Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Tested on: Nintendo 3DS
Final Fantasy Explorers – Review
One of the biggest franchises among RPG’s is Final Fantasy. This title isn’t the usual formula you’d expect from the franchise, but it’s actually a mixture of Monster Hunter elements and your trusty characters and background. It is your duty to get more intel on crystals, but are you ready to face every obstacle? Grab your weapons and get set for the road.
The Final Fantasy franchise is well-known for its clingy, deep storyline and if you’re hoping to find the same in this title, you’re getting a cold shower. Final Fantasy Explorers offers only a bit of explanation at the start of a new game. It seems that the island Amostra has a whole bunch of crystals. These shimmering gems are very special and little is known about them. There are people that are willing to give their life to search for undiscovered crystals: the Explorers. Your character is on his way to this gem heaven when your airship is being ambushed by a huge monster.
At first, you’re bravely trying to fight this monstrosity, but a faint voice is telling you to run away as you’re facing Bahamuth. This Eidolon is way too strong and you listen to the advice. Your savior explains afterwards why you were attacked. Bahamut is the ruler of the skies and the grand crystal in the centre of the isle can’t be explored as long as he’s around. You’re send to the harbor village, where you can set your first steps to become an Explorer.
On arrival in Libertas, you’re greeted by quite some friendly people, trying to help you achieve your dream. It is your task to defend the town, defeat enemies and find more information about the crystals. That is actually all that there is too it. No fancy lore or more in-depth narrative, which might leave you wanting more.
Final Fantasy Explorers is made for the Nintendo 3DS and although the graphics aren’t bad, it feels like Square Enix didn’t use the full possibilities the handheld has to offer. Overall, there seems to be a sort of haze laying over the graphics, making everything blurrier. At any rate, the used sprites and the amount of detail is quite high, making it quite pleasant to look at.
Character wise, you have some possibilities to alter your toon to your liking. Each armor item has its own visual characteristics and these graphics are really well done. For instance, the more advanced armor sets look quite stunning, making it a joy to wear. Next to that, Monsters have their own particular colors, making it easier to spot if you’re facing a tougher version or not.
The environments are quite diverse, as the isle has a lot to offer. For instance, you can wind up on a sunny beach where you need to fight of giant crabs, while you can transverse a giant mountain to get to the famous Eidolon Ramuh.
If you like the tracks that (most) Final Fantasy games offer, you’ll be in for a treat. You’ll recognise some of the tunes from other games, like the music you’ll hear when finishing a battle successfully. There are some other tracks as well, having that particular classical tone. Each area has its own music, emphasizing the overall feeling of that place. For example, you can find a rather up-tempo track while venturing a vast amount of open space, while a rather soothing but ominous tune is playing when entering a forest.
Next to the soundtrack, there are loads of sound effects as well. Each weapon has its own sound, while some of the attacks have a different tune too. Monsters have their own particular groaning as well, especially when you slay them. It will occur more than often that you’ll be playing with the sound on.
Final Fantasy Explorers is a spin-off of the Final Fantasy franchise and combines a lot of elements of Monster Hunter with the setting of Final Fantasy. More than often, you’ll find references to older games of this series. In this game, it is your task to defeat enemies and find more intel on the crystals. This means you’ll better be prepared for a lot of fighting, preferably with a job to your liking.
When you enter Libertas for the first time, only a few job roles are available for the time being. Each role has its pro’s and con’s but more importantly, you should choose something that really suits your playstyle. If you like ranged classes, it might be better to take a magic user or ranger instead of a knight. Each role has its set of abilities specific for that job, which need to be bought with CP or Crystal Points. You can buy some abilities from other jobs (like cure for instance), which can be used as well.
Now that you’ve chosen a role and got abilities, it is time to get on the field. You can venture the world on your own, but you can also accept (sub)quests. This means that you need to fulfil your task and then return to town. You can only accept one main quest at a time and multiple subquests. The latter are used to increase your amount of CP so you can buy or experiment with abilities.
You can lock on enemies by tapping the right shoulder button. Holding this button (or the left one as well) will open a menu where you can assign abilities to. Combining the button with other ones gives you the possibility to trigger these special attacks. Overall, you have eight slots you can fill so choose wisely. When attacking enemies with these abilities, your inner Resonance will grow. Resonance is quite important, as it gives you a damage boost and when it is above 100 it might be possible to get a Crystal Surge. This means that you can activate special abilities (which can be accessed by holding both the left and right should button). When you’ve selected one, your current abilities might get a yellow color. If you use them while under the influence of the Crystal Surge, it might be that they start to mutate.
Mutated abilities can be learned at the central crystal in Libertas and are an improved version of your old ones. Watch out though, as these newer ones might use a lot of AP. This meter also depletes when you sprint but regenerates automatically over time and when you do normal attacks on enemies. You will have to decide if you want to have that particular ability, but with the possibility to run out of AP.
Before you can do any damage, you’ll need equipment. You can make weapons and armor in the workshop, but you’ll need materials and Gil to do so. This means that you’ll need to kill enemies and scavenge your surroundings for items. Doing so will give you some experience for your EL or Explorer Level. The thing is that this isn’t tracked anywhere. You can’t see an experience bar or this level doesn’t have any influence in the game. It’s a shame that this element wasn’t exploited more.
After a while, you learn how to go in Trance mode. A meter is filled when you use abilities, and when you have enough you can inherit special skills from an equipped Magicite. This special gem can contain an Eidolon or one of the characters of previous Final Fantasy games. When you enter Trance Surge and keep on building Resonance, the next Crystal Surge you trigger will contain a special move. For instance, Cloud’s Omnislash will be available.
You can play singleplayer or you can go online and find some people to play with. If you get together with friends, you can start a local co-op or you can find online rooms to join. You can’t really talk to people online, as there are only preprogrammed sentences. This is a great idea to stop bad language, but makes communicating a lot more stiff. Next to this multiplayer option, you can also make assignments for other people to complete. This is done using StreetPass so you need to make sure that this is turned on.
This might be a lot of info, but Final Fantasy Explorers has some tutorial quests and exams for you, giving you the details you need and making it easier to getting to know the game. It is a shame that this title doesn’t really have a function where it keeps track of everything you’ve learned (like an Encyclopaedia for instance), so it means that you need to redo the tutorial levels if you want to refresh your memory.
The game has a lot of positive points, but there are some downsides as well. main quests are mostly killing certain types of mobs, making it quite repetitive after a while. If you want to create certain types of armor (like Sephiroth’s garb) you will need to grind a lot of monsters, emphasizing the repetitive part.
If you like games like Monster Hunter and you’re fallen in love with the Final Fantasy franchise, then you’ll like this title. The gameplay might get a tad repetitive and the lack of a decent story might turn you off, but it is a nice game to take along when on the road. Be ready to fight loads of monsters and Eidolons in a known setting, with decent graphics and great music.