And thus comes Final Fantasy Type-0 HD to its end. The large-scale conflict eventually reached a proper conclusion, even if the game still managed to introduce a totally surprising finale that, sadly, wasn’t entirely bereft of awkward cliches. In the end, it managed to answer as many questions as it left others ambiguous. No can do; the workings of this universe have been given way more attention than coming up with a coherent story. The action-packed missions don’t jive very well with the slightly aimless free time parts, and even if there are cinematics, many of them are often too short or just plain irrelevant. I suppose I could follow my (hurried) 25-hour playthrough with another go in order to get a better overall picture, but hunting down little morsels of information to reconstruct in one’s own head isn’t really that alluring.
That’s not to say Type-0 wouldn’t have its fair share of memorable moments. The soundtrack by Takeharu Ishimoto, in particular, is perhaps the grandest and most impressive in the history of the entire franchise. Orchestral scores backed up by a big mixed choir blare with incredible intensity, evoking genuine affection. Of course, there are also more tranquil tunes. Especially when the one linked above starts to play with your team in the middle of the battlefield following their orders while other units relay their final moments over the radio is still something that brings a lump into my throat. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful!
Thanks to a bittersweet epilogue, I even slightly miss my own crew, even if forming an actual emotional bond with any of them would have required a lot more interaction and character development. As they stand, the cadets are more or less just a group of fighters from among whom you probably choose to prefer the ones suiting your playstyle. Sure, the game is an action-JRPG, but it kind of feels like too much emphasis is on action.
Despite everything, Type-0 doesn’t shy away from blood, violence, and the madness of war, and therefore manages to leave a stark impression. Such elements are hardly essential but were they used in a “proper” Final Fantasy (read: games VII-IX), it might be one heck of a ride. Type-0 is certainly worth playing through but while it has many good particulars, it fails to make everything work in unison.
Whoa! When the big wheel of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD ultimately turns, it does so in a most impressive manner! If anyone doubts the influence of mere 14 teenage cadets in a full-scale war between superpowers, they would be correct. When push comes to shove, it amounts to very little. Once the conflict escalates, fair play get flushed down the toilet, and all participants resort to their extreme measures, the going gets epic. Sure, the Rubrum cadets are still in the midst of things but as the number of casualties grows to hundreds of thousands and the radio mostly relays the final moments of desperate units, it’s enough to make one’s hair stand on end. It truly is an unconventional Final Fantasy but in a touching and convincing way.
Sadly, Type-0 is also increasingly inclined to point out that it would like to be played through several times. Not only does it limit the time required to experience optional events, it rolls out more and more bosses that can probably be bested but hardly on the first playthrough. When such encounters do happen, the story will still continue after everyone in the player’s party has been wiped out but that’s hardly a source for drama. Even several side quests are so challenging that there’s very little point in trying to do them on the first run. There’s nothing wrong with replay value as such, but in this case the idea is definitely something that the game loves to shove down the player’s throat.
The other major fault with Type-0 is its lack of actual storytelling. The game shares, at least thematically, a whole lot with Final Fantasy XIII but it’s essentially more of a stage for a massive conflict than a bona fide story. Many of the terms used classify under “surely you know.” The academy library holds an encyclopedia called Rubicus, which eventually grows to cover more than several centuries of the history of this universe, but it sure could’ve used a glossary as well. The game is a little too confident that its player knows Final Fantasy lore like the back of his hand, and that proper storytelling can be replaced with just loads of text in a book. Just getting to know the 14 main characters is a matter of checking out the Rubicus for their backgrounds and motivations, as the game hardly bothers to flesh them out.
Fighting is still inscrutably ADHD. While brawling, the player can also choose to accept special orders. They are bite-sized, time-limited challenges such as besting the next couple of enemies with magic, avoiding all damage for 30 seconds, going for those sweet spots of damage, etc. Success will be rewarded with an item, failure with the death of the played character. Naturally all these orders would have to be opened, reviewed, and either accepted or declined while everything else is constantly going on, so at least us old fogies have a far better chance of preserving our sanity by ignoring them altogether. Gaming goddesses be praised that this HD remake also includes an easy difficulty mode, making it possible to push on without reactions measured in nanoseconds or being able to multitask eight different things at once.
