Final fantasy explorers, a fantasy RPG that combines elements of the standard final fantasy formula to that of monster hunter. Developed by Square Enix and Racjin for the 3DS it takes its main inspiration from the earlier final fantasies with the job classes however also contains characters from the much later games in the series.
The story is not great, as the game seems to focus more on its gameplay rather than the story itself with very little characters being interacted with other then in a pure functional sense. However there is story and the story is as follows you are an explorer searching for crystals that are the source and life of the civilisation but, these are guarded by fearsome monsters which are not particularly fond of tourists. This may be an issue if you are looking for a story driven final fantasy game which is more of what the final fantasy series is known for but, honestly it did not seem to matter too much for me personally. This may be due to the fact that although it wears the final fantasy series like a cunning mask. It is in-fact more appropriate to compare the game to monster hunter especially in the games gameplay and generally to how the game feels.
The combat is action based with the ability to assign skills to one of four slots. These abilities can be anything from magic like the good old fira or combat skills like moonlight slash – depending on the job you choose. The jobs range from the basic classical classes common to the final fantasy franchise at the start like thief, black mage, and knight. As you progress more diverse and interesting classes are unlocked like the dark knight and blue mage. Since levelling up is actually done on skills by transmuting them (using a resonance to add an effect onto the ability and then learning that ability permanently and then repeating the process) jobs can be changed pretty regularly without too much of a grind to get back to the position you were in. This was great as when playing as a knight got boring I could change to a mage and when that wasn’t as cool as the dark knight I could change again and not have to be too concerned about the sudden power drop. The other way the game allows you to empower your character is through the creation and upgrading of weapons just like in monster hunter, however they do not feel as unique and spending an hour to upgrade a couple of stats by ten points can be a little draining even if it does make some of the harder fights easier. There are other ways to bolster your fighting strength that do not depend on your characters such as the eidolon/ famous FF characters system and the monsters you can obtain to help you out. The combat itself I felt was limited by the 3DS as having to heavily rely on the camera to track the monster in combat making the combat still feel a little clunky which I guess is not a problem if you are playing on the new 3DS. But, the game still manages to feel like an action based RPG then turn based with your general battle awareness being a pretty big contribution to whether you fail or succeed.
Obtaining items is pretty simple as you can get them while on quests from monsters or various locations in the game or from finishing the actual quest itself. Honestly, I found the drops to be pretty fair and as long as you go to the right area to get what you want you should be fine. I mean having to take the Shiva edilion down over ten times just so I could have Sephiroth’s coat was a pain but really was not too difficult and time consuming. You can also obtain more gil and CP (crystal points used to gain abilities) by making each quest tougher by setting rules such as no item usage or having the enemies fought have twice the amount of health and strength. This helps with the game substantially since the difficulty is default it can sometimes feel a little too easy and with this ability to suddenly make the quest harder for better rewards makes some of the quests you have to do again feel like a new challenge. If some of these challenges are too much to tackle on your own you can always team up with other people just like monster hunter giving more replay ability to some of the boss fights encountered throughout the game. But, other than making fights more challenging there really is not much else to do activity wise which turns a lot of the grinding into a chore rather than a fun experience.
The game may feel like monster hunter sometimes however it definitely looks like a final fantasy game giving the game more of a monster hunt feeling final fantasy game rather than a monster hunter game wearing the final fantasy franchise like some kind of horrible meat suit. The game is on the DS so it is what you graphically expect – so not the greatest quality however lending the style to older final fantasy games in the series works for it. I mean the pretty fireballs and lightning I made as a mage satisfied me as I was harvesting the poor wildlife for materials to kill them faster. The sound track is pretty awesome too with the high tempo tracks kicking in when encountering those powerful eidolons and the softer relaxing music giving an atmosphere. This works against the game in some respects slightly. This is due to the fact that you can become powerful enough to one hit enemies making that amazing track instantly fade in and fade out at an incredibly anti-climactic moment and ruining the moment.
Overall final fantasy explores is a great edition to the already popular final fantasy franchise. If you are a fan of both the monster hunter series and the final fantasy series then this game will be great for you. In some regards it can feel a little like a watered down experience compared to monster hunter games maybe due to it adhering to the final fantasy universe making weapons and such not feel as unique as that in the monster universe. But, it makes up for this by the addition of other features such as the crystal surges, your team of monsters and use of eidilons and past final fantasy characters. The multiplayer also gives an extra layer of replay ability and motivation to grind for just that little bit longer to make that impressive sword or set of armour, which it needs since there really is not a lot of motivation to continue with the game let alone replay it. Now I guess it is back to the grind.