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Posted September 4, 2016 by Andrew Cathie in Feature
 
 

World of Final Fantasy Hands-On Preview


World of Final Fantasy was one of the surprise announcements during Square-Enix’s 2015 E3 press conference, along with Nier: Automata and I am Setsuna, signalling that they were moving towards having a more varied and complete line up of games in the future. The cutesy graphics, monster catching and stacking aspects of World of Final Fantasy made it an interesting proposition, but the trailers we’ve seen haven’t shown enough to really know what it would be like. I recently had the chance to go hands-on with the early parts of World of Final Fantasy and I came away knowing more about what it was and wanting to keep playing.

The game opens with the type of cutscene I have come to expect from a Kingdom Hearts game, with no backstory to explain where we are or what’s happening, as we watch the two main characters seemingly fall to their deaths. The scene cuts away before any deaths actually occur and one of our protagonists, Lann, suddenly wakes up from his dream. Realising he’s late for work he quickly hurries out of the house into an empty town, unaware of the fluffy tailed rabbit perched on his head. He briefly acknowledges the empty town as unusual, before entering the café he works at, which is also empty save for a single customer, and gets busy setting things into motion. As he blusters his way through getting the dishes cleaned, again commenting that he can’t believe nobody else has shown up to work, his twin sister Reyne runs into the shop. She quickly gets to business setting up a relatable relationship dynamic that was used throughout my hands-on time with World of Final Fantasy. Reyne asks Lann, rather incredulously I might add, how it is that he doesn’t think it’s weird that there is nobody else in the town, taking turns between berating and trying to get the message through to him that this isn’t normal. During all of this, that little fluffy tailed rabbit has been sitting on Lann’s head enjoying the ride, with him still failing to notice it.

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That scene really set up the general theme of the story, conversations and interactions I would see throughout the rest of my time with World of Final Fantasy, making it completely clear that it was filled with humour and some self-deprecation. Characters regularly began calling out weird occurrences and how things made no sense, reacted with comical facial expressions and a touch of slapstick humour, and just generally kept everything a little bit silly. The writing was great, with lots of jokes, and the voice acting was excellent, perfectly conveying the humour and incredulous reactions of the characters involved. The only annoyance was the writing for Tama, the fluffy tailed rabbit-creature who serves as the games adviser. She frames many nouns and verbs with ‘the-‘, which will infuriate some, but I was able to move past that after a little while.

The game as a whole is something between a regular Final Fantasy game, with its ATB-driven command system, and a Pokemon game, with its monster catching and team building aspects. The twist to World of Final Fantasy’s gameplay system comes in the form of its stacking mechanics for team formation. You’re able to stack monsters and characters on top of each other, following the McDonald’s sizing system of large, medium and small, to create your preferred teams. While the other two systems will be incredibly familiar for many, the stacking brings a new type strategy to the formation of your team and how you tackle battles. Will you shrink Lann and Reyne down to use some of your larger monsters or keep them large so that you can use a smaller monster on their head? I found it to be a fun and enjoyable way to keep some tried and true systems interesting.

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After getting your teams set up to your liking, you’re ready for some battles which are started by wandering around the relatively linear dungeons in Grymoire. Think the sort of dungeons you would find in Final Fantasy VII and IX. Within these dungeons, which are all incredibly colourful and pretty (fitting with the chibi art style), you will come across monsters that you battle. Once you have weakened monsters enough, you will be able to attempt to capture them within an Imprism. That’s one of many puns you will come across during the game, by my reckoning. Capturing my favourite monsters from early Final Fantasy games quickly became addictive and I only stopped playing after I got kicked out due to the demo venue closing.

World of Final Fantasy looks to be much more than the tiny, low-budget spin-off that I initially expected it to be. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously and brings a sense of fun that I haven’t felt from a Final Fantasy game in some time. The art style looks great and the gameplay systems all seem to work together to create an engrossing and addictive experience. My hands-on experience quickly made World of Final Fantasy one of my most anticipated titles for the rest of 2016.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.


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