"All The Way To The Bank"
At first glance, Final Fantasy All The Bravest could be an excellent game. Much of Square Enix' oeuvre is particularly rich in nostalgia and life-long fans, so a Final Fantasy game that promised to resurrect the look, feel, and gameplay of their most beloved games from the 90s has a rich target market. Moreover, the premise has incredible potential: huge swarms of the most loved (hated?) Final Fantasy monsters and bosses are attacking various places and times in the universe in heretofore unseen numbers. Your party of adventurers is correspondingly massive in order to take them on, maxing out at 32 party members going to battle at once. The potential for such massive, complex battles seems, at first glance, positively glorious.