Developer: Square Enix, HexaDrive
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: March 17th, 2015
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on a PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Originally intended to be a spin-off for Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Type-0 was a 2010 PlayStation Portable game that never saw release outside of Japan. At least, until now when Final Fantasy Type-0 HD brings the game to America. Was this game worth the wait, or does this portable port have too many issues?
Type-0 follows the thirteen members of Class Zero, a young group of military academy students that are a notch above your usual guys. A war breaks out between two countries, a couple of other countries get dragged in, and Class Zero has to protect their home of Rubrum. The war heavy plot is definitely a much darker take than usual for the Final Fantasy universe, the opening scene of a soldier’s final moments as he bleeds out on top of his loyal war chocobo sets a tone that the game is going to focus on the death and destruction that the war is causing. Sadly, this powerful intro quickly becomes wasted in a game that seems to have no idea what to do with itself. Type-0’s plot is all over the place: characters constantly come and go with little rhyme or reason, terms are mentioned with the expectation that the player knows them, and the whole thing feels like a weird disjointed mess. It also shares the same mythology used in Final Fantasy XIII, probably a left over from its original spin-off status, so failing to play that entry will likely lead to some extra confusion. It doesn’t help that a lot of the story elements are also hidden until New Game+, so multiple playthroughs are required.
Unlike other Final Fantasy games, Type-0 is an action RPG with real time battles. Each of the game’s fifteen playable characters has their own unique weapons and skills that they bring into battle, and it makes playing each character feel nothing like the other ones. Ace has a deck of cards that he can ‘cut’ for a chance to pull out specific effects, Trey can charge up his bow for extra damage, Jack moves slowly with his weapon out but attacks instantly for insane amounts of damage, and Deuce doesn’t really attack directly but plays music to buff the other characters. Each character can equip two different offensive skills or magics, and one defensive. As I killed enemies my characters would level up and earn AP that could be spent on new skills or upgrade current ones. Yet because each character levels individually I had to spend time grinding out each one. The game attempts to alleviate this by letting me set up “secret training” so a character can level when I’m not playing, but its only one character at a time and I never saw anyone get more than five levels.
The most important systems in combat are Breaksight and Killsight. As long as I held the R1 button I was able to be locked onto enemies. During this time, usually directly after attacks, there was a chance the aiming reticule would turn either yellow or red for a very short time. If I hit the enemy while its yellow, then I dealt a good amount of extra damage and also stunned them which left them open for more attacks. Hitting while its red is an instant kill. Managing these two systems, especially against bosses, is vital to success. Especially when the game decides to pull one of its random difficulty spikes. I never found the game got hard enough that I needed to resort to leveling tricks, but there were times where a random difficulty spike would cause me to feel like I was constantly running into a wall over and over.
Yet the game suffers from more than just random difficulty spikes. A wonky and oversensitive camera feels all over the place, and I could never quite get it to focus how I wanted. Lock-on helped alleviate this a bit, but added in the problem that I had trouble getting the lock-on to switch targets. Often I would remain locked onto a dead enemy long after doing so had served its purpose. The two AI characters that accompanied me into battle were sometimes more trouble than they were worth. Often I found them stuck on objects, having difficulties being useful (never ever leave an AI on Jack), and any part that required me to hide, run from, or dodge a stronger enemy was basically just a guaranteed death from the AI that would attempt to fight the enemy anyway. Also, never expect a new mechanic to be explained. Some important mechanics like Support Personal (which allows me to randomly receive help AI characters, and gain SPP points that I could spend in a special store), Special Orders (Add an extra challenge to an area. Succeed for items, fail and die), Eidolons (Sacrifice a party member to summon an extra powerful monster), and Triad Maneuvers (Bluntly: I never found out what they were or how to use them in game, but Google says they’re basically limit breaks) never really get any kind of explanations on how to use any of them.
Occasionally a break is taken from normal missions for RTS-lite styled missions instead. In these missions I played as just one character, and had to order around groups of Rubrum soldiers. The soldiers could only follow set paths to other cities, while I could run around the whole battlefield and kill enemies. I still needed the soldiers though, as I was not able to attack enemy encampments. It’s not a bad idea, but I found the missions to be on the very easy and uninteresting end. There’s also only about four in the game, so its not something I had to do very often.
Between missions Class Zero would return to Akademeia and would get a certain amount of time to explore it as they wished. It’s here that I could partake in side quests, view optional scenes that flesh characters out, or explore the world map and visit other cities. Sadly, there wasn’t really very much to do. Conversations would award me with items if I listened to them, but it was rarely anything that I seriously needed. Side quests often felt pointless and, again, rewarded very little. Actually going to class, at the times where the game let me, was actually the most useful thing to do as it provided either large chunks of XP or permanent stat boosts. Thankfully, the ability to skip these sections was always available. The game also has some issues that are probably around due to its former statues as a PsP game. Besides the fact that the graphics would probably only have been acceptable if this was a late Ps2 game, it suffers from weird things like not utilizing extra buttons (the triggers do nothing for some reason, yet dodging and defensive magic are sharing the circle button), cutscenes only having up to three characters at once that often do little other than stand there and talk, and tons of loading times (The world map is broken into small squares rather than be one big world map.) Multiplayer has also been removed for some weird reason, which is a shame as it would have just added more to the game.
On one hand it’s nice Final Fantasy Type-0 has finally been brought to America, and the fact that it came with a several hour demo of Final Fantasy XV is no small bonus. On the other hand, its not a very good game on its own. Suffering from weird design issues, a confusing story, port problems, and a host of other missteps, I have difficulty recommending this missing entry to anyone but the most fervent of Final Fantasy fans.