A huge leap forward for the franchise. An amazing sequel with solid storytelling, world building, and mechanics.

I have to say this has been my favorite of the originals so far. Being my 8th FF game to play (only 5th finished though) I enjoyed this one from beginning to end. It truly feels like they pulled everything that worked from the prior games and utilized the better tech available to create a near perfect game.

The story is not dissimilar from the prior 3, and is nothing to write home about, but the storytelling and worldbuilding are the best yet. It's the same old fated heroes tasked with saving the world from evil, and it involves crystals. This one changes things up a bit though where you start out as a dark knight, on the wrong side of things and makes the decision to leave that path behind. All of the characters feel truly unique with pretty decent dialogue. This one also offers a lot more storytelling through cutscenes (including battle sequences) that truly add to the depth of the game. The story is fairly linear, with an open world, but there are some side quests you can miss out on if you're not paying attention. The end game was a challenge, but was pretty rewarding in my opinion.

Gone are swappable classes (or jobs), and magic is no purchased this time around. You learn new magic at certain levels based on the characters predefined class. Though characters swap out in your party throughout the game, it did not feel like a burden. You had a pretty consistent core of characters with one or two that change periodically. There weren't a whole lot of puzzles, and the dungeons were fairly straightforward, with secret paths throughout.

Combat felt really good and varied. You had to use your characters abilities and specialties more, and it didn't feel forced. Mini-bosses and bosses felt like a proper challenge, and progression made feel like you had to grind too much to continue on in the story.

Exploring the world was pretty straightforward as well but you get an airship much sooner. There were a number of dungeons littered throughout the world, and a couple other zones related to the story (no spoilers).

The game felt cohesive, challenging, interesting, and fun. All of the game systems, story, and world made for a remarkable experience.

I played this entirely on Steam Deck and it ran flawlessly. 60hz/60fps and didn't break a sweat (not surprising, but still nice). I had 0 crashes or frame dips. The deck is tailored for this kind of experience. It took me just over 22 hours to complete.

Overall, this is one of my favorite Final Fantasy games. It had awesome storytelling, the progression and combat felt solid, and it was just a fun experience. Highly recommend for any RPG/JRPG fan.

Reviewed on Apr 29, 2024