I’m quite pleased at how well I’ve managed to prune my backlog lately, and even more so because only one newcomer has managed to sneak in at the same time. Deemo: The Last Recital is presumably a PlayStation Vita rhythm game that relies on touch screen controls only. I probably would’ve skipped it altogether but couldn’t resist a physical copy. Even if touch screen controls don’t sound very promising and it probably won’t challenge the dominance of Hatsune Miku, it should have rhythm and that’s all I require to give it a go!
It’s hardly a summer holiday without beating at least some Final Fantasy. Since I’m now on my final week of vacation, I decided to see if Final Fantasy Type-0 HD would be it. The game is an action-packed offshoot from the main series, and was originally released in 2011 only for the PSP and only in Japan. This HD remake for the PC and current generation consoles got a worldwide release four years later. It’s not exactly a looker even with makeup but all is forgiven if the story holds up. At least for now, it seems to do just that.
It’s plain as day from the very beginning that Type-0 is exceptionally grim. The power-hungry Empire of Militesi decides to bring down its neighboring Dominion of Rubrum by blitzkrieg. After neutralizing their magic defenses, the invasion campaign proceeds swiftly, bloodily, and with no concern for civilian casualties. Amidst all the havoc and destruction, the students of Rubrum’s capital city and also its magic academy, manage to rebuff the initial onslaught. The war is soon centered around Class Zero, a group of 14 elite cadets spearheading Rubrum’s counter-offensive to drive off the invaders.
There’s no courting period whatsoever. The player is immediately given control of the entire class of cadets, so there’s plenty of characters to learn, equip, and level up. That’s why I pretty much spent the first couple of hours just running back and forth in front of the academy’s main gate, coaxing random encounters just to get a feel for each character’s strengths and weaknesses. Slow ones do plenty of damage with their mallets, spears, and katanas, the weaker ones are better off at a distance with magic or ranged weapons, and then there’s a decent bunch of multi-talented all-rounders. The real-time battles are fought as a team of three where the player controls one character and the AI handles the other two. Jumping between team members is a simple matter of pressing left or right on the d-pad, and should anyone fall in battle, they can be replaced by someone in the reserves. Care must still be taken, as casualties only revive back in home base.
The battles are fast and chaotic. One button is reserved for a basic attack while two others are for customizable offensive spells and special moves. A fourth button is used to dodge when moving, or invoking a curative or defensive spell when standing still. In small areas everyone then just runs around doing what they will while the poor player is desperately trying to keep up with everything. Individual enemies can also be locked on, which shows the fleeting moments when they are susceptible for massive damage. This usually happens right before or after they attack, so despite the hectic pace, tactical play is also very much encouraged.
For now, most of the wartime sorties have been about liberating nearby seized hometowns. This is when the team traverses to them on the world map and then cleans their streets from Militesi troops. In other words, plenty of running around narrow streets from one screen to another, swiftly beating the crap out of anything that seems even remotely hostile, and then usually taking on a much bigger bad guy at the very end. There’s very little breathing room. While the player is busy just surviving, keeping tabs on who does what where, and maybe even racing against a countdown, the operational center of the academy relays instructions that often fall to deaf ears in the heat of the moment. Accessing the main menu won’t pause the action, so even something as simple as applying antidote to a poisoned character is a real gamble in the middle of a skirmish. One item type can be set for use at a press of a button but that’s not really much.
Time between missions is, thankfully, more relaxing. After returning to the academy, the player is given a few hours of free time but they are only expended when actually committing to do something. You could, for example, spend some of that time to attend academy lectures that yield permanent status bonuses for all characters. The free hours are also good for getting to know the staff and other students of the institution, rewarding items and short cinematics that shed light into the characters’ backgrounds. Investing six hours will get you back to the world map to fight and visit liberated towns for possible side quests. Of course, there are also dungeons to be found and explored. It isn’t possible to experience every event in a single playthrough but those without shame will naturally consult the internet to see the most worthwhile ways of spending spare time.
After about 11 hours, Type-0 is definitely a very different kind of Final Fantasy, and not necessarily in a good way. My initial confusion is slowly fading, though, so it’s certainly something to get to know better. In the name of Rubrum, onwards!