Final Fantasy is in a weird place. Historically one of the most celebrated of gaming’s franchises, SquareEnix’s iconic series has fallen on tough times as the gaming public’s tastes have shifted. However, despite the decline in the amount of gamers playing new entries of the series, the franchise is still one of the biggest names in the industry and much of that staying power is from SquareEnix’s ability to cash in on nostalgia for the brand.
Last year saw the release of two fantastic titles that bathed themselves in the nostalgic juices of the series. Final Fantasy: Theatrhythm took the classic music of the series and created a fun yet challenging rhythm game that was a treat for fans. Final Fantasy: Dimensions played with nostalgia much more subtly; instead of bludgeoning the player over the head with reminders that they loved this stuff, Dimensions took the mechanics of classic Final Fantasy games and spun them into an all new experience. Both were great examples of how SquareEnix celebrates the Final Fantasy legacy, which is exactly the opposite of what they have done with their latest release, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.
As mentioned, All the Bravest is combat-centric, utilizing the classic active-time battle system. There is no open world exploration; instead, the game guides you from encounter to encounter in a series of levels based on scenarios from classic Final Fantasy games. However, the game twists the normal Final Fantasy combat system into something that can be done with just one touch. When facing off in a battle, players can select the character they want to attack with and that is it. There is no selection of how you want to attack. There is no strategy using certain characters to perform certain battlefield jobs. In fact, there is no strategy to the game at all. It’s solely pick a character and watch them attack. And it only gets weirder from there.
If a character suffers an attack from an enemy that character is knocked off the battlefield where they will have to wait three minutes to return multiplied by how ever many characters have already been knocked out. So when playing with 30 plus characters it takes 90 minutes for your party to return to full strength. And because there is no real strategy to the combat you will die and be locked out of the battle for that time period. You can however buy yourself back into the fight quicker by dropping real money on special hourglasses. And that there is the biggest issue with Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, because, while the gameplay is uninspired and lacking any depth, the way Square has set up the content of the game based on microtransactions is a giant black spot on the series and is an insult to its most loyal fans.
To experience all the content in Final Fantasy: All the Bravest one would have to drop nearly $51 USD. $3.99 USD for the base game, $3.99 USD for each of the three expansion levels and $.99 USD for each of the 35 premium characters offered (Aerith, Cloud, Vaan, Vivi, etc…), which should be noted that you have no choice in who you actually purchase as it is a randomized selection process. SquareEnix has every right to price their content how they see fit, and I’m sure there will be some diehard fans that will buy all the content no questions asked. Those are decisions both parties need to make on their own. However, where SquareEnix insults its player base is in how this content is used and what it actually contains.
Aside from the retro-styled visuals and the classic music from the series, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest is a travesty of a game. And considering that you can easily find better Final Fantasy games with retro-styled visuals and classic music from the series, there is absolutely no reason for even the most ardent of Final Fantasy fans to play All the Bravest.