Title: World of Final Fantasy
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Date Bought: October 21, 2016
Date Started: November 5, 2016
Date Finished: February 19, 2017
Play Duration: 106 days/200+ hours of game play
Shares Paradigms With: His Dark Materials, Doctor Who
“Time can be rewritten…” -Doctor Who
“The past can be forgiven, the future be rewritten…” -Trans Siberian Orchestra “Anno Domini”
World of Final Fantasy was first introduced during E3 2015. It preceded the FFVII: Remake announcement, was touted as “Final Fantasy Cute,” and I of course completely forgot about it. I didn’t think of it again until a year and a half later when Cheap Boss Attack posted about the demo and said the magic words: “Pre-ordering World of Final Fantasy will give you immediate access to the Sephiroth summon…” I dropped the required $60 and received my game in the mail on the promised date.
The central hub of World of Final Fantasy is Sylver Park and its surrounding environs, which includes the main characters’ room and a small mall (that will nonetheless be used quite frequently). The Park itself is where most of the action commences; therefore, I consider it to be the most integral section.
That Gate itself leads you to the eponymous “World” of Final Fantasy, which is called Grymoire, and of course you have the ubiquitous Save Point that also serves to heal you and cure all status ailments (I love that they started doing that with Final Fantasy X, though I’m sure there are some fans who are annoyed at the lesser difficulty and making tents obsolete). If your characters are defeated in Grymoire, they’ll be pulled back to Sylver Park with earned experience and gil intact. The only time you’ll get a game over is if you’re beaten inside a threshold, which I’ll talk about below.
Within this location (besides the fore mentioned) is Plaza 99, the area outside the mall);, the twins’ room, the twins being Lann and Reynn, the main characters;
Reynn is a nice reference to Raine *spoiler* (Squall’s mother) *end spoiler* from Final Fantasy VIII. It goes along with the myriad other weather reference monikers that populate the series: Cloud, Squall, Lightning, Snow.
North Promenade, the mall with the Chocolatte, the chocobo chick item dealer;
the Girl’s Tearoom;
and the Coliseum that is both accessible past Chocolatte’s Mart and the main Gate in Sylver Park.
Not all of these locations are immediately available upon start and only become open up once particular progress has been made in the story.
WOFF features the tried and true turn based battle, which many of us old schoolers know and love. The system is similar to the one used in Ubisoft Montreal’s Child of Light (which actually borrows heavily from Grandia II). The bar on the left (below) indicates who will have the next turn, and speed varies based on stats.
Once one of your characters/stacks reaches the top, you have the option to do a variety of actions. The screenshot above shows the quick menu, but there’s a more comprehensive one with more options (below).
From here you can pick everything from the other menu and more, but you can set shortcuts for the quick menu, which is especially useful if you’re grinding and want to get through fights as fast as possible.
Battle proceeds in the way you’d expect a Final Fantasy battle to go, though you don’t have to ever worry about equipping your characters with weapons, shields, armor, etc. Stacking Mirages will up your stats and elemental/status defenses or weaknesses. Reynn does wield a short sword or dagger, and Lann relies on the metal glove they both wear to attack. If the twins are in a large stack (so they’re in their lilkin forms), the large Mirage on the bottom will deal out the offensive blow.
There’s quite a bit of grinding in WOFF so you’ll quickly become a veteran of many battles quite soon. They end when either all Mirages are defeated or imprismed or of course if your party is defeated. So long as you’re not in a threshold battle, you’ll be returned to Sylvar Park. If you’re defeated in a threshold, it’s game over, and you’ll have to start from your last save.
Mirages and Stacking
WOFF is best described as a cross between Final Fantasy and Pokemon. It has the FF story line with familiar beat points interwoven with the Pokemon mechanic of catching creatures called Mirages to do your bidding. WOFF goes one extra though, and instead of having monster battle monster, you literally stack them on top of your characters or have your characters as part of the stack.
Lann and Reynn can take two forms: Lilkin and Jiant. I’ll go more into this in the Story section, but they’re the only characters who can switch between the two. All of the others are in lilkin form, which greatly resemble chibis.
