World of Final Fantasy is a game that might not be for everyone. There are certain elements that will appeal to some and put off others, and it clearly comes across as a fanservice-filled romp for people who have followed every major installment and spin-off. There’s one element of the game that I feel is universally appealing, though, and that’s the mirages. The creatures you can recruit throughout the course of Lann and Reynn’s adventures are quite possibly the game’s high point.
You could consider World of Final Fantasy as being the series’ approach to Pokemon. Lann and Reynn are Mirage Masters, which means they travel through Grymoire in search of all the Mirages they’ve lost. Pretty much every creature you battle can be recruited, some sooner rather than later, with the game automatically giving you the prism for a creature upon your first encounter with it. There’s an element of catching them all here, though it is possible to also acquire additional critters in one monster’s evolutionary line by leveling them up or collecting key items and then spending points on their Mirage Boards to transfig them into a new entity. Or, you know, make a current form even better by increasing its stats and ability library.
Every single one of the Mirage characters in World of Final Fantasy is adorable. Always thought behemoths were scary? Wait until you see its Babyhemoth form. Every sort of Chocobo is choco-rific. Moogles look amazing. Even something simple, like a Copper Gnome, would make me smile, because it reminded me of the dwarves in early Final Fantasy games. And these are all characters you meet within the first few hours. I’m not even getting into more lavish and intricate transfigurations, like Valefor. Yes, Valefor is a transfiguration. Get yourself a Cockatrice and so you’re ready to have one for yourself by the seventh chapter.
Each one also gets a clever profile. World of Final Fantasy is one of the few games where I realized that yes, I did want to look at the bestiary. When you catch one for the first time or head back to the twins’ bedroom, you can go over each character’s details. Some are silly, like the aforementioned Copper Gnome. His description reads, “Composed almost entirely of copper, this metal with the mettle takes pride in his tough hide. It is incredibly satisfying to face one of these and shout, ‘Myeeah, see! You’ll never take me alive, copper!’ (If you got that reference, then congratulations! You are old!)” Some are unsettling, like the Floating Eye’s that reads, “A winged eyeball that slings magic. Protip for keeping yourself awake at night: try to visualize its heart and brain gasplurshing around in there.” They’re all well written and engaging.
Arranging stacks, your parties in World of Final Fantasy, is similarly satisfying. In addition to standard stats, characters’ weight is taken into account. Since stacks share health, stats, and weaknesses when all together, you have to make sure you have one that’s appropriate for facing the current dungeon or region’s monsters. It’s also important to watch wait and stability, as an weak stat can leave you defending and going through more Wobblestoppers than is necessary.
There are some downsides to collecting Mirages. Capturing them can be the most troublesome thing. I found myself wondering if World of Final Fantasy was once planned to be a mobile RPG, because the requirements can be so specific and catch rate so low for certain characters. I wanted an Icy Bat, but I didn’t bother leveling the Floating Eye I’d caught earlier, so I couldn’t blind it to create a prismtunity to catch it. Want a Moogle? Good luck. I had 21 run from me in the forest. Yes, 21. Because after you get a prismtunity, some monsters might take off after one Imprisming attempt. Moogles are one of them. So are Quachachos.
This is doubly frustrating, as both are Mirages where you must restore their health to create the prismtunity, which means first lowering their health. Since this is a rather easy game, you’re going to be in one-hit kill territory for much of World of Final Fantasy. Unstacking helps, since you deal significantly less damage when unstacked, but then you do run the risk of some of your weaker Mirages taking damage as you attempt to recruit a precious Moogle that’s just going to run away anyway. It would have been nice if the game had offered some sort of Imprism percentage, so you’d at least have some success estimate. (What am I doing wrong, Moogle? Am I too strong for you? Too weak for you? What is it?)
It also means being forced to keep Mirages around that you don’t really like or want. I had to have characters like Floating Eye, Dualizard, and Quachacho around, even though I didn’t really use them, because I needed the status-effect abilities or ice-related spells. I wanted to keep the Chocobo with me, because he was a Chocobo, but my Cockatrice and Babyhemoth were more practical in-battles, for the former’s fire spell and latter’s stack-toppling attacks. World of Final Fantasy has a way of forcing you into certain monsters for specific areas, which means you don’t get to enjoy all the adorability packed into the game.
The Mirages are clearly one of World of Final Fantasy’s selling points. When people pick up the game, they’re getting to recruit all sorts of creatures they’ve seen in multiple entries. Even better, they’re the cutest forms of these enemies ever, with even the most vicious foes being somewhat huggable. The catching, improving, and transfiguring options keep you captivated, even when other parts of the game are disappointing or annoying. No matter what happens, Mirages have got your back.
World of Final Fantasy is now available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in North America. It will come to Japan on October 27, 2016 and Europe on October 28, 2016.