By Chris Melchin / October 24th, 2016
While the similarities between World of Final Fantasy and Pokémon are immediately obvious, I quite like the way Mirages are presented. The possible combinations for the active party can be pretty overwhelming, leaving players free to experiment and find the setups that work best for them. You can only have up to 8 Mirages in your active lineup at any given time, while up to 150 more can be held in the Prism Case in Nine Wood Hills. The Prism Case can be accessed either at one of the many warp gates leading back there, at save points, or by using an item known as a Seraphone.
Something interesting is that, although you visit multiple towns throughout World of Final Fantasy, the vast majority of buildings within them are non-interactive, with none of the towns having any shops or inns. Health and AP are restored at save points or by sleeping at the twins’ room in Nine Wood Hills, and the only item shop is run by a strange woman named Chocolatte in Nine Wood Hills. There’s no equipment, either, aside from Mirajewels which give Lann and Reynn new active abilities or passive stat boosts. Visiting the twins’ room also lets you check the Mirage bestiary and an extensive character profile database, with background information, personality data, origin games and voice actors for both English and Japanese. It’s a very impressive time sink, if you’re like me and enjoy reading lore.
Progression through World of Final Fantasy is pretty linear, with each area leading into the next, while keeping the freedom to revisit areas through the gate in Nine Wood Hills to access hidden secrets once you acquire new field skills. There’s also a wide assortment of side-quests, both from NPCs in towns and Intervention quests to learn more about the Champions. These, along with the Coliseum you unlock early on in the game, allow you to get some items you can’t find otherwise, such as ability seeds for blank slots in the Mirage Boards and unlocking special transfigurations.
The voice acting is generally good to outstanding, with the only real exceptions being Hedy Burress as Yuna and Kristina Pesic as Quistis. Burress has the same problems here as in the original Final Fantasy X, where she never sounds like she’s emoting properly, while Quistis has the problem of always sounding bored. Particular standouts on the other side are Lann and Reynn, where Josh Keaton and Amanda Leighton fit into their roles perfectly, impeccably capturing the chemistry and interactions between the opposed twins. Another one that stood out to me was James Arnold Taylor reprising his role as Tidus, and doing a markedly better job of it than he did in Final Fantasy X, as does Tara Strong as Rikku.
The writing runs the gamut from comedic to serious and even somewhat depressing at times; presentation is usually fairly lighthearted, with Lann and Tama generally working as comedic relief, but everyone knows how to get serious when the situation calls for it. The humor is hit-or-miss, as humor tends to be, but enough of it works for the whole thing not to come across as being too childish and stupid. The strangest thing is easily the credits sequence, which features the chibi models of all the main legacy characters, except redone with realistic modelling and textures for the hair and clothing, dancing in unison to the upbeat J-pop. The scene is quite unnerving and silly, somewhat undermining an otherwise stellar ending.
The music is not bad but generally not amazing, with mostly original tracks alongside several redone songs from earlier games. The biggest standout I noticed was one particularly excellent cover of “Decisive Battle”, the boss battle theme from Final Fantasy VI, used when summoning Terra Branford and during a minigame encountered late in the story. The opening theme “innocent²” by Mizuki is quite pleasant as well, and can be heard in the video at the bottom of the page.
The graphics are nice too, and some of the environments are absolutely beautiful. The chibi character designs are adorable, while the Jiant designs are very reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts. Mirage designs are generally simplified versions of monster designs from other games in the series. The new UI design is simple and clean, and areas and towns are diverse and rich in personality, if somewhat misleading and constraining on where you’re allowed to go. The game even pokes fun at this at one point, with its tendency to play fast and loose with the fourth wall. There’s also a small number of anime sequences, which are well-animated and really set these scenes apart from the others.
World of Final Fantasy is paced well enough so that if you don’t make a habit of running from fights, you’ll never need to grind unless you want to train up a newly-caught Mirage, which can be done just by keeping it in your lineup. Most of the fights are fairly easy, including most boss fights, but when things start to go wrong in combat it can all fall apart really quickly. Having a stack toppled by the enemy is one of the worst things that can happen, leaving the characters stunned and with less health and defense to protect themselves if the enemy attacks again before they do. A game over can only happen in boss fights, where otherwise losing a fight sends you back to Nine Wood Hills but you retain everything gained before dying. The difficulty isn’t exactly punishing aside from the final series of boss fights and the postgame content, as long as you keep your Mirages in good shape and fight intelligently.
I would strongly recommend World of Final Fantasy to anyone interested in the Final Fantasy series, whether you’re looking for a place to start or you’re a veteran looking for some nostalgia while still getting a fresh experience. My playtime was just over 40 hours not counting the occasional death, including all of the Intervention quests and some other fooling around before the final boss gauntlet. There’s also a nice bit of postgame content such as extra dungeons and bonuses for maxing out Mirages for completionists, although weirdly no New Game+. Even so, it’s a good amount of content and well worth the $59.99 USD on PS4 or $39.99 on PS Vita. I had high hopes for World of Final Fantasy after PAX, and suffice to say it did not leave me unsatisfied. Some may be turned off by the relatively low difficulty and the somewhat childish dialogue, but it was so well-presented both visually and aurally that I had no issue with it. Even if it has some minor issues, the game knows its audience, and manages to appeal to fans both new and old with a lighthearted story and endearing characters.
Review copy provided by publisher
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