It’s no surprise that Square Enix’s beloved Final Fantasy series is a household name in the gaming community. And so, when the sixteenth installment of the franchise hit the shelves in mid-June, the excitement was palpable. With a combat system that is reminiscent of Devil May Cry and an environment setting inspired by Game of Thrones, Final Fantasy 16 managed to combine the best of both worlds. If you have played the FFXVI demo, there are chances that you might be sold on the game already. However, if you are not and still have doubts lingering in your mind, then check out our non-spoiler review of Final Fantasy 16.
Final Fantasy 16 Spoiler-Free Review
So, the question on every player’s mind is – “Should you play other Final Fantasy games before jumping into this one?” To cut to the chase, the answer is no. You don’t need to play any previous Final Fantasy game before getting FF16. The game is a standalone entry which means that everything is brand new right from the world, characters, and the plotline itself. However, for those trying to get up to speed with Final Fantasy terminologies or the story as a whole, Square Enix has added a beautiful feature called Active Time Lore.
The Active Time Lore (ATL) system has turned out to be one of the most remarkable features ever seen in a game.
Introduced in FF16, Active Time Lore helps players understand concepts that are most relevant to the current storyline in the game. So, if players have failed to pick up on an idea that Clive and his party were discussing from a recent cutscene, they just need to open the ATL. Doing so opens a short summary in the form of written text which helps players keep up with the current FF16 plot.
Story and Setting
Final Fantasy 16’s plot makes players step into the shoes of Clive Rosfield – the main protagonist. He served as a bodyguard to his younger brother Joshua Rosfield during his teenage years. But a chain of events unfolds which sees Clive being exiled. We won’t reveal much of the plot here as it’s quite long and ridden with spoilers. However, one thing that you should know is that FFXVI’s setting is inspired by the critically acclaimed TV show Game of Thrones. And the producer Naoki Yoshida has not shied away from accepting this fact.
The world of Valishtea, FF16’s setting, is split into two continents known as Ash and Storm. They are called Mothercrystals and supply Aether energy to drive civilization. However, the overuse of these Mothercrystals leads to a crisis called the Blight. The most powerful force in Valishtea is the Eikons, each representing a different element. They are controlled by human hosts called Dominants. Though they don’t fight each other, things take a sharp turn after the appearance of the second Eikon of Fire, Ifrit. This disrupts the entire balance and becomes the Rising Action of the Final Fantasy 16 plot.
The combat system will put your multi-tasking skills to the test. You will need to inflict a chain of combo attacks, switch between your Eikons, and use their abilities. All this while having to dodge the enemy’s attacks. If you are not well-versed in action games, then you will surely take time to learn the ropes. We’d advise you to play on Story Mode to prevent being overwhelmed.
Cinematic Strikes and Evasions in FF16 are two stunning combat maneuvers introduced by Square Enix. They are special moves that trigger during a fight with a boss or a tough enemy in the game. They are only activated during certain cutscenes.
Coming to the party system, Final Fantasy 16 stands out from its previous installments. Players can only control one party member – the dog Torgal. The rest of the party members keep changing as Clive progresses through the main campaign. They fight like any AI companions would and sadly offer little to no help in battle. The amusing part is that Pet Torgal is more effective than Clive’s companions in Final Fantasy 16.
Side Quests and Post-Game Content
While the side quests seem bland in FFXVI, Square Enix has turned it up a notch by including post-game content which is rich in quality. Since the side quests appear to be straightforward and simple, they offer no real challenge to players. However, beauty is often seen in the finer details. The side quests do a tremendous job of allowing players to deep-dive into the lives of the people of Valisthea. Completing them will help you better understand the situation between the Bearers and the Dominants. The side quests have a bigger focus on lore and world-building rather than turning into a puzzle that is tricky to solve.
Square Enix has turned it up a notch by including post-game content which is rich in quality and extremely interesting.
The immersive post-game content in FF16 further enhances the replayability factor as a whole. The Final Fantasy mode is the main reason why post-game content is so interesting in this game. It is a difficulty level that is unlocked after you complete the entire main story campaign of FFXVI. Players can access this mode through the New Game Plus feature which allows them to carry over their possessions, abilities, and level progression. Since it’s the highest difficulty mode available, you will clash against tougher enemies across Valisthea. So, what’s the point of going through all this struggle? The Ultima Weapon – the insanely powerful and elusive sword will be available for crafting through a side quest in the Final Fantasy mode.
Final Fantasy 16 is an absolute marvel as far as visual gameplay and soundtrack is concerned.
Graphics and Soundtrack
Speaking of its visuals and graphics, Final Fantasy 16 is a feast for the eyes. Players can either focus on high resolutions or better performance (FPS) from the in-game setting. The game churns out spectacular character designs, intricately crafted environments, and the like. Whatever setting you choose, FF16 is an absolute marvel as far as visual gameplay is concerned.
One of the most understated and indispensable elements of any game is its soundtrack. Final Fantasy XVI aces in this department as well with room to spare. The stellar voice acting for each character and a background score that builds tension or calm as per the situation is truly spectacular.
Square Enix have done a commendable job in honoring the legacy of the Final Fantasy series with FFXVI. The developers have stuck to the franchise’s basics which would definitely impress newcomers and veterans alike. The Active Time Lore system is set to completely revolutionize the way we play games. It is quite rightly a game changer and will set the ball rolling for other game developers to follow suit. The captivating story, engaging combat system, and breathtaking visuals leave a lasting impression on players. All in all, Final Fantasy 16 is a must-buy and you should have no reason to think twice before jumping into the dark fantasy world of Valisthea.
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