Final Fantasy XVI – Game Review


Final Fantasy 16

(available only on PlayStation 5, PC version currently in development)

Final Fantasy 16 is a significant transition for this franchise. According to marketing, this is the first full-action RPG in the mainline series since for whatever reason they don’t count the 15 and 7 remakes because they maintained some of their turn-based routes. It also appears to be the first time you will control only one character. 

Comparisons to Devil May Cry have been pushed with the gameplay demonstrations we were seeing, and despite the fact that Yoshi P, who is behind the successful part of FF14, is helming the project, it certainly has divided the fanbase. Not helped by the fact that there isn’t really a Final Fantasy turn-based series to complement this. I would consider Octopath Traveler to be that accompaniment.

FF16 was definitely on my radar and for this playthrough I have managed to play a large chunk of the game, only missing a few side quests (more on that later). But I also did take on quite a few of the optional bosses, and I can safely say that this is very different to almost any Final Fantasy. It’s not exactly missing the skeletal structure of a Final Fantasy game, and it’s another entry in the series where Summons (known as Icons in this game) are a way to drive the story forwards, though not in the same way that FF10 or even FF9 placed importance on them.

Going into plot elements is going to be quite hard without giving away anything, and as such, this is going to be a spoiler-free review. By the time this review comes out, we’ll be way past the 1-month release mark of this game, but even so, I feel like given the way that the demo ends that people should really experience it for themselves.

The first portion of the game is a flashback to the main character Clive’s early years when he is the prince of a kingdom and he is training to be one of the shields to his little brother, Joshua, who has inherited the power of the Icon The Phoenix. After a major climactic event during the flashback, we go to a time skip in which Clive travels the world on a quest to right the wrong of that climactic event. I’ll go into more detail about my thoughts on the story, but as a whole, I won’t be going into huge detail so that my review is spoiler free. 

Gameplay-wise, the actual RPG elements are certainly there and this is a very different Final Fantasy. Most of your powerups are going to be done through the skill tree, and you’ll be earning experience points to improve your stats, but points to improve on that as well.

PROS

  • Combat

The combat itself is really good. I turned the accessibility features on and off throughout my game, and the one I kept on most of the time was the Auto-Combo, since it did manage to perform combos way better than I ever could and I wanted to get a good sense of the flashy combat style. I did turn them off and the combat is still really good! If you’re struggling with the game, you can change the difficulty from preferring action to preferring story, which will then give you the accessories to mix and match to your play style. For example, there was a ring that gave you the ability to perform more timely dodges as well as rings that auto-heal if you have the ability to heal.

The Devil May Cry comparisons aren’t unwarranted. For one thing, the magic definitely feels like it operates very similarly to Devil May Cry’s guns, but even in terms of character movement and timing, it certainly feels like it took inspiration from Bayonetta as well, which is particularly noticeable given that Platinum Games have aided with the combat.

The combat was super good. I was looking forward to tons of moments when I got out of cutscenes so that I could experience more of the combat. 

  • Graphics

I think making this a PlayStation exclusive for at least the first year of the game is to the benefit of the game because it looks amazing. FF16 is really pushing the PS5 in terms of its look, even when I was playing the game in Performance Mode. If you have a very good picture and sound set-up, the game will really take advantage of that. 

The aesthetic of the world really looks amazing as well. I had some issues with the world design, but as a whole I can’t knock the aesthetics of the game, it looks great.

  • Boss Fights

Boss fights are really the highlight of the game. I will knock them slightly, although I’m not putting this in the Mixed section of the review. Most of the boss fights are monster battles between various Summons. Each one feels slightly different in various ways and while the quick-time events are very simplistic they do deliver in a big way. This is a game where the boss fights constantly feel epic and I really looked forward to any time where I got to do one. 

MIXED

  • Story

The story is clearly largely inspired by Game of Thrones. The politics of the various nations play a massive role in it, to the extent that when you get a hideout later on in the game, you can look up the various politics of each nation, and you can even rewind to see what the politics were previously. The story kind of revolves around these kingdoms and their strife, but it goes way more typical Final Fantasy down the line.

I like classic Final Fantasy and I’m not a huge Game of Thrones fan. While these are slightly disjointed, it never felt like the game was building to that point. The story did feel a little formulaic at points, particularly with the fact that most of the story starts with debriefing missions in the hideout followed by doing odd jobs before we get to the next climactic moment. It also doesn’t help that Clive is alone for most of this because you don’t have consistent party members.

