|World of Final Fantasy
|Oct. 25, 2016
|PS4, PS Vita
|ESRB – Everyone 10+
At PAX West, World of Final Fantasy was the game that came from behind and surprised me. I’d written it off as just another Final Fantasy crossover, and I overlooked it in favour of Final Fantasy XV. Playing the demo at PAX was enough to change my mind, and to put the game on my release radar. I was looking forward to seeing how the full game measured up to the 90 or so minutes I spent with the demo.
World of Final Fantasy is meant to be an introduction to the Final Fantasy series, by tying together well-known characters with a completely new story and setting, while still retaining allusions to events and locations from older games. However, despite such obvious callbacks to earlier games, World of Final Fantasy still manages to feel like it has its own identity, rather than just being yet another Final Fantasy crossover game.
World of Final Fantasy follows amnesiac twins Lann and Reynn, from the isolated, lonely world of Nine Wood Hills. They become conscious after who knows how long of going through the motions of everyday life, and encounter a strange woman named Enna Kros. She informs the twins that they used to be extremely powerful Mirage Keepers, a type of mage with the power to capture and control creatures known as Mirages. She sends them to the world of Grymoire, with the task of reclaiming their former power and legion of Mirages and the promise that, in doing so, they’ll have the chance to meet their lost family and potentially regain their memories. In Grymoire, they find themselves clashing with the Bahamutian Federation, siding with a coalition of towns and Champions from earlier Final Fantasy games against it, together with a fox-like Mirage sent with them by Enna Kros named Tama. The twins also have the ability to switch between Jiant (normal human-sized) and Lilikin (the game’s chibi design) forms at will, with different stacking traits.
Your party always consists of Lann and Reynn, plus the Mirages you pick up along the way. In terms of personality the twins are pretty diametrically opposed; Reynn is analytical and well-read with a tendency to overthink situations; meanwhile, Lann is goodhearted but reckless and not particularly bright, with many, many jokes in the game being at his expense due to his stupidity. The two have excellent chemistry both in and out of cut-scenes, although the constant making fun of Lann does make you feel somewhat bad for the poor moron after a while. My personal favorite exchanges are the ones where Reynn is losing her cool, and Lann and Tama need to get her to chill out.
Mirages are the biggest addition to the series in World of Final Fantasy. The main new mechanic with them is stacking, with the twins and all Mirages defined as small, medium, large and the special extra-large size reserved for certain Mirages known as Mega Mirages. Stacking Mirages combines their HP, AP, stats and elemental affinities, as well as giving access to abilities and spells not usable individually by combining skillsets. For example, adding together abilities of the same element will unlock higher-tier abilities of that element, and combining abilities of several different elements can sometimes lead to results you could never expect. For example, I never figured out exactly how the abilities in one of my stacks added up to give me Flare and Ultima, but I’m not complaining. The only way to find out is really to experiment and see what you come up with, which is something that I enjoy.
Elemental and ailment affinities are represented numerically, with varying degrees of weakness and resistance represented as percentages. Attack abilities are divided into magical and physical damage, and each can either be neutral or take on any of the eight elements: fire, ice, electricity, water, wind, earth, light and dark. A minor annoyance with spell descriptions is that they include the element and type of damage but not the damage tier, but with experience you can get a feel for how much damage an ability will likely do based on its AP cost and whether it’s a single- or multi-target ability. AP costs are pretty standardized, since the twins and non-Mega Mirages each have an AP pool of exactly 4, with a full stack having a total of 12 AP. Because no ability can cost more than that, damage tiers are clearly defined by their AP cost, making it fairly easy to judge how much damage an ability will do once you get a feel for the combat system. AP also regenerates automatically in combat.
The combat system in World of Final Fantasy is the ATB (Active Time Battle) system first seen in Final Fantasy IV. The main difference is that instead of individual ATB meters, icons appear on a moving timeline on the left side of the screen, with stacks taking action when their icon reaches the top. The UI has been overhauled, with actions mapped to the four face buttons and different sets with the left stick in the four cardinal directions. There’s a set of shortcuts for each member of the stack and the fourth for customized shortcuts, such as stack abilities. In this format, the game will either auto-select a target or you can choose one manually with left and right on the d-pad. If need be, you can also press L1 to switch to a more traditional menu system, which allows use of unmapped abilities, items, the escape command, manually choosing heal or buff targets, and selecting non-traditional targets, such as attacking allies or healing enemies. I quite like the shortcut system; it’s very lightweight, and much less cumbersome than menus can become as your list of abilities grows. However, if you prefer a more traditional experience, it is possible to switch default settings to make the standard menu the default combat UI. My biggest problem is that it tends to not automatically map new abilities to shortcuts, such as Mirajewels that give the twins new skills, non-native abilities on Mirages, and new stack abilities. This means that, whenever shuffling your stack setup and abilities, you’ll often need to go through each character’s shortcuts to make sure they’re arranged the way you want them to be. A nice additional feature is that holding R1 fast-forwards through battles.
Mirages are acquired by imprisming them, which in turn can only be done once certain conditions are met to create a “prismtunity” and by using the correct prism for the Mirage you’re trying to capture. Prismariums are reusable after failed attempts, which helps given how few and far-between the prismariums tend to be. Keeping and raising Mirages is where natural comparisons to the Pokémon series arise, although there’s more to it here than in Pokémon; prismtunity conditions vary wildly between different species, which can be determined by casting the Libra skill.
Mirages progress through their Mirage Boards, using SP accumulated by gaining experience and leveling up. Filling out slots in the Mirage Boards unlocks new abilities, stat bonuses, Mirajewels for the twins, blank slots to set custom abilities, and the ability to transfigure the Mirage into new forms and unlock new Mirage Boards. Unlocking certain transfigurations also requires specific items related to the Mirage being unlocked, which can often be gained by beating the Mirage in combat. Certain abilities allow Mirages to follow you around or be ridden in the field, and others are able to remove or get past certain types of obstacles in dungeons. The Mirage Boards let you choose how your Mirages progress, although they’ll ultimately always reach the same point.