Games with rich history, deep heritage and tremendous fan base tend to deviate from their well-known pattern, break out from tradition and start venturing in unusual genres. Coming fresh from an identical experience with Dragon Quest: Builders, I have been entrusted with World of Final Fantasy, a mesh-mash of different genres, the converge of old traditional and the modern new gameplay, one thing is really clear, the creative machine of the lads in Square Enix gone unhinged and full throttle with this game, from the first glance on its world and characters, it is Kingdom (freaking) Hearts, the battle system is traditional turn based Final Fantasy, the monster catching mechanics bear striking resemblance to Pokemon, moreover; no pun intended, but the developers named one of the crucial aspects of the battle system: Stacking, ironically they have made a foundation of a game with its unique setting and narrative, then; stacked inspirations and ideas from different genres and games on it vertically, question is… does that blend keeps a firm balance and footing or it is shaky and of jelly leg?
World of Final Fantasy tells the story of Reynn and Lan, a bro and sis whose hilarious exchange of words gives you the impression of a dysfunctional relationship of next to kin but it is not. Narrative wise; the game starts abruptly in a Kingdom Hearts style, bro and sis here are trying to put off with a loss of memory, their journey throughout the charming world of Grymoire which is basically a recreation of some of the most beloved locals and worlds of the Final Fantasy Universe like Nibelheim from Final Fantasy VII and Lake Macalania from Final Fantasy X, inhabited with: Lilikins (chibis) and a star-studded crew of Final Fantasy heroes braving the peril of evil forces known as Bahamutian Army, the story is rough around the edges but what WOFF lacks in story it makes up in intriguing and hilarious exchange of words and interaction between the protagonists and FF characters that never loses steam and keeps you hooked.
Speaking of hilarious, the dialogues and the exchanges between the bro and sis, their observation of their surroundings and the dialogues with well known and loved Final Fantasy characters is fantabulous and it is the shining star of this game, whoever have written all the texts and dialogues in this game, they are a bonafide wordsmith, it adds a unique feel to the game and keeps the boredom at bay.
The battle system never broke out of tradition, it is the good old JRPG mechanics with it’s all crucial cogs: turn based, active time battle of Final Fantasy series, the traditional levelling up; the random battles, you name it. While that might seem as a great and exciting news for avid JRPG fans such as myself, truth is; Sadly it is not; the ailing and outdated time based battle system shows it’s age here, I feel guilty dissing and flaunting a battle system I grow up with profound affectionate toward, but it is truly “outdated” in today’s games, Square Enix did a great job patching it with modern aspects here and there, as they have dedicated a button to accelerate the pace of the battles helping them feel flow in the process.
The bread and butter of the battle system of this game is without a doubt the “Stacking” system, as the name suggests, you will be stacking the mirages (monsters in the game’s lingo) you capture, on the top of your character, (you will be able to stack three party members on a party of two) combining the stats and sharing both resistance and weakness to particular elemental attacks and ailments in the process. Now this is a unique addition and significant “patch” that adds fresh feeling to the game’s old school battle system, helping it not get squashed under the oppressive weight of the old mechanics.
One other important thing is that size matters in World of Final Fantasy, and it plays an important role in the game, when traversing the game’s world or when you are in the heat of battle, the developers have broken down the sizes into the well-known classifications of S-M-L and XL, and you most stack your party members accordingly. Outside the battles; when you are traversing the dungeons and the game’s world, the sizes are broken down to Jiant (your normal form) and Lilikin ( the reduced chibi size) as you will be changing to and for between the two sizes to Access different areas and to open chests.
The lads and gals behind this game are evidently lingo freaks, they have taken the term “prism” twisted it to different directions, and bam! out comes the terms Imprism, Prismarium and such, those terms indicate the mirage capturing mechanics of the game; borrowing a lot of tricks from the book of Pokemon almost to the point of ripping off; you can clearly say that World of Final Fantasy is Square’s take on Pokemon, you can almost capture any monster you encounter ranging from beloved monsters from the FF universe and new ones. All the fan favorites are here from Chocobos to Bahamuts, the capturing system works identically to that of Pokemon’s as you are basically required to weaken the mirages by hitting them until a window of opportunity (cue the linguistic skills of the developers) the Prismtunity triggers then it is time to hurl the” Prism” ( cubes that encapsulates the mirages within, duhhh Pokemon?) in order to capture them, although similar to Pokemon; not all the Mirages are able to capture by simply weakening them, there are special requirements for some as you might need to hit some of them with certain elemental magic or induce them with status ailments to knock them into “Prismtunity”.
