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Final Fantasy 16 Review

(Image from Steam)

I have to admit that after playing Final Fantasy 15, I wasn’t looking forward to the next one. The latest instalment of the series was a delightful surprise that not only held my interest for a few hours, but also provided a whole new experience. This is a more sophisticated offering, touching with slavery, religious obsession, and even familial ties in a manner that other games under this label have not. The tone aimed towards adults does not, however, imply that the product loses its identity and pretends to be something altogether else. It’s still Final Fantasy, but it’s unexpectedly different.

The game’s action takes place on the continent of Valisthea in a gloomy fantasy realm. This region is home to massive hill-sized Crystals that produce Aether, the source of magical power and the raw material responsible for all technological advancement in this world. Kingdoms have formed around individual crystals, competing for dominion over resources as a result of the growing disease draining the ether from everything around. There are people called “carriers” who are ether transmitters among the population. They are rapidly degraded to the level of slaves as live substitutes for consumable crystals, marked like cattle with a face tattoo. The Dominants, or persons capable of not only controlling the aether but also summoning magical creatures known as Eicons, are regarded in great regard among them. In countless conflicts and conquests, these units are deployed as weapons of mass devastation. If you believe this is serious, then this is just the beginning. 

(Image from Mp1st)

Clive Rosfield, the main character, is the oldest son of the monarch of a minor principality, but it is in the veins of his younger brother Joshua that he has pledged to defend. In the future, the younger brother will be able to call the Eikon of Fire, the Phoenix. Unfortunately, a coup d’état by Empire aggression occurs one fateful night, just before the ceremony to begin his quest. Many individuals are killed during the onslaught, including Joshua, who is not assisted by his transformation into a Phoenix. The youngster is killed by the strange second Eikon of Fire. In related news, Clive is kidnapped and trained as an assassin for the Empire.

We return to the hero after 13 years, when he encounters a boyhood buddy during the assignment and is compelled to kill his own company. Cid, an outlaw “carrier” who does not fight for any of the five kingdoms and seeks to rescue the other Aether wielders from governments that deem them as subhuman, pulls him out of difficulty. For the first time in the series’ history, we have such gory sequences, obscenities flung left and right, and themes of sex, incest, and cruelty of humans. This first raised my suspicions, but the novel is written in such a manner that the harshness of this society makes sense and explains the hero’s motive. The fact that the storyline of Final Fantasy 16 is mostly formed of cutscenes emphasises the emphasis on the tale, which should be understood especially by those who will be viewing the series for the first time. There’s a lot going on here, and there are a lot of individuals engaged in the plot, but thankfully, we get some ingenious solutions that keep you from getting confused.

One such aspect is the interactive knowledge compendium: at any point throughout the cutscene, we may hit pause and recollect the location, participating sides, heroes we see on screen, and even fundamental game phrases. This is one of the series’ biggest innovations, because we don’t have to watch thousands of hours of movies describing a convoluted network of relationships. Under one extremely helpful function, knowledge about the world is at your fingertips. Over time, there has also been a historian and cartographer in our refuge who summarises the overall geopolitical condition of the globe as it relates to our acts, not just our deeds.

Anyone who has played Final Fantasy 15 or Final Fantasy 7 Remake will notice a significant shift in the controls and combat in the latest instalment. The ostensibly comparable gameplay paradigm is more akin to Devil May Cry than the new Finale, which isn’t always a negative thing. The new fighting model is fantastic. Clive strikes dynamically, relying heavily on effective dodges and parries, and his magical talents further add to the enjoyment of fighting.

The hero can “borrow” the powers of other Dominants, thereby mimicking an Eikon’s element. This grants him special attacks, which we can subsequently mix into twisted combinations. So we combine strong spells, Limit Breaks in fights, and the returning Stagger System to whittle down the adversaries’ endurance. Our allies include other Dominants, but also the dog Torgal, who, in addition to chewing on necks can cure us. The only criticism is the poorly thought-out model of power switching and setting – sometimes, to use specific abilities in a limited time, we have to click a bit – it can be felt when we want to knock down an enemy with a certain power during a few seconds window, when we have time for it, but the only ability that allows it is hidden under the third tab of abilities, between which it is impossible to switch conveniently. things would be good if there was a way to make things easier.

(Image from Gaming Bible)

The fights are fantastic, and the number of bosses and mini-bosses is remarkable. Every now and then, we run into tougher opponents, and an ordinary combat turns into a spectacular conflict, complete with thunderbolts, walls that crumble, and the Eicons themselves. The latter fundamentally alters the nature of the conflict, allowing us to assume the role of mythological animals while shifting the scale from human sizes to a skirmish in which we demolish entire towns beneath our feet. I don’t recall ever seeing such magnificent confrontations in the other Final Fantasy games. The game is also a lot longer than the last one. Final Fantasy 15 was over for me after 43 hours, yet this is merely the first part of the quest. It is full of twists and storyline twists that pleasantly surprise. This is not to say that there aren’t any threads that are entirely “off the shelf,” with no sense or a definite finale. Perhaps their purpose is to demonstrate the multi-layered environment, but the message is lost during a protracted sequence – instead, it might be an entry in an interactive chronicle, the functionality of which is so wonderfully unexpected.

The environment isn’t an open-type kind, but rather resembles expanded “corridors” that open up more and more with time, eventually offering quite a lot of freedom for exploration while not being empty. Most of the locations outside of the dungeons may be revisited at any time throughout the main narrative, side missions, or searching for rare creatures. The quantity of new tasks is adequate to entice you to return to previously visited locations while without boring us to death. More significant jobs, which will allow us to fly on the series’ mascot, Chocobo, are marked differently, making it hard to overlook these vital optional activities. 

This Square Enix game also suffers from an issue that has recently plagued the gaming industry: an inefficient performance mode. Final Fantasy 16’s action-packed combat begs to be played at high frame rates, yet the game frequently falls short of the ideal 60fps level. The alternative is quality mode, which gives a set frame rate but limits responsiveness, which is undesirable in a game where last-minute dodges are sometimes the difference between victory and defeat. However, post-launch performance mode modifications are almost inevitable. 

Final Fantasy 16 certainly surprised me by how mature and sophisticated the game itself was. There is no pressure, no feature cutbacks, and no shredding of content to subsequently distribute as part of paid extensions. It is a typical premium game format, a continuation of the cult series, and a game that provides an entirely unique experience for those acquainted with the Final Fantasy genre.

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