Title: World of Final Fantasy

Platform: PS4, PSVita

Reviewed on: PS4

Genre: JRPG

Players: Single player, Online VS



Written by Whistler 14th November 2016






















With Final Fantasy’s 30th anniversary looming Square have been pulling out all the stops for its franchise’s birthday. We’ve gotten a feature length film, an anime, several tie in mobile titles even two home console titles in the same season. So while fans eagerly await FFXV’s release at the end of this month we have World of Final Fantasy to get our teeth stuck into. But is this parade of memorable characters and locales a fantastic venture or just a world of disappointment?


World of Final Fantasy is a light hearted classical JRPG that follows the story of two siblings, the strong willed and smart Reynn and her lovably dumb but kind hearted brother Lann. The two siblings wake one morning to realize their memories have been lost to them (and their home, Nine Wood Hills is oddly absent of its populace). They soon learn from a mysterious girl by the name of Anna Kros that they were once Mirage Keepers, capable of befriending creatures called Mirages. She explains that by rebuilding their Mirage collection they might reclaim their memories and leaves them to it after stating she’s god. The two then set off into the world of Grymoire and akin to grand old FF tradition, go on a journey to collect treasures representing the four elements.


























Turns out Grymoire’s inhabitants, the Lilikin, are small chibi-like beings and our protagonists a rare species known as Jiants. You’re also able to swap between two forms and can capture Mirages à la Pokemon, Ni No Kuni and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. As an interesting twist on the formula however, your protagonists are capable of swapping between their human Jiant and tiny Lilikin forms which plays into WoFF’s unique battle mechanic.


There are three sizes of combatant consisting of small, medium and large (including a 4th that acts as a special summon); each creature and your heroes fit into these categories determining where they can be placed in a ‘Stack’. Your active party can be composed of 6 combatants where both Lann and Reynn are able to stack up with their Mirages to amplify their stats and gain access to their abilities. Stacks can only be comprised of one of each of the three sizes and unstacked mid battle to allow for some strategic depth. It’s a quirky mechanic that feels somewhat derived from FFVIII’s Junction System and it’s fun to experiment with combinations to unlock combined abilities and optimize your attributes. You’ll need to also avoid over specializing as elements play a fair big role in gaining the advantage in fights and you’ll need to be cautious of stacking up weaknesses. That being said you’ll almost never find a genuine use for unstacking as doing so leaves your characters considerably weaker, and the only reason to do so would be to avoid getting toppled (after sustaining enough consecutive attacks your stack can topple and leave the characters in a confused state).

The almost overwhelming amount of information in the initial hours of playing seem like they’d be baffling to younger audiences. Yet on the other side of the spectrum, the complexities never really translate into challenge for veterans of the franchise.


Size requirements give a certain amount of freedom but also feel incredibly limiting. You can’t swap stack types (as changing Lann or Reynn’s size swaps your configuration) mid fight so you’re stuck with whatever you’ve entered the fight with potentially leaving you severely disadvantaged. It’s possible to have up to six Mirages in your reserve (at the cost of cutting down how much exp each Mirage gains) so it feels odd not to include a method for being able to fully utilize them in fights. Since I could only have two of each type in my party, there were so many awesome Mirages I collected that simply got shelved. When you ‘Imprism’ a new Mirage it starts at level 1, leaving them insurmountably weaker than the one’s you’ve already leveled up.


























Some Mirages can eventually ‘transfigure’ into evolved forms, changing their physical makeup, size and unlocking more abilities. Thankfully you can use the evolved states’ abilities for the original form so as to not cause chaos for your stack configurations. But often this meant unlocking new Transfigurations felt underwhelming; instead of gaining a new shiny form I would be stuck with the same, albeit stronger Mirages that I had since the start. I do personally enjoy this mechanic though especially in conjunction with the Mirage Board, a sort of pseudo Sphere Grid akin to FFX’s leveling system. Each level a Mirage gains, nets them one SP which once you’ve accumulated enough can be spent to purchase stat upgrades and abilities on each Mirage’s unique board. The combat in combination with the Stacking and Mirage Board mechanics are simple to learn and fun to play around with similar to that of a far less stressful Junction System. You don’t need to necessarily minmax your stats but it’s awesome watching your carefully put together Stack mow through mobs of enemies.


