Be they fictitious or otherwise, as time flows through a world the tales within become far more complex. Stories upon stories of heroism, villainy and all that lies between. Faces that define themselves, names which become legend and deeds which remain in eternity. A broad concept to be sure, but one that boils down to one simple fact; sometimes, anything that can happen, will happen. Now, whilst this may imply chaos in most circumstances, namely those of the real world, the ever numerical form of Final Fantasy lends itself to wholeheartedly to this idea and builds a world within a world, adjacent to another world that is populated by more than a few familiar faces…and a few that are perhaps less so. But hey, if you’ve made it this far down the rabbit hole, you know what’s up when that half truthful title rolls around. So grab a seat, buckle up, heed the warning of a being on high and prepare to somehow use crystals to save the day, night and possibly that which lies between, because that’s what a Champion does.
Welcome to the World of Final Fantasy and, before you ask, no I do not mean that in a vague form of greeting to the franchise, rather I mean it quite literally seeing as that’s the name of the game and all. Take one part Final Fantasy, one part Kingdom Hearts, a dash of Pokemon and a smidge of that stacking game that’s always in arcades and you’ve got yourself a brand new world to explore. This world. Long origin story short, this tale follows Lann and Reynn, twins who bear a uniquely identical tattoo upon opposite arms. Waking up to discover they are the only two within their world, the two are greeted by a self proclaimed god and thrust into a world filled to the brim with chibis. Which is super cute. Regardless, the two set forth to Imprism (capture) all of the Mirages (monsters) they can in order to regain the memories which they totally lost because where would an RPG be without an amnesiac? And there you have it, the two make their way across the world of Grymoire, making friends with all the cameo characters you could ever want (probably) and enemies with all the new characters created solely for this title. They’ll learn, they’ll love, they’ll make mistakes and by the end of your 30-60 hours with them, you’ll probably wind up caring. You know, unless the pair don’t jive with you, or you get annoyed by their fox Mirage sidekick’s propensity for adding “the” into random parts of a sentence as a verbal tick, which is totally something every game needs, kupo.
As far as gameplay is concerned, World of Final Fantasy plays like your standard monster capturing adventure, albeit with some slight tweaks. Rather than simply beating the almost tar out of a creature, each Mirage possesses a requirement that must be met in order to Imprism them. Though some are in fact as simple as hitting them, others may force you to employ specific elements of magic against them, inflict specific status ailments or even heal them, as counter-intuitive as that may seem. The beauty of this system also allows you to repeatedly reach these requirements (in most cases), heightening the chance of capture, represented by the Imprismtunity circle around them increasing in intensity. Also, meeting these requirements is called creating an Imprismtunity, in case you were wondering what the heck that word was all about. This being said, I will admit that this system can err on the side of frustrating. Even simple requirements such as using physical attacks against a Mirage can become troublesome, as you may simply knock them out in a single hit, based on your power of course. The more complex methods of capture also require you to revisit areas at a later time, which can become annoying when you must trek back to the final zone of a dungeon because that’s the only place where there is even a possibility to randomly encounter that one Mirage you need. Again, not a flaw unique to this game, but one that is definitely heightened by the capture mechanic. I will however applaud the game on how it presents Prismariums, the devices used to capture Mirages. Upon first seeing a new Mirage, you are simply presented with one of these items and, unlike certain other world famous titles, the Prismariums do not break after a failure, instead returning to your hand. This means that regardless of how you proceed, you will always be able to capture at least one of each creature. Sure there are certain foes who are Unimprismable on their first appearance, but since you still acquire their Prismarium, you better believe you can get them eventually. Additionally, for all those collectors out there, levelling up Mirages eventually unlocks a bonus Prismarium, allowing for the capture of duplicates, should your symmetrically minded manner require such.