The capturing and breeding system of the game is significant in progressing through the story, but does it worth the time and effort to take a detour from the main story and indulge headfirst into quests to capture them? Nah; not really, although the game generously rewards you with cool and rare mirages like Cerberus of FF VIII, it does not have the same impact of being a standalone game in it’s own right as Pokemon does, but it is cool anyway.
Taking a breather from the game’s battle system, the game bears striking resemblance to Kingdom Hearts, instead of Disney stars studded Kingdom Hearts, World of Final Fantasy is Final Fantasy stars studded game, not just the heroes and villains, but also monsters and locals and themes and music that simply plays on the heartstrings of every Final Fantasy fan. Every character from Cloud to Tidus ( aha ha ha ha, copying his ridiculous laughter which is present in the game! Yes!) are recreated in a cute chibi versions complete with their special moves, this game is sprinkled with a gazillion of Final Fantasy details which significantly helps the whole package shine and glitter, I won’t spoil them for you, I invite you to explore the game’s uplifting world to uncover them yourselves.
While the addition of Final Fantasy heroes is super neat, it is although limited as they can’t fight alongside you, their role in the battles are limited to just making an appearance for a short amount of time, to clarify it more, think of them as the Summons of Final Fantasy. Although a bummer, it is more than a welcome addition, you will always be welled up with joy, beaming enthusiastically seeing your favorite FF hero performing his or her signature moves.
Finally; regarding the game’s world and the aspects of traversing and exploring it, the game’s world is vivid and well animated but the deal breaker is; (apart from the joyous interaction and talking with NPCs )the game’s world is void of compelling elements of exploration and it feels stiff and simple sometimes, regarding the dungeons you just simply go from point A to point B, the game often time forces your hand to leapfrog between the portals to bring a mirage with certain ability which is annoying, there is nothing interesting in the dungeons after all, you just walk through a linear path and that’s that. The animations and the voice acting are top-notch, the world is vivid, and full of laughter, the cute designs of FF monsters will awe-struck you, all in all, animations and voice acting are masterfully executed.
We had also played the PSVita version of the game; while there is no difference in content between the PS4 and Vita, you should note a couple of things when it comes to your decision of which version you would prefer. For example, because of space constrain, the PS Vita version will download without any voice acting. This forces you to download either the Japanese or English voice files as a free DLC, instead of having both by default like on the PlayStation 4 version.
While the resolution on the PlayStation 4 will have additional graphical effects with a clear 1080p resolution, and crisper texture, the PS Vita version is obviously reduced to the natural ratio and scale of its smaller 960×544 pixel screen, but doesn’t seem that lower in quality of rendering. There’s also a tiny bit of a difference when it comes to loading time, with the Vita being slower than its big sister console, except when it comes to battles which seems to be shorter.
A good thing to take in consideration is that World of Final Fantasy will make use of the PlayStation “Cross-Save” feature, which can help you continue the adventure either in the living room or on the go between both platforms. Sadly, that does not mean it’s a cross-buy version, and you’ll have to buy both the PS4 and PS Vita game to make use of this continuity. Finally, the PS Vita version of the game’s online mode will only be via ad hoc.
In the end; Square Enix has laid a unique foundation in World of Final Fantasy, oftentimes I felt like I am going through a hilarious Pixar movie glittered with witty exchange of words and dialogues between the game’s protagonists Lann and Reynn and the well beloved characters from the Final Fantasy universe, but hindered with tedious progression many JRPG games of yore plagued with, it took me six freaking hours to finally warm up to the narrative, to the environment and the game’s world, the uninteresting battle system had almost put me off from continuing the game, but thankfully the characters’ warmness kept indulging me in the game, the fact that every nook and cranny of the game are filled with FF details and fan services have floated my boat, whether you are a Final Fantasy fan or not, this game definitely deserves a go! because there is the feel of uniqueness that lures you to this game.
World of Final Fantasy was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita digital code of the game provided by Square Enix. The PlayStation Vita version was tested by Nazih Fares. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• Hilarious conversations
• Be it dialogues or texts, the language here is crafted by bonafide wordsmiths.
• Vivid visuals.
• Filled to the brim with Final Fantasy contents.
• Lengthy adventure
• The stacking system adds a fresh feel to the battle system.
• Cross-save function between PS4 and PS Vita versions
• Outdated battle system.
• Dungeons are void of exploration elements.
• Unbalanced mixture of different elements.
• No cross-buy function