This is a review coupled with a video review. You can watch the video review above, or read a transcript of the video below.
World of Final Fantasy is an oddity of a game. Creating a game like this and releasing it so close to the release of Final Fantasy XV makes one worry that it is just a throwaway title to wet your taste buds for the “real” Final Fantasy game that is just around the corner.
However, much to my pleasant surprise, World of Final Fantasy is a just unique enough to stand on it is own as a title and also manages to fill every scene to the brim with the kind of charm that we have come to expect from Square Enix.
Whenever I see that Square Enix are working on a new game, I make sure to find out who will be director of the project. This is usually a good indication of the quality of the game for me (my favorite director is Hajime Tabata by the way). When I saw that Hiroki Chiba would be making his directorial debut, I was somewhat concerned.
I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t think Chiba-san could get the job done, as I am familiar with his work, which dates back to Final Fantasy VII. However, to go from an event planner, to lead writer, and finally to director is just a massive leap and requires a different approach than what he may have been used to.
Though, I suppose the real question here is, did it pay off for Square Enix? Well…to be honest, I am not exactly sure yet, and let me try and explain why.
Immediately upon starting World of Final Fantasy, you will notice that the game sets a light-hearted tone and doesn’t really deviate away from it. The story follows two siblings: a brother Lann, a somewhat goofy dimwit, and his twin sister Reynn, who is supposed to be the more rational and grounded of the two, but most of the time just comes off as a brat. The story starts with Lann waking up in his room from a nightmare and realizes that he is late for his job at a local coffee shop.
When he gets there, a young woman is waiting for him, and she asks for a cup of coffee, as he is fixing the customer her drink his sister comes in and pulls him outside to show him that there aren’t any people around in their once lively neighborhood. As they discuss what could have caused everyone to simply disappear, the woman laughs to herself and remarks that the twins do not seem to remember what happened to them.
She goes on to explain that the twins were at one point mighty warriors in the land of Grymoire, with the ability to control monsters called mirages. The woman reveals herself as Enna Kros, and that she brought them to this place in order to help guide them back to becoming the mirage keepers they once were and hopefully help them regain their memories.
Enna Kros then opens a mysterious door to the world of Grymoire and the twins race inside. Once inside the twins are transformed into little chibi versions of themselves. This is so they blend in with the native race of Grymoire, who are called Lilikin. The players have the ability to transform between forms at will, which actually plays into the gameplay, which I will touch on in a moment.
From then on the twins must battle against the Evil Federation, and struggle against an ancient prophecy that foretold of their arrival as they attempt to discover their past and who they really were. Along the way you’ll meet a ton of characters from almost every Final Fantasy game so far. The tone of World of Final Fantasy as I previously mentioned, is pretty lighthearted.
In fact, as far as story and tone goes, I would say that World of Final Fantasy feels like it has more in common with Kingdom Hearts than Final Fantasy. Depending on who you are, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The gameplay of World of Final Fantasy is probably the most interesting aspect of the game. The combat is a mix of Pokemon and classic Final Fantasy. As the primary goal of the game is to collect mirages, the player can collect them like they are Pokemon and use them in combat. Mirages come in four different sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large. These sizes play into how you will set up your battle stacks. Now as I mentioned earlier, the twins have the ability to switch from Jiant to Liliken on the fly outside of combat.
This will determine their position in a stack. In combat, each twin will fight with a stack of mirages on their heads, by doing this you gain the stats and abilities of all the monsters in that stack. So if you are had two monsters who had 50 earth resistance in your stack, you will have a total of 100 earth resistance on that character. The size of the twins also plays a significant role in their place in the stack.
If the twins are in their giant or normal form, they are considered to be large, which allows them to put a medium monster on their head, and a small mirage on their medium’s head. However, if the twins are in their Liliken form, they are considered to be medium size and therefore have the ability to ride large mirages, and put small mirages on their heads. This means that the player must set up four Mirages stacks total, two for each twin.
The actual combat system that World of Final Fantasy utilizes is the Active Time Battle system that has appeared in several older Final Fantasy games. In the ATB system, the player must wait for a meter to fill before they can perform an action. The bonus to this system is that it gives the player a chance to be able to attack multiple times before the enemy gets the chance to attack back, though it’s also a double-edged sword which will allow the enemy to do the exact same to you.
You also have the ability to catch mirages as if they were Pokemon by accomplishing certain tasks in combat, which you can figure out by casting Libra on the enemy. Once a mirage is imprismed, you can rename it and start using it in battle.
Along with mirages and basic combat, World of Final Fantasy also has it is own version of Limit Breaks. Unleashing this has the twins either summoning an Extra-Large mirage to fight with them, or summoning a medium to perform an attack or ability. Mediums, in this case, being heroes from other Final Fantasy games, which are unlocked by advancing through the games and purchase them from the girl in the tea room.
Every monster will earn skill points or SP from leveling, these can be used on the Mirage boards to boost their stats or upgrade their abilities. You can also unlock transformations, which you have the ability to switch to whenever you want at a prism gate.
Mirages also have the potential to unlock skills that can be used out of combat. These includes the likes of: stroll which allows the mirage to follow you around outside of battles and occasionally find items, or flutter which allows a flying Mirage to carry the player a short distance. This means it is always wise to have a diverse group of mirages in your lineup, even if they are not in your stack.
World of Final Fantasy is bright, vibrant, and incredibly cheerful. In fact much like the story, the graphics and art direction is much similar to Kingdom Hearts than to Final Fantasy itself. In fact, if you were to tell me that World of Final Fantasy was originally supposed to be World of Kingdom Hearts, I would believe you.
Tetsuya Nomura once again is the character designer behind the game, and it shows. I suppose modern Square Enix really has two art styles, more serious, less exaggerated art like in Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XV, and Final Fantasy Type-0, and the more cartoony, Disney art style of Kingdom Hearts and World of Final Fantasy. Even the monsters are just tiny and adorable versions of their more intimidating forms that we have seen in other games.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about the game’s art that isn’t easier just to show off with game play footage. Though the one thing I will say about the Liliken is that I have a hard time taking their plight seriously when they are shaped the way that that are. It is like watching a POP figure try and warn me of the apocalypse.
I went into World of Final Fantasy hesitant with what I was going to get, and even now I am still afraid that it is a game that will just be over shadowed by Final Fantasy XV when it ships next month.
However, after spending the time playing the game and exploring the world of Grymoire and it is character, I personally am walking away pleasantly surprised with what we have gotten. It is always nice to see a developer who is willing to take a chance with an IP and just allow someone to create a game they want to make.
World of Final Fantasy is definitely a game that any Square Enix fan should pick up, and I would say it’s almost a guaranteed buy if you own a PS Vita. However, as always, I have said just about everything I can about World of Final Fantasy, so let us know down below.
World of Final Fantasy was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a digital copy provided by Square Enix. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 8.5
- The combat is enjoyable. From Mirage stacking to medium summoning the combat is pretty fluid and clean, and if you get bored, you also have the ability to simply fast forward as you play.
- The story is a bit goofy and at times hard to take seriously, but if you allow yourself to be sucked into the world of Grymoire, you will find yourself thoroughly entertained by what’s been presented to you.
- Leveling up your Mirages never feels like a chore, and with the Mirage boards, it can even be satisfying.
- The ability to unlock every battle theme from older Final Fantasy games by unlocking mediums is also nice. Because I sure do love that Final Fantasy 6 battle theme.
- The art style at times makes the game hard to take seriously