Available on: PlayStation 4, PS Vita
You might have missed it with all the hubbub about Final Fantasy XV this fall, but there’s another new Final Fantasy. World of Final Fantasy is one big delightful throwback to the first 13 titles in the venerable series, paired with a gameplay that’s suited to younger or new players to the series.
All of the traditional Japanese RPG elements are there – a commplicated story, a Pokémon-style system and a turn-based combat system. If you’ve wanted to find a way to introduce your kids to the Final Fantasy franchise, show them the first few hours of this cute title. They might not stick around for all 60+ hours of gameplay and story, but there’s probably no better game to get their first taste of the JRPG genre.
As the story begins, young Lann and his sister Reynn are shocked to discover that they live in a ghost world that exists outside of time.
A small, impossibly fluffy creature named Tama arrives to help the twins recover their lost memories of their time as Mirage Keepers–holders of great power over creatures known as Mirages. You might remember Mirages as summons or classic Final Fantasy monsters like the tonberry, chocobo, cactuar, and many more.
As Lann and Reynn journey to remember their former lives, they’ll meet allies along the way with fascinating stories of their own.
If you’ve played a turn-based RPG before, navigating the world and the combat system will be old hat. Towns and dungeons are linear, and you traverse each along just one path, with no open world exploration.
Combat is handled mostly by the Mirages you have stacked on top of your two characters. After capturing a Mirage in combat, its ability tree is now at your disposal, similar to Summons and Materials from previous Final Fantasy games.
As Lann, Reynn, and the Mirages defeat enemies, the creatures gain SP points to spend to unlock stat bonuses and skills like Cure and Fire.
Mix and match the Mirages in your party (and on your head) to create the best combination for the dungeon you’re currently in. You might want Mirages with fire attacks in an icy cave, for example, or Mirages with high water resistance if you’re fighting on the seaside.
Managing your lineup of Mirages in your party to level up and use in combat adds a complexity to the game that goes a long way into keeping combat and exploration from getting too tedious.
Combat is turn-based by default, giving new and casual players ample time to decide their next move, or you can choose to switch to the active battle system for an additional challenge.
Mixed in with the random encounters as you explore the world, the story unfolds somewhat predictably. Lann and Reynn discover they are part of a prophecy to save the world, surprising no one who’s ever played a Final Fantasy game before. Cute anime cut-scenes are also used to tell the story, a nice surprise and change of pace each time they pop up.
World of Final Fantasy is rated E for Everyone. There is no blood in the game, and almost all of the monsters are adorable rather than scary. A party defeat doesn’t even necessarily mean death in most cases, so this may be the most family-friendly Final Fantasy yet.
World of Final Fantasy takes all of the basic elements of a Final Fantasy game and simplifies them. If recent entries in the series have been too complicated for you, you’ll likely find the UI and Mirage system a welcome return to what you know.
All characters are fully voiced, including past characters who have never had a voice before (Cloud! Squall!). Localization for this title in the series stands out from the rest with an abundance of humor, puns, and inside jokes for fans of the series that I don’t recall seeing in any other Final Fantasy game before it.
World of Final Fantasy is one huge, charming dose of nostalgia for anyone who has ever wiled away the hours in a Final Fantasy game. Have I mentioned it’s cute? We’re talking freaking adorable. If Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s too serious a choice for you and your kids, pick up World of Final Fantasy for an entry in the series that’s likely just as enjoyable.