That is however, far too easy to accomplish even without optimizing your party. While understandably aimed at younger audiences, the difficulty in WoFF is insultingly easy, so much so that I can almost feel the distant echoes of Mystic Quest resonating from the game.

I would now like to apologise to those of you who were just reminded of Mystic Quest and those who had the morbid curiosity to look it up.

Only on very rare occasions did I find myself being met with any kind of challenge or having to change up between more than 2-3 strategies.


In an attempt to emulate a comedic light hearted atmosphere World of Final Fantasy repeatedly shovels what it claims is comedy, but in all the dialogue is atrocious. Banter between the protagonists is woeful with puns being regurgitated left right and center and 4th wall “jokes” being dumped every few moments. It doesn’t help that both Reynn and Lann are by far the blandest main characters since FFXII’s Vann (zing!). Reynn is a typical little smart mouth and Lann is portrayed as the lovable goof, however neither character develops beyond their archetypes and just grate on you after a few hours. Conversations between them continue to painfully play out the same where someone says something, Lann ‘comedically’ misentreps it, and then Reynn scolds him. It plays out the same so much that it quickly becomes old hat and results in fastforwarding past most cutscenes.

The structure also suffers where you’ll go through relatively samey dungeons with different set dressings, fight a boss, then discover the next town. In the towns there’s nothing noteworthy to do other than collect some npc requests and find the next flag to direct you to the next dungeon in the story repeating the cycle with cutscenes peppered throughout.


























Arguably the most important element of any Final Fantasy title is the epic story it tells, and this along with the dialogue is by far WoFF’s biggest offender. A simple tale of adventure would be fine but World of Final Fantasy takes so long to even decide what its ‘quest’ is and then continues to just throw random events in your way. Both character and location cameos are frequent such as VII’s Cloud, IX’s Vivi and the infamous Gilgamesh makes an appearance. You even come across Corneria, the first town from the first Final Fantasy, along with Figaro Castle and a forest resembling Macalania Woods. However the cameos are very hit and mix, some characters show up, spurt a line or two, interact with our heroes and are never seen again. Others feel crowbarred in and only a few really feel naturally implemented or remotely complementary to the main story.

Usually when you meet some of these notable characters you can earn their medals allowing you to summon them for a cinematic attack or spell during combat akin to Limit Breaks.

However this is another missed opportunity; it would have been so awesome to collect these key Final Fantasy heroes and compose your very own dream team. Failing that even having them fighting alongside you in fights while they travel with you would have held some enjoyment, but instead they’re confined to following you on the overworld and cutscenes.


Alas World of Final Fantasy can be best summed up as a lukewarm experience effected by countless missed opportunities. You can’t fault it’s presentation with simple yet charming visuals and a decent soundtrack to accompany it, but it feels lacking everywhere else.

It’s a solid spin off title that attempts to achieve two very different goals by aiming for both long-time fans with memorable characters and trying to garner interest in younger audiences with lighthearted themes.

Try as it might though this just leads to a plethora of circumstances where it

falters to achieve either result.

It’s no crowning 30th anniversary release, but fans of the series and younger newcomers will find some enjoyment to be had. World of Final Fantasy is a charming and pleasant experience, but most of you will likely want to hold off and grab Final Fantasy 15 instead then pick this up on sale.



Pros:

Stack mechanic allows for some creative entertainment,

Pleasant presentation,

Mirage combinations are easy to learn and fun to experiment with,

A good entry point for younger audiences.


Cons:

Excessively slow burning and lacklustre story,

Cameos are a constant missed opportunity,

Bereft of any challenge,

Stacking mechanic could do with more fleshing out,

F***ing abysmal dialogue and overuse of puns.

 

Final verdict,

World of Final Fantasy scores a so-so 6.5 out of 10.

 

Written by,

Whistler

 

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