While you can definitely improve on Clive’s combat and give him a variety of moves, you’re not able to do anything about the party members since they just come and go, and this is really a weakness in my opinion. Apart from a few examples like Jill and Sid, many of the characters don’t get much to do in this one. 

The story is really about Clive and the sense of duty he feels, while I can’t go into details, they do nail that aspect of the story- but they don’t nail all of the side cast. Especially considering the companion you’ll have for most of the game is the dog, Torgal, who I did enjoy.

In terms of the villains, well, I actually think that this was interesting. I think that the better villains in FF16 are the side villains. The main one takes a while to appear, but the side ones have great motivations and they do a great job of making you really hate them. By the time you get to the main villain, they’re not that interesting. They supply an excellent final fight, but I think I’ll remember the side villains more than the main one. 

  • World Design

I did say that I liked the aesthetics of the world, but while I don’t believe that every game has to be an open world, this one gives you a sense of openness in some parts and restriction in others. As a result, it kind of makes the world feel smaller than it is. I don’t need every world to be massive, and in 16 for the most part, I think that they nailed it- but certain parts felt more confined than I would have liked them to. There’s also no need to do shopping in any part of the world since you get everything that you need in the hideout.

CONS

  • Side Quests

There are some good side quests in the game, both story-wise and in terms of rewards. The main ones you want to focus on are the side quests that have a + next to them since they have the best rewards – the rest are mostly boring fetch quests. The only one I remember is about a little girl trying to find her pet, and it’s because of how shattering the ending was. 

The problem with the side quests is that they’re really dull and you don’t get that many rewards for them, most of the money I earned was insignificant compared to the money I got from fights. They’re a real mess and they really drag down the experience. 

  • Frame Rate

The frame rate in the game isn’t optimised in performance mode. It’s aiming for 60FPS but it’s dipping constantly, especially in environments where it has a lot to render. I noticed that combat was where the framerate was most consistent. I would suggest playing the game in Quality mode since it does hit a stable 30FPS in that mode, but that also comes with its own problems. I want to stress that the stories of PS5s overheating in quality mode are very mixed in their reporting. Some people are saying that it’s the case while others are suggesting it’s been greatly overexaggerated. Given the fact that I’ve only seen a few instances, I tend to lean on the side of the latter, but I felt like I should mention it for clarity. It’s definitely a software issue.

By the time this comes out, there should be a patch for it, but if you haven’t cleaned out your fan, it seems to impact the consoles without much airflow where the game is being played in Quality mode. I will stress that it probably won’t be an issue, since it only seems to affect an early part of the game. 

  • Difficulty

Even if you turn off the accessibility features and prioritise action features, FF16 is too easy. I can count on one hand how many times I died: THREE! And they were all to optional bosses. Maybe New Game Plus makes the game more difficult, but I didn’t feel the need to try that. I think that this game needed to up its difficulty in certain portions. 

The sheer amount of cutscenes in the game really makes it feel like the game is on auto-pilot.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite some of my negativity, I really liked Final Fantasy 16. While the story is a bit ropey at points, I think that it majorly succeeds with its main character and tells a really good story, but I won’t put it in my top 5 in the series. The combat is excellent, it looks amazing, and generally, I had a great time playing. While there were framerate issues, they weren’t a massive issue, and the difficulty made the game feel a bit too easy and I would have liked it to be more challenging.

As a whole, I would recommend FF16. If this is your first Final Fantasy game though, you won’t get the general Final Fantasy vibe. But I think that there is a lot to work with here! If they really refined this game, I think that we’re looking at a really interesting direction for the series to go.

FINAL SCORE: 8.9/10

Calvin
Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.

And now Reece’s review

Final Fantasy 16 is the first full action adventure game in the Final Fantasy franchise with now only minimal RPG elements and focusing on the new action combat system seen in similar games like Devil May Cry.

Pro:

  • Characters/Voice acting.

FF16 has one of the strongest English voice casts in recent Final Fantasy games with the big highlight being Ralph Ineson who voices Cid in this game bringing his distinct Yorkshire accent to the role and who fans may also know him from in his major role as Lorath in Diablo 4.

