Whether you’re a Final Fantasy fan or just casually acquainted with the series, you’re bound to have a strong opinion about it. Topics like “FFVI is, sadly, the last great FF game” or “Remember when Final Fantasy was good?” are commonplace on message boards. Originally released for PlayStation 4 and Vita in 2016, the spin-off game World of Final Fantasy tries to bring fan service to all Final Fantasy democracies - including newcomers to the series. Adventuring twins Reynn and Lann traverse familiar scenes and meet up with the famous characters from the long history of Final Fantasy. The game serves as a traditional turn-based JRPG with bit of a Pokémon thrown in.
The thing is, Reynn and Lann don’t remember their past, the fact they don’t realize themselves. The 15-year old twins spend their days working in a sleepy little cafeteria in a town where nothing happens. Until one lazy morning, a customer appears. A bit of a doofus, Lann serves the customer like there’s nothing unusual about it. He doesn’t even notice there’s a little creature sitting on top of his own head. Reynn, a few minutes older big sister, is quicker with her wits and sorts Lann out. The mysterious customer, Enna Kros, explains the twins that they once commanded an army of mirages - creatures of all sizes, great and small. Reynn and Lann embarks on a quest not only to reclaim their past but also right the wrong in the world fallen under a malicious federation.
Basically, World of Final Fantasy is a pretty linear JPRG, taking the twins from one place to another as dictated by lengthy spells of narrative. Wherever they travel, lots of random battles ensue, taking form in classic turn-based combat. To help them along the way, the protagonists must capture mirages. They come in many forms and with many abilities, all which are eventually needed in the twists and turns of the twins’ journey. Usually, Reynn and Lann pile mirages onto their heads to form powerful battle formations. The world, where all inhabitants are small and cute, sees the teenage twins as Jiants. The twins can shrink themselves to diminutive Lilikins as well, which enables different stacking of mirages. This way, the greater monsters are placed under the twins’ feet and the smaller on their heads.
With all the monster taming, their multiple unlockable abilities and gazillion stacking possibilities, it all can feel a bit overwhelming at first. Luckily, everything is introduced in moderation, and soon managing the game becomes a breeze. The biggest selling point of the game, though, is the turn-based combat. It’s very reminiscent of the active time battle, introduced early in the series but refined in the fantabulous Final Fantasy X-2. I must confess, I’ve been secretly amused by how much people seem to cry after turn-based combat in Final Fantasy series, which has now evolved to a real-time combat. I must admit I’ve been wrong. I had no idea how much I had missed turn-based battles until I had played World of Final Fantasy for a good spell.
Turn on the classic battle menu (it’s not only more comprehensive but also clearer to read than the default menu), choose “wait” for the battle mode, and you’re set for one of the finest combat systems ever graced a JRPG. It all works out like a charm. And to think that World of Final Fantasy is only a side project! Reading the active turn meter, which shows Reynn’s, Lann’s and the enemies’ turns moving up in a vertical timeline bar, allows important tactical play. For example, I can calculate if I have a chance to heal up with one stack and still attack with another before monsters’ turn. The timing of actions is essential especially in the numerous boss battles, and thanks to the battle interface, it’s opened up plain and simple.
With the different stack configurations and their ability accumulations, the game allows you to play it with your own style. For once I was happy that I didn’t need to consult walkthroughs to see how to beat certain bosses. I did it in my own way, and that felt so good. Considering all the tamable mirages scattered around the game world, the diversity is almost gushing. Still, what has worked so far will also work further. Sometimes though, you’re forced to grind certain mirages if you bump into dungeon puzzles requiring special abilities. It’s not a problem though, as the backtracking is made relatively easy, with the twins’ hometown acting as a central hub. You’ll be never stuck in one place for too long.
The PC conversion of World of Final Fantasy has two sides to it. On one hand, if you have a decent GPU, it works wonderfully out of the box. The game is practically identical to PS4 version but that’s not a problem. World of Final Fantasy has beautiful fairy-tale looks to it. Heavy off-focus is used to great lengths to depict vistas and the characters roaming on it, making it like dreamy dioramas. On the other hand, if the hardware is lacking, there are next to nothing in the configuration options. Reportedly, AMD graphic cards have problems in viewing the water textures, making certain scenes unapproachable. Also, Steam version doesn’t support cloud saves, which, quite frankly, is pretty stupid.
If none of these platform specific gripes isn’t an issue though, World of Final Fantasy is an adorable retrospect of the beloved franchise. Spin-off or not, and not going into long-winded arguments for and against, the game does some things better than some of the latest main series entries. The turn-based combat is not only welcome, but it’s implemented on a level that surpasses the nostalgic legacy of it. Also, the writing is worth of a praise. As one half of the twins myself (with a brother though, not a cute thing like Reynn!), I really appreciate the banter between Reynn and Lann. It’s so fun, acute and savvy! World of Final Fantasy might be a bit of a slow burner, as it takes some time to get familiar with it, but when it opens up, you’ll be lost in the beauty of it, hunting mirages and resolving the mystery of the twins and the world around them.
Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.