Whether Lann or Reynn are in Lilkin or Jiant form affects the types of Mirages they can stack in terms of size: small, medium, and large, because you can only have one Mirage or character of each size per stack. As Lilkins, they’re medium and as Jiants, they’re large. This means you can always have a small Mirage on top, but whether you can have a medium or large will vary on the “size” of your characters. This size is interchangeable at the player’s behest.
There are 200 Mirages you can capture or “imprism,” and every Mirage has a particular “prismitunity,” which is what you have to do in order to make them catch-able. Some just require you to deal physical damage. Others may make you to reduce their HP. Still others might necessitate you replenish it. There are also Mirages that require you cast a particular spell on them or inflict a certain status affect, while others force you to land a critical hit or counter attack.
Once you trigger a Mirages prismitunity, you still have to catch it, and you have to have the proper pokeball, er, Mirage case in order to do that. When you encounter a Mirage for the first time, you’ll automatically be given its Mirage case, and you can attempt to catch it right then and there. Catching it is a combination of luck, possibly level, and how much of a prismitunity you trigger. For example, if a Mirage is set off by casting fire, you can cast fire multiple times to increase your odds of a successful catch. I didn’t learn this little tidbit until nearly the end of the game, and it would’ve been so useful much earlier on. I also thought you had to defeat a Mirage in battle then hope you ran into another of its type later. Ah growing pains…
There’s no guarantee that you’ll catch a Mirage the first or second time you attempt to, and some prismitunities wear off, which is very unfortunate in the case where you have to reduce the Mirages HP “once per battle,” because it won’t trigger again.
Once you catch your Mirage and finish the battle, you’ll be treated to an introduction screen with a cleverly written (and often punny) description of your newest acquisition.
The screen shows you how many of the Mirage you have imprismed in addition to its stats and direct transfigurations (more on those later). All caught Mirages start at Level 1, and you can either take them with you or send them to your Prism Case.
This is kept for you by Serafie, and since you can only have ten at a time in your possession, it’s an integral game mechanic. If you catch a new Mirage and you’re already holding ten, you’ll be asked if you want to retain the new one or send it to the Prism Case. If you pick the former, you’ll have to send another Mirage there.
I initially thought you had to have an empty space in your inventory in order to catch another Mirage, not realizing the game would give you that option of sending it to Serafie. I admit this so that future players will not make my mistakes.
Leveling up Mirages nets them SP, which can be spent in unlocking abilities. It’s very similar to the FFX’s sphere grid and the fore mentioned Child of Light.
If you open up all the transfigurations of a Mirage and complete all of its Mirage board, you’ll receive a bonus for that particular one and a silver or gold star showing you’ve attained the highest level.
The only main time you can’t catch a Mirage is if you’re in a threshold, which is typically where boss battles occur. There are a few other situations where you can’t catch an enemy, but that’s more story specific.
The red, chain like bars signify this so you won’t be able to trigger a prismitunity with that particular Mirage. However, nearly every single boss Mirage can be caught later, and the best place and resource for that and many others is…
Introduced as a concept in Final Fantasy VI, the coliseum has found its way into a number of Final Fantasy iterations, and it’s triggered a few chapters in World when Lann and Reynn find themselves in a desert setting only to be led to a large structure by a deep-voiced tonberry.
There are only a limited number of battles available to you at the start, but as you complete chapters and quests more open up.
It’s not only a great resource to catch rare or boss Mirages (the latter of which you can’t when you first battle them in game due to that threshold I mentioned above), but each victorious battle nets you an award e.g. if you defeat the indicated Lv11 FF Mascots I (first chocobo picture), you’d win a Phoenix Down.
There is no experience earned during coliseum battles, and if you’re defeated here, you just return to the lobby with only your pride bruised. This is true of any coliseum battle whether you succeed or fail. The only thing lost would be any consumables utilized therein.
The final area accessed from “outside the world” is…
The Girl’s Tearoom
Briefly mentioned above, this is a major side quest hub and the place where you can “awaken” champions.
