I will try to keep this relatively short,and my aims are twofold here. One is to warn the viewers of this site not to make a purchase they will likely regret, and two is to generally get some word of mouth going to place pressure so that something like this does not happen again.
If you are a self respecting Final Fantasy fan, do not buy All The Bravest.
To start off with, the game initially has a lot going for it. Charming and in some cases absolutely gorgeous sprites, Final Fantasy music worthy of squeals, an ATB style battle system with humongous parties optimized for touch, and a localization effort that should be commended.
Everything seems fine on paper, and with so much Final Fantasy history crammed into one iOS title, one would expect to be simply overwhelmed by the bliss of nostalgia. However, that is not the case. Because underneath this shell of nostalgia is a game, if you can even call it that, devoid of any pleasure whatsoever.
There is no strategy, no customization, no player choice. None of the hallmarks of Final Fantasy are here. You simply go from one battle to the next (or backtrack to previous battles), wildly tapping or swiping at the screen until one side ultimately prevails.
And in a way, this is okay. Mediocre games exist, especially on mobile devices, but really on any platform. Games that are meant for casual play also exist, something easy to get into, something anyone can play. (But let’s keep in mind that even the cheapest and most popular of mobile games have some semblance of thought, action, or strategy to them that justified their popularity. Hell, one of the best most fully fledged iOS titles out there is indeed a Square Enix title, well loved and highly regarded by fan and critic alike.)
No, the problem is not that you are buying a title devoid of any meaningful game play in return for your dedication and nostalgic tendencies. The problem is that you are repeatedly being kicked in the balls while doing so. Over and over.
This is a money extraction app at its best. And let me make it clear, there is no problem with micro-transactions, and there is no problem with whatever ingenious payment models companies come up with for their entertainment applications. The issue here is how obnoxiously and without tact this game does it, essentially waving a middle finger at its most dedicated customers.
Let’s break it down shall we:
- Initial Purchase – $3.99: For the final depth and quality of the game and the amount of money it will attempt to extract from you, the game should really be free to play, no excuses. You can find games orders of magnitudes better than this for free.
- Characters – $.99 x 35 (Randomized purchases): I was initially enamored by this idea. Add characters from throughout Final Fantasy’s history to my party and have them simultaneously fight alongside each other in adorable art? Sign me up! I wanted my first purchase to be Seifer. Unfortunately, something that could have been such a fun little character shop is designed in a way to extract the maximum amount of cash. When you make a purchase from the character shop, you are randomly given a character. That’s right. Don’t get the character you want? Well, keep paying up!
- Additional Worlds – $3.99 x 3: Once again, very neat in theory. Players can purchase additional worlds from other Final Fantasy titles (Midgar, Zanarkind, Archylite Steppe). And once again, I want to commend the excellent sprite work. But for what you are getting this should be a much cheaper purchase. And if the base product is not engaging in the first place, there really is no incentive to make further purchases.
- Revive Items – $.99-$2.99: After you have been thoroughly swindled, the fun really begins. In the oft chance that you die (and you WILL die, if not by a random enemy then a boss encounter), the player is presented with three options. One is to go back and grind, which would actually be a viable option if doing so were even somewhat enjoyable. The other is to wait 3 minutes per character revive to continue playing. That is not simply three minutes total, which is kind of an odd game mechanic in and of itself, that is per character, meaning for a party of thirty will easily take over an hour. Why implement such a feature? Why, only to ask you to hand over more of your hard earned (and apparently easily relinquished) money. That’s right! You can revive your characters using Gold Hourglasses, which can only be purchased with real world money in convenient sets of 3, 8, or 20! Having fun?!
Look, I am a Final Fantasy fan through and through. I am A-okay with cheap ports if it means I can get Final Fantasy on every device. I have patiently waited an extra two years to be able to play Final Fantasy XIV on my PlayStation 3. Despite my loathing for everything and anything related to Lightning, I understand that a specific market (albeit shrinking) exists for those titles. And I still have high hopes for the future, even faith in Versus XIII.
But for a series and company whose fans already feel cheated, over-accommodating – and in the case of titles like Bravely Default and Final Fantasy Type-0 – ignored, releasing a lame cash in is a huge and truly perplexing mistake. With the game sitting at a Metacritic rating of 25% from critics and not even 10% from fans, its clear these types of moves damage the brand even further. And sometimes it is irrevocable.
For the love of god, do not reward this type of behavior. It is not just bad for Final Fantasy, it is bad for gaming in general.