World of Final Fantasy is like Kingdom Hearts minus the Disney characters and crammed with Final Fantasy nods instead. Twins Lann and Reynn wake up to find their town of Nine Wood Hills vacant of civilians, their memories lost, and a mysterious fox and woman proclaiming them as heroes. In order to regain their memories and find their missing mom, the two travels to Grymoire wherein they find an evil federation threatening the lives of those who inhabit. Filled with cameos from nearly every Final Fantasy adventure, WoFF is a nostalgia trip wrapped in goofy over the top humor that is genuinely funny at times, but also drunk on its own references and jokes to the point of exhaustion. Plus it’s almost as convoluted as the aforementioned Kingdom Hearts franchise. There are chuckles and heartwarming scenes abound along with some minor intrigue, but thankfully there’s also a fast-forward button.
Despite what I thought of the story the gameplay had me hungrily coming back for more. It’s a somewhat traditional turn-based RPG battle system infused with a Pokémon twist. The twins are known as Mirage Keepers and thus they have the power to capture monsters, or mirages, in order to harness their power. Mirages come in four sizes: S, M, L, and XL. Lann and Reynn can fight in their normal, Jiant forms, and can stack a medium and small mirage on top of their head. While in Lilikin mode they’re considered medium so they can hop aboard a large beast and stack small mirage on their head. Extra large monsters are essentially summons that work similarly to how they work in Final Fantasy X.
Mirages grant the twins their powers and mixing different types will result in a sort of cross pollination of elements. Every weakness and strength of those monsters are then transferred and amplified to Lann and Reynn. This combination made me feel more engaged with battles as I often found myself strategically swapping mirages in and out of my lineup. That and there’s actually not that many so I wanted to try them all plus areas were generally filled with certain types. A fire cave would be filled with mirages weak to ice for example. Sometimes these dungeons were trickier to read, but again, experimentation and a good sense of diversity made combat more successful.
Catching mirages are trickier than Pokémon. You don’t simply weaken a monster in order to catch it. Instead every mirage is different. Sometimes all you have to do is just that, hit it, other teams you need to strike it with the right element, or infect it with a status effect like poison. It was yet another puzzle like element that had me coming back for more. That and when mirages level up you can unlock abilities and boost stats to thus make the twins even stronger. Imagine it like a sphere grid only these sometimes lead to evolving your critters, which also can be reverted infinitely. It may sound a bit perplex, and it is plus you’re outnumbered at first making the first few hours difficult, but after you get used to it, it’ll become second nature. These new introductions to an otherwise formulaic device found in Pokémon are genuinely refreshing.
There are a few hiccups that are a tad odd in terms of a new video game in 2016. First of all WoFF incorporates random encounters, a mechanic I thought was long destroyed and yet here we are. Thankfully they’re not as excruciating as they were in the heyday, but it’s still annoying. Save points are limited and dying in a dungeon after a long journey can be disheartening. On the other hand the fast-forward mechanic during cutscenes and battles were a good addition I last saw in Bravely Default. I just wish they took more ideas from that game as well.
Visually the game has a very distinct look. The characters and mirages are almost clay, or figurine like and the environments are somewhat plain, but thankfully varied. You’ll travel across glowing forests, icy caverns, desolate prisons, and beyond all with familiar touches. Plus, holy crap, this game has towns! It’s a fan service letter through and through complete with callbacks, remixed music, and everything in-between. As cute as everyone was, I just wished the plot serviced everyone better instead of delegating heroes to the background.
World of Final Fantasy is by no means a masterpiece, but it’s a spinoff worthy of the series’ name. The story is ridiculous and going back to random encounters was, to be blunt, a stupid move on Square Enix’s part, but these and my other issues with the game pale in comparison to how much I enjoyed playing the game. It revitalized my faith in Square Enix and the franchise as a whole. Hopefully if this gets a sequel all the kinks can be worked out.