Speaking of levelling up, the Mirages of Grymoire utilise a system that is not entirely new to the FF franchise. Appearing before in X and XIII (and possibly more, my knowledge is limited to personal experience), the levelling sphere system, known this go around as Mirage Boards, allow you to spend SP to unlock abilities. A novel concept to be sure, but one that works. No need to fix what ain’t broke right? You battle, you gain XP, you level, you wash, you rinse, you repeat. Simple. That being said, I’m not entirely sure the levelling and SP share a 1:1 relationship, as sometimes I found characters with far less, or far more, SP than I was expecting when I went to their Mirage Boards. Regardless, you do what you can in the hopes of gaining each and every ability available to your Imprismed friends, increasing their power and receiving a nifty bonus perk should you do so. The trade of to this mastery is that whilst some Mirages take longer to attain it, they possess access to more forms, allowing them to adjust as you see fit (through a hub world menu of course). The other half of course are only required to complete a single Mirage Board, claiming mastery faster, though unable to Transfigure (as it is dubbed) to another form. Why would you want to Transfigure a Mirage you ask? Well, despite being fairly similar in power for the most part and not akin to a more traditional Evolution, there is yet another defining feature that sets World of Final Fantasy’s combat a little left of those of its ilk; stacking.
As clumsy as it may seem visually, Lann and Reynn literally put Mirages on their head to battle. Being Jiants (not chibi size) and of the Large size, they are capable of placing a Medium Mirage upon their craniums and then a Small Mirage upon the Medium one. Tada, battle totem. From a gameplay perspective, this combines the might of the individuals, granting the stack access to each characters Abilities and buffing their overall stats. Should this arrangement not tickle your fancy however, Lann and Reynn are bale to morph into a Lilikin (chibi) form, bestowing upon them the size of Medium and altering how you can stack. After all, its one per size in each tower and you really want to use that (unsurprisingly) Large size Behemoth. OR, if you really dig being Jiant, turn that Behemoth into a Babyhemoth and pop it on your head. Reconfigure, Transfigure and win. Be careful though, some stacks possess a lower stability and a more prone to breaking when struck by enemy attacks, which is not something you want. should you topple, all stack members will be separated and momentarily stunned and let me tell you, characters are much, much weaker on their own. Sure they have more combined attacks, but that don’t mean squat when they can’t survive to use ’em. Oh, did I also mention that enemy Mirages can stack? Have fun with that, especially considering that you can’t Imprism them until you topple their stack.
Visually speaking, World of Final Fantasy looks a lot like Kingdom Hearts, at least where Jiants are concerned. Their whole overall style suits those games to a tee, so if you’ve seen KH, you know what a decent part of this game looks like. That being said, near all of your adventures will occur in Grymoire, the world populated by Lilikin, the chibis mentioned earlier. The Mirages themselves are also chibified versions of traditional Final Fantasy foes, tying the overall aesthetic together. It is probably for this reason that all of the cutscenes that bear any form of emotional weight occur when Lann and Reynn are in Jiant form, with early on comedic moments relegated to their new, cuter forms. That doesn’t stop the other Lilikin from showing off every now and then, but it is admittedly harder to take them seriously, especially when you witness their running cycle. It’s just so precious.
So, where to we stand with World of Final Fantasy when all is said and done? Truth be told, I’m on the side that thinks it’s really fun. Not the most scientifically objective answer, but hey, what’re you gonna do? Nothing about this is scientific. You run around as cute little chibi dudes capturing cute little chibi monster dudes and use them to battle villains (occasionally) alongside FF mainstays (in spirit at least, as they never actually aid you in battle). There are dungeons to explore, a plethora of chests to open and a bevy of Mirages to collect, although I do wish that the game included an actual catalogue so that I could keep track of how many Mirages I have yet to see or Imprism. That would be a right help. In that vein, I also wish the game’s help system was a little more on point. Instead of telling me that I can ride on some Large Mirages in the overworld (for purely aesthetic reasons) 40 hours into the game, perhaps it could inform me when it is necessary to return to a quest menu in order to accept my reward since the game, in it’s infinite wisdom, decided that people wouldn’t like to receive that stuff automatically. Why? Who the heck knows? So keep an eye out players, because you may just be missing out on some pretty swell rewards since you decided not to go back into a quest menu that the game automatically kicks you out of after completing a single quests, forcing you to walk back across the room, talk to the person again, bring up the menu once more and scroll to you next side adventure. I’m looking at you Girl Who Forgot Her Name, all the tea in the Extraverse won’t quell my annoyance for that little lack-of-feature. Still, at the end of the day, apart from some infuriating menu choices and help prompts, World of Final Fantasy is worth playing for those of you out there who love a good monster capture adventure. Oh, and for those who wonder if it’s worth achieving the true ending of the game, I have three words for you; Chibi Dance Sequence. That is all.
Above the World of Final Fantasy lies the mysterious World of Square Enix…it’s mostly the same, but with a few more characters