Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Developers: Square Enix 1st Production Department, HexaDrive
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One
There exists an aura of mystery around games that aren’t immediately released outside of Japan. Perhaps it just wouldn’t translate well or they were testing the market. Maybe the studio doesn’t have the resources to get everything done. I’m not sure why it took so long for ‘Final Fantasy Type-0’ to receive a release outside of Japan, given the immense success of the series. All I can say is it’s a must for any fan aiming to get the most out of FFXV when it’s released.
At the outset of the game you’re immediately thrown into a warzone. The Militesi Empire, one of the four nations of Orience, has broken a peace treaty by attacking the Dominion of Rubrum. By disabling Rubrum’s Vermillion Bird crystal, Militesi has rendered them defenceless – or so they thought. You take hold of Class Zero, a special group of students who are still able to use their magic thanks to their connection to the crystal. Once the initial attack is over the students are tasked with pushing back the invasion in other regions in an unstable political climate.
Arecia Al-Rashia, a powerful figure the students call “mother” for some weird reason, places the students in the Akademeia, the magic school for the nation. There are 14 members in Class Zero, each with their own special traits and abilities. Two of them – Machina and Rem – are fresh recruits regarded with suspicion by their new team. Machina is also searching for answers about his brother’s death despite being unable to remember him at all thanks to the power of the crystals.
Much like every other Final Fantasy game, it’s hard to sum up exactly what’s going on without mentioning every little detail. It can also be hard to follow at times even when paying attention to the cutscenes because there isn’t much information offered. It’s expected that you’ll know what the l’Cie are and what impact they have on the world at the very least. You need to know you could play without knowing but it wouldn’t make much sense.
Once you’re past the tutorial stage, you’re given free access around the Akademeia. You get to choose how to spend time between missions and it’s important to spend it wisely to reap the rewards you need. For instance, actions such as listening to a lecture or chatting to people around the academy chew up a couple of in-game hours but can give you items and increase your magical skills respectively. It’s possible to switch between active members of the class and see the different reactions you receive around the campus, including new conversation options. Machina and Rem are well liked because they were standard students before being recruited but the rest of the gang are seen to be egotistical.
After you’ve used up all your time buying/selling items and on various other interactions, an alarm will sound and it’s time to head out on a mission. Before you go, you build your active three-person team from the class and decide who will sit in reserve. Reserves can be called up if an active member dies but it’s best to avoid that for the best grades and experience.
The real fun of this game lies in the combat. Type-0 uses real time combat and it becomes absolutely vital to your survival that you learn how to use it for every member of the team. It sounds daunting but the system is actually quite intuitive. While you control one member of the team, the other two will continue to attack using AI. Thankfully, the AI is not terrible and it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting a battle alone. You can also switch between members instantly with one button if you feel like you need to redirect some skills.
As with any JRPG, you need a bit of patience to play Type-0 correctly. Every class member needs to be levelled equally, their abilities built and matched, and equipment correctly applied. This really brings home the fact that there isn’t enough time to expand on every character’s backstory. Why should I care about crafting Nine or King’s skills correctly when I don’t care about them as characters? Just whittling the number of Class Zero members slightly would have gone a long way here.
The bigger problems come in when considering the fact that this game was originally made for PSP. Some of the scenes and characters haven’t been remastered and look positively block-ish. It’s rare that a Final Fantasy game hasn’t impressed me visually at every turn but it’s an absolute distraction in Type-0 at times. The mission areas can also feel small and boxy, giving the impression of several hallways stitched together.
I wouldn’t recommend Final Fantasy Type-0 to anyone unfamiliar with the current state of the series but it’s a bold, fast-paced title that really is a joy to play. Fans waiting for FFXV will find it a good distraction to fill the time and it should add to their understanding of later events.