There have been scores of Final Fantasy games before World of Final Fantasy, but this addition breaks new ground. It’s a heady mix of fun, colourful gameplay for younger players and series nostalgia that takes veteran fans down memory lane.
The game follows twins Lann and Reynn as they explore the world of Gymoire. Why they do so is never truly explained in simple terms, which is one of the first faults of the title. The introductory cutscenes, while lengthy, don’t really reveal much to the player. We are told that the twins were once a part of this world, though they’ve lost all of their memories, so they enter to try and regain them. However, five minutes into the exploration and your new task is to catch all of the mirages – the cute monsters that preside in the land – and if you’re thinking Pokemon, you’re not far off. Walk a little further along though and you’re told that you must now fight the Bahamut Army, which ends up becoming “save the world from the assortment of bad guys”. It’s all a little convoluted, though older fans have come to expect this from a Final Fantasy title.
What saves the plot somewhat are the locations you stumble across and the characters you meet along the way – many of which are borrowed from other titles in the series. There’s just something special about the first time you step into Nibelheim which I’m sure many fans will appreciate. NPCs in these cities are always worth talking to as their dialogue is endearing and quirky, but this is often lost on the central characters. The interchanges between the protagonists smacks of trying too hard and Tama, your fox guide through the game, has the most horrifically annoying manner of speaking that makes you cringe with pure anger.
The moments of respite you get from Tama’s irritating the-chatting come in the random battles. While the turn-based combat is a welcome nod to the past, the whole thing moves incredibly slowly. Even when you use the fast-forward feature, you’re sat waiting just a little too long before you can choose your next moves. But unlike the older games, battles aren’t fought by you alone or any summons you call upon. Instead you fight using the mirages you capture, which join you in the form of a stack, with different sized monsters balancing precariously on top of each other.
Each monster has its own set of abilities which combine when they stack up. It means that much of your time is spent playing around with the menu, seeing what pooled abilities appear with different combinations. For example, monsters with high physical strength combine to create cross-slash, or two monsters who know the ability fire will join together to give you access to fira. Stacks are what make this game a strong competitor in the RPG market. It’s no good just to run in guns blazing; battles need to be carefully planned and hours can be whiled away choosing the perfect team. It’s detailed without being complicated, which is a difficult balance to pull off.
Another of the game’s best selling points is its aesthetic quality. The whole game looks gorgeous. It has such a smooth animation and almost realistic movement, while maintaining a charming cartoon style, reminiscent of a brighter, more wholesome Kingdom Hearts. As you’re walking through the dungeons, little details in the background catch your eye and really complete the scene. Simply put, it’s just nice to look at.
The whole thing is a cute step away from the more serious titles in the franchise. Combat is detailed and a welcome throwback to past classics, while visually the game is stunning. World of Final Fantasy is unique within the franchise, but tends to cling to the tropes that have been used time and time again by successful children’s franchises. The essence of the game itself is encapsulated in Tama’s tiny foxy form; adorable and fun, but full of little annoyances. Though you’re sorely tempted to give Tama a good kick, World of Final Fantasy is worth sticking around for.