The main character of Clive voiced by Ben Starr who completely changed what people thought Clive would be like when the character art was shown off before release. While portraying Clive as a much more relatable character to other Final Fantasy protagonist with more realistic mental health problems that Clive has to overcome throughout the story which was a breath of fresh air to see with the humanising aspects to him.

This game uses more casual English for its dialogue with slang terms used a lot more and banter being a more frequent role in dialogue as seen between Cid and Clive, but even the side cast are still fantastic and rarely blend into the background due to the voice cast as Gav for instance who is a recurring side character from start to finish.

  • Combat.

FF16 builds upon the more action based combat gameplay that was used in FF15 but greatly expands it as now due to the introduction of the Eikons player can have three different Eikons equipped at any time with two attack skills for each from a pool of seven different Eikons that each have a unique moveset.

This leads to more customisation later on in the game when the player has used enough AP in one skill that it then allows it to be used as one of the two, allowing players a lot more customisation in combat since the player can have an attack from every Eikon Boss battles.

The larger scale boss battles take a lot more inspiration from Asura’s Wrath and Bayonetta with being big, loud and bombastic in scale with fitting music makes these part interactive cutscene part boss battle, as the player is frequently dwarfed in size compared to the opponent and has to make use of QTEs (Quick Time Events) frequently to deal damage to the boss or avoid taking large damage in return.

Without going into overt spoilers the boss fight against Titan is easily the best fight in the first half of the game and really shows off first-hand why this game could only be done on the current console hardware with the sheer scale of them.

But the final boss battle is where the game truly shines and blows everything else in the game out of the water as FF16 goes from being a videogame into being a full blown Anime and shows off the full extent of 16’s combat system and how the player has progressed throughout the game and the skills unlocked to help counter these bosses.

  • Cutscenes.

Without spoilers FF16 has some of the best cutscenes in the franchise with the Eikon battles turning into full on spectacles that could easily of been only cutscenes but have a lot of player input with the QTEs that depending on if the player is successful or not will add new scenes. The only way these could be better is if there was an easier way to rewatch them as instead players have to replay the stage in the Stage Replay option and then finish the stage as quickly as possible to rewatch the cutscene that takes place at the end of each main stage.

  • Late game side quests.

In comparison to the early and mid game side quests the late game ones are much more impactful that change the overworld with updating locations and also the NPCs around the map with them changing areas.

The rewards are also much more worthwhile in the late game as instead of the small amount of materials the player is given is instead replaced with new equipment and upgrades to Clive with more potion space in your bag for instance or unlocking new weapons like the best weapon in the game.

  • Torgul.

Torgul will probably go down as one of the best animal party members in Final Fantasy as they perform a similar role to Red 13 from Final Fantasy 7 but changing from a standard party member in a turn based combat system to an uncontrollable party member. 

Torgul extends the players combat options since the player can order Torgul what moves to use in combat from minor healing to being able to throw the enemy into the air to extend combos for the player.

Then halfway through the game Torgul even gets his moveset increased due to plot reasons and during combat if the player is struggling, so Torgul is useful from the start of the game all the way through to the end and more so in New Game+ when players have chance to combine equipment that boosts Torgul attack to help keep pace with the stronger enemies.

  • Music.

The music in FF16 carries on the tradition of fantastic Final Fantasy soundtracks with Masayoshi Soken returning to compose the soundtrack after their amazing work on FF14 and all of its expansions.

The soundtrack balances the more sorrowful sombre tones from prior games to go along with the melancholy themes of this game as long with new energetic and bombastic tracks that are used for the Asura’s Wrath styled bosses with my personal favourite of these being the song against Titan as it fits the boss fight perfectly.

Con:

  • Unstable framerate.

Even when played on Performance Mode then game still struggles to hit a stable 60fps during

gameplay, with this being exacerbated during the more hectic combat encounters and larger bosses fights.

It got to the point where I had to turn the visuals down to Graphics Mode to have a stable 30fps and a more enjoyable gameplay experience especially since the game got updated to allow players to turn down motion blur to make the game much more visually appealing, in contrast to an unstable frame rate and motion blur that could give players motion sickness from how strong it was.

  • Early to midgame side quests.

While the late and endgame side quests are great in terms of expanding the lore and rewarding the player with useful materials, the side quests for the first half of the game feature the same mundane  tasks of kill a certain number of enemies or interact with an NPC then return.

