World of Final Fantasy is the latest spin-off game based on the popular Final Fantasy series from Square Enix. It is purely a fan service game with an incredibly cute chibi art style that manages to hold on its own with an excellent turn-based battle system.
If there was one word to describe World of Final Fantasy, it would be ‘Cute’. The game uses a mixture of chibi art style along with a more human-looking art style, that looks to be straight from Kingdom Hearts in term of its presentation. This similarity doesn’t appear to be intentional after all it was Tetsuya Nomura, who designed these characters for World of Final Fantasy.
The story of World of Final Fantasy is focused on the adventure of two twins, Reynn and Lann. These two have their own distinct personality. Lann is a young but albeit simple-minded teenager, and Reynn is the brainy sister who always corrects her brother. There is also some interesting side cast including the adorable Toma, who is a flying magical cat, and a mysterious girl who is referred in the game as ‘Girl Who Forgot Her Name’ and she is able to manipulate space and time.
Unfortunately when it comes to the story, it is rather mediocre in execution and takes some time to properly set up. Basically the game opens up with a cutscene that offers more questions than answers and then the plot slowly begins to develop as we begin to discover more of the story. The positive thing here is the writing, which makes the interaction between the two main characters and their sidekick rather fun while also adding a humorous touch to their conversation.
Despite the cheesy writing, the interaction between Reynn and Lann and their chatter with Toma, the magical cat, adds some personality to the exploration in dungeons. The script tends to focus on creating jokes out of some of the situations and while it often falls flat, there are some good moments that manage to fit perfectly. The game never takes itself too seriously unlike Kingdom Hearts, which was actually quite dark once we get over the aspect of it featuring characters from Disney.
World of Final Fantasy is set in a unique setting where monsters are considered as ‘Mirage’. It is possible to have control over a Mirage if we manage to successfully capture it, which is a technique called ‘Imprism’ in the game. This is essentially like throwing a Poke Ball in any Pokemon game to capture the monsters. There is a twist here though, as we need to fulfill some criteria in order to capture the monsters. They can’t really be outright captured unless their special criteria is meet and this ranges from having to inflict them with a status ailment to dropping their HP to critical status. To determine their condition, we can use the ‘Libra’ skill to expose their strength and weakness.
Those who have long yearned for a turn-based JRPG with solid gameplay mechanics might be happy to know that World of Final Fantasy is exactly that: a turn-based JRPG with some interesting mechanics added on top to make it stand out among other similar games. The battle system appears to take inspiration from the ATB (Active Time Battle) system featured in the classic Final Fantasy games, but there is a twist this time around. The twist involves a new mechanic called ‘Stacking’.
So what exactly is this ‘Stacking’. To clarify it first, we need to delve a bit further into the two type of forms that the game permits for its main characters. They are called Lilikins and Jiants respectively. This is not something that is simply limited to visual cues of the transition between character models, but the gameplay also fundamentally changes with the different form of the main characters. The player can change between the two forms with the simple press of a button combination for both characters.
Each of the Mirage that is captured in the game is categorized by their size, which is small, medium and large. Depending on their size, we can utilize them in our stack set for Lilikins or Jiants form. There will be essentially two Stack sets with the different forms, Lilikin allowing the user to ride on Mirages categorized as large and stack a small mirage atop their head, while the Jiant form allows the user to stack a medium and small mirage atop their head.
This adds a strategical layer to the game as stacking allows to combine the stats of the mirages that are in a stack set with the user. This results in a boost in the strength, defense and elemental resistance attributes while also granting the player the power to use their abilities in battle. Stacking can also improve the abilities. As an example, if we stack two ‘Fire’ magic users, they combine to give us improved ‘Fira’ magic in battle. This similarly works for other types of magic. Extra attack techniques can also be unlocked this way, like the cross attack that deals physical damage. There is a lot to experiment here when it comes to creating the best stack combination.
