Final Fantasy XV will always retain a special place in my heart. I enjoyed undertaking the journey with Prince Noctis and his crew when the game launched back in 2016. I have fond memories of it and consider it one of the most memorable experiences of this generation. When Square Enix announced the Pocket Edition version of the game, it was refreshing to see but the main hurdle was the mobile release since I am not that good with touchscreen controls.
After releasing on Smartphones, Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD is finally available to buy on the modern consoles including Nintendo Switch, and fans can experience the story of the game in a cute chibi art style on their preferred platforms. But is it worth it to buy this version of Final Fantasy XV if you have already played the main game? I had some time to think about it, and I am still not sure whether to recommend it or not, but I can safely say that this is a fun little experiment that didn’t turn out as terrible as I originally imagined.
Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is faithfully the full story experience in a miniature form. It describes the same story, uses the same mechanics in battle, and even retains some of the script repeated from the main game. There are minor changes made here and there that are honestly cool to see because they feel like an expansion to the main story content. The dialogue between characters receives extra lines now that can lead to a unique take which helps clarifies some of the confusing story moments. The scripts feel a lot more polished but it is hurt by the lack of animation in cutscenes.
My most pressing issue is with the way these chibi character models get used in cutscenes. They look charming at first and during combat or exploration, I don’t have any issues in seeing them, but when it comes to the story cutscenes, they don’t animate or barely have a mouth. This makes it hard to take some of the story cutscenes seriously and I hope you don’t experience the story the first time using this way, because it maintains a relatively somber tone instead of the cheerful look offered here. If the character models were properly animated during cutscenes, it wouldn’t be as immersion breaking as it is presently.
The gameplay in Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD is something of a mixed bag. It is a top-down fixed view camera with an auto-button press combat system tacked on, so you don’t have many options for the combat in the beginning. Thankfully, as you make progress in the story, you will slowly unlock new abilities like using armiger, warp strikes and the ability to parry or counterattack. The combat will gradually reduce in difficulty the more you progress in the game, kind of steering towards button mashing instead of offering depth or strategy for most battles.
Noctis will still hang around in a party with friends, but you can’t really manage them, which was disappointing since the main game added the option for multiple characters with an update. The combat becomes dull rather quickly, but I nevertheless enjoyed warp striking my way to enemies. It doesn’t come close to the experience offered by the main game but the developers tried to do a great job with making it offer most of the combat options. Warp Strikes, in particular, are satisfying to pull and stealth is also offered with them. You can jump to vantage points located through some levels and then warp strike to an enemy for an instant kill.
You can only tweak the abilities of each character with the AP that you get through doing missions or leveling up. Most of the fights are easy so this doesn’t seem as important here. The combat itself is a victim of disappointing performance on the Nintendo Switch with frequent stutters and slowdowns that ends up becoming a major chore. I also experienced bugs including one which broke the game for me since Noctis was unable to move and forced me to reload from a checkpoint. The lack of quality control is another huge negative for this version of Pocket Edition. I am unsure how it fares on the other consoles or smartphones in this regard.
The story concludes in a total of 10 chapters, and it is a pretty linear affair. The game never feels comparable to the open world offered in the main Final Fantasy XV game, which I greatly cherished roaming around to do all the sidequests. On the plus side, the linear narrative means you will skip out on a lot of the bloat usually associated with an open world game. One frustrating issue with this design is you won’t be allowed to return to any previous area and only go back if the story requires it.
The disappointing performance of the Nintendo Switch version is a prime cause of concern for an action RPG like Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD. The story advances in a mostly linear fashion with little in the way of branching narrative. Each chapter can take 2 to 3 hours to complete and with a total of 10 chapters offered here, there is enough content compared to its asking price. The question remains, do you want to experience the same story again with a scaled-down version of the combat that also removes the open world element?
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition HD Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Explore the world of FINAL FANTASY XV with a cast of cute and cool characters! Now you can enjoy the FINAL FANTASY XV story across 10 exciting chapters.
Final Score - 7/10
Nintendo Switch owners can now enjoy the complete Final Fantasy XV story but at the cost of stripping the open world, scaling down the combat, visuals, and customization. If you are playing the game just for the story, it is nevertheless a solid action RPG that is decent enough as an alternative version of Final Fantasy XV. The technical issues with the performance and lack of quality control, unfortunately, makes this a letdown overall.