Square Enix’s powerhouse series, Final Fantasy, is on a precipice. The once mighty Final Fantasy has been dogged with fan backlash, development troubles and the whoring out of its franchise in the last decade, and while once lorded as a shining beacon of quality is now looked at with suspicion. Many believe Square has lost its way, more interested in graphics and trying to take as much of your money as possible while doing the least amount of work to accomplish it.
With that in mind World of Final Fantasy seems to be Square’s apology to the older fans of the series. Smothered in nostalgia, WFF is very much a love letter to the series, with the subtle undertones of “look how we’ve changed! We can be the company you once knew and loved once again!” But should we listen to them? Give them another chance, see what they’ve got with Final Fantasy XV? Or should we pack our things and go live with Atlus and Persona?
World of Final Fantasy follows the story of Lann and Reynn, two siblings one day visited by a mysterious figure, telling them of a forgotten past, and putting them on the path to rediscovering those memories and the truth about who they really are. Lann and Reynn are special; not only do they have the power to control creatures known as ‘Mirages’ but they can also change shift their appearance between the chibi form that populate the world or their true, jiant, form. While travelling the world of Grymoire, visiting towns and areas from Final Fantasy’s past, they must collect Mirages to help them in battle.
Once caught you can then ‘Stack’ the mirages. Stacking is where you either place up to two mirages on top of jiant form Lann and Reynn, or one on top and one below their chibi forms. Each mirage comes with a size; small, medium or large. Large mirages only able to go on the bottom (the jiant forms come under the large category), medium in the middle (chibi form) and small are always on top. While stacked the mirages will combine their stats and abilities with Lann and Reynn, making you choose your critters carefully.
While you are only aloud to take 4 mirages into battle with you but you can have up to 10 mirages travelling around with you. While mirages in your active party get the full amount of Experience Points the ones that didn’t fight but are accompanying you will get 8% of the experience points. Once they level up mirages will get Skill Points that you can then spend on the mirage board to buy new abilities, stat boosts or ‘transfigure’. Transfiguration is where you basically ‘evolve’ your mirages into new forms, like in Pokémon. However, unlike Pokémon you have the ability to go back and forth between the different forms, keeping any abilities you’ve learnt.
The battles themselves are based on the Final Fantasy staple of random battles and an Active Time Battle bar. However, in WFF, the ATB bar is on the left hand side and shows when it’ll be your turn or the enemies, turning the whole thing into a small race that you get to watch. Once it’s your turn you can either use one of the quick keys to perform an action (you can customise what these quick keys do) or go into a bigger menu that’ll let you choose between all the options open to you. However battles are a little bit different in WFF. Not only do you have to watch carefully for your Hit Points and your Ability Points every now and again after being hit a metre will appear above your character's head. This is the balance meter, when it goes red your stack will fall over and become separated. While separated you are much quicker so it’s in your best interest to use moves/items to stop yourself from toppling. However there is the option to unstack manually, this is because to acquire new mirages sometimes you need to perform certain actions before they
become catchable. This could be casting a certain type of magic, that when stacked will instantly kill the mirage, so unstacking and purposefully becoming weaker is needed.
On top of mirages you can also go around meeting and employing champions from the world of Grymoire. These champions are hero’s from previous Final Fantasy games, just adorably chibified. Once acquired, you need to fill your champion meter up by battling, once filled you can unleash them to do their signature moves for massive damage. This is the game's ‘limit break’ system and is amazingly cool and adorable at the same time.
Visiting famous Final Fantasy towns, fighting with creatures found throughout the Final Fantasy series and unleashing past Final Fantasy heroes, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this is just mere fan service, intended only for those of us who’ve been with the franchise for a long time, and holds nothing of actual gaming merit or interest to Final Fantasy newbies. But you’d be wrong. World of Final Fantasy does have it’s own plot! While travelling Grymoire you come across the Bahamutian army, a force that is going around trying to take over the cities of Grymoire. I’ll admit that it isn’t the most inventive of stories, and is very simple. The characters of Lann, Reynn, their mirage guide Tama, and the shadowy group of knights that control the Bahamutian army really pull you into the story, keep you gripped and make you want to continue playing to find out what happens next.í It’s a game that is very hard to put down and is easily accessible for players old and new to the Final Fantasy franchise.
World of Final Fantasy (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
If you are a fan of Final Fantasy definitely pick this game up. Just maybe next year sometime. This games biggest disadvantage is that it’s been released only a month before Final Fantasy XV. But if you do play this game you will be treated to a wonderfully adorable and charming RPG with a cast of colourful characters, an immersive battle system, beautiful worlds and a soundtrack that is simply amazing. While the story is cliched and simple it’ll still have you hooked! Maybe we should give Square another chance.