three members from the 14 students of Class Zero of your choosing which holds a lot of possible combinations. Each character has a unique weapon, magic element, and set of skills that keep the battles fresh and exciting. Weapons range from a gun, bow, katana, scythe, and twin daggers to a deck of cards and even a flute. It’s up to you to make a party that fits your play style or able dominate the particular area. In addition, you can also allow Support Personnel (usually named as someone in the development team or voice actors) to aid you in battle. Allowing so gives you points to exchange for goodies and it’s just pretty cool seeing the name and role of people responsible in the development of Type-0.
The combat is real-time and fast-paced utilizing not only basic attacks, magic, dodging and healing, but also timing and special attacks exclusive to a three-person party. While locking-on to enemies, there will be brief moments where your attacks can inflict an immense amount of damage or instant death depending on the enemies’ attack pattern. It’s indicated by a yellow lock-on sight called the Break Sight and red lock-on sight called the Kill Sight respectively. It’s a nifty little mechanic that keeps the combat moving and gives you a sense of power when successfully employed. In terms of special attacks, you have the ability to perform Trinity Attacks that combine the special attacks of each party member or you can summon Eidolons that require a sacrifice in you party.
The combat is definitely top-notch and extremely enjoyable. With the variety of different characters and weapons to the fluid action, the battles are without a doubt what make the heart of Type-0. Unfortunately, there is but one feature that weighs on the battle experience; the wonky camera. The camera is still stuck in the realm of the handheld environment with it being extremely sensitive, occasionally having spasms, and just can’t take hitting something appropriately. Having to lock-on to enemies and the camera following it, the camera tends to bounce around everywhere in an unflattering manner causing your character to kind of have a life of its own by moving in directions you don’t want them to. Although it is a misfortune, after some hours of battling and getting used to the wonkiness I got used to it and ended up doing pretty well in battles. You can view it as part of the learning curve to do better in battles…curse you wonky camera.
Visually, Type-0 HD mostly does its part. Class Zero’s and other important characters’ models are all remastered extremely well, but the unimportant ones didn’t get enough treatment. They look as if they were brought straight from the PSP version and at times look like talking nutcrackers (which is not a pleasing sight). While Academeia looks beautiful with the gleaming blue sky, shine from the waxed floors, and bodies constantly walking and running around, other areas had more blurry textures and blocky models. Since some areas have been remastered so well, others that haven’t been given much work just simply don’t compare. The cutscenes are superb, but isn’t drastically different from the original as there wasn’t really any need for change. Aside from the wonky camera, the animations are fluid and smooth and have no complaint about. Overall, everything important and that we constantly are in company with has been remastered in a sufficient way, while the others achieve the bare minimum. Type-0 HD definitely doesn’t push the powers of the PS4, but instead exists on it because, well, it can. It’s not a horrid remaster, but it could’ve been better.
In terms of voice acting, the Japanese voice acting in Type-0 might just be one of my favourites. The English voice acting on the other hand…well, it’s really up to your preference. With a huge cast, nailing each character’s personality and presenting their unique style isn’t an easy one, but it’s successfully done in my opinion. The music is equally as amazing as the voice acting and brings the bitterness, sadness, and at times happiness and joy when called for. Especially in the first few minutes of the game, the song played sent chills up my spine because it fitted so perfectly. The sound effects are also great in giving each shot, stab, and punch power behind them giving the illusion of invincibility.
Even though the remaster didn’t do as much as it should have, what Type-0 HD brings to the table transcends farther than mere visuals. With an intriguing14-member class that are each unique in their own way and mature as you progress through the game, it offers a peculiar yet familiar world to delve into. With a darker tone and war themed setting, Type-0 shows a dreadful and horrifying side of the world, but also the hidden beauty within it. Aside from the wonky camera, the battles are fast-paced and rewarding that makes the game stand out amongst other Final Fantasy titles giving a unique experience. Whether you’re a Final Fantasy fan or just in need of some action-packed battles, check out Final Fantasy Type-0 HD.
***A retail copy was provided by the Publisher***