Orience is a land who’s core aspect are four Crystals. These Crystals are the foundation for each of Oreince’s four nations, with the Crystals serving as the core of society, whether that be through magic or technology. These Crystals also affect each individual citizen in a multitude of ways, such as taking away the memories of anyone that dies. Hence, it should not be a surprise that such powerful objects can lead to war. The Milites Empire that controls the White Tiger Crystal under the rule of Marshal Cid Aulstyne begins their invasion of the other nations. With their technology they believe that they can easily subdue each of the nations. For example, with the Dominion of Rubrum that controls the Vermillion Bird Crystal that serves as the basis of providing it’s citizens with the ability to use magic abilities, they use a jammer to counteract the power of the Crystal, and hence leave them defenseless. Or at least, that’s what they expected. A special team known as Class Zero clad in red capes are able to use their abilities independent of the Crystal, and furthermore are a force to be reckoned with. They turn the tide of battle in the initial battle. But who are class zero? They are an elite group of 12 students under the guardianship of Arecia Al-Rashia, whom they refer to as mother. They have a very wide range of personalities, from the calm and collected Queen to the jokester Jack to the know it all Trey. Why they’re so powerful and how they’re able to use their powers is a mystery only Al-Rashia fully understands, but its something that scares other powerful figures in Rubrum. Hence, two students are added into the group, Machina and Rem, to spy on them, both of whom have history with each other, and the former of which seems to have one with Ace as well. They are also given the commanding officer Kurasame. Under such conditions, they serve as a core part of the war effort, and hence feel the brunt of the effects of the war in numerous ways. However, all of this is building up to what is known as Tempus Finis, which is where Class Zero’s true destiny lies.
Final Fantasy Type-0 has a strange history. It was originally conceived as Final Fantasy Agito XIII as it was part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology sub-series and was supposed to be a mobile game. But it seemed the scale became too large for what mobile games could handle at the time, so it ended up becoming a PSP game. Also, at some point the name changed to Type-0. The game was released on PSP in Japan, but they were dead silent about it coming to the west, likely because by the time they’d be able to localize it it’d be too late for PSP releases considering the Vita was already out. Still, fans were quite local about wanting it and raised their voices asking for a Vita port and English release. Three years later, their cries were answered and Square Enix announced an HD remaster was coming to the west, except not on Vita. It was remastered into a full console game interestingly enough though they ended up dropping some features such as multiplayer that were based around local use of handhelds. Hence, what was originally conceived as a mobile title came out 10 years later in the west as a PS4 title. Hence, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the game is quite strange in a number of ways.
The core combat was pretty solid. It was pretty simple at it’s core, having a different ability assigned to each face button with some special abilities other than that. However, what prevented this simplicity from becoming an issue was that it was incredibly active even for an action RPG, relying heavily on quick movement and dodging, and hence feeling quite intense. It also featured a large cast of characters you would constantly be switching between that all played quite a bit differently, hence preventing things from getting repetitive. Because of this, the simplicity becomes an asset as if it were too complex having so many characters may have been daunting. Still I think figuring out move sets for the various characters was more complicated than it needed to be and it should have provided some level of tutorial or such. Combat missions are done in groups of three active members with one controlled by the player and two by AI, wherein if a member dies then reserve members can be called in to replace them. An issue with that though is that there is no party control at all, which is incredibly peculiar for an action RPG. The AI will do what it wants and you can not modify their behavior at all, and to be frank the AI is pretty terrible hence requiring the main player to do all the work. This isn’t that much of a problem, as the game feels balanced well enough in terms of playing with a single character, but you need to have multiple characters for XP purposes to keep them all at a high enough level so that you have a set of reserve members and hence need to deal with them being dumb and dying a lot. Also, as a general note it did feel like there wasn’t enough variety in terms of enemies and definitely not enough bosses. The final boss was pretty amazing though. In terms of character growth, it was mostly pretty standard for a RPG, though how few equipment there was was was interesting. Upgrading spells was kind of annoying though. Well, upgrading them itself was fine, involving spending Phantoma which is obtained by defeating enemies. However, in order to get Phantoma, it required not just to defeat enemies, but to manually collect it which required staying still for a second, and doing so before they disappear. The problem with that is that you need to be locked on to the enemy in order to do so, and you can’t switch back to locking on to a defeated enemy. Furthermore, being defenseless in the middle of battle is annoying and it also just breaks the flow. It makes a lot of sense and is important story wise and to the final boss, but overall I didn’t like the system much.
There were essentially two types of missions. The first were the standard missions, where you control the characters as they fight through large amounts of enemies to go from location to location in order to reach objectives. There was what’s known as Special Order’s during these, which are like special requirements that are placed on you that if you acheive you gain something, but if you fail at you lose a character. I thought that these were too much of a pain to bother with considering they never really gave anything good. The other types of missions were siege missions. These involved running around the world map supporting the Rubrum army as they took over towns. These missions were pretty terrible and took out a lot of what made the core combat great, such as being unable to dodge almost all attacks, and didn’t really involve any strategy at all. They were annoying though in that it felt like it was really easy to screw sometimes by missing something.
