With Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Square Enix has finally released its first entry in its flagship Final Fantasy franchise on the current generation of home consoles. As the HD moniker implies, Type-0 HD is a rerelease of the handheld PlayStation Portable game, previously available only in Japan and originally released in 2011. A number of fans have already played the popular import that shares some of Final Fantasy XIII’s mythology. As it’s a handheld remaster packaged with a downloadable demo for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, it would be easy to dismiss Type-0 HD as merely a placeholder.
Though Final Fantasy Type-0 shares some of the complex Final Fantasy XIII backstory, Type-0 does weave a unique, dark tale. In my opinion, the “Fabula Nova Crystallis” mythology that the two games share is poorly explained in the context of the games, and probably discourages casual gamers and newcomers from giving the franchise a shot. This is where Type-0 outshines the Final Fantasy XIII games. Though the mythos is front and center in Type-0, the opening does a much better job showing the contextual relevance of it all. Yet despite the better introduction, I still think the whole thing is a lot to digest all at once.
As I mentioned before, Type-0 does feature a new take on the mythos, a much darker one. Garnering a mature rating, the plot is decidedly morbid. Considering that Class Zero, the main protagonists, are all school kids, tasked with saving their country, all of the blood and death is even more impactful. The 14 playable Class Zero characters start off as a collection of stereotypes, but throughout the game they all begin to grow on you. Type-0’s level progression system requires you spend time with all of them at least fairly equally.
Unlike the Final Fantasy XIII games, Type-0 utilizes an entirely real-time combat system. Each mission requires a three-person team, and as the tutorials suggest, balance is important. While only one character is controlled at a time, the companion NPCs are fairly competent. The combat controls are unsurprisingly simple due to the game’s handheld roots, with the main attacks mapped to the face buttons. Despite these easy-to-use controls, there is still spellcasting, and various summons are also available. Though the combat can be fast and furious, some Pokémon-like strategies are helpful, and occasional grinding is required.
At its heart, Type-0 is an interesting and worthwhile Final Fantasy game, but there are real problems in its level of presentation. As a full-priced PlayStation 4 game, the HD remaster is underwhelming. Type-0 HD betrays its handheld roots at nearly every turn. Though the intro and 2D art are beautiful in their own right, the fidelity is far from sharp on a big screen television. Once the game starts, the illusion is further shattered by low-polygon-count models that rely heavily on their painted skins. Some work was put into the lighting effects, but the environments are often stark and plain.
Type-0 HD is also pretty linear compared to modern RPGs, but considering the franchise’s lineage, not all of that can be laid at the feet of its handheld origin. The original soundtrack has been reworked and the original Japanese audio can be selected over the default English voiceover work. While the merits of the translation effort can be debated, there is plenty of dialogue in the game which remains entirely unvoiced. With the plain environments, low-poly models, and sparse voice work, Type-0 HD doesn’t often seem worthy of its HD label.
Charging a premium price for a handheld port and demo, no matter how anticipated that demo is, seems to me a little bit like price-gouging your fans. Unfortunately, the economics of game development make almost any ask at least somewhat justifiable. That being said, Final Fantasy Type-0 is a unique and interesting chapter in the Final Fantasy canon that is worth playing. Unfortunately, the spartan level of presentation is just something that will have to be suffered through to enjoy the game on the PlayStation 4, and that’s really just too much to ask from most gamers.
Final Fantasy Type-0 is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Suggestive Themes, and Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox One
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