Final Fantasy Type-0: Finally on the big screen

To the uninitiated Final Fantasy as whole must seem rather daunting. With 14 “main” entries in the franchise alone (not including sequels and remakes), it remains one of the most prolific series in the world. Throw in the uncountable spin-offs and you’re left with a stupefying legacy of common mechanics and elements that can make even the most generic of releases a bewildering experience, a sentiment exemplified by the release of the PSP exclusive Final Fantasy Type-0 in 2011. Deemed experimental by even the game’s director, Hajime Tabata, Western fans have long itched to get their hands on the title, and finally Square Enix have assented with not only a localised version, but an HD remastering.

Despite being part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, as usual Type-0 presents an entirely original world and plot, this time centred on the land of Orience, which has been plunged into a continent-spanning conflict. With players guiding a group of fourteen students known as Class Zero, the game’s sombre tone is evident right from its emotional but lengthy introductory cut scene, and goes to great lengths to explore the nature of war, both its horrors and its highs, from the eyes of the young warriors that fight it. While Type-0 does tend to introduce new terms and characters at a startling rate, requiring you to spend a good deal of time reading through the in-game encyclopaedia just to understand what’s going on, ultimately the narrative remains compelling throughout.

Fittingly for a game focussing on conflict, Type-0 is extremely heavy on combat, though not in a way you would expect from a Final Fantasy title. Eschewing the customary turn-based mechanics the franchise is known for, Type-0 uses a real-time system that sees three students fighting at once, with players having the ability to swap between any of them on the fly. Each member of Class Zero comes with a unique fighting style and weapon, from whipblades to cards, and though getting to grips with fourteen different move sets simultaneously is undeniably a challenge, the variety and intensity of the game’s battles make it a joy to play through.

Structurally composed of linear missions separated by open-world exploration, the vast land of Orience gradually opens up as progress is made through the campaign. Given a certain amount of downtime between missions, you’ll be allowed to wander the world, interacting with strangers and fellow students, taking classes to improve your abilities or going on quests. Although the timer might make you feel rushed to complete all the optional content, only certain actions will cause it to edge closer to a “mission day”, and you’ll soon discover that you have plenty of time to explore a world that is brought to life in a subtle yet superb manner.

Unfortunately Type-0 is not without its niggles, though none of them are game-breakers. To begin with, while most of the main cast, important locations and cutscenes have been magnificently retouched for the HD release, the game’s PSP origins are abundantly clear, with blocky NPC’s and low-res texturing of environments. This is not helped by the voice-acting, with dialogue tending to be awkwardly spoken and poorly translated. This is also not a game for the impatient, and you’ll find yourself retreading familiar ground more often than not, either by replaying past missions or grinding to ensure all your characters are levelled equally. Finally, the inclusion of an RTS mini-game does little to endear Type-0 as a whole, being mostly exercises in frustration, though they are mercifully few in number.

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