So I’ve been meaning to write a proper review of Final Fantasy Dimensions for iOS. The problem is that the game is really long and really engrossing. I just started the fourth and final chapter this morning. My game clock at the end of the third chapter was a shade over 54 hours. I’ve maybe spent seven hours grinding to get certain abilities. Aside from a few spots where the random encounter rate was obnoxious, I’ve loved every minute of Final Fantasy Dimensions. Here’s a (not) review (and lots of screens) of three chapters and 54 hours of the game.
Final Fantasy Dimensions’ story is a straightforward JRPG tale. There’s an evil empire. The world is in peril. It’s up to you and your companions to stop the evil empire and make the world safe. What brings the story to life is the surprisingly fun, diverse, and well-written characters. Sol, for example, is your typical overanxious and youthful hero; unlike other games with overanxious and youthful heroes, Sol’s companions have no problem telling him that he’s an idiot. Alba seems like the sassy support character you’ve adventured with in countless games, but her lines are consistently funny and it’s later revealed that she’s much more than she seems. The characters archetypes are familiar to anyone that’s played several JRPGs, but they’re written in a way that makes them stand out and feel fresh.
The adventure hops back and forth between two parties of four — the Warriors of Light and the Warriors of Darkness. From a storytelling perspective, it keeps things interesting because there are two distinct, but related, adventures happening at the same time. You get to spend a chunk of time with one crew before adventuring with the other. From a gameplay perspective, each team has jobs that are unique to their party. So even though the core gameplay is the same for both, the powers and abilities exclusive to each side makes their respective battles feel distinct.
Fueling the battles is a slick version of the Final Fantasy job system. You can sculpt any character into any type of warrior you want them to be, though each character has stats that are better suited for particular jobs. There’s just a ton of depth and variety with the job system. You can craft a DPS warrior, a tank, a DPS mage, a support character, and any combination you can think of. You can go with straightforward jobs like warrior, black mage, and white mage. Or you can experiment with more esoteric classes like bard, dancer, and ranger. The ability to equip primary abilities and secondary abilities from other jobs your character has studied gives the game a ton of replay value. Old-school JRPG fans will have a blast playing around with the Final Fantasy Dimensions job system.
Fusion abilities add an extra twist to the customary job system. These abilities are discovered when a character uses an ability while its partner ability is equipped. For example, a white mage that casts “haste” and is armed with the bard’s “agility song” ability will discover the “hastega” fusion ability. The discovery happens randomly, with the only requirements being that one of the abilities has to be used while the other is equipped. This gameplay mechanic gives each character three layers of abilities: the primary abilities native to their active job, the secondary abilities that are chosen, and fusion abilities that permanently stay with the character once they’re learned. It’s another layer of depth and variety on top of a system that’s already deep and diverse.
So I’m digging the story and characters. I’m absolutely loving the gameplay system. When I wrote about the game in Coffee Talk #515, I mentioned that its music is wonderful. Everything is peachy, right? Not quite. I have some minor problems with Final Fantasy Dimensions. There are some stretches where the random encounter rate is annoying as hell. Sometimes the game won’t let you move for two seconds without triggering a random battle. There were a few occasions when I turned the game off because the random battles were pissing me off. The touchscreen d-pad can also be finicky (I’m playing on a 2012 iPad, btw), leading to imprecise movements. A couple of steps in the wrong direction coupled with an annoyingly high random encounter rate makes for some frustrating times in Final Fantasy Dimensions. That said, these issues are easily overlooked because the game excels in so many areas.
Final Fantasy Dimensions is an absolutely blissful game for old-school JRPG fans. It’s easily my favorite game of 2012 so far (keep in mind that I’m a total mark for the FF job system). When I’m not completely absorbed by the world of FFD, I find myself thinking about longtime Final Fantasy fans that haven’t enjoyed the last few installments in the series. Final Fantasy Dimensions is perfect for them. It offers many of the qualities that people love about the ’90s FF games. Even if the final chapter is utter crap (and I’m positive it won’t be), the 54 hours and three chapters I’ve played of Final Fantasy Dimensions have been delightful. To borrow a line from those old NBA commercials — I love this game!