Happy Freve, everyone! Tomorrow is a holiday so we’re cheery all around. Unless you’re a Final Fantasy XIV player that has already completed the final scenario quests in patch 2.55 in which case you’re probably shocked. BUT I’m not here to spoil so I’ll just talk about something else, and that is going to be Final Fantasy Record Keeper. Brace yourself for vertical screens!
FFRK is a mobile… WAIT, don’t leave, HEAR ME OUT… it’s a mobile game about Final Fantasy. A FF about FF, if you will. In a world where FF stories are revered and treasured as paintings a strange force is erasing this works of art, and it’s the job of the Keepers to stop this from happening. You play as a Keeper trainee named Tyro and for some convenient reason, the only people in the building at the moment are you and a high-ranking Keeper that happens to be a Moogle. The only way to stop the paintings from fading is to go “into them” and relive the events and battles of yore – a task encommended to you by the Moogle because, like all Moogles, he’s a lazy bastard who’d much rather put you in danger.
You’ll enter halls that house memories of FF games and, in an old-school 16-bit side view, battle against enemies from those games, joined by heroes from different FFs. In the screenshot above you can see my party which is at the moment composed of Tyro, Kain (IV), Cloud (VII), generic White Mage (I) and Rydia (IV). It’s not as simple as a “mobile” game would make you believe: there’s ATB, equipment, abilities, upgrades, summons, jobs, row formations – the works, and it seems a little overwhelming at first, as expected.
You battle using different actions when your ATB gauge fills, and you have to defeat your opponents before they drain your HP. Each spell or skill has limited uses but an ether (post-battle drop) can recharge them. Enemies have elemental weaknesses, and using a limit break (Rydia’s Chocobo Summon in the screenshot above) can turn the tide of battle. Even characters from the correspondent FF scenario you’re doing get a stat boost (as seen by Cloud’s blue halo above, since this battle is a VII scenario). And after all is said and done, you get experience and level up.
If this sounds similar to a FF game, it’s because it is! FFRK is not All The Bravest. This is an interesting mobile FF with fun combat and mechanics. The cute 16-bit visuals harken back to the glory SNES days, and the music is taken straight from the games the scenarios represent. There’s daily “dungeons” and item giveaways, weekly events that reward characters (this week it’s Tifa from VII). And all this is free.
“But Saga, it’s a mobile game! If it’s free, there must be a catch, right?”
Well, yes… and no. Doing scenarios cost “stamina“. You begin with 30 stamina, and scenarios costs between 2 and 4, so you can do quite a few of them before running out. However, it regenerates on its own and speed is quite decent. There’s also a special currency that allows you to recover between scenario battles (you recover on your own if you finish or flee) and also serves as currency to enter special item drawings or get special bonuses. As with most games of this kind, these cost real money. I have no idea how much, though, as I haven’t checked, for I’ve had no need to. I’m fine with playing for small bursts and ignoring sold items unless they’re required for progression – but if that were the case I would immediately abandon the game.
I’ve spent about a week with FFRK, and I play it during XIV downtime or lunch breaks. I’ve done scenarios from IV, VII and X and haven’t bumped into a forced paywall at any point so far. The combat is simple, yet fun (even has an auto-battle option) and the equipment and ability options (equip, combine, upgrade) are deep (and grindy, but hey, it’s an RPG). So far, it’s staying on my phone, and I’m happy to see another mobile game that doesn’t suck or desires desperately to suck money out from you. It’s not a perfect game, but it’s a nice little love letter to fans packed up in a neat mobile game.
If curious, it’s out for iOS and Android (I’d guess both phones and tablets), just be warned it requires an internet connection. If it didn’t, it would have been too perfect.