Even the world building for these quests don’t add much to the overall world building or lore,

making them easily forgettable as the rewards are also not worth it most of the time since they are frequently just item drops that the player usually gets from killing mobs in the overworld making it feel like just a waste of time.

  • Combat pacing.

While the combat is good fun the player feels very limited with their moveset until more Eikons are collected with three being where player freedom in their own playstyle feels the most rewarding.

As until then the combat lacks the flow that other action games have starting off as Clive’s moveset feels very limiting and just reusing the same moves when they come off cool down.

Instead they should of allowed players to double up on early Eikon’s so players can fill all three

available Eikon slots as each Eikon has more than three attacks each. As prior to the 3rd Eikon players only get to have four Eikon attacks slotted in making combat very repetitive.

This problem comes back full circle at the end of the game when players unlock the final Eikon right before the point of no return with the final boss, so players will only get the most out of it either doing all the remaining side content or using it off the bat in New Game+

  • Endgame story pacing.

Once the party gets to the final continent of Ash the game feels very railroaded into the end of the game with no deviation in the linear progress of the story.

As the player doesn’t return to the rest of the world locations unless they are doing side quests making it extremely linear since there are abundant plot threads that are left dangling in the cutscenes that aren’t addressed making the ending too quick with its build-up and resolution.

  • Main Villain.

The main villain for the game seems to be mostly an after thought in this game with only some light build-up but never feels like an actual threat before the final climatic boss fight. This shows in the other characters as even Clive’s mother Anabelle Rosfield has a larger impact on the main story, the characters and players than the final boss does since she is one of the reasons

why slavery is much worse in the kingdoms during the story line.

As now the final villain is shown as mostly a passive figure during the main story and not engaging with the party until the endgame, this is in contrast to prior villains in the franchise who frequently butt heads with the party making them much more memorable and more of an imposing threat.

  • Hard mode.

The game’s version of Hard Mode is locked behind beating the game for the first time instead of allowing players to choose it from the start.

With the natural ease of the game many players may get bored and drop the game due to a lack of engagement from the enemies until the endgame where they get more expansive movesets and up the damage these monsters do to the player.

  • Crafting equipment.

A mainstay for the franchise but now feels more like an afterthought with weapons and armour

being crafted way too easily by simply progressing through the main story and side hunt minibosses.

So now powerful equipment feels too easy to acquire without a need to explore more of the map and doing more side quests, since the materials needed usually only come from two side quests at most rather than large chains to expand the world and lore.

  • AP grind.

100,000+ AP are needed to unlock every Eikon ability in the skill tree leading to the game being a massive grind if players want to get all the skills in their first run without grinding for it.

This leads to repeatedly resetting all skills in the skill trees just to try new builds every time they unlock a new Eikon making it very tedious and limits customisation.

  • Exploration issues.

The games open world feels littered with invisible walls that block off shortcuts when traversing the environment or on the Chocobo as suddenly now short bushes cannot be kept over even though there is solid ground on all sides.

Without the Chocobo Clive has the ability to sprint after a few seconds but for some reason this ability is cut off when in towns or the hideaway making traversal of those sections a lot slower than they needed to be.

Even when the player is out in the open world free exploration isn’t that rewarding since most of the time hidden treasures aren’t that important since it will be either a small amount of Gil or equipment that is already worse than what the player has access to.

  • No key rebinding.

The game features several different controller pre-set button layouts but still doesn’t allow the

player to fully rebind all the controls to what they would prefer.

Instead giving the player 4 pre-sets instead of one custom option just wasting menu space that didn’t need to be there when the solution is just simple.

Conclusion:

FF16 attempts to go in a new direction compared to prior Final Fantasy games and for the most part I would say it has been a success expanding on the action based gameplay of FF15 to bring the new game more in line with other action games like Devil May Cry.

Hopefully DLC will be announced in future since the ending is ambiguous enough to warrant it and plenty of story threads are dropped during the main story and never touched on again, so there’s plenty of possible exploration to be done on those.

Score: 8.7

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

And finally Elliot’s review

WARNING: This review will contain spoilers to Final Fantasy XVI, while these won’t ruin your experience with the game, I would advise proceeding with caution if you want to go in completely blind.

