Gotta Stack em All!

From sprites to polygons, each version of Final Fantasy improves storytelling by making characters more unique, including their looks, facial expressions, and animations in general. Following from Agni’s Philosophy tech demo, Final Fantasy XV demonstrated a whole new level of visual fidelity. When announced by Square-Enix for PS4 and Vita, the first thing that everybody notice was the art style. And then, this comes up:

world-of-final-fantasy-photo-01

What the what?!? That was a bold change. From the realistic graphic, back to chibi style characters. The reason behind this was that World of Final Fantasy was designed to be an “entry” chapter for newcomers and some fan-service for the ones familiar with the series. Some would say that it is an homage to the first entries of the series, referring to the sprite characters:

Terra - Left: Final Fantasy VI, Right: World of Final Fantasy
Terra – Left: Final Fantasy VI, Right: World of Final Fantasy

Not only that, even though the game has a new storyline, it makes references to many different games to the story and has participations of various characters from different Final Fantasy games.

World of Final Fantasy - Squall, Cloud and Lightning
Yep, Cloud, Squall, Lightning in one screen (is that Quitis behind?)

So graphics with hints of nostalgia, fanservice everywhere, how did it goes compared to other games? Let’s find out.

THE GAME

Yes, you are destined to save the world. But it might take a while. The game starts very slow. There are a lot of tutorials and a lot to learn within the first our of the game. Thankfully, the combat it is very straight forward. From the very beginning, you can choose between ATB (active time battle), Turn based or a mixed of both, so it caters for all audiences.

The battle menus can look a bit confusing at first, some would think that it has some Kingdom Heart-esque feel, but there is a reason why: World of Final Fantasy introduces a new element to this game call Mirages. These mirages are monsters that can be captured through Grimoire and can help in your battles. Yes, kinda reminds of a certain game where you have monsters in your pocket. But the difference here is that you can not just have them together with you in battle, you can have them ON you! That’s right, stacking is the name of the game.

Each monster has its own abilities and size, so stacking can be done according to the characters’ size and its monsters’ size. The stacks can change the dynamics of the battle: instead of having multiple participants in a battle a stack can combine three of them within on, changing statuses, abilities, and resistances. Certain combinations can unlock unique abilities.

But like any stack, it can loose its balance. A core mechanic of the game it is to actually keep the stack fully balanced. This can be used against enemies because when you break a stack, enemies become vulnerable to attacks. But be careful, the same principle applies to you. If an enemy breaks your stack, prepare for trouble. The good side is, as soon as you recover your character’s’ control, you can restack them.

World of Final Fantasy monster stack
not-so-fun fact: enemy monsters can have their own stacks as well.

Visuals and Sound

Graphically speaking, the game it is very simple. The game was released for PS4 and Vita and the idea was to make both games similar since the game has cross-save feature. But don’t get me wrong, it is pleasant. The art style really helps here. The environments are quite simple, but the characters and monsters really shine. Well modeled and textured in the PS4 version, they really show that uniqueness that Square-Enix tries to give to their characters. The game itself runs at 1080p at 30fps and very rarely noticed anything below that.

For the sound departments, well, it is a Final Fantasy. Composed by Masashi Hamauzu, which was involved in different entries of the series, you will know that it is a Final Fantasy game. But also, because it is a mix of different characters from the series, you will hear theme songs from these as well, so keep your ear ready when you see a known character.

Final Verdict

I’m quite pleased with the game. It fulfills the role it promised to be. If you are expecting to be FFVII The Second Coming, please don’t. It is a light-hearted version of Final Fantasy, easy enough so a newcomer can enjoy and start to understand the series and get to know who is this spiked hair guy that everybody talks about and who the heck is that pink hair lady, but also it is deep enough to keep fans entertained and wondering what a Final Fantasy VI remake would look like.

I will probably say that maybe the timing of this game was a bit too close to Final Fantasy XV. It would definitely have had move attention given to if it were released a few months before, but it is a great entree for the behemoth coming on the 29th of November.

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