Classic Final Fantasy characters also make an appearance here as ‘Champions’. They can be called in the battle by equipping their Champion medals and these medals have to be unlocked first, before we can use them in battle. Each of the ‘Champions’ has their own signature style and move that usually takes inspiration from special skills in their respective Final Fantasy games. Some can heal the party while others can deal damage to the enemies and also bestow the party with offensive or defensive stat boosts. Their summon usage is limited by a 3 star bar that only fills up when an enemy attacks the party. Depending on their summon star requirements, we can call them up to 3 times per battle, or just 1 time. They can definitely come in handy if we are stuck in a tight spot during a tough battle.
Speaking of the combat, there is a certain depth to it which makes some of the optional content and the higher level boss battles fun. While the main game doesn’t really have much of challenge, the optional content requires the player to master the stacking system. It is particularly useful to check out the elemental resistance and build your stack accordingly to the weakness of the monster. If you have a resistance of around 100 for a particular element, you will take zero damage from an elemental attack by the enemy, which makes some of the harder challenges easier to complete. This requires strategically picking up the appropriate mirage for the stack set.
Unlike a traditional RPG, the main characters don’t have to wear equipment, instead we can utilize the stack to make them more powerful, while also granting them new abilities. There are also a new type of equipable jewels that can grant the player stat boosts or new abilities. These can be discovered in the treasure chests or unlocked by leveling up the mirages.
We can have up to 10 mirages at a time in our stack and even if they are not used in the party, they all gain experience points. This makes it easier to power up the mirages that we pick across our journey as they aren’t really required to be used in battle in order to level up. Once a mirage gains a level, they get a set of skill points that can be spent to unlock new abilities, stat boosts or transfiguration for them. This is done through the use of mirage board which is a node-based board bearing similarity to the sphere grid in Final Fantasy X.
Just like in a Pokemon game, we can evolve and transform our mirage into their advanced form. Each of the mirage has their own criteria for evolving to the next form and it might require a special item or reaching a certain level before we can unlock its next form. Some of the mirages will have multiple form of evolution while others are limited to just one. It is a rather fun side to the game and can become addicting as we try to evolve the mirage into our favorite monsters and summons from the Final Fantasy series.
The camera in World of Final Fantasy is fixed, which gives a nostalgic feeling at first. It bears similarity to the Final Fantasy X camera system in towns and the dungeons. The game will also feature random battles so those who wanted an old school experience will feel right at home. The random battles are rather slow to start but thanks to the fast forward and auto-battle feature, we can skip through majority of them without having to resort to pressing the attack button. This is honestly a life saver and works well in a scenario where there is not much strategy required to defeat the enemies.
World of Final Fantasy also has a gorgeous art style but it does show its cross-generation roots with some low resolution textures at place. The main characters and the enemies all appear to have some nice textures and the use of the depth of field effect and bloom makes the environment feel much more refined, but considering the Vita version of the game, it doesn’t exactly blow away in the graphics department. It also has some technical issues, mainly with the loading screen that pops up after every battle. It can slow down the pace of the game at times, and since the game doesn’t appear to be that demanding, it could have done better with less loading screens.
World of Final Fantasy is a nice throwback to the Final Fantasy series and it is mainly aimed at the fans who might want to have another go with the turn-based battle system. The game could have done better with a more polished story, but as it stands, the story is serviceable at best. What makes the game worthy of purchase is that it is full of content and has some excellent gameplay mechanics. If you are waiting for a game to tie you over until Final Fantasy XV, this should be more than enough.
World of Final Fantasy is available now for the PS Vita and PS4. It was developed and published by Square Enix. This review covers the PS4 version of the game.
World of Final Fantasy Review
World of Final Fantasy is one of Square Enix's finest RPG released this generation. It will please and delight the classic Final Fantasy fans but it is also developed for the newcomers who might have a great experience with the Mirage capturing and evolving mechanics. The turn-based battle system along with random encounters make a return here, and give us a nostalgic trip down the memory lane.