When you see or hear the name “Final Fantasy,” you already know its legacy. It’s one of the most successful franchises in the industry, but for gamers, it’s not the financial success we talk about. It’s the beauty and magic of the world, the memorable characters and the emotional and powerful stories that drive them. As a fan myself, it’s not an easy pill to swallow when a Final Fantasy game isn’t released outside Japan. That, however, changed when the remaster for Final Fantasy Type-0 was announced. Is it the game we all hope it is?
Like all other titles, Type-0 takes place in a slightly different world, with new (and some old) mythologies. You play a group of teenage warrior cadets known as Class Zero, who find themselves fighting in a disastrous war. The pact keeping the Four Crystal states of Orience at peace has been broken by the Militesi Empire. Their goal is to command all four power crystals in the land. Their first target is the vulnerable Dominion of Rubrum.
During the attack, Class Zero is sent to the front lines to defeat the oncoming enemy, who, somehow, has managed to block Rubrum’s magical cadet forces from using their magic. Not tied to usual methods of magic, only the Class Zero team can counter attack the Empire. After winning the battle, the Dominion realizes that the only way they are going to protect themselves is if they become more strategic and fight back. I won’t tell you any more than that, but you should know that the game is very heavy handed in politics and war, plus it’s a lot darker than any FF game before it, and a lot bloodier.
Right off the bat, I must mention that, for a remastered game, it looks stunning. Many times in the game I honestly forgot that it was an HD version of the PSP game. Everything from textures to lighting is amazing, and is seamless on the PS4. Some NPCs do look aged, but the updates on the main crew are top notch. Enemies are as lethal as they are beautiful – I gawked at this horse-dragon thing while it killed my team. It’s polished and well executed, and perfect eye candy.
Some of you might not like what I’m about to say. It’s seems like Square Enix is destined to change its turn-based games into something more action-based. The Kingdom Hearts series is proof they can do this in a successful way. That same concept is used in Type-0, but elevated to new heights. You control 14 characters in the Class Zero team – 12 original members and 2 new members. (Interesting Factoid: the original teams’ members are named after cards, except ten. So you have Ace, Deuce, Trey, Cater, Cinque, Sice, Seven, Eight, Nine, Jack, Queen and King). The two new members play an important role in a subplot, but for main game all members shine as equals. Each member is a different class: Archer, Gunmage, Samurai, Martial Artist, Gunner, Gambler, etc. So there’s a lot of different styles to play as. I’ve played them all, and there are only two classes I dislike: Sice’s Scythe (Similar to Dark Knight) and Deuce’s Flute (Bard) are very difficult to use and terribly slow and have nothing to balance their weaknesses. The others are great to use and their strengths far out-weight their short-comings.
In battle, all characters are available at your disposal, but only three members can participate at a time. All others are placed on reserve. When an active member is defeated, a reserve can take their place. Also, you control one character, but can switch between active members at will. Just like in Kingdom Hearts, battling happens mostly in real-time. Random encounters happen when walking around on the map, but you get sent into an arena where the fighting happens.
In battle, movement is essential as well as timing. You can equip each character with up to three moves – your standard attack is always there. These moves can be a combination of abilities or magic and one of them must be defensive or healing move. So you’re always balanced and ready to tackle any threat, which is essential in any RPG. The timing part comes into play with something called Killsight. When an enemy performs a specific action, or fails, a red or yellow target shows up momentarily. Landing a hit while this is showing will heavily damage your enemy, and is often the key to fighting bosses.
Another element that’s added to the fight are these shadow fighters. If you allow it, shadow characters replace your active party members. As this review was completed under embargo, I’m not too sure if it’ll allow “shadow” versions of your PSN friends, or if it just includes random people. It is, however, a great way to keep your units alive for longer and can help you out in a bind. Plus it’s the best way to earn a specific type of currency that’s used to purchase weapons.
One thing that took me by surprise is how well the use of war is in this game. Unlike FF XII, which focused more on the politics behind war, this is far more direct. You’re playing characters that know nothing but war. To emphasize this even further, you get to participate in skirmishes called ‘Sorties’. These sections remind me of a very simple version of Age of Empires. You control one character and have him or her assist the Dominion in taking over territories from the Empire. There aren’t many, but I love the inclusion and it only adds to the game. If it’s not your thing, you can simply skip it.
Aside from all the fighting and gawking, the sound and ambience of the game is good. I do tend to hear the same music occasionally, but it is nostalgic and plays on my heartstrings. The dialogue is very smart, so you’ll have to wear your brainy cap when playing. For the most part, the voice acting is stellar. There are two characters, both in dialogue and sound, that irritate me: Nine and Cinque. Nine is an idiot and it seems as though his characters’ conception is incomplete. Cinque, on the other hand, is Type-0’s version of Oerba Dia Vanille.
As a story, Final Fantasy Type-0 isn’t the most cheerful in the franchise, but it has many high points and shocking moments. The Class Zero team, which are battle-hardened teens, come out of their shell when they walk around in the school of Akademia – Final Fantasy’s version of Hogwarts. Watching their interaction with each other and other students is funny and charming and makes me love them more. Best of all, not one character outshines another. All of them, although unrelated, act like one big family. What I liked most about it, as a fan, are all the references to older FF games. Things like Cid, Chocobos, Mog (Nine even throws him at one point – guess where that’s from…), the Moogle outfits, The Four Crystals, L’Cie (even the focus and crystal stasis), Eidolons, the Empire and more.
It doesn’t just end there either, there are quite a few extra tasks to perform – some easy, some not. There are also additional super tough missions to participate in. A new game plus mode opens up after you’ve beaten the game and an additional difficulty mode is unlocked for the truly hardcore Final Fantasy fan.
Over all, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is by far one of the best remasters I’ve played, it not the best. The Last of Us Remastered was brilliant, but the original was created two years ago. I have to hand it to Square Enix, this is an enjoyable and beautiful addition to any Final Fantasy library. It’s fresh enough for new people but contains enough charm for old Fantasy fans.