Final Fantasy is quickly approaching its 30th anniversary, and to celebrate this incredible milestone, Square Enix is releasing a brand new RPG for newcomers and veterans alike to enjoy: World of Final Fantasy. Originally revealed last year at PlayStation Experience, this spin-off title is an accessible gateway to the series that showcases all of the famous characters, monsters, and environments the franchise has accumulated throughout its rich history.
The story of World of Final Fantasy revolves around the twin protagonists, Lann and Reynn, who have awoken in the land of Nine Wood Hills without their memories. After being told that they are the only remaining mirage keepers in the world by their mysterious guide, Enna Kros, the twins set out on their grand quest into the world of Grymoire to regain their lost memories and find their family. What I enjoyed most about Reynn and Lann are their polar opposite personalities targeted towards veterans and young newcomers respectively. Where Reynn appeals to existing fans with her snarky remarks and serious demeanor, Lann appeals more to kids with his slapstick humor and brash behavior,. No matter what events transpire during their 30+ hour adventure, the twins stick together and balance out each other’s weaknesses.
World of Final Fantasy’s gameplay is a spin-off of Nintendo’s popular Pokemon franchise. Much of the core gameplay focuses around collecting and battling the famous monsters of the franchise that abruptly ruined our party’s journeys. From agile Chocobos to powerful Behemoths, there’s an abundance of 180 monsters, referred to as mirages, from across all of the numbered entries, for players to obtain.
While all of that sounds quite familiar, there are a number of appealing tweaks to Pokemon’s classic formula that make World of Final Fantasy feel more unique. In order to catch/imprison the mirages of Final Fantasy, you need to fulfill an objective to create a unity with them. These objectives can vary from simply weakening it, to inflicting a status ailment on it, to using elemental attacks against it. Once the imprison is successful, you can level up your new party of creatures through battle and plot out what abilities they can receive on their mirage boards. As a result, new mirage forms can be unlocked, which you can freely switch between in order to ensure your party is built to tackle any threat.
World of Final Fantasy’s battle system returns to a classic turn-based combat style, but with the twist that the mirages and main characters in the player’s party need to be stacked on top of each other to create a viable fighting force. Consisting of three layers (small, medium and large), the two stacks that players need to build, must each use Reynn or Lann as either a base or middle layer. Much of the depth in the gameplay comes from how you balance these stacks with your elemental mirages. Doubling down on any element can give you access to more powerful abilities early like Firarga, but you will in turn receive huge damage from its weakness. The stacks can even be toppled by physical attacks if they are structured weakly, making your party extremely weak and cutting off access to their full toolbox of attacks. While some of the combinations players can use are hilarious in concept, I really enjoyed the gameplay system of World of Final Fantasy.
Another piece of World of Final Fantasy I really enjoyed was the wonderfully paced dungeons. I won’t lie, World of Final Fantasy’s dungeons are mind-numbingly simple to traverse, but anytime I began to get bored with the linearity of the new level design, there was always a boss battle just in sight to end the chapter and restart the process. Your mirages also act as HM slaves during these segments and can unlock special paths in the dungeons or reveal hidden treasure chests, but thankfully neither is ever necessary to actually progress.
What most fans will be coming for, however, are the special appearances of their favourite characters, like Cloud and Yuna. The fan service level in World of Final Fantasy is understandably large, because it’s acting as a love-letter for the franchise, with the world of Grymoire serving as a combined universe where anyone across the numbered entries could appear at any time during the twins adventure. Once you complete whatever quest these infamous heroes have for you, you can collect their champion medal and summon them to perform a special attack.
Unfortunately, after the game’s first act, encountering all these side characters makes up the bulk of World of Final Fantasy’s experience, which detracts from the development of the twins as powerful characters in their own right and the progression of the actual story. Lann and Reynn have a lot of character despite their boring Tetsuya Nomura designs, but their journey never feels anything except generic until the final chapters, where the pieces finally start to come together. I would have much preferred a balanced approach to the story, where the twins slowly obtain their lost memories over time instead of recovering all of them at once towards the end. It would have made the middle arc of the story feel more enriched and less like cheap filler.
World of Final Fantasy is spin-off title that prioritizes delivering fan service instead of the sort of powerful story that we’ve come to expect from one of the best RPG franchises. While I still enjoyed a lot of my time with the game due to its charming characters, wealth of humor, and fun gameplay, ultimately the core experience feels like a forgettable one compared to the numbered entries.