I can’t help but liken World of Final Fantasy to sitting down and eating a tub of Celebrations to myself, all whilst being showered with a copious amount of brightly coloured confetti. Each franchise is reflected in a bite-sized form, with each specific flavour is very much kept in-tact, regardless of how much it may potentially clash with those found around it. See, World of Final Fantasy is a joyous, momentous celebration of the franchises heritage, looking with fondness at where it came from, whilst also looking towards the future with an aspirational, if not overly sickening, positivity. The game utilises that nostalgia in such a way that can’t help but have you relish in the lavish designs, wonderful environments, and superb remixes of well known, and not so well known, Final Fantasy tracks alike.
Chibi Final Fantasy characters, whether they be friend of foe, are littered throughout what is unashamedly the cutest, most welcoming and, somewhat-surprisingly, the most inviting iteration of the Final Fantasy series since it’s inception, which is quite an impressive feat in itself. The World of Grymoire is brimming to the full of subtle and not-so subtle nods to moments past, memorable locations and characters, whilst still keeping each individual game’s thematic compositions clearly in check; Warrior of Darkness is Princess Sarah’s protector. Rydia is terrified of fire, more-so Bombs, and whilst the game does little to often explain more nuanced reasons as to why some characters behave the way they do, anyone that has spent their childhood growing up the franchise can immediately appreciate each call back the game cleverly presents to them. Lann and Renn, the protagonists of World of Final Fantasy, are entirely original, even if the story may not be. Whilst the story is never too deep, both Lann and Renn offer regularly dispersed banter, and in the context of the world that surrounds them, this is greatly appreciated.
This would all be a shame, then, if the game didn’t provide an equal amount of enjoyment when you were actually playing it. Fortunately, the gameplay compliments the wacky, over-characterised world that it finds itself in. Everything appears to be very standard, almost by the books, in terms of JRPG standard. That is, until you jump in to a battle, and realise that what you’ll actually be doing is building a Pokemon-esque creature collection, and then creating a stack of monsters to fight for you. Your stack can consist of a Large, Medium and Small monster, with Lann and Renn being part of that stack, whether they are in their full-sized form, or their Lilikin (Chibi) form. The monsters you collect will make your stack stronger, or weaker, depending on the composition, and it’s up to you to create the strongest stack to take into battle. When it comes to capturing the monsters, each have their own catch mechanic, such as healing a Moogle, using a Lightning, Fire and Ice spell on a Cerberus, etc. Each has their own upgrade tree, too, meaning that there’s always plenty to do and, ultimately, there isn’t a perfect team as such.
What that does mean, however, is that you will most likely find a team that you’ll stick with after a dozen or so hours, and level yourself up to a point where the game just doesn’t keep up. You start to find the challenge lessen rapidly, and whilst it doesn’t particularly take the fun away from the game, it does stop boss battles from being the precisely managed, adrenaline fuelled bouts that they were originally. Coupled with being able to summon both popular Final Fantasy characters, as well as grand Espers, you’ll eventually be walking over most enemies in a short space of time. Whilst the game could only combat this problem by having introduced a dynamic levelling system, it wouldn’t feel like an old Final Fantasy game if you couldn’t level yourself up to the point of being overpowered, and that scores itself some brownie points in itself.
World of Final Fantasy, therefore, is exactly what I’ve been looking in a JRPG for quite some time. Every element found within the game is finely tuned, having enough padding throughout so that it could potentially be built on in a possible sequel, but not leaving itself bare this time around. A nostalgia based trip through the games of past, never stopping to look forwards to the bright future that Square Enix, and this series, rightfully deserve.