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Why Final Fantasy 16 is the Gateway Drug Action Fans Have Been Waiting For

Final Fantasy brings a new dimension to the franchise with its sixteenth primary entry. Here’s our review.

Jeremy Proome

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Whether die-hard fans like to admit it or not, and as popular as it is, the Final Fantasy series, has to be one of the most difficult franchises to dive into. Between the convoluted story and overwhelming mechanics, for newcomers it was hard to get into the long-running RPG series at any given point; but Final Fantasy 16 (despite being the sixteenth primary game) is finally the franchise’s gateway drug that was needed to unlock a new audience.

The spectacular milieu of the Final Fantasy world — with all its crazy designs, elaborate lore, and fantastical elements — has been tightly packed into a palatable 30-odd hour action game that’ll give previously-unconvinced gamers a serious dose of what Final Fantasy is all about; while also providing something fresh and new for longtime fans. It feels like somewhat of a spin-off/reboot for the series, and we’re here for it.

Story

And the story itself is really captivating. You play as Clive, a soldier and protector to his young brother Joshua, who is essentially ‘the chosen one’ and bestowed with some powerful abilities. This has forced Clive to be a bit of an outcast in his own family, as his brother is the rightful heir to their bloodline kingdom. After a family tragedy, you set off on a path of revenge with some shocking twists and turns. The story is a lot more mature, macabre and darker than other entries, with some truly harrowing moments punctuated by an incredible operatic score. Fans of The Witcher and Game of Thrones will find themselves immersed in the stoic nature of Clive along with the class-battle and political intrigue of the world.

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While it is deep into the franchise’s numerical release catalogue, like some other entries, Final Fantasy 16 is actually a brand-new story and in no way related to the older games. There are some overarching themes and ideas; but most importantly, it’s a lot easier to absorb. This further adds to the fact that FF16 is the perfect jumping-on point for those who love some big swords, spikey hair, and dramatic battles, but felt the franchise was ‘too far gone’ for them to get involved.

Gameplay

Now, with 2016’s Final Fantasy 15 and the recent remakes of FF7, the series was slowly edging closer and closer to the action genre while still keeping a foot firmly planted in its more methodical RPG roots, but FF16 backflips into the deep-end, delivering something that’s more akin to Devil May Cry or Darksiders than the Final Fantasy entries of yesteryear. And it makes sense, given that Capcom’s Ryota Suzuki (who worked on the sublime DMC5) joined the team to work on FF16‘s combat.

It’s fast, fluid, and centres around decisive parries and dodges that are heavily reliant on reading enemy attack animations. It’s incredibly satisfying when it clicks and those gamers who enjoy a combination of slashing and magic, while also commanding secondary ally attacks will find themselves in heaven with FF16‘s slick (and visually impressive) sword action.

Everything in FF16 has a huge cinematic feel to it, almost like that of a Metal Gear Solid game, whereby gameplay and cutscenes blend into one another seamlessly. One of the most visually spectacular aspects of the game (and which plays into the story) is the presence of Eikons, which are essentially giant monsters that certain individuals in the world of Valisthea can turn into. The game sets up these Eikon battles as colossal, explosive face-offs that just ooze style and atmosphere, delivering some serious Kaiju-level chaos that even Godzilla would be proud of.

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Verdict

Ultimately, Final Fantasy 16 is a new foot firmly planted into an action-orientated genre, something that the franchise had been teetering towards for quite some time. It may be jarring for some longtime fans, but looking at it as a standalone action game, it’s a fantastic entry that leans on the franchise’s visual cornerstones while delivering a slick and confident gameplay experience that’s well worth diving into.

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