Final Fantasy is not only one of the biggest JRPG franchises to exist, but also one of the most iconic game franchises of all time. It has an enormous quantity of games, both spin-offs and mainline, with wide critical acclaim, making it no mystery as to why the series has been going strongly for over thirty-five years. Final Fantasy XVI is the latest entry of the numbered games – which seem to be becoming more of a rarity as the series goes forward – that was first revealed during the PlayStation 5 Event during 2020, with a large portion of trailers being released up until the game finally came out. Personally, I was incredibly excited for this game, it became the game I most looked forward to this year, and considering the fact that this was the same year as Tears of the Kingdom and Resident Evil 4 Remake were coming out, that’s saying something. Final Fantasy XVI was released on 22nd June 2023 as a PlayStation 5 exclusive.

Story

A lot happens in this story so I’ll cover as little as I can. The game takes place in the world of Valisthea, a setting that is purely mediaeval, relinquishing the sci-fi elements that have become synonymous with the series. Clive Rosfield (yes… Clive, a very heroic name) is a member of the royal family of Rosaria and guardian of Joshua Rosfield, his younger brother, heir to the throne of Rosaria and Dominant to the Eikon of Fire, Phoenix. The night after their father, Duke Elwin, brings them to Phoenix Gate to have Joshua listen to the voice of ancestors, as is tradition before going to war, the castle is infiltrated by Soldiers of the Holy Empire of Sambreque, who set it alight and start slaughtering the people inside. Clive and Joshua fight back with all their might, though unfortunately their father is killed by turncoats, causing Joshua to transform into the Phoenix. Out of nowhere, another Eikon of Fire, Ifrit, emerges and a battle between the two beasts ensue, ending with Ifrit killing the Phoenix with Clive not being able to do anything about it except cry out in despair. Thirteen years pass since that night and we see Clive, who’s been branded as a Bearer and has taken on the name Wyvern, as a part of a group of assassins called “The Bastards”. Now he has only one thing on his mind, a quest that he will stop at nothing to fulfil, to find the Second Eikon of Fire and kill him. 

The story has gotten mixed reception from a few people though a lot of fans have also given it high praise. Personally, I cannot praise this story enough, it is absolutely fantastic. This game goes for a more grimdark setting and tone, being very reminiscent of stories like Game of Thrones. The world building is incredible, all the characters have depth and get numerous moments where they stand out, and there are so many plot points that all feel like they’re brought in naturally and are given a good amount of attention. I especially like that there’s an extra menu that you can access to read the lore of certain characters and places, however these aren’t necessary for you to understand the story, it’s more of an optional addition. The one criticism I really have is around the end, where there are so many places that I feel like the plot could have ended and were building up to the end, but the game just kept going kind of ruining the moment. It’s not to the point where I’d really complain, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Presentation

Graphically, this game looks amazing. Environments are packed with detail and the colours are vibrant and really pop out, though the areas do start to blend in together after a while as a majority of the overworld is just a series of fields, forests and deserts. Character models are immaculate and also brimming with detail, their designs are also a bit more realistic compared to other Final Fantasy games, yes the characters hairstyles are a little more wild than most and Clive’s shirt looks like it about to rip off on the slightest movement, but they certainly aren’t as anime-like as other iconic characters in the series. Unfortunately, the fraterate isn’t perfect, while it becomes far from unplayable, it still dips fairly regularly, even in performance mode, which is pretty disappointing. I am very happy that the voice actors are getting a lot of love online because the voice acting is absolutely amazing, the actors perfectly portray the characters emotions and personalities, really bringing the characters to life. Ben Star as Clive and Ralph Ineson as Cid are especially getting a lot of attention and in my opinion it is fully deserved (seriously though, how the hell is that Ineson’s actual voice). I’m not kidding when I say this, this game has probably my favourite soundtrack of any Final Fantasy game, the songs sound epic in scale and heightens the battles and scenarios you encounter. It even includes renditions of iconic songs in the series history, and they also sound amazing. 

World Design

This game takes a very different approach in world design compared to previous games. While a majority of those games have giant open worlds, this game instead has a series of smaller maps, one for each of Valisthea’s Kingdoms. Though, despite the decrease in size, each area is still pretty sizable, and will take a good while for you to explore every inch of them. This is a change that I honestly don’t mind, each area still has plenty to explore and it makes sense to separate each Kingdom considering how much of an impact they make on the story. To aid with traversing each map, the world has Obelisks spread throughout them which act as warp points, they are well spread between one another and there are a decent number of them in each region, not too much that you’ll be using them too often, but not too few that you’ll be travelling too far.  Each region contains at least one small settlement, where you’ll be able to gather supplies and speak to residents while taking a rest from exploration. 

