Looking back to E3 of 2015, and remembering how unfortunate World of Final Fantasy was as a precursor to the gargantuan announcement of Final Fantasy VII’s remake, it’s a shame that WOFF wasn’t given more attention, as having spent a good 20-25 hours on it as of this review, I can only describe it as a delightful trip down memory lane with nearly 30 years of Final Fantasy’s rich history and characters. Most fans of the series will find themselves squealing with joy at the attention to detail and the humongous references to the series’ as a whole, although the tone of the game may not appeal to everyone.
One of the first things to notice about World of Final Fantasy is how unbelievably adorable everything in the game is. From the characters to the environments, to the monsters present in every area, cuteness permeates every single aspect of it. If you’re a player who enjoyed Theatrhythm on the 3DS, who loves chocobos, moogles and the lighter side of the franchise, then this game will be an absolute gem to you. If you are expecting a dark, complex story similar to one that would follow characters like Sephiroth or Kuja, then you might be a little disappointed by the fanciful story presented here. That said, the visuals of this game are absolutely stunning for the most part. The lighting effects and character models are a sight for sore eyes, and if they are any indication as to how games like Kingdom Hearts 3 are going to look, then things are definately looking bright in the world of Square Enix. The environments are almost always gorgeous as well, however there are a few areas where the textures could have used a lit bit of extra love, but for the most part, the visuals really are something to behold. Early on in the game, I found myself wandering through an area from one of the games and not even realising it until I spotted something I recognised in a delightful epiphany that took me by surprise.
The cuteness of the game extends to the battle system as well, which bears more than a passing resemblance to another well-known Japanese RPG franchise as well as the ATB system made well known by the Final Fantasy series. You obtain various monsters that belong to the Final Fantasy series named Mirages by way of collecting them with ‘prismariums’ and use them in battle against other monsters by stacking them on your head (bear with me here) in order to alter your stats, transmute (*cough* evolve *cough*) and use various abilities unique to the monster in question. This blend of Pokemon and classic Final Fantasy systems actually works very well, and collecting all your favourite monsters and summons like Valefor, Ifrit, Tonberry, Chocobo is an addictive endeavour to say the least. Welcome additions to the battle system borrowed from Square’s own Bravely Default series make an appearance here in the form of the fast-forward and auto-battle buttons, making grinding for levels a lot less painful than it was 15 or so years ago. Another special mention goes to the Mirage Encyclopedia (the ‘not Pokedex’ as I refer to it), your means of reading up on any Mirage you’ve captured to learn its’ stats and weaknesses. I found myself literally laughing out loud at some of the clever references not only to Final Fantasy, but to pop culture in general, making capturing every Mirage even more joyous.
Another positive thing to note on World of Final Fantasy is the soundtrack. Lovingly drawn from across the series all the way back to the original Final Fantasy, almost every track played in this game is recognisable in some way or another to fans of the series. Much like the visuals of the environments, the music gives nods to sounds and tunes from the rest of the franchise rather than simply replaying old music.
The characters in World of Final Fantasy are presented for the most part in a loveable chibi-fied form, which actually present themselves with a lot of personality that one wouldn’t expect with such a limited visual palette. The characters from the main series are shown in a totally different light, but retain their personas from their respective games, making every encounter with one of them something to look forward to. The original characters however, with particular mention to Lann, the male protagnist, are so childish they verge on vapid. This doesn’t extend to every original character; luckily Lann’s sister Reynn is appropriately sassy, and the early character Enna Kros is an interesting character to say the least, but the game forces Lann’s stupidity so far down your throat it can be difficult to stomach.
Lann’s one-sided characterization is a small blemish on how wonderful World of Final Fantasy is for any fan of the series’ or even newcomers. The joy of playing through such a beloved franchise in a compacted nutshell far outweighs any small shortcomings the game has, with endearing representations of fan-favourites like Cloud, Lightning and Tidus, an alluring battle system and an overabundance of attention to detail. Despite the fact that World of Final Fantasy is a representation of the Final Fantasy series as a whole, it retains an identity of it’s own, and is a joy to play.