Theatrhythm Final Bar Line Review
Rhythm games are cool and all, but what if they had RPG elements? Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is here to answer this question. It turns out rhythm games get much cooler when you add this one little twist to the formula. While it’s already fun to practice and eventually master songs, having quests to complete is somehow even better. My first foray into the Theatrhythm series has totally sold me on the formula.
Said formula is quite simple. For fans of the Final Fantasy series, the games’ music is a big part of the experience. Final bar Line lets you dive into the best tracks from every game. But instead of just passively listening, you’re engaged and enthralled. There’s something inherently satisfying about hitting those triggers just right. It’s a tiny dopamine hit accompanied by on-screen sparkle and auditory feedback. The input system is quite flexible. You can use any buttons you like, so long as you do so on the beat. Only the movement commands require the analog sticks to pull off.
Play It Your Way
I appreciate the nuanced difficulty settings. As a scrub of sorts, I’m happy to stick with the basic challenge level. On the other hand, ramping up the difficulty level feels fun, rather than frustrating. You can get overwhelmed quickly, but you’re very clear on what went wrong. A loss never feels unfair, you see. It’s just a matter of getting some more practice in. The other big motivator to improve is the quest system.
Sure, you can finish a given stage without too much trouble. But the quests are a different story. Sometimes they’re simple, like finishing a song with a specific character. Other times you need to beat a boss with a certain element, or under a specific time limit. That’s when things get dicey. Suddenly, you’re paying close attention to your party lineup, to their skills. You’re looking at stats and items. Now, all of those characters you can choose from feel almost imposing. It’s remarkable what a quest system does to your level of engagement with the game.
At first, I was content to unlock and use my favorite characters, and leave it at that. Once I decided to start finishing quests, my character choices started to matter more. Squall uses ice and thunder attacks. But Laguna has a fire strike. Every enemy has a listed type weakness as well. Suddenly, this feels like a proper Final Fantasy rhythm game. The level of customization you can get into is almost overwhelming. Although the character designs are a bit on the silly side.
Somewhat Silly Character Designs
The character art style might throw you off at first. Everyone is drawn in a cute, flat, simplified style that feels more like fan art than anything else. But honestly, I hardly even noticed it once the levels actually started. You’re too laser-focused on the triggers to care about what’s happening on the rest of the screen. And unlike the art, the music is perfectly reproduced. If you’ve got a favorite track, it’s likely on this list. The deluxe edition of the game has albums full of songs I’d never even considered. Crystal Chronicles, Tactics, and even the mobile games are represented here. Final Bar Line is massive collection, especially for diehard fans.
Although the controls are mostly intuitive, there was one stumbling block. During the ‘Field’ stages, you see this held input that drifts up and down. Unlike the other inputs, this one took me several tries to properly understand. The instructions fail to convey what’s needed, and I only figured it out through extensive trial-and-error. But, once I figured it out, that wavy held input became the easiest part of the challenge.
I don’t usually go in for rhythm games, but Final Bar Line proved the exception. While it’s a well-crafted experience, it’s the Final Fantasy connection that really sold me. The quests, the customization, and the heavy dose of nostalgia are all wonderful. Conversely, the art isn’t great, some of the inputs are confusing, and the intended audience is pretty granular. In other words, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is mostly for Final Fantasy fans. If you fall into that category though, you won’t want to miss this game. It’s a terrific way to revisit your favorite titles in the series.
***A PS4 code was provided by the publisher***
- Tons of great songs
- Mostly intuitive controls
- Compelling quest system
- Art style isn’t great
- Some moves are confusing
- For FF fans only