Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is the latest release in the long line of Final Fantasy games, and is available on PS4 and Xbox One. Type-0 HD is a port of a PSP game that came out in 2011, which never saw a release in the West, so HD is our first official taste of the game.
When you start the game, you’re treated to a beautiful intro cutscene that sets up the backdrop for the story of war that is to follow. The very basics of the story are really quite simple: one of the four main nations of Orience begins a war by invading the other nations. When the Militesi Empire invades the Dominion of Rubrum at the beginning of the game, a special group of students from the Vermillion Peristylium in Rubrum gets involved in the fight against the invaders. This group, called Class Zero, helps to turn the tide of the invasion by removing the biggest threat. The story develops from there.
The overarching narrative in Type-0 is really quite good, so I don’t want to spoil anything here. Suffice to say that the plot does complicate quite a bit throughout the first 15 hours or so, very quickly becoming difficult to follow if you aren’t really paying attention. Many of the twists and turns even require the player to read through the in-game encyclopedia to fully understand. This is a love it or hate it choice, as fully understanding the game and all of its twists requires the player to be involved in the lore of the vast world.
The departure from a traditional Final Fantasy-style story leads this game down a great path. To my knowledge, it explores much darker themes than any other Final Fantasy game has, and it handles them with such deftness and tact that I was stunned at several key points. I never had imagined that such great storytelling would come from a Final Fantasy game, let alone a non-numbered title.
That said, however, the English translation could have been better. The translation in some places seems out of place, or like a non-sequitur. In fact, there are even a few lines scattered throughout the game that feel completely misplaced in their scenes. In addition, the choice to translate some things in the way they have been seems unnecessary. The most obvious of these choices is translating the names of Suzaku, Byakko, Souryu, and Genbu at all—while the four beasts may not hold much meaning in the West, not using their names is needless.
The sound editing for the English dialogue isn’t great, either. While many characters are voiced by really great actors, the lines themselves are often disjointed, as if they are performed separately rather than in a single take. Even when one character has two lines in a row, there is often no connection between the emotion or tone in the voice. Even if the individual lines are well acted, it’s jarring.
Despite this, the game has a well-developed atmosphere, for the most part. The music is great, often helping set the mood for a scene or location, and the battle themes are enjoyable to listen to while dispatching enemies. The only hiccup in this department is the graphics. And that’s not even to say that they’re bad because they are really good for an HD port of a handheld game from four years ago. The issue, instead, is that the graphical improvements aren’t comprehensive—the main characters have all had a facelift, as have many of the locations, but secondary characters look terrible, and are likely ported straight from the PSP version.
This is especially noticeable on some characters, where the game transitions from an absolutely beautiful cutscene to an in-game scenario, and the characters involved look drastically different. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. With the exception of the main cast, almost every character has a very sub-par model. This even extends to important named characters that just don’t show up often.
Where the graphics are upgraded, they look stunning. The main cast look like their models were created from scratch, in many ways. The textures and colors were much more vibrant than the PSP version, and more parts of the model (such as hair and cloaks, for example) would move in comparison to the original, PSP models. That makes the older models that populate the game look just that much worse.
Also, many of the animations for characters seem to have been imported as-is from the PSP, too. Class Zero’s default stances looked off and awkward on the bigger screen, as did some of the movements. And while I loved the camera’s auto-blur function when I moved it, the speed at which it spun was more jarring than it was on a handheld. There are many smaller things like this in the game that could’ve used more attention for the HD port. However, in the end, I think the graphics looked great considering the game was a PSP title from 4 years ago.
As for the gameplay: its impressive. The battle system is truly one of the best action RPG battle systems to hit a JRPG in years. The controls are tight, and the learning curve is just right. Type-0 doesn’t pull any punches, and the gameplay is that much better for it. The Class Zero students never feel like they truly have an upper hand, as two or three good hits can generally knock a character to 0 HP. You’re never really able to afford being careless–enemies will punish carelessness very, very quickly—and this ratchets battles’ intensity.
That’s not to say that the game is skewed in your enemy’s favor, however; they go down just as fast. In fact, most enemies can be dispatched well before they’re able to even hit you. The danger often comes from the number you face at once, as well as enemies flanking you. This game’s battle system was designed well, and it’s an incredible amount of fun, to the point that even grinding to level up your characters is enjoyable.
The fourteen playable students in Class Zero offer an incredible amount of playstyles to pick from, too. While leveling up all fourteen evenly is recommended, it will require a bit of grinding to keep them all even unless you want to be vastly underleveled for the majority of the game. And as the characters level up, they’ll steadily grow further and further apart, and each will end up with a distinctive fighting style all their own.
Unfortunately, with 14 main characters, their characterization suffers hugely. While a few of them are important to the story and end up more developed than others, many of Class Zero’s members fall into anime-esque tropes and never really develop out of them. A good example of this is Nine, who never really becomes anything more than the ‘Act first, worry later’ type. He is a fun character, but he, like many others, remains two-dimensional throughout the story.
I would recommend Final Fantasy Type-0 HD to any JRPG fan—especially if they enjoy action RPG titles. Type-0 really delivers where it counts, despite being held back by a few minor problems, most of which are the result of it being an HD port.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD was reviewed on Playstation 4 using a copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
Overall : 8.5
- Awesome story
- Tight, well-developed combat
- Battles feel dangerous and weighty
- The HD retextures look stunning
- Poor characterization
- English translation / Voice acting is lacking
- Un-updated graphics on some characters look really bad
- Some parts of the game seemed to be left alone when ported, leaving things feeling/looking awkward in some places.