Though the eponymous girl has forgotten her name, she seems to be some kind of gatekeeper to other times/histories where you can help other characters out of bad situations. The cost to open up intervention quests is Arma Gems, which are usually earned by defeating bosses both story and side quest centered in Grymoire (WOFF actually has as much of a side quest life as it does story line one). The rewards are quite stellar, including both rare items and rare Mirages. Sometimes the latter aren’t imprismable through the side quest or intervention itself, but they’ll show up either in the coliseum or a location in Grymoire after you claim the reward. The Princess Goblin and Undead Princess are two examples of Mirages at particular locations.
Like the coliseum, being defeating in an intervention quest will cause you to end up back in the Girl’s Tearoom minus any consumables you used; however, unlike the coliseum, you’ll have to heal up at the Save Point. Nor will you lose out on the Arma Gems spent to open up that quest. Not only can the Gems be used for that, they can also be utilized to awaken…
Champions are all the little chibi renditions of favorite characters.
They become unlocked after you come upon them through the course of the story, and when you return to the Girl’s Tearoom, they’re available for 2 Arma Gems a piece. If you don’t have enough Gems to both purchase the newly unlocked champions and do the currently opened intervention quests, some hard decisions need to be made. Eventually, you’ll have enough to satisfy all (and you’ll even be able to sell Arma Gems for gil at some point).
Three champion medals can be carried at a time,
but you can switch them out whenever you want (you don’t have to return to the Tearoom to do this either). Champions are kind of the game’s limit break, which is awesomely meta as many of the champions comes from games where they have their own limit break.
Your characters have to take enough damage to built up star levels. Some champions can be summoned with just one star, whereas others will take two or the maximum three. If you have a champion that only takes one and you have three stars, you can call him/her three times. Most of them perform some offensive attack, but a few like Refia
will heal your entire party, and all of them will give you some sort of boost e.g. Sephiroth will summon Meteor (which the game calls Supernova for some asinine reason. It’s METEOR), and he’ll also raise your characters’ physical strength.
I think Celes will boost your physical attack, as well, after delivering an icy blow and other champions will increase your evade, defense, etc. Also, how the fuck is Aeris not a summon?
There are other little gameplay tidbits like Mirajewels, which can give your characters abilities outside of what Mirages will bestow upon them in addition to boosting certain defenses and stats, but WOFF does a pretty decent job of explaining this in the tutorial, which gets a little bit annoying at times. Whenever you find anything new, you get a notification of sorts in the menu, and if you’re anything like me, this will drive you bonkers. I hate seeing that I have a notification and will check it just to get rid of the sign (this goes for my phone and email, too). The gameplay really isn’t that complicated once you’re used to it. There’s just a lot of different parts, numerous side quests in addition to the 21 main chapters and epilogue to the…
To say the story is the epitome of Final Fantasy doesn’t do it justice. The series has gotten to the point where it’s impossible for it not to be meta, especially considering each iteration feeds of the one prior, so the later ones are exponentially more Final Fantasy than the ones before. World hearkens back to the time loop presented in the original with the added bonus of additional universes.
The world the twins initially occupy is different from the eponymous world the game takes place in, which is called Grymoire taken from the word “grimoire,” a manual of magic. The term has been used before in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII; it’s the name of Vincent Valentine’s (late) father, using the dictionary spelling.
The story begins with a strange dream sequence of the twins on top of a tower and upon awaking, they have amnesia so bad they don’t even realize it at first. Lann, the male twin, initially goes to work, though the town is deserted, and his only customer is a strange women with white hair named Enna Kros.
She along with Tama tell them that beyond the portal in Sylver Park lies the world of Grymoire where they need to return in order to recover their memories. The “return” part is very telling, but first we have to talk about Tama.
Tama is the most annoying character in any Final Fantasy game. She’s not nearly as useless as Edward (FFIV), but she is definitely way more irritating. This is that situation where cute goes too far, becomes saccharine sweet, and you just want to murder it. I had a much better time, because I had Japanese with English subtitles, but I still got tired of her randomly thrown in “thes” in inappropriate places. We’re talking Jar Jar Binks level of annoying, Scrappy Doo caliber I want to punt you across the room, and I feel bad for anyone who had to deal with her in English. I still haven’t heard what her voice sounds like in my native tongue, and I think I’m going to keep it that way for as long as possible. I’m not even fond of the way the twins sound in English, because I’m used to the Japanese. World is the first game I’ve ever played that was in a different language, and at times it was like playing/watching an anime, especially considering some of the cut scenes.
