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World of Final Fantasy review

Wear a chocobo as a hat in this Pokémon-like spin-off.

Our Verdict

Cute, with a battle system that has more depth than it lets on, but the game's tone gets rather irritating.

NEED TO KNOW

What is it? A Final Fantasy spin-off RPG where you catch living Funko Pop-style creatures and balance them on your head.
Expect to pay £30/$40
Reviewed on Intel Core i7-7700 @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070, Windows 10
Developer Square Enix
Publisher Square Enix
Multiplayer? No
Link Official site 

Ever wanted to know what would happen if Pokémon and Final Fantasy had a baby? If you swap Pokémon for hats, then that's essentially what you've got here. This turn-based RPG features a cutesy world of FF series monsters to catch and wear on your head in battle while you slowly unravel a deeper plot.

You play as twins Reyn and Lann, who have conveniently lost their memories so have to journey across Grymoire—a chilling world where everyone looks like Funko Pops—in an effort to remember them. Luckily, they have weird arm tattoos that let them tame famous Final Fantasy monsters such as Moogles and Cactuars to do their bidding in battle. As you wander around the world, you'll find yourself in famous locations from the series, meeting familiar heroes and uncovering a plot that's far darker than the characters' light banter suggests. 

You're also 'helped' by an annoying floating fox creature called Tama during your travels. Its inability to string a grammatically correct sentence together is meant to be cute and quirky, but instead I found myself wanting to launch it into the sun. It's so annoying that it almost ruined the entire game for me.

The twist on traditional turn-based combat is where this game shines. While the siblings are pretty strong individually, they get even stronger depending on which of your adorable little Mirage friends you decide to plop on your head. They form a stack as all of your health and stats pool together, like Power Rangers morphing into that giant robot thing, fighting as one. Reyn and Lann can also change size themselves, so have two types of stacks at their disposal: in their Jiant form they can don two monsters on their heads, but as smaller Lilikins they can ride larger beasts such as Behemoths with just one critter on top. 

Your abilities also change depending on what you're stacked with, so they can be adjusted for the situation. If, for example, you're entering a cold dungeon full of icy enemies then you'll want to add a fire-based partner to your stack, and you'll want to balance your party with something that can heal.

It's an inventive way to add a layer of strategy to a fight. You can even choose to unstack, so only one of you takes a hit instead of the whole group, although there is also a risk of something meaner than you knocking you flat on your arse, leaving you weak before you can regroup. The most fun I had with World of Final Fantasy was fiddling with my setups and taking them into battle to see if a Chocobo chick and a mechanical Claw will complement each other.

Adding these Mirages to your party plays out very much like Pokemon. You throw a prism at them after meeting certain battle conditions, and they'll get trapped inside. You can even level them up and evolve them over time into bigger, tougher monsters, unlocking new abilities over time. As you progress you'll even find Champion characters such as Cloud and Lightning from other Final Fantasy games, who will join you for brief, powerful attacks much in the same way a summon would in a traditional FF game. With so many Mirages and Champions to find, there's a lot to for die-hard series fans to do, but once you get past the 10-15 hour mark that variety seems to peak and battles start to get a little repetitive.

While the port of the game itself works fine on my PC (some Steam user reviews are reporting problems with AMD cards), it's seriously lacking in even the most basic of options you'd expect. For starters you can't even adjust anything in the game: if you want to use any of the rudimentary resolution options to escape the default tiny window it launches in, you have to right click the listing in Steam to launch a configurations options tab and do it there. It doesn't have mouse support, and you can't reassign the awkward keyboard setup, so you're better off using a controller.

On paper this is very much my jam. It's a love letter to all things Final Fantasy with character designs so cute that I want to squeeze everything to death while spending all of my money on the merchandise, but this isn't the deliciously sweet spreadable I was hoping for. The bizarre over reliance on convoluted naming conventions and a billion menu layers does a real disservice to the core of the game. 

The world itself is lovely. It's a Final Fantasy toyland that makes you feel like you're comically stomping around a model village, cooing over how cute everything is. The music is fantastic too, touching on some classic recognisable FF themes and giving them its own twist, but there are too many annoyances in the way to properly enjoy it. If someone is willing to punt Tama into a bin, though, I'll consider giving it another 10 points.

The Verdict

World of Final Fantasy

Cute, with a battle system that has more depth than it lets on, but the game's tone gets rather irritating.