I haven’t played a Final Fantasy game in a long time, unless you count the mmo Final Fantasy XIV and even that was a few years back. Now I’m not the biggest Final Fantasy fanboy, the best memories I have from the series come from the American Super Nintendo version of Final Fantasy III. But I was still pretty hype for this game, all the trailers made it look pretty amazing, and I really liked the premise of playing as the main character and having your entourage follow along for the journey.
Within the first few hours of playing this game, I fell in love. In my mind, I was already touting it as game of the year. The world and setting were fantastic, I was having fun just running around the countryside exploring the landscape. The combat was solid, and it didn’t feel like a chore. The systems and mechanics felt deep and complex. Even the beginning of the story was keeping me interested. Everything was great, until I hit Chapter 9…
As soon as you finish Chapter 9, the gameplay becomes completely linear. The landscapes and setting become dull and repetitive. The combat becomes non-existent for the most part and at one point you are stripped of all your weapons forced to just run from every encounter. And the story just took a complete nose dive… It felt like they had written a whole book and because of deadlines they were forced to just rip out entire sections and pages here and there. This game quickly went from Game of the Year for me to, I don’t think I even want to finish this game.
But I still finished it, I actually completed 100% of the achievements with a play time of 78 hours. The good news is, is that when you do finish the story, you are able to basically go back in time to the open world setting and finish up all the side quests and hunts that you didn’t finish before you progressed past Chapter 9. This game is brimming with extra content too, there’s something like 200 side quests to complete, monster hunts to battle monsters across the map, and dungeons to explore. After you beat the game, you can do the end game dungeons which are higher level and will really challenge you. There’s even a 100 floor dungeons that completely caught me off guard and I spent an entire afternoon trying to complete. It was an act of attrition, and one I wasn’t going to back down from. There’s plenty of secrets to be found as well, including a dungeon that’s devoid of any enemies and is just series of ingenious jumping puzzles that will really test you.
Overall, I’d still recommend this game to people, but I’d give them a warning to just plow through the story so that they can enjoy the open world gameplay.