It's an exciting time for North American fans of the Final Fantasy franchise. While we eagerly awaiting the release of Final Fantasy XV on PS4 and Xbox One (due in late September), publisher Square Enix is providing the world with something to whet their appetite in the meanwhile with the International release of Mobius Final Fantasy on August 3. Released exclusively in Japan last summer, the free-to-play game was praised as one of the best Japanese mobile releases of 2015.
We were provided access to an early build of the North American version; here's our first impressions from playing through Chapter One: Blank Slate.
Story and visual style
The story places you in the boots of Wol (or whatever you decide to name your character), a young man who wakes up with amnesia in Palamecia, a world currently under siege from the armies of "Chaos". Our protagonist is but one of countless "Blankers" who have arrived in this mysterious world with no recollection of their past lives. The story begins as you learn of a mysterious prophecy which foretells that one Blanker is destined to become the "Warrior of Light" and rise up to save Palamecia from darkness.
Square Enix decided on breaking the game's story into chapters, which were released on a semi-monthly basis in Japan over the course of a complete calendar year. We'd expect to see a similar schedule of story updates for the North American release.
Since development began in 2013, Square Enix's stated goal for Mobius Final Fantasy was to bring Triple-A console graphics to a mobile RPG experience — and it's a claim they stand by to this day. In a recent press release, they boast that Mobius Final Fantasy features "console-quality HD visuals that push the boundaries of the mobile platform."
Having played an admittedly early build of the game, the graphics aren't quite as groundbreaking as Square Enix would like to have us believe — or perhaps would have been if it were still 2013 — but they're absolutely impressive for a mobile game nonetheless. Changing the resolution settings to High certainly makes things sharper, but it's still a far cry from the quality we've seen from current-gen console releases — including the aforementioned Final Fantasy XV. Ultimately, it's a matter of hardware limitations more than anything else.
If you're hoping for the lengthy cinematic cutscenes synonymous with other Final Fantasy console titles, you're in for a bit of disappointment. The plot unfolds through quick conversations with characters, rendered using the in-game engine. This might turn off some hardcore fans who really enjoy the cinematic storytelling, but it also makes Mobius Final Fantasy more accessible for casual gamers looking for a decent pick-up-and-play mobile RPG experience.
Speaking of the hardcore fans, it's worth noting Mobius Final Fantasy was developed by producer Yoshinori Kitase and writer Kazushige Nojima — industry pros best known for their work on the iconic Final Fantasy VII and many other iconic Square Enix titles. As such, this ain't some quick cash grab mobile game for Square Enix; Mobius Final Fantasy is a full-fledged release for the storied franchise, and you will notice and appreciate the attention to detail and care that obviously went into the game.
Mobius features the character development and depth we've come to expect from a Final Fantasy release, including a job system, multiple ways to upgrade and customize your character, and upgradable ability cards which you earn in battles. Each special ability is connected to one of six elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Light and Shadow. Each job class is tied to three of those elements, requiring you to swap them out depending on the types of enemies you expect to face.
Elements are most effective against their opposing element, so for example a Water ability will be most effective against a Fire opponent and vice versa. You'll need to create and manage multiple decks, consisting of job, weapon and ability cards if you hope to fulfill the prophecy and save Palamecia.
Battling is truly the heart of Mobius Final Fantasy. Developed to be conveniently played with one hand with the phone held in portrait orientation, the battling system combines the turn-based combat system typically found in JRPGs with the familiar tap-and-slash combat mechanics found in many popular action games for mobile. Tap to launch a physical attack on an enemy, which in turn releases Element orbs used to charge up your special abilities.
Once you've collected enough orbs, you're able to use your special abilities to unleash more effective attacks on tougher enemies. There's a ton of strategy involved in properly managing your elements, as the proper Elemental ability is often required to break through the tougher defenses of bigger enemies. Alternatively, orbs can also be absorbed to heal, or raise your character's resistance to a specific element for a set number turns.
There's also a social element to the game, wherein you rent ability cards from other players. This aspect of the game is somewhat limited in the pre-release build of the game, but it will be curious to see how that aspect of the game pans out after August 3.
Pre-register for in-game rewards
Pre-registration is currently underway, and will continue up until the official launch of the game. Pre-registered players shall receive a number of in-game rewards to help them on their journey, as well as a push notification as soon as the game is available to download in their region. Currently, over 150,000 players have pre-registered to unlock bonus content such as a special card featuring fan favorite Yuna from FFX. There are more rewards available via pre-registration stretch goals.
Mobius Final Fantasy will be released in North America and International app stores on August 3, 2016.
Be an expert in 5 minutes
Get the latest news from Android Central, your trusted companion in the world of Android