The latest Final Fantasy is a pixie sized epic with a splash of Pokémon (Playstation 4)

As someone who has been a lifelong fan of Final Fantasy, World of Final Fantasy was specifically designed for people like me, and I love Square Enix for it. There’s a certain element of nostalgia attached to World of Final Fantasy, the way in which it revives series tropes almost verbatim and combines them with a classic cast of characters (look, there’s Tidus! And Yuna! And Cloud!). But it’s been done with skill and elegance. Once you’ve plugged your ears and resorted to subtitles, the characters quickly grow on you, and the rampant pace with which the (admittedly shallow) plot progresses means you’re never stuck for places to explore and events to uncover. This is Final Fantasy boiled down to its core components with a touch of Pokémon thrown in for good measure—and it works beautifully.

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At the start, Lann and Reynn, as well as a few other characters introduced in Nine Wood Hills, who have awoken in the land of Nine Wood Hills without their memories. After being told that they are the only remaining mirage keepers in the world by their mysterious guide, Enna Kros, the twins set out on their grand quest into the world of Grymoire to regain their lost memories and find their family. When you enter Grymoire , Lann and Reynn adopt a chibi style look that fits in with the residents of this world, which are known as Lilikin, versus the normal looking Jiants. These chibi designs definitely take some getting used to, especially with how good the Jiant designs themselves look, but it definitely fits the type of atmosphere that World of Final Fantasy is trying to present.

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World of Final Fantasy revolves around capturing “Mirages,” beasts that roam the wild in packs or as individuals. Taking on the role of twin siblings Lann and Reynn, you catch Mirages by weakening them in battles and trapping them in Prisms (which are definitely not Pokéballs), after which they become tame and can be used to fight alongside you. Used often enough in battle, the Mirages’ skills and experience is accumulated so that they can “Transfigure” into bigger, stronger editions of themselves. Mirages come in small, medium, and large variations that can be positioned to balance on top of one another to form a sort of totem pole that launches attacks. How you construct these stacks determines the skills and weaknesses of your battle team. Upon Capturing Mirages is combined with the usual dungeon farming, item harvesting, talking to NPCs, exploration of towns and villages on a open-world map. The stack as one unit share the health and abilities of each of its members; so if you have two characters in the stack with the ability to cast “cure”, the overall stack has access to the powered up “cura” ability. The one thing you need to watch out for is when enemies start dealing specific kinds of damage to your stacks and threatening to ‘topple’ them. If a stack gets ‘toppled’, suddenly you’re left with very weak individual characters. Worse, they’re stunned for a time, making them very easy for enemies to pick off. You can also topple them back.

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Check Out Cloud’s Champion Summon

Nostalgia aside, this game brings a lot to the table as an entry in this series. The stacking system brings a new element of strategy to the ATB(active time battle) system that Final Fantasy (for some reason) has become to be known and remembered for. It is a deceptively simple mechanic that creates depth in battle. The visuals, the music, and to an extent, the story all have that square enix level of polish. Environments in this game are very appealing, with the background given a soft blur to add a tilt shifted effect, which accentuates the simple chibi characters who reside in it. These environments coupled with very soothing and comforting soundtrack, make for a very nice experience. The story, while not as strong as the aforementioned elements, is still very appreciated. I’d say it’s a mix of Ni no Kuni and Pokémon, all in Final Fantasy flavor.

The Good

  • Mirage stacking is a fun and a new mechanic
  • Impressive visuals
  • Nostalgia factor is off the charts

The Bad

  • Shallow and not a very deep narrative

Verdict

If you’re a a die-hard Final Fantasy fan that has been itching for the turn-based days of old, this is well worth the purchase. 30hrs in and I still have a ways to go before collecting and leveling everything up.

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