Beyond that while not in story missions, you can control your character to explore the academy, talk to people, and perform side quests known as Tasks. An issue that I have with this is that there’s a limit on how much you can do between story missions. I in general really hate arbitrary restrictions in terms of time, wherein if it’s something like Persona where you have to make choices about what you want to do which actually impacts game play but you can optimize into being able to do pretty much everything that’s fine. However, here it’s impossible to do everything in a single play through and that’s really the only purpose of the time restrictions as it has very little impact on game play, and thus it feels like the entire purpose of these restrictions is to try to push a second play through, which I didn’t do because I don’t think the game play holds up well enough for that. Maybe if they kept the multiplayer it would be worth it while playing co-op, but as it is it was not something I thought was worth it. That really annoyed me, but I think I did manage to get all the major side content I wanted to get to. There wasn’t that much to most of the side content though. It was pretty good in terms of character events and there were some interesting story lines in that regard, but in terms of actual side quests with objectives they were really boring, being standard fetch of kill quests. Furthermore, being unable to accept more than one task at a time was immensely annoying. Also, while getting around the overworld on a Chocobo was cool enough, being unable to run from random battles and there being random enemies at max level scattered around the map that are impossible to fight was a terrible combination.
In terms of the story, it’s kind of strange. To some extent it was very character focused, with Class Zero’s relationships amongst each other and other characters and the effects the war has on them being the highlight, but at the same time, it didn’t feel like there was a lot of substance there. The characters all have unique personalities, but it didn’t feel like any of them really got fleshed out. Rather, for a story centered around a group of friends the development of each character and development of them as a solid group of friends was rather weak. Still, they do have strong personalities with enough variety to them that there should be someone that everyone is fond of, and hence it’s pretty easy to get invested in the group overall despite the shortcomings, though it does leave you wanting more. The same applies to the side characters, wherein there were certainly some unique characters, but not much to them.
As for the plot, it was all sorts of crazy. For 7/8 chapters, it’s a pretty standard war story. There’s a bit of teasing of grand things going on in the background, but for the most part it’s just focused on the war itself with some story elements related to that, such as politics, conspiracies, public opinion, etc. It was for the most part just straightforwardly fighting a war, with the perspective of those fighting in the war and the effect on them as the focus. It wasn’t an amazing story, but it was solid enough to support everything else. There were also some interesting mechanics here such as losing the memories of those that died, though as you would expect this is a pretty strange concept and pretty hard to write around, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that it felt incredibly inconsistent. This inconsistency was most prominent in Aria’s final scene, which on top of feeling like it had no point other than to make the player feel downright awful, also made the memory mechanic feel completely dumb to the point it made me question how the world could function at all.
Then suddenly it hits chapter 8 and the end of the world begins and all sorts of crazy things start happening, and they happen way too fast without enough explanation. Considering this is part of Fabula Nova Chrstalis, that’s should have been expected, though that it took this long for it to reach that point is actually kind of surprising and actually did make it surprising when it happened. And in the end that I think was the biggest problem with the story. With FFXIII, since it was crazy and made no sense from the outset, even though the ending was bad I didn’t even care because I didn’t really care all that much about the characters. Here, I cared enough about the characters enough to care about them being given a good ending, and this didn’t do it at all, so I actually disliked the ending more than I did with FFXIII. I am not opposed to an ending where everyone dies, but there were two major problems with how it was handled here. The first is, though the ending relied heavily on their bonds as a group to bring some happiness to them in their final moments, I don’t think they did enough to establish those in the narrative of the game. They did enough to make them likable characters, but not enough to make that ending of them being together be as impactful as it needed to be to be worth it. And the second, and more important, is that they didn’t establish strongly enough why they had to die. If it was made clear why they had to die and were dying, and why they made the choice to do so, and everything surrounding that was better established, it would properly give their deaths meaning, and thus give the ending more meaning, and hence give it more more feeling, a feeling that was bittersweet, but a solid feeling nevertheless. This wasn’t the case here. It felt like they were dying arbitrarily, and the only feeling I was left with was that I didn’t want them to die, and hence the only feeling I was left with was sadness and not in a good way. And I have not the faintest clue what to feel or think about the hidden, maybe not even cannon, ending. I am in general a very ending focused person when it comes to the plot, and here due to how different the ending was from the rest of the game it felt like it carried even more weight, and hence even though most of the story was fine, I can’t say I’m fond of the story overall.
The graphics were weird. This is an enhanced PSP port. Some parts got fully enhanced and looked good even for a PS4 game. Others aspects looked pretty much like a PSP game. The parts that were enhanced, mainly the main cast, looked really good, as the character designs were always great and the model quality was now amazing. And the engine improvements such as lighting and blur did help hide the bad environmental assets most of the time. But there were certain scenes that looked really awkward. For example, scenes with both a main character and a non-improved character, so scenes where a good looking character that has more polygons in their mouth than the character they’re conversing with has overall, just looked really strange. Also, the game made extensive use of pre-rendered cut-scenes, though only the opening and ending were true cinematic quality. The rest seemed to be recordings with PSP level assets at higher resolution. And these weren’t redone so the real-time cut-scenes and graphics were actually usually better than these, which was strange. Hence, overall the graphics were incredibly uneven. The soundtrack was also kind of strange in that it had a number of really amazing tracks, some of the best in Final Fantasy even, but it didn’t feel like it had enough, relying on those and variants of those extensively, and hence it felt like it got kind of repetitive.
A game that has good aspects in terms of every category but also major issues plaguing each category.