Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
This real-time spinoff plays against type
Final Fantasy Type-0 might well have the most bewildering opening of a Square Enix game yet – and yep, we have played FFXIII. Terms like ‘Pax Codex’ and ‘Vermillion Peristylium’ are thrown at you right from the beginning, and it isn’t until a good few hours in that you begin to piece together what everything means. However, once you’ve pierced through a veil of leaden narration, flat voice-acting, and disjointed and overwhelming exposition, Type-0 emerges as an RPG worthy of your time.
Beneath all the talk of warring nations, magic H-bombs, and our old friends the l’Cie, this latest Final Fantasy spinoff is a moderately simple tale. The nations of Orience are at war over the four crystals they were entrusted with in ancient, happier times, with the evil Empire perilously close to conquering the world. The situation is so desperate that students at Rubrum’s Magic Academy are drafted in to help the war effort, with the aid of their special abilities, fancy cloaks and tartan skirts. You play as all 14 members of the near-mythical Class Zero, who wear red capes and generally do most of the heroic acts – they’re basically the Academy’s Gryffindors.
It’s around the point at which we realised the Harry Potter connection that Type-0 became a dramatically better game. The Magic Academy is pretty much Hogwarts, you see, but with Chocobos, Moogle professors and Magitek armour. Specifically, it’s the Hogwarts of the later Harry Potter books, when everything is Grimly Serious, and all your favourite tertiary characters are gradually killed off. There isn’t much levity to be found in Type-0’ s portentous war-room dialogue and twisty backroom skulduggery, but there is lightness if you look for it, be it in the sunny Chocobo stable, or the frequently silly side-quests.
The Academy is your base of operations, and it’s here that you unwind between main missions, in the few days you’re allotted between every story beat. Time is devoured in two-hour chunks, regardless of how long things take you; you can spend it chatting with your fellow students or advisers, taking classes in exchange for stat upgrades or venturing into the wider world to embark on sidequests. Not every action causes time to advance, but rather certain conversations, or the act of leaving the Academy, which gobbles up a healthy six hours of your life. If you’ve played Persona 4, you’ll know how it works – there’s never enough time to do everything, so you’re often forced
to save certain scenes for the inevitable second playthrough.
As time limits go, it’s incredibly forgiving – you could spend hours roaming around the countryside completing quests for nearby villagers, and only use up a quarter of your ingame day. Type-0, unlike most recent Final Fantasies, features a proper world map, complete with random battles, towns and even the odd large-scale military rumble. As part of the ongoing campaign, some missions might ask you to rout troops, or invade occupied villages – it’s simple stuff, but it does a good job making the threat of the Empire feel present and ever-urgent.
Missions and side-quests generally culminate in a procession of battles in some boxy town or cave. Outside of the Academy, areas tend to blend into one another, thanks to repeating textures, gridlike environments, and other tricks employed to originally fit Type-0 onto the graphically humble PSP. It’s hard to remember which town you’re in when you’re actually inside it, though most of the time you’ll be too busy keeping up with the hectic battle system to notice.
Type-0 really excels in its combat, though, which is fast-paced, complex and refreshingly tough. Each of the 14 playable characters has their own unique weapon, from Cater’s fancy magic pistol to Ace’s Gambit-like pack of playing cards. Each plays differently, and you’ll rotate through favourites constantly throughout the game.
It would take the length of this review again to explain the battle system in depth, but know that it’s real-time and that you can switch between your three squadmates at will. If one croaks, you can call in a reserve – you’ll only hit a ‘game over’ if all 14 succumb to the icy fingers of death.
This sounds forgiving, but it’s really not, at least on the standard difficulty, and in some of the tougher areas you might wander into on a secondary quest. Enemies can be relentless, and proper spacing is paramount if you want to cast a healing spell, as it needs to be charged before use. You can muddle through, like we did in the early missions, but elements like item use and character improvement become vital later on.
The story might bore, but Type-0’ s battle system rivals FFXIII’s for its lightning pace, thrilling feel and depth. It’s here, in the heat of battle, that this spinoff comes alive – yet you’re never far away from another self-serious (and thankfully skippable) cutscene that makes you long for the elegance and wit of the early games. OXM
“The Academy is Hogwarts, but with Moogle professors”
The tiny Cinque wields a massive heavy mace. The animations of her swinging it around are hilarious. Publisher Square Enix / Developer Square Enix / Format Xbox One / release date Out now
This guy gives Class Zero missions. His mask protects us from his foul halitosis, probably.
Nominal protagonist Ace wields a pack of playing cards. He’s the Paul Daniels of the bunch.