Final Fantasy XV isn’t the only Final Fantasy game being released this year. World of Final Fantasy is out on PlayStation 4 and Vita and it is an interesting throwback to the Final Fantasy games of old and also doubles as a cool crossover game featuring heroes from across the series.
Let me start by simply stating that I am a massive Final Fantasy fan. I have played every numbered release and plenty of the spin-off games as well. I’m letting you know this because when World of Final Fantasy has Tifa swoop in and deliver an awesome punch to a dragon, I love it. There are so few Final Fantasy titles that I’ve not enjoyed in one way or another and World of Final Fantasy is no different. That isn’t to say is an amazing game – it’s good, but it has problems.
Starting with the good, we see a return of the ATB (Active Time Battle) system where each character’s agility stat determines how quickly they can perform moves. This is a classic system that was a staple of many Final Fantasy releases. The combat is a fun reminder of how enjoyable turn-based fights are. World of Final Fantasy doesn’t stop there though. Aside from being one of the most adorable and cutest releases ever, it takes that even further with stacking. Stacking lets you put a monster on your head like a particularly deadly hat and just like hats you gain the abilities of that monster. You need to be careful about how you create your stacks because if they are too fragile then they will be susceptible to falling over and this causes all kinds of problems.
But wait, I hear you say, what is this talk of monsters? Where do they come from? You can think of World of Final Fantasy as almost a cross between Final Fantasy and Pokémon. On your journey you are going to be capturing monsters (or mirages as the game calls them) to add to your team and pop on your head. Since your character can swap between large and tiny size at any time you can also ride large monsters. In this way you can create different variations of three member stacks. On top of this you can gain the powers of Champions. These Champions are iconic Final Fantasy characters that can come out to deal some one-time awesome damage and as you progress your journey you are going to collect the likes of the Warrior of Light, Tifa and plenty of others.
The fun doesn’t end there though, you can also acquire summons. These are extra large mirages that you can summon to aid you in battle. They are fantastic and really change up the dynamics of the battles. World of Final Fantasy really wants you to have a good time. It lets you see all your favourite Final Fantasy characters, put a Tonberry on your head and ride a Chocobo. However, it goes too far. The first 10-15 hours are lots of fun as battles are a challenge and you have to think about your team composition. You don’t have that many mirages at the start, so you need to make the most of all of them. The problem after that is: A – you get so many monsters to play with that it is hard to see which are best. B – you end up with too many cool, powerful things to do. This means that the random battles are a breeze, the bosses aren’t all that challenging and this makes the game feel a little hollow. Especially once you have levelled a few mirages and made some combos with their passive and active abilities. It’s a shame because before the battles become way too easy I was really, really enjoying World of Final Fantasy.
Honestly, though I could put up with mildly boring battles because of all the cool mirages, Champions and Summons throughout the game. World of Final Fantasy also suffers from poor pacing and a weak and confusing plot. The game takes what seems like forever to make the plot even remotely interesting, seemingly using the carrot of more classic Final Fantasy characters to drive the player forwards. And this works to a point, but there is only so much narrative guff that anybody can put up with.
At the end of the day though, World of Final Fantasy is a fun homage to years of Final Fantasy and I’m fine putting up with it because it lets me revisit some of my favourite characters. If you are also a Final Fantasy fanatic, then you’ll enjoy World of Final Fantasy enough to ignore some of its other failings. Be warned though Tama (the flying rabbit-fox thingy in the above) is evil incarnate, sent by Square Enix to punish us for all our past sins.