World of Final Fantasy Maxima is Square Enix’s “updated” and best version of World of Final Fantasy. For the first time, the game has also made its way to Nintendo Switch. The base game, which released back in October 2016 received much praise from critics and gamers alike as well as a range of criticism regarding it’s battle system and hand-holding. World of Final Fantasy follows the adventures of siblings, Lann and Reynn as they meet a self-proclaimed God, Enna Kros, and travel through the mystical world of Grymoire to regain their memories.
Players will be able to play as either Lann or Reynn and adventure through multiple worlds located in the fictional world of Grymoire. As you venture forth out into the world from the Nine Wood Hills hub area, you’ll uncover many mysteries and encounter an array of monsters which are referred to as “Mirages”. Lann and Reynn have the ability to capture these “Mirages” and use them in battle. Capturing “Mirages” involves the use of a prism device which can effectively be described as, well, a Pokeball if we’re to be blatantly honest.
Traversing dungeons and interacting with the NPC characters drives the plot forward at a steady pace and Square Enix are to be commended for having fully voiced character interactions throughout. The voice acting in the game is also exceptionally good with certain characters having certain accents and various voice acting nuances that really make them come alive. The protagonists are a bit of a complex issue though since Reynn serves as the smarter sibling while her brother Lann is an airhead and downright stupid in many of the game’s cutscenes. While this is clearly intentionally done to explain story and gameplay elements to the players, it can be a bit much at times and there are few cutscene conversations which are downright cringeworthy.
World of Final Fantasy’s gameplay features a mix of the Final Fantasy franchise’s Active Time Battle system as seen in FFX-2 onwards and micro-management “Stacking”. Players can opt to use the more traditional fully turn-based battle system by selecting “Wait” mode instead of using the “Active Time” mode. Stacking is a feature unique to World of Final Fantasy in which players can stack mirage monsters on top of the main characters for added benefits such as increased attack power or HP. The caveat being that stacking reduces the number of characters in battle. Stacking also employs a set of rules that involve placing characters depending on their size on top of each other. Large characters for example have to be at the bottom with medium and small stacked on top.
In World of Final Fantasy, the player’s two main characters, Lann and Reynn can assume two forms, Lilikin and Jiant. Lilikin is a chibi or miniature form and Jiant is a more normal form. Playing in the chibi form allows for stacking yourself on top of larger mirage monsters and learning to utilize stacking to its fullest is a key component of World of Final Fantasy’s battles. Additionally, battling features the standard fare as expected from a Final Fantasy game with spells and summons being available too.
The Maxima DLC brings with it a range of changes that effectively enhance World of Final Fantasy into the best form of the game possible. While it’s somewhat disappointing that this is a DLC and not a free update for owners of the base game, Square Enix have included a range of features that round off the package quite well. Most notably, the Maxima update adds a New Game+ mode, additional items, more mirages, quests and the ability to change Lann or Reynn into Final Fantasy series iconic characters. Changing into franchise heroes such as Serah from FFXIII is something fans of other games in the series will love. These aren’t just cosmetic changes either since each character has their own set of abilities and skills. They don’t however affect the storyline in any way.
If you’re buying World of Final Fantasy for the first time on Nintendo Switch, the Maxima update is included by default. However PC and console users have received the bad end of the stick and have to purchase the DLC at a rather hefty price. Whether or not the additional story sequences, quality of life improvements and changing into Final Fantasy franchise heroes is worth the current price tag is debatable. The PC version that we played seemingly ran with no issues, however, if you attempt to play the game in Steam’s offline mode, there is a nasty bug that prevents you from saving your game so be wary of this.
Graphically, World of Final Fantasy is gorgeous with its chibi, whimsical art style being extremely appealing and cute. Younger games will love this title and since the difficulty level isn’t too bad with options available to make it even more accessible to lesser skilled players, World of Final Fantasy Maxima is a great choice for those that are fairly new to Final Fantasy and/or gaming. The soundtrack used in World of Final Fantasy Maxima is great featuring musical tracks composed by Square Enix veteran Masashi Hamauzu of Final Fantasy XIII fame. The voice acting as previously mentioned is also exceptionally good and each character’s personality really shines through in both English and Japanese.
Overall, World of Final Fantasy Maxima is a great game with a satisfying story and a fun, whimsical aesthetic that will captivate you for over 45 hours. For first time players, it’s the obvious choice since it’s the best version of the game available but for those that have previously played it, the hefty price tag for the Maxima update DLC is disappointing since it essentially could have been a free update. Square Enix have refined their game into a masterful piece of art but when competing companies offer updates that are larger to their older games that are free, it’s questionable that Square Enix opted to charge £11,99 for this DLC. It is by no means bad though and depending on how much you enjoyed World of Final Fantasy previously, it may be worth it for you to purchase this to enjoy the range of good changes it brings to the title.