By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I’ve been waiting for World of Final Fantasy for months and honestly I had no idea why. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the Final Fantasy universe, and I’m willing to accept that. But with no idea how the gameplay worked, how the cameos would play into it, all I knew is that it had an original story, and featured a plethora of Final Fantasy characters in chibi form: Quistis, Rikku, Warrior of Light, Refia, Sephiroth, and the list frankly, just goes on and on. But I had so many questions, and many of them have been answered. There are videos, and people talking, but nobody has yet to really succinctly answer the question: What is World of Final Fantasy? I can sum it up in one simple sentence: Kingdom Hearts plus Pokemon. It’s a combination done in the absolute best way. It’s a scary thing to say on the Internet, but I’m not a wild Kingdom Hearts fan. Still it’s a cool concept.
World of Final Fantasy isn’t a series of Final Fantasy worlds, where you have to slog through Narshe, Macalania, and the SeeD gardens. It is the world of Grymoire, and it exists on its own. We are bordering on thirty years of Final Fantasy and it has endured this whole time. Some entries into the franchise are better than others, but let’s talk about this one, shall we? Grymoire is inhabited by tiny, chibi style characters known as Lilikin. Lann and Reynn are the main characters and the whole of your party. “But Jason!” I hear you cry out. “Wouldn’t that be boring, only having two characters?” And sure, it could be. But the key phrase is “Mirage Keeper.” The monsters in this world are known as Mirages, and you have the power to create images of them that you keep in glowing balls and wield their power in whatever manner you see fit. You can also unlock gems that acquire skills specifically for the characters Reynn and Lann, like Libra, higher stats, or spells. But here’s where it gets complicated.
The Nature of the Beast
You have two forms, Jiant and Lilikin. Jiant is Large Size, and Lilikin is Medium. In Jiant form you can stack a Medium and a small Mirage on top of your head, and in Lilijin, you can ride a large monster and have a small one on top of your head. This is how you acquire resistances, abilities, and build better stats in general. In an area with lots of ice monsters? Stack a pair of creatures that have fire abilities. You can get access to powerful magic like Fira/Firaga by simply stacking creatures that can both cast Fire. Or you can give yourself variety, and have three elements at once! It gets even more complicated though. That’s also how you gain stronger physical abilities, like Cross Slash. While it can be complicated, it’s one of the things that gives World of Final Fantasy variety. You can make whatever team you desire, if you have the time and effort to invest. As your Mirages gain levels, they get skill points, which are put into a Mirage Board [think the License Board or Sphere Grid]. Personally, I tend to stick to Jiant form until I have a pair of large monsters. You can have a Jiant and a Lilikin as well, since the button presses to swap forms is bound to two different buttons. The possibilities are pretty damn endless.
But how do you get these Mirages? Do you go to the Chocolatte Mart and buy Mirage Balls? No, they’d probably get sued for that. The person who sets you on this path is Enna Kros, and makes certain via mysterious means that anytime you come across a new Mirage, you have the ability to capture it. Failing to catch it will not waste the “ball.” It’s more of a magical power, less an actual physical ball. But how do you catch them? It depends! It starts off nice and simple: hurt them til they radiate with a glowing circle on the ground. That’s the tell that you can catch them. But that’s going to change before too long. Sometimes you have to leave it as the only enemy, or hit them with X element, heal them, target them with a status ailment, or give them an item!
It’s going to be varied, so I highly recommend at least one, if not both of your characters have Libra as soon as possible. It will tell you the secret you need, in addition to health, resistances, et cetera. You can only have a certain amount of them with you at once, but if you catch one and don’t have room in your inventory, you can send it to your Mirage Case. At save points, or using the Seraphone item, you can access that list and switch them around as you see fit. Some enemies you simply cannot capture, for storyline purposes. I’m doing my level best not to spoil anything at all in this review, so you’ll have to find out the “why” for yourself. But once you’ve caught one of a type, that’s it. If another form of it appears, you can still catch it. But if you’ve caught a Babyhemoth, you can’t get another Babyhemoth, unless somewhere on the Mirage Board there’s an unlock for another Babyhemoth Ball. You can also unlock other forms on the Mirage Board! There’s a lot to explore here.
Combat will feel familiar to many Final Fantasy veterans. It is a combination of the ATB system with Final Fantasy X’s turn-based system, as far as I’m concerned. There’s a bar on the left that shows who will go next, and when they get to the top of the meter, it’s their turn. You can set it to Wait [Enemy cannot act while you are on a turn] or you can make it real time or a blend of the two. I prefer Wait myself because I give a fair amount of time and consideration to serious battles.
However, one of my big contentions/issues comes with this part of the game. When it’s your turn you see a very Kingdom Hearts styled UI, and you can even set Macros [combinations of buttons] to activate certain useful abilities. Each of your four main buttons does something, and will activate on the first target on the other side, unless you designate one with the directional pad. You can switch to a more “Final Fantasy” style menu, with a series of commands you can activate. Items, Attack, Abilities, Imprison, Defend, and so forth. I prefer this so I can see everything and don’t have to waste my time making shortcuts for abilities, changing them when I swap stacks and the like. But every turn, you default back to the standard KH basic menu, and I hate this. I really wish I could default to the Final Fantasy menu.