But as fore mentioned, Tama is at least useful. She’s your guide to Grymoire, your source of integral information, and the twins’ amnesia comes in handy for the player since it serves as an excuse/reason for her explanations and the tutorial (it’s a similar method used in FFX with Tidus for the same).
The twins travel through Grymoire meeting characters from numerous Final Fantasies divided into different factions, but all working together to take down the threat of the Federation/Bahamut Army that’s attempting to take over the world and cast Grymoire into chaos. This is of course a common theme in FF; order vs. chaos (so common it’s the driving force behind the Dissidia games); however World does quite a clever twist on how that chaos came about.
Many years ago Lann and Reynn tried to summon a powerful Mirage through the Ultima Gate using their Mirage keeper powers. This was to help take some burden off of their mother Lusse Farna, a power Mirage keeper, according to the “girl’s” diary notes scattered throughout the realm, though Lann’s motives for summoning the evil king seemed more for his own impetuous bravado and foolish pride (hubris ya’ll).. The “girl” is identified as Reynn after the final ending when the major plot points have been revealed. The twins succeeded in summoning Brandelis, who’s pretty much a demon or Satan however you want to look at it, to Grymoire thus opening Pandora’s Box (almost literally considering the containers the Mirages come in) and making another reference, this time to Final Fantasy VI.
The powerful Mirage, though, would not accept two teenagers as his master and chose instead to invade the realm. Lady Lusse and their father Master Rorrik tried to stop him and send him back through the gate, but Brandelis was too strong even for them. He used them as vessels to summon a knight to establish the Bahamutian Federation. Seewarides and Pellinore took the bodies of Lady Lusse and Master Rorrik, but Pellinore’s soul wasn’t compatible with Lusse’s body. Their mother tried to regain control of herself and forced her children to escape.
The trauma of this event leaves the twins with no memory hidden in a false Nine Wood Hills outside of Grymoire, and it’s where the story begins. Through working with the nostalgic Final Fantasy characters to thwart the Federation, the twins catch more Mirages in hopes to regain their memories. Reynn, as the more introspective one, feels like they’re missing more than what they’re seeing, and when she finds out that someone named Lady Lusse saved Grymoire a hundred years ago, she becomes even more suspicious.
Grymoire is a land of two prophecies: Crimson and Azure. One of the prophecies has to be true, both can’t be; one will bring order, one will cause ruin. The Crimson Prophecy has to do with locating four keys, and I can’t recall what exactly the Azure Prophecy entails (nor is the internet very forthcoming), but Crimson has a cult of eerie followers who are mired in their zealotry even going so far as to yell at Tifa for being a heretic.
The fulfilled prophecy is unfortunately Crimson and it brings about chaos like a wash of blood. The twins find themselves in what looks to be a ruined version of Nine Wood Hills at the top of a crystal stair, and at the summit of the crystal tower they find an enigmatic gate with four seals protected by four guardians.
I really wish I could find a good picture of this gate, but it looks a hell of a lot like the Tree of Life.
History repeats itself in Lann and Reynn opening the Ultima Gate again after they’re tricked by the Masked Woman.
Atop the Crystal Tower, she removes her mask to reveal herself as Hauyn, the twins’ older sister. She tells them that their mother is the person imprisoned in the floating cage they see before, and of course that’s all they need, since finding their mother Lady Lusse became a major quest in the plot. However, the woman in the cage is revealed to be the real Hauyn, the woman in the mask was a deception, as the scenery shifts and their true sister laments that they’ve opened the Ultima Gate once more.
Later on after quite a few battles when everyone regroups, Hauyn is furious at Lann and Reynn for making the same mistake again. They vow to rectify the situation by taking care of the Cogna (machines) that are now overrunning Grymoire and defeating Brandelis once and for all, but the evil king cannot be stopped no matter how hard they fight, so Lann sacrifices himself to seal him away (possibly fueled by guilt as it was originally his idea to summon him). Bereft of her twin brother, Reynn falls into a deep despair and returns to the fake Nine Wood Hills where the credits roll on the most downer ending Final Fantasy has ever seen.
