Title: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Platform: PS4 (reviewed) and Xbox One
Developer: Square Enix Japan
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: Out Now
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Final Fantasy Type-0 was a game in what is easily my favourite franchise that I never got to play when it was first released. Its original print was limited to Japan when it launched on the PSP back in 2011. Now, we see the action-RPG make its Western debut on new-gen consoles with a facelift and a few other extras for good measure.
Of course, the pull for some may have been the demo for the next game in the Final Fantasy series. I remember hearing from some that they were planning to buy Type-0 just so they could play the demo for Final Fantasy XV. After my time with the game however, I found that to be quite unfair of the main act itself. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD brought ideas new and old to the table to create an experience that will resonate with many a Final Fantasy fan.
The story follows Class Zero, a squad of fourteen elite young cadets from a school-like military establishment called Akademia. Class Zero’s cadets are the cream of the crop and is the nation state Rubrum’s vital piece in a war that spans across the entirety of the world of Orience. Each are individually playable, with their own style akin to many of the traditional classes that have existed in prior Final Fantasy games. Nine is your Dragoon, Trey is your Archer, Deuce is your White Mage and so on.
Despite the sheer quantity of characters available from the beginning, their individual personalities are not diluted as a result. Each carry their own individual trait that typifies their personalities. Take Jack for example, a cadet skilled with a katana. Jack is the eternal optimist; so much so that his optimism clouds his sense of realism to the point of ignorance. Each cadet has that one trait, making them very distinguishable and indeed memorable.
Type-0 HD is an action-JRPG at heart, where the cadets of Class Zero must move and dodge enemy attacks and strategically time their own for maximum damage. Constant awareness of the battle arena and the enemies contained within are therefore key in ensuring success. Trouble is, that camera can be a tad on the speedy side and blurs like hell. I eventually got the knack of controlling the camera, but it is markedly faster in movement than other third person games.
Levelling your party is a bit on the alternative side compared to other FF games. With that many characters, it’s all too easy to fall in to the habit of picking your favourite few and focussing on them. As each mission is better suited to specific cadets, you learn quickly that such a tactic won’t fly in Type-0. Specific cadets are marked as ‘Primed’ before missions which grant bonus XP to those cadets in mission, whilst lectures and training missions back in Akademia provide other means to gain XP. One such training mission reminded me of recovering your health in Metal Gear Solid 3 by turning the console off.
In Type-0, you can send one cadet of your choice off on secret training missions, creating a save that pulls you out of the game. When you return to your console and your save later the next day, your cadet will gain massive amounts of XP thanks to the training he or she received by special instructors. It sounds logical in its original PSP configuration, when play sessions are shorter. When some will dedicate several hours at home with a console game however, it doesn’t seem that good a fit.
In terms of graphics, its heritage became very quickly known. Some aspects of the game, like locations and the main characters, are lovingly drawn. The secondary characters however did not receive as much love. However, the game does enjoy nicely smooth frame rates thanks to the oomph that the new-gen consoles allow.
One of the coolest parts of Type-0 for me though was seeing the links that the game shares with others in the franchise. Type-0 forms part of the ‘Fabula Nova Crystallis’ series of Final Fantasy games, which all share common lore and mythology surrounding gods and their influence over their subjects. Fabula Nova Crystallis comprises of the Lightning Saga that is the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy of games, the upcoming Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy Agito– an episodic smartphone game that was also released only in Japan that is set prior to the events of Type-0.
Since the FFXIII trilogy will be familiar to most in the West, chosen beings like L’Cie and their fated Focus will certainly ring a bell. There are other references of course, however they are best left for you to explore. Interestingly, Type-0 also takes influence from games beyond the Fabula Nova Crystallis umbrella. The very principle of cadets from a school being sent out on missions gave me more than a few flashbacks to my adventures in Final Fantasy VIII, to name one example. Looking in an opposite direction, I can also see how the combat system in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was inspired by the original release of Type-0 back in the PSP days.
The story itself is also one that can not be fully explored in one playthrough. My adventures in Orience barely covered half of the surface area of the world, with many areas blocked to me because of monsters beyond my party’s capacity to defeat. The game is clearly pointed towards encouraging you to go on multiple playthroughs to unlock and explore everything there is, verified mostly by its markedly shorter length compared to the rest of the series. My first playthrough took me a touch over 20 hours to beat. Thankfully, additional difficulty levels keep the challenge up as you return to Class Zero’s missions as you find out all there is to find in Orience.
Overall, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a rich experience that definitely has the backbone to stand tall and proud amongst its siblings in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series. Its story is far grittier than others (it’s the first FF game to my memory that features blood effects, for example) and offers plenty for regular FF fans to enjoy in all aspects of its presentation. Yes, it is the game that you have buy to get the FFXV demo, but after reading this I’m sure you’ll agree that it shouldn’t be perceived as secondary to what is effectively a small bonus.
I’m sure we’re all pleased to be excited for upcoming developments in Final Fantasy XV anyway, when the time comes.
For now though, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is sure to pleasantly scratch that Final Fantasy-shaped itch whilst the next numbered entry completes its development.
What Rocks! :)
- A grittier story than is usual for FF games, which pays off in bounds
- Combat is intuitive, yet requires thought on squad deployment
- The soundtrack rocks
- Lots of nods and shared lore to its siblings in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series
What Sucks :(
- Camera is a bit too fast and blurred
- Textures on secondary characters haven’t been given the same love as the primary characters
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is rated PEGI 16 for its violence. As mentioned earlier, there are blood effects with the combat involved. It is war after all.