You can fast forward with the R1 button, and if you hit the touch pad you will activate auto-combat. But be warned, as it only repeats the same command over and over. But it’s a great way to level, if you stand a little ways from a save point [which restores HP/AP]. Spells/Abilities are cast via Action Points, which are restored through combat. Attacking restores AP, and there are other ways to get it back too. Some monsters have abilities like “If you are afflicted with a status ailment, you gain more AP back a turn”, just as an example. Even if you want to cast Cure outside of combat it will also burn AP if you have any. There’s another very important thing to consider: Enemies can stack too! They become stronger, can perform better abilities, and have more health in a stack.
So how do you deal with stacking? You and the enemy both have powers that have a better chance than others to stagger or knock a stack over completely. You’ll want to comb through your physical attacks to see which ones have the best chance of knocking someone over. Once they stagger, as indicated by a yellow or red bar over their head, any physical hit will keep that up. But I stick to med-high chance stagger abilities. If the stack knocks over, they have much lower hp [since it’s not all combined into one health bar] and are stunned for one round. This applies to both sides, so if you are about to be knocked over [red bar], and don’t have an item to stabilize [Wobblestopper. Yes, seriously.] you should consider unstacking yourself. Better to do that than be stunned!
But Wait, There’s More!
“I thought you said this had Final Fantasy characters in it! So far all you’ve talked about are cute monsters, and a pair of twins!” Well settle down, because I’m getting to that. I was admittedly a little disappointed that the FF Champions weren’t in your party full time, because that would’ve been fantastic. However, as you progress through the game, you’ll gain Arma Gems, which are used in a super-secret location to unlock the power to summon Mediums. These champions were in various Final Fantasy games, and are summoned for one attack. It varies from character to character, and each one has a cost. You have a gauge that fills up and has charges; each summon has its own cost, sometimes 1, sometimes 3. It will depend, and it will go up as you fight. No, save points will not fill this meter. Believe me, I was hoping for that too. This means the story will mostly revolve around your adventures with the Monsters and allies, but seldom will the Champions affect your combat.
Speaking of combat, are your Mirages just beasts of burden, to use whenever you need to beat something or someone up? Of course not! If they have stroll, they can run around next to you on maps, If an item is hidden somewhere, they point the way. If they have Joyride, you can ride around on them [but not in town]. There are also abilities similar to HMs in Pokemon. If your Mirages have these, and are in your party, they can fly you over small gaps, melt obstacles, smash them, and much more. Sometimes hidden areas and items are behind these, other times it’s required. Luckily, the creatures with these powers mostly seem to be in the zone you’re in. Dungeon maps also have something called a Gimme Golem. They won’t let you pass without a certain item. They are, for the most part, pretty easy to find and just require you to explore a bit. Exploring has quite a few benefits. There are hidden Mirages; powerful, specific, special ones from past Final Fantasy games [some with their own theme music!] that have specific requirements to Imprison. Exploration is so very important. Sensing a pattern?
However this calls to mind the only other serious gripe I have with this game. It’s very predictable and, for the most part, easy. You go to a town, there’s something wicked going down, and then you set out into a dungeon to solve the problem. Town, dungeon, town, dungeon. There are extra quests hidden in town, and other places, but I’ll leave those up to you to find. If you die in a spot that’s not a “Threshold” [Boss fight], you are returned back to the main town, and have lost nothing. There are also gates that let you travel back to the main town [usually at the start and finish], but no save points until the end. There’s generally a save point right at the end before a boss, but the dungeons aren’t so horrifically long. I would like to be able to use a dungeon to grind without going to the very end to do so. And speaking of leveling, your buddies that aren’t in the main stacks, but in your party, gain 8% of the total exp, so even the ones you aren’t immediately using will level up. That way if you find something in a zone and want to use it but don’t think it is strong enough, you can begin their powering up on the spot.
Limited Break? ⅘ [Great]
World of Final Fantasy is cute and fun. It’s not challenging, but it does have challenge. It’s all in how you approach the game, which characters you want to summon, and what style of monsters you want to run on your team. Do you want to be chibi all the time? Jiant? A mix? Swap around? The secrets of Grymoire are manifold! However there is a part to the game I did not get to experience. It also has a multiplayer aspect, Online Battles with other players, and trading Mirages with your friends. I did not get to experience this, but that’s another checkmark in the “Like Pokemon” box. It does feel like a blend of Pokemon, Kingdom Hearts, and a heartwarming Final Fantasy story. But it’s not grimdark and super serious. That’s probably going to be Final Fantasy XV. This one has adorable characters, tons and tons of puns, exploration, challenge, and rewards.
It might feel a bit repetitive going through the dungeons, but I tend to space it out so I can come back to it later, hit the Adventure Guide and remember what I was doing next. This is a Final Fantasy game the whole family, people of all ages can come to, explore a new world, with interesting cameos across the Final Fantasy universe. There is so much going on behind the cute cover, and there’s so much I can’t talk about! I encourage you to explore, discover, and pursue the mysteries of Grymoire!
- The cameos are plentiful, but don’t overwhelm and burden an original story.
- Fun game mechanics and incentive to explore and capture monsters.
- Plenty of twists and turns, unique mechanics and storyline experiences.
- A bit repetitive.
- Failing to capture Mirages over and over can make you tear your hair out.
- I was admittedly hoping to not summon FF chars, but have them in my party.