Combat and Enemies

Final Fantasy has spent the better part of a decade progressively (and not at all subtly) transitioning from a turn based battle system to being more action orientated. Final Fantasy XVI continues that trend, as it carries very few traditional JRPG elements and primarily focuses on action. The combat was designed by Ryota Suzuki, who had previously worked on the Devil May Cry series, so it makes sense why the game has little strategy required and instead relies on the skill needed for hack n’ slash games. That being said though, the combat is very simplistic, there aren’t any kind of complex combos that involve you pressing buttons in a certain order or to pause in the middle of button mashing. You only really have two kinds of attack, one for attacking with your sword and another for ranged attacks. There are also a couple of moves that you are able to learn, but they are very minimal and don’t enhance combat all that much. The simplicity doesn’t lessen the enjoyment however, while it doesn’t require as much skill as other Hack n’ Slash games, a decent amount of skill is still required and you won’t be able to get through the game by just button mashing your way through.

In fact the game seems to have more focus on dodging attacks than it does dishing them out. Enemies and bosses will have well telegraphed attacks that can be easily learned and you will be greatly rewarded for doing so. If you dodge an attack at the last second for example, you will perform a Precision Dodge, which will let you phase through the attack unscathed, if done successfully you will be able to execute a Precision Counter immediately after which deals more damage than your standard attacks. It’s also entirely possible for you to Parry your opponents by attacking at the precise time that one of theirs would land. Doing so will slow down time briefly, letting you get in a series of hits. While I did manage to do this a few times, it was by complete chance and I found myself attempting Precision Dodges far more often. 

The most interesting part of this game are the Eikon attacks. As you play through the game you will obtain more Eikons and therefore gain access to their powers. You can equip and gain the abilities of three Eikons at a time. Each Eikon power works very differently to one another, whether it’s Garuda’s Deadly Embrace that lets you pull enemies towards you, or Titan’s Titanic Block finally giving you a guard button. You’ll also be able to obtain a series of other attacks exclusive to that Eikon that can be upgraded and learned by spending Skill Points. While I do love these abilities, there is one problem I have with Eikons. Admittedly, I only found myself using the first three Eikons I obtained and only swapped to the others to try them out before reverting back. The reason was simply because I had upgraded those ones and outside of abilities there’s essentially no point in swapping between powers. A good way to fix this, I thought, would be to have certain enemies that are weak or resistant to certain Eikons, thus giving me more incentive to swap between them. Sadly they didn’t do that, thus leaving me fairly disappointed. 

Of course, this being a Final Fantasy game, your character has access to Limit Break. Limit Break is where Clive taps into the power of his Eikon and starts just going berserk. In this mode your normal combo changes to one that does more damage and hits more, and your other moves gain more power and deal more damage. When Limit Break is active, you slowly regain HP and if an enemy should hit you, you’ll barely flinch so your combo won’t break. Limit Break is always one of my favourite mechanics in Final Fantasy and this game is no exception. I like how it almosts makes you think about when to use it, I found myself considering whether to use it while my health was low or whether I should just use a potion and save it till the enemy is staggered (the enemy falls to the floor for a time and your attacks increase in damage). 

You encounter a decent amount of enemies throughout the game. Some will be easy to dispatch, not even worthy of being called a threat, while others will be a bit more menacing and be more of a challenge to kill (the stagger bar will likely be a big give away). Some iconic enemies from Final Fantasy’s history show up here, such as Flans, Adamantoise and even a rendition of Malboros. Unfortunately, while there are a decent number of enemy variants, they don’t really change as the game goes on. Even when nearing the end of the game, you’ll still be facing the same kinds of monsters and soldiers, just with a different coat of paint and dealing more damage, which, as I’ve stated many times, it a bit of a pet peeve of mine, not bad enough to ruin the game, but still not the best. 

If there is any complaint I have to make about the combat, it’s the one that you’ve likely heard a lot since this game’s release, it’s too easy. Don’t get me wrong, I did die a fair amount of times in this game, but those have been against enemies that were significantly stronger than I was or I was very ill prepared, but those were often with optional fights, when it came to story sections or boss fights, I never found myself struggling all that much. I’m a massive fan of difficulty in action games, being a big fan of Devil May Cry and Dark Souls, so this game being so easy did diminish my enjoyment quite a bit. 

Boss Fights

If I had to summarise the boss fights in one word, it would be “Legendary”. The bosses are the absolute highlight of this game and are an absolute joy to fight. They all have multiple phases, which includes them transforming into their Eikon if they have one. Their attacks are often well telegraphed but can also be difficult to dodge if you’re not ready for them. These bosses alone made this game worth it, they are some of the best boss battles I’ve ever fought and that is no exaggeration. 

During these fights, you’ll occasionally have to complete a couple of quick time events to deal damage to your opponent and avoid damage yourself. These aren’t at all complicated and only consist of three moves, hit square to attack, his R1 to dodge and mash square to hit the enemy. Just like the combat , unfortunately, these are super easy as you have a ton of time to hit the button, to the point where I don’t think I even got the timer down by a quarter before I hit it. 

As mentioned, you will fight other Dominants and they will Prime in their fights, at which point Clive will also Prime and transform into Ifrit (I did warn you about spoilers). I was admittedly a bit worried about these fights initially, nervous about the Ifrit being slow to attack and limited in their moveset (think the first Kaiju fights in Bayonetta 3), luckily however, these worries were put to rest as these fights are a lot of fun. While Ifrit’s moveset is more limited than Clive’s, the beast still does play a lot like him, attacks and combos work exactly like they do as Clive, and you even get a couple of Eikon attacks exclusive to this form. These fights are a lot of fun and thankfully they don’t happen so often that they lose their magic.

Items and Equipment

Unlike other Final Fantasy games, your item pool is very limited. You only get three kinds of potions and are limited on the number that you can carry (they will automatically heal you if you find one and are at max capacity). You do get a tonic to temporarily increase your attack, defence and to slowly fill your Limit Break Gauge, but that’s about it. Personally, I don’t really mind this change as it works for an action game, meanwhile having a myriad of tonics that do multiple effects would work for a turn-based game but could completely break one like this. As for equipment, you have one kind of weapon and only increases in damage with each one, meanwhile you have two kinds of defensive equipment that also don’t have any secondary effects. For effects you have accessories, which you can equip three of. Each of these have a variety of effects that I really like as while you do have ones that just increase damage and defence there are also more unique ones like higher potency when to potions or increasing attack proficiency when you Precision Dodge.

Side Quests and Hunt Board

Of course, this is still a JRPG, meaning that you’ll encounter a number of sidequests for you to complete. Something I like is that some of these quests have an ongoing story that will continue into other quests and will even lead to ramifications that will affect the world and characters as a whole. A lot of these will consist of the same requirements, from fighting off enemies to gathering resources to simply talking to people. I will admit, the side quests aren’t amazing, I found a number of them to be monotonous and boring, and sometimes the conversation that the quest giver and Clive have goes on forever. I still managed to do them all, but I started to stop paying attention to what the quest was even about around the end. The rewards you get depends entirely on the kind of quest you do and who you’re doing it for, sometimes you’ll just get some EXP and some materials for crafting, while other times you’ll get an increase in potency when you use potions or blueprints for a powerful weapon. In other words, there are a number of side quests that are absolutely worth doing, even if they do get boring after a while. 

This leads us to the Hunting Board, which is not boring at all. This Hunt Board, run by Nektar the Moolge, is basically a checklist of stronger than average monsters called Notorious Marks, that you can hunt down and slay. What makes this quest difficult isn’t just fighting these monsters (who caused almost all of my deaths), but also finding the bastards. They won’t show up on your map just because you chose to find them, instead giving you clues as to where their location might be, which can be annoying. Though if you ask me, these quests are a lot of fun and will provide the challenge that this game is sorely missing. Completing these quests will reward you with a lot of gil, renown and a loooooooot so EXP. 

Conclusion

A lot of people have shown a lot of speculation and outrage about this game, mostly for it being action based, and refusing to acknowledge it as a Final Fantasy game. All I can say is that they’re severely missing out. This game is absolutely amazing, what flaws it has doesn’t majorly detract from how good this game is, even the fact that it’s easy doesn’t really ruin it. The combat is simple but very engaging, the story is engrossing from minute one, and I rarely found myself getting tired of it. I highly recommend this game to everyone who can, this has become one of my favourite games of the year and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Absolutely worth the hype.

9.5/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia10th July 2024
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