We gave it an A-
With Final Fantasy XV right around the corner, it’s a fitting time to revisit many of the aspects that have made Final Fantasy such an enduring and iconic series. Developers Square Enix and Tose are doing just that with World of Final Fantasy, a game that serves as a love letter to the franchise’s 28-year legacy of fantastical worlds, creatures, magic, memorable characters, and most importantly, relatable moral quandaries.
World of Final Fantasy, out Tuesday, is set in Grymoire, a land populated by Final Fantasy characters and monsters, but the narrative that ties them all together is brand new. Siblings Lann and Reynn drive the fresh story, which follows them as they struggle with a case of amnesia in the strange and magical land. The brother-and-sister duo set out to discover their past and how they fit into a prophecy passed down for generations. Both characters have odd tattoos on their arms that at first seem fashion-driven, but later turn out to be key to harnessing the power to control monsters, called Mirages.
The Mirages offer more than a simple battle challenge. Players can use Lann and Reynn to “Imprism” the various monsters they encounter and make them a part of their fighting team. Think Pokémon; the Imprismed Mirages are held in crystal clear cubes known as Prisms, much like Pokéballs. Each monster can be leveled up in battle, scoring them new abilities, attribute bumps, and the ability to evolve. The stacking system that drives the crux of battle relies on players correctly formatting their chosen Mirages. Stacking allows Lann and Reynn to place small creatures on their head in battle, not only offering an adorable new look in battle, but also combining the attributes and abilities of the character and the chosen creature. On top of that, Lann and Reynn have the ability to switch their own sizing, moving from normal height (Jiant) to the smaller, chibi-like Lilikan, which allows them to stand on top of larger creatures. This stacking mechanic feels overwhelming at first, but it quickly becomes an addicting and clever means to force players to rely on strategy instead of brute strength.
The game’s story harks back to previous Final Fantasy installments with its tone and atmosphere as well as with cameos by iconic characters. Final Fantasy X’s Yuna, Final Fantasy XIII’s Lightning and Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud pop in and out of the scenes, reminding players of the journey’s they’ve experienced outside of the new title without completely taking over the fresh tale. In this way, Lann and Reynn become avatars for the gamer as they vaguely remember bits and pieces of a fantastical world but only cling to the real one they live in. What better way to make the player feel like part of the actual Final Fantasy franchise than to write them in?
Overall, the characters are more lighthearted than those in previous FF titles, and they provide a comedic element to the game, with plenty of cute banter. Sadly, this is also the game’s one major downside; though the complex moral motifs the franchise is known for are present in World of Final Fantasy, the humorous Lann and Reynn fail to bring deep emotion to the game’s darker moments.
The entry isn’t perfect, but this fresh blend of classic Final Fantasy tropes and characters is what makes World of Final Fantasy delicious fun.