Time then stops and a beautiful, white, nine-tailed fox appears, asking Reynn if she accepts the consequences of her actions. The solitary twin says no, and the fox gives up all of her precious lives in order to reverse time and put the twins back in the place before they entered the portal in Agart’s cathedral.
Reynn stops Lann from continuing on, consulting Serafie whose presence gives her a start. It isn’t until later she realizes the white fox was Tama who gave up all her lives to bring them back. Reynn figures out that defeating Brandelis was not their main goal: gathering powerful Mirages was. This ties in with Gameplay, but now more areas of World are open, more intervention questions with the Girl Who Forgot Her Name who is an important character in and of herself. She is a keeper of time and is integral to them getting Tama back. One of her intervention quests involves defeating a black fox in Icicle Ridge in order to bring back their first Mirage. When they do Tama is able to transfigure into Tamamohime, a gorgeous white fox.
With more powerful Mirages like Bahamut, Leviathan, and others at their beck and call, the twins go to face Brandelis again in order to save Lady Lusse and Master Rorrik, but after the final battle they learn the truth: their parents have been dead for a hundred years. Their bodies, taken over by Pelinore and Segwarides. They’d sacrificed themselves to send Brandelis back and split all the worlds.
In the end Reynn and Lann go through the portal in order to ensure Brandelis cannot come through again, though this brings up tons of questions. Are the twins now trapped in a world with the evil king? Or by reversing the original folly, are the worlds no longer sundered? I’d like to think that, but then when all is said and done Enna Kros gives Hauyn two prismariums, which contain Lann and Reynn, as if they are now Mirages! Though that very word might explain it. They could be literally mirages/images of the twins and not their true selves who are back in their original world.
What is the nature of the twins’ world anyway? Since their mother (and her offspring to a lesser degree) were powerful Mirage Keepers that means Mirages existed in their world and weren’t unknown to them. This goes back to Enna Kros telling the twins they were “returning” to Grymoire. When they reach the top of that spiral staircase, there’s another ruined version of Nine Wood Hills, which must have been destroyed when Brandelis came through the portal.
Lady Lusse saved Grymoire a hundred years ago, which means Lann and Reynn were living in the false NWH for that long, suspended in time, going about their lives with no knowledge of what they’d wrought. What was the catalyst for the start of events? What sent Enna Kros to Lann on that particular day? Was it because a hundred years had passed? Was it because they had that dream? Did the dream occur because that amount of time had passed, and it was the moment to make things right?
Bringing Brandelis over is what split the worlds, which suggests that sending him back through the portal would bring the broken pieces back together, but if the twins had to go back as well, that implies that they weren’t originally from Grymoire either. Maybe being Mirage Keepers they’d been able to travel between worlds. This would also make an explanation for why so many Final Fantasy characters from different game “worlds” were in this one.
It reminds me of His Dark Materials which takes place across numerous wolds/universe. In the end Lyra, the main character, has to go back to her own world because having someone from a different world living in one not their own creates cracks in all worlds for spectres (soul stealing monsters) to come through.
This also begs the question of what is the “World” of Final Fantasy. Is it Grymoire? Is it one of the worlds the characters come from? Or is “World” encompassing all the worlds of Final Fantasy, which could be one and/or part of a gigantic multiverse (I’m more of the mind that Final Fantasy as a series of “whisper down the lane” stories, but that’s for another article). Though WOFF is advertised and has an aesthetic that would appeal to children, these are some pretty deep and meta questions.
After this true ending, you can now remove Lann and Reynn from your stacks, so they’re no different from any other Mirage. This brings up another questions. Who is playing? Obviously, you (the player) are, but throughout the game, you’re controlling Lann and Reynn who in turn control/stack Mirages. Games tend to have a system like this where the player controls some in game character whether they’re unseen, a spaceship, or someone/something else. After the end of the game, since Lann and Reynn are now Mirages, who is this stand in? Is it Hauyn since Enna Kros gave her the L + R Prismariums? That seems to make the most sense, but there’s really no way of knowing.
World of Final Fantasy has quite a bit of an after-game when the true ending is done, and three new dungeons open up in the Girl’s Tearoom ripe for exploration with a fourth available afterwards. There are Mirages that can only be captured at this time, and it makes me wonder if Squeenix is going to do anything with DLCs so there are even more dungeons/side quests. They are apparently releasing a Balthier summon sometime in July,
but I won’t have much to do with him since I’ve already completed the four extra dungeons, and I have every single Mirage.
I’m about to commit an act of treason: I wasn’t all that fond of WOFF’s soundtrack. I didn’t hate it, but not many songs really stood out for me. This is surprising as Final Fantasy is usually beyond stellar with their music presentations. The one song I really liked is the melody that plays on the Windswept Mire. I love the confident string section. It does an excellent job carrying the song along. The only other song I really recall is the one that plays in the Girl’s Tearoom after you complete the true ending. It has a definite “tick-tock” nature to it, which is apt for a room with a giant clock.
Sadly, these are the only ones that stand out for me, but I’ve heard other people praise the game’s OST, and just because nothing else really caught my ear, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.
I have elaborate ratings for the numbered Final Fantasies, but I don’t feel they would appropriate for WOFF. For example I’m not going to talk about the best or my favorite character since there are only two and a slew of cameos. While Lann and Reynn are certainly different, there’s really not enough characters in the pool to pick a favorite. So I’ll just rate Gameplay, Difficulty, Story, and Music.
Gameplay: 9 – World of Final Fantasy has a lot going on, but its interface is fairly simple if involved. There are numerous menu screens, but they’re fairly easy to navigate and use, and you’ll be using them a lot since WOFF is an RPG where you’ll need to spend points to upgrade/switch around your Mirages, heal, save, etc. The one critique I have is you can only organize the Item screen. It would be nice if you could do the same for the screen that what prisms and mementos you hold instead of scrolling through to search for them. The airship controls were also a little wonky.
Difficulty: 7 – WOFF is sufficiently challenging but not impossible so long as your on a high enough level for your place in the game. I did greet death quite a few times especially during special boss fights, and I lost to the final, final boss once before I vanquished him. If you weren’t on a high enough level and/or didn’t have the proper Mirage stacks, you’d have a bad time. Nor was there any way to completely avoid enemies even with the Stealth ability. It lowered your encounter rate, but didn’t quell it entirely. There’s also the matter of capturing certain Mirages. You really had to use the proper strategy; it wasn’t always a game of brute force. If you had to get them down to low HP, you’d better hope you didn’t have a counterattack on that might trigger and kill them. The ones were you had to take off a large amount of HP at once were probably the most difficult. It took me a long time to level up Bahamut to do that kind of damage to Master Tonberry. I enjoy that kind of challenge though, and I’d often find myself working out the issue after I turned the game off and was lying in bed. It was a nice touch. Even though WOFF Is super cute to draw in the younger crowd, it still presented a decent challenge to the more seasoned players, but I still think it would be accessible to someone who’s the same age I was when I first started playing Final Fantasy if not a little younger.
Story: 8 – For what I thought was going to be just a cute, little dalliance with cameos from characters in the guise of Funko Pops, I was surprised at how deep the story was involving time loops and other universes. I actually am thinking about at least playing the beginning again, because it opens with the twins on top of this tower, and I want to try to connect that to the rest of the narrative. Then what happens with the Red and Crimson Prophecies, their sister Hauyn, their parents, and even Tama is actually a bit of a tearjerker. I definitely shed some during the real ending. Final Fantasy has never been stingy on showing devastating loss, and it didn’t let up on that motif even in what was originally dubbed “Final Fantasy Cute.”
Music: 5 – I’ve seen a lot of people who really loved the music in WOFF, but it just really didn’t do much for me except for a select few pieces. Nobuo Uematsu was not the composer for this game, which I could clearly tell (especially since he left Squeenix in 2004), but another, Masashi Hamauzu who also did all of the music for Final Fantasy XIII. Though Hamauzu also left Squeenix in 2010, he was hired to work on these games. The music isn’t terrible, it just isn’t terribly memorable.
World of Final Fantasy was a highly enjoyable game that gave me much more than I expected, but that’s not much of a surprise considering what Squeenix can produce when they make even half an effort. Suitable for both new players and longtime Final Fantasy fans, World was well worth the money paid for the first day addition with more than 200 hours of game play clocked and the ability to keep going long after even the official ending.