Final Fantasy 16 Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Final Fantasy 16 redefines the series with a new twist on the gameplay system and a dark narrative that will keep you engaged throughout.
- Developer: Square Enix Creative Business Unit III
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Release Date: June 22, 2023
- Platforms: PlayStation 5
- Tested On: PlayStation 5
- Memorable Characters
- Deeply Engaging Action Combat
- Masterful Soundtrack
- Immensely Rewarding Exploration
- Intense Eikon Boss Battles
- Performance Mode Needs Improvement
As someone who’s been a massive fan of JRPGs since childhood, the Final Fantasy franchise has held a special place in my heart. It’s a series whose titles have managed to stand against the test of time, and that sentiment is held by millions of other players around the world.
Whether it was Tidus and Yuna’s heartwarming journey in Final Fantasy X or Terra’s emotional farewell in FFVI, the series has come far since its early days.
So it brings me a lot of joy to say that I had the utmost pleasure of reviewing Final Fantasy 16, the latest entry in the series that boasts brand-new DMC-like action combat, and a gritty yet rich medieval narrative.
Story And Setting
Potential Spoilers Below
The main story of the game invites players to the world of Valisthea, where the entire civilization is divided into six kingdoms that are either constantly waging war, or striving to obtain the gifts provided by the Mothercrystals.
These crystals are situated across the two main continents, and allow each of the Kingdoms to thrive off of their power so that they can function in their day-to-day tasks. Each of the six Kingdoms’ dominion is controlled by the ruler and their Dominant ally, the one who bears the powerful mythical beings known as Eikons that can unleash destructive power at their disposal.
Our main hero in the story is Clive Rosfield, who is the firstborn son of the Archduke of Rosaria, Elwin Rosfield. The game traces back to his youthful days, where we are introduced to Joshua, Clive’s younger brother, the Dominant of the Phoenix, and Jill Warrick, a young girl brought up in the Rosfield family by Elwin.
The narrative, when compared to past Final Fantasy games, left me a bit concerned initially. But upon experiencing it for myself, I can safely admit that this storytelling is one to leave you speechless.
During the extensive prologue, our protagonist’s world is suddenly turned upside down as a group of conspiring traitors brutally murder his father, and to make matters even worse, he experiences a strange vision, transforming him into a second Eikon of the Flame, Ifrit. In a grueling battle against Joshua’s Phoenix and having no control over his conscious, Clive unwillingly decimates his brother, losing his entire livelihood in a single night.
Leaving him better off dead in the aftermath of the battle by his mother, our hero is enlisted into the Imperial Army of Sanbreque. Vowing nothing more than vengeance, Clive, along with his allies, Torgal, the family dog, as well as a reunited Jill, embark on a quest to discover the mystery behind Ifrit’s Dominant and to avenge those that he’s lost in the tragedy.
The narrative, when compared to past Final Fantasy games, left me a bit concerned initially. But upon experiencing it for myself, I can safely admit that this storytelling is one to leave you speechless and, at times, at the edge of your seat due to how emotionally powerful it can be in it’s most climactic moments.
But that aside, let’s dive deeper into how the gameplay of the title.
Final Fantasy 16 boasts adrenaline-inducing hack-and-slash combat, which is a testament to the game’s innovation. Despite the recent Final Fantasy 7 Remake having a similar system, this one is much different in the sense that you are not controlling any party members, and neither are there any discreet turn-based features mixed in with the riveting combat.
Final Fantasy 16 boasts adrenaline-inducing hack-and-slash combat, which is a testament to the game’s innovation
Clive is able to wield the power of various different Eikons throughout the game via their blessing, which allows him to fight in unique forms as well as be able to use unique types of magic and abilities. You can cycle between three different Eikons on the fly almost instantly, allowing you to chain together various kinds of combo attacks as well as special abilities that can change the tides of battle in your favor within seconds.
Not to mention, each of the abilities can be upgraded or enhanced to your liking, whether it’s Garuda’s tornado-like attacks or Titan’s brutalizing charged heavy strikes; each one can give you an edge during specific situations.
Speaking of which, the Eikons themselves not only play an integral role in the storytelling but also in the gameplay as Clive will engage their Dominants in battle throughout the main story. These ‘Eikon Battles’ are showcased on a massive scale, with Quick Time Events, which when successfully completed, will advance you deeper into the fight against your opponent.
When contrasted with the restricted open-world design of Final Fantasy 15, exploration is given much more emphasis here. You are able to explore various large segments of the world, which are similar to the design of the older games in the series as well as the Dragon Quest series.
When contrasted with the restricted open-world design of Final Fantasy 15, exploration is given much more emphasis here.
Activities range from Monster Hunts, which will require hunting down special targets, the usual fetch quests from NPCs, and messing about in the Hideaway. The Hideaway is a large hub area where you can manage most of the main or optional quests, upgrade weapons, trade items and even jump into a training mode from the Arete Stone there to practice your combat skills.
Out of all these features, I personally found the Monster Hunts to be the most exciting, and the one that I estimate players will indulge in the utmost during the endgame grind. These activities can be challenging but equally rewarding, as you can obtain different accessories to boost Clive’s stats and other properties, as well as earn quintessential crafting resources too.
The developers have also provided us with ‘Timely Accessories,’ which are essentially accessibility enhancements for those not used to intense action combat. These are completely optional to equip, so you can freely decide to wear them for tough boss fights or other encounters which may seem too tedious to complete.
Furthermore, I absolutely loved the addition of the ‘Active Time Lore,’ which basically is like a codex that contains lore entries of various story elements such as the areas, characters, and even the beasts. You can access the Active Time Lore feature at almost any time in Final Fantasy 16 by simply opening it up from the pause menu.
Having played various action titles over the years, the combat of Final Fantasy 16 felt quite nostalgic. And that’s because the combat designer, Ryota Suzuki, was a design lead on the phenomenal Devil May Cry 5. Half of the community may feel divided on this shift to action-based combat, but thankfully there are enough incentivizing features to get you accustomed to it as well as engage with the world around you.
Visuals And Performance
The visuals of Final Fantasy 16 are staggeringly rich in detail, and they manage to surpass the realism factor in past titles but also retains that animated style that we all know and love. The environments are packed with intricate details, and each of the core structures, such as castles and other vistas in the kingdoms, are a marvel to behold.
In terms of performance, there are minimal frame drops and they only show up in some instances during exploration and this was with the day 1 patch included. But despite that, it didn’t ruin too much of my experience, and when engaging with enemies in combat my framerate ran smoothly at 60FPS.
But if you want a truly stable experience, feel free to opt for the Graphics Mode. When compared to the performance mode, it runs the game at a stable framerate of 30FPS, but that might not appeal to everyone.
Thankfully, the developers have acknowledged the mild performance issues and hope to address more updates with the game after the release. There are also no game-breaking bugs or glitches, so honestly, it hardly impacted my experience negatively.
Final Fantasy 16 is a game that’s etched itself as a potential game of the year candidate, and I know we’re technically not even at the half-year mark. But with such a solid line-up of games already released and still coming, Clive’s journey is an unforgettable one among them that strongly resonates with you as he sets off on his quest.
The combat is an unparalleled sight to behold when it clicks with you, and the storytelling strikes a fine balance between ruthless political warfare and an engaging character-driven narrative. Yet despite it all, it still maintains the charm of Final Fantasy that fans like me have loved and adored since its golden days.
This has been our Final Fantasy 16 Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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