To me, JRPGs are an emboldened line with gamers standing either side; people either love them or... they really don’t. As someone who sits firmly on the side that loves them (the correct side), Final Fantasy games are something holy and worth praying to. But, and I take the liberty of speaking for my Crystal-brethren here, there’s a hesitation to jump into any Final Fantasy title that doesn’t have a roman numeral in it. Whether you chalk it up to experimenting with the genre, trying to make some quick cash or something in between, the series has produced a number of titles in recent years that long-time fans of the series found disappointing. Thankfully, World of Final Fantasy is one of the good ones.
In World of Final Fantasy you play as twins Lann and Reynn, two teenagers with no memory of where they came from. Upon meeting a mystical stranger named Enna Kros, the twins learn that they used to command powerful monsters known as Mirages in a world called Grymoire. In a bid to recover their lost memories, the two enter a portal to return to Grymoire along with their new guide, a little mirage named Tama.
I don’t want to write a review that speaks to fans of the series, but the reality is that this game hits all the right notes for the devoted. The world of Grymoire is created using notable locations from the series like Besaid and The Sunken Temple, and throughout your journey you encounter series favourites like Terra, Tidus, Lightning and Cloud. While this might seem like some kind of anachronistic nightmare, let me reassure you that the characters and settings are delightful. Rather than explain away just how the ensemble of characters come together, they are introduced organically as denizens of Grymoire who face the same plights as you (Lann and Reynn) do.
On a slightly less positive note, the story is far from revolutionary; it’s a standard “defeat the evil overlord” plot with almost no twists or turns. And while the cameos of beloved icons are fun, they only carry but a hint of the charm, grit and downright badass-ness that we love them for.
But I said I don’t want to write it for the fans.
The game is a treat. Every setting is Goldilocks to explore: just right. While the game makes it possible to take the shortest route through every zone, exploration is rewarded. Strong mirages and treasure wait for you in areas that lie off the beaten track. Further still, within the common zones the rate at which you encounter specific mirages makes dwelling and grinding a worthy pursuit. Naturally, the better ones take a bit more effort. And for those of you still wondering what a Mirage is...
Mirages are creatures you face in the world of Grymoire. Throughout your adventure, you can “Imprism” (synonymous with ‘Imprison’) mirages to train and fight with you. As is the case with most Final Fantasy games, the selection of monsters you fight are regulars from the series; you’ve got Behemoths, Marlboros, Cactuars and of course, the Eidolons. As you make your Mirages stronger, they gain the ability to transform into other Mirages like a Tonberry that transforms into a King Tonberry! In order to Imprism mirages, you’ll need to satisfy a special condition like inflicting elemental damage or casting a debuff. Get it right and you can walk away with a brand new Mirage!
The way these Mirages battle with Lann and Reynn is simple: you can either battle as a party of six, or Lann and Reynn can stack the mirages on top of (or between) them to create two groups of three. Stacked groups of Mirages mean that they share their strengths and abilities as well as their weaknesses, so you’ll find yourself swapping between your Mirages as you progress to ensure favourable outcomes. It does look funny at first but you’ll get used to it.
Combat is fairly standard stuff for a JRPG. An active time battle system is used to determine the order that characters act and you’ll select from a range of options on menus. A “fast-forward” mechanic is included which makes grinding a breeze.
Here might be a good opportunity to talk about the mirage that you’ll grow to hate the most: Tama, your guide through Grymoire. Tama is a cutesy little fox mirage with a poor grasp for the English language (which is NEVER explained). She has a tendency to use the word “the” incorrectly before words. Using an example from the game, instead of saying “Chill out, you’ll live much longer” Tama says “Chill the-out, you’ll live the-much longer”. As someone who has not mastered the virtue of patience, this shit got old very quickly and I found myself fast-forwarding through cutscenes only reading dialogue.
Tama to one side, the game is worth a pickup for any series devoted. Proper value.
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY WAS REVIEWED USING A RETAIL PLAYSTATION 4 DISC PROVIDED BY BANDAI NAMCO