World of Final Fantasy Review: Stacked
Kalvin Martinez / Nov 29th, 2016 No Comments
Sometimes a good game can go unnoticed because of its release date. World of Final Fantasy was set up to be that type of game. It was originally scheduled to release after Final Fantasy XV, meaning it would have probably been completely buried by its big brother. When Final Fantasy XV got pushed back, it made World of Final Fantasy’s release date more appealing.
The game had plenty of time to make an impact, which is opportune because World of Final Fantasy is a fantastically fun game that nails creature-capture gameplay.
Two Prophecies and Idiosyncrasies
Lann and Reynn are twins that live in a desolate and sterile place called Ninewood Hills. They have a routine that they go through day in and day out, until one day when they are visited by God.
It turns out this isn’t their real life and not where they belong. Their true calling is being Mirage Keepers and the bringers of one of two prophecies, but they have no memory of their previous lives. In order to fulfill their destiny, they are given the ability to enter Grymoire.
Grymoire is a land of adorable chibi people called Lilikins and dangerous monsters called Mirages. The lands of Grymoire are currently embroiled in a conflict with the terrible Bahamution Federation. Those that fail to resist become slaves to the Federation’s will and kept under their chains.
Lann and Reynn need to go around Grymoire collecting Mirages to regain their strengths and memories to stand against the Bahamution Federation. As the Jiants from the Hills, their role in the two prophecies of Grymoire could bring salvation or ruin.
World of Final Fantasy’s story takes some time to get into a rhythm. It hits you hard with a lot of craziness that makes the story extremely convoluted. Plus, the humor is off at first.
It isn’t until you spend some time in Ninewood Hills and Grymoire with Lann, Reynn and Tama that you understand the characters and their dynamics. Where the humor felt a bit forced at first, it becomes a charming character idiosyncrasy later on.
However, the story doesn’t get any less convoluted as the game progresses. In fact, it becomes more so, but you get more time and space to deal with new plot developments.
Lann and Reynn’s relationship is endearing and it grounds the story. As a result of the twins growing on you, it makes swallowing some of the more outlandish plot points easier to swallow. Another nice thing is how well integrated the Final Fantasy characters are to the central story. It is a good piece of fan service.
Stacking the Deck
At the heart of World of Final Fantasy’s gameplay is tried-and-true turn-based combat. For JRPG purists, there is something comforting and familiar about the gameplay. It isn’t an I Am Setsuna situation — the gameplay is not meant only to harken to yesteryear. Rather, World of Final Fantasy uses turn-based bones to build gameplay that is addictive and infectious.
World of Final Fantasy complicates the traditional turn-based combat through its mirage and stacking system. There are hundreds of monsters to encounter and recruit. Most of the fun comes from figuring out how to capture the Mirages in new ways to improve your stack.
Every Mirage has a Mirage Board used to upgrade and transfigure them into new forms. It is impressive at how robust the upgrade system is given the sheer amount of Mirages available. The Mirage Boards have a feel similar to Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid system.
Transfiguration is the key to getting every Mirage, as you’ll have to level up and upgrade in order to transform some into a bigger, badder versions of themselves. When upgraded, the new Mirage keeps all the passive upgrades earned in each previous form, resulting in some fearsome Mirages for your stack, even though the new Mirage has to learn moves all over again.
Square Enix has tried previously to incorporate monster collecting in its games, notably Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distances. Both were mildly successful at doing so, but something was missing. World of Final Fantasy finally gets the formula right. Capturing Mirages is a true joy.
Mirages are only one factor of the game’s irresistible combat. The other comes in the form of stacking. Stacking allows Lann and Reynn to combine their powers with Mirages to become more fearsome in battle. While you can unstack and fight individually, you are collectively stronger and gain all the passive bonuses of the Mirages and the Mirage Keepers.
Stacking varies based on Lann and Reynn’s size — they can switch between Lilikin and Jiant forms at will. Depending on which form you choose, you open up different stack options. Lilikin form allows you to sandwich Lann or Reynn between a small and large Mirage, and Jiant form allows you to stack a medium and small Mirage on top of your character. Neither is inherently better, but they both open up different strategic options for what type of Mirages you prefer to use.
Stacking also allows Lann and Reynn to use more powerful magics and techniques. The only way to use Firaga is to have two Mirages with similar Fire magic because the moves also stack. In addition, combining complimentary skills and techniques can result in devastating new moves similar to the cross skills in I Am Setsuna and Chrono Trigger.
Both stacking and capturing Mirages help elevate the turn-based combat, and make World of Final Fantasy a game that is hard to put down.
World of Final Fantasy takes some time to get going. The story is very convoluted at first, but it slowly gains rhythm and opens up to an inviting and comfortable plot. What is great off the bat is the gameplay. From the moment you stack mirages on your head, you’ll be hooked.
World of Final Fantasy was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a code for the game provided by the publisher.
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