Game of Thrones' might just a little too much influence
Linear Exploration and Side Quests
If you're a turn-based purist- this is not for you
Stepping boldly into new territory, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XVI captivates gamers with a fresh narrative, a dramatic shift in combat, and an engaging blend of old and new influences.
This latest installment doesn’t just earn its place in the franchise, it is one of the best in recent times. However, while there’s much to praise, it’s not without a few missteps.
Producer Naoki Yoshida has made no secret on drawing influence from the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, making Final Fantasy XVI a tale that is both familiar and unique.
Final Fantasy XVI takes us into the realm of Valisthea, a world that for generations has relied on Mothercrystals, enormous reservoirs of aether, for the everyday use of magic across its nations. However, with aether supplies dwindling and the expansion of the barren deadlands, the struggle for control over these precious Mothercrystals intensifies.
The narrative follows the protagonist Clive Rosfield over 18 years, tracing his journey from an aristocrat to a savior. The characters are complex, relationships are well-developed, and the romance between Clive and his childhood friend Jill is so emotionally charged that the franchise has probably found its new couple icons.
The nation-states also have Dominants—extraordinary beings capable of harnessing the mighty power of the Eikons, legendary summoned entities like Ifrit, Garuda, Titan, and Shiva that long-time players may recognize. Think the Jinchūriki in Naruto.
The game is rendered beautifully and there is so much effort put into the character details. Clive and his crew look amazing and the FMV sequences are a joy to watch – especially the titanic battles between the titanic Eikons.
Bidding farewell to its turn-based legacy, Final Fantasy XVI adopts a full-fledged action combat system – the first fully fledged Action RPG in the mainline Final Fantasy series. As a fan of turn-based combat, and not action RPGs as much, this switch made me quite apprehensive. However, it looks like I didn’t need to be.
The revamped system feels more akin to Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, without being overly complex. The combat, directed by Capcom veteran Ryota Suzuki, strikes a balance between flashy spectacle and satisfying gameplay. With precision dodging, a parry system, and a wide range of abilities, battles are varied, exciting, and yet scratches that tactical itch.
The innovations in Final Fantasy XVI aren’t just limited to storytelling and combat. The game boasts a series of quality of life improvements, such as the Active Time Lore (ATL) system, which allows players to pull up a small constellation of entries on relevant characters, locations, or events.
This, alongside the smooth navigation and menu interfaces, makes for a user-friendly gaming experience.
It not all roses though. While the Game of Thrones influence lends a unique touch to Final Fantasy XVI, the game stumbles when it leans too heavily on the renowned series’ tropes. The gore, political intrigue, and excessive expositional dialogues at times feel more like imitations rather than influences.
While I do find the story interesting, I’m not sure the 17-year old me, that fell in love with the series with FF7, would say the same. Final Fantasy XVI is for the more mature fan with different sensibilities.
Final Fantasy XVI’s exploration and side quests present another area of concern. The zones of Valisthea, while stunning, are fairly linear and lack the expansiveness of a true open-world game. Side quests, although more numerous as the game progresses, often feel inessential, falling short of enriching the overall gameplay experience.
For the experience action gamer, FINAL FANTASY MODE awaits at the end of the game. This extra challenging mode not only has
been tweaked to adjust monster placement and difficulty, but also gives access to further gear upgrades and more.
Despite its minor flaws, Final Fantasy XVI is a reinvention that boldly takes the franchise into new territory. It is a game that has taken risks in both in its narrative and its combat system – which have paid off.
The grittier tone and the all-action battles breathe new life into the series, while its technological improvements ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience.
Final Fantasy XVIis a journey filled with astonishing battles, heart-touching narratives, and a combat system that feels refreshingly new.
Even though some may not like the change, the game justifies it with its storytelling and fun combat experience. This entry is proof that even after sixteen installments, Final Fantasy still has the power to surprise and captivate.