With the success of the fantastic Dragon Quest Builders, (Read my review here), it appears as though Square Enix have hit a new stride with adapting genre ideas and adding in their own injection of IP’s and JRPG, but is the Pokemon inspired World of Final Fantasy a nostalgic classic or a complete miss?
My initial thoughts when learning of World Of Final Fantasy (WOFF for the purposes of this review) was that this was going to be a cheap cash in on the popularity of Pokemon with a shameless addition of Final Fantasy themes in the form of the Chibi, Pop figure like characters. WOFF is so, so much deeper than that, under the cutesy aesthetics hides a deep & interesting JRPG that will appeal to kids whilst scratching the nostalgia itch of the more hardcore Final Fantasy Fanbase,
Okay, this is a little bit of a tricky one to gauge for WOFF, initially the combat system is merely comprised of the 4 main buttons on the Dual Shock 4 but with a little bit of a menu play in the settings you can change this to a classic menu style with the active time battle of your choice. The addition of being able to adjust the gameplay to how you remember it is an absolutely essential addition to WOFF allowing people to play the game however they would like and adjust the active time system based on their skill level.
A large part of the game is to capture certain Final Fantasy monsters and have them do battle with wild monsters as well as other Pokemon trai… Mirage keepers in order to progress the story. Unlike Pokemon before it though, you cannot simply capture the monsters (mirages) by merely hitting them until the health bar depletes enough, whilst this is available for the capture of first stage mirages, the better mirages come with more unique conditions in order to catch and keep them, for example – to catch a Moogle, you must first heal it in order to create the “Prism-tunity” and be able to capture it. Whilst these conditions are not a huge difference; they do break up the formula enough to avoid becoming stale.
My worry with the mirages was that you would obtain a handful of mainline Final Fantasy characters and no longer care about using the monsters you can acquire throughout the game, it was clear from the first time I found a main character though (the Warrior of Light) that Square Enix anticipated this worry and opted to instead choose for being able to summon the characters in for an attack instead of in your main lineup, I personally felt this was definitely the best move as it allowed me to collect all my favourite monsters whilst still being able to summon Squall or Cloud in the heat of battle.
One other addition to the gameplay that set itself apart from Pokémon is the ability to evolve your monsters into similar monsters of the same breed without losing experience, this was an absolute godsend for people like myself who must catch all the monsters and simply does not have the time to level up 10 different types of Chocobo in order to evolve them. With the evolution of certain monsters comes a size change from Small monsters who sit on the top of the stack right up to XL monsters who can only be summoned in, in much a similar way as Aeons that do battle for you until you run out of Ability points.
There are also a plethora of sidequests featured in the tearoom or coliseum for you to undertake that give you a chance to battle classic Final Fantasy monsters but I will not touch on this too much through fear of spoilers!
Finally within this section we have the Stacking mechanic featured in World Of Final Fantasy. This mechanic allows you to stack up to 2 monsters on your head in order to adjust elemental abilities and resistances which couple with the ability to change to size of your main characters allows for countless combinations but at the time of writing, I have barely found a use to shrink down as I am yet to find any decent larger monsters for Lanne or Reynn to sit upon (Spare my huge Red Dragon I literally JUST got).
Appearance & Music
The appearance of WOFF appears to be what is putting off people (See what I did thur?) when looking into this game, but in all honesty I am quite a big fan of Chibi style aesthetics and thoroughly enjoyed seeing what all the characters would look like if they ever joined my “Pop figures” collection in future.
Given that the special edition of World of Final Fantasy comes in a pop up storybook and the entire game is featured in the land of “Grymoire” I feel that the storybook style aesthetics within the game summed up the experience in a delightfully charming manner that I personally loved and found that it hit me right in the nostalgias.
As far as the music goes, it features classic songs from the numbered Final Fantasy games which, of course, was incredible and just added to the entire experience I had with WOFF.
I must also take a moment to mention that the voice acting in 100% on point, the addition of bringing in many of the original voice cast for the classic characters of the past few years is a fantastic little joy that does not go unnoticed. I also particularly enjoyed that when you summoned a certain character into battle, it would change the battle theme to one of the classic themes from the numbered series, for example summoning in the Warrior Of Light changes the battle theme to something new and fresh.
The first time I noticed the remastered music was upon meeting lady Yuna when I noticed the faint piano tune of the hymn of the fayth from Final Fantasy X playing nonchalantly in the background to the cut scene. I will throw it out there right now I had a pretty huge fanboy moment over hearing this as all the memories of my 300 hour experience with FFX came flooding back to me.
Given that this game is rumoured to be 100 hours long (without accounting for side quests or monster training!) I am only 10 hours into the story at the time of writing so take my decision on this with a pinch of salt as well all know Final Fantasy games have a tendency to chop and change at every 20 hour interval.
So far though, you play as Lann and Reynn who are both pretty cheery individuals considering they have woken up with no memories of who they were before in the land of Grymoire and the standard FF fare. The two main characters being happy and, really bloody, funny makes for a fantastic change to the normal Final Fantasy protagonist formula of a wildly depressed teenager hating everyone around them, think more along the lines of Final Fantasy 9 over 7/8.
I have so far been tasked with taking down the evil Bahamutian army that is in the process of taking over the world of Grymoire. Whilst this brings nothing sensational in the worlds of narrative, the characters really stood out in WOFF and made the experience a delightful one.
There are also a huge array of side quests as mentioned above but through fear of story spoilers I do not want to go into the side quests of the story with too much detail, we all know how precious we can get over the storyline in Final Fantasy games.
Based on the 10 hours I have played over this weekend, I have found World of Final Fantasy to be an incredibly addictive and rich experience, as a huge fan of the monster collection genre & an even bigger fan of the Final Fantasy Series, (I even loved the Lightning trilogy, all of them), I found a lot to love in World of Final Fantasy and would happily add it to my collection of high regard for numbered Final Fantasy games.
It will also never hurt to have the addition of being followed by a baby Choco-Chick throughout the experience.
Reviewed by Luke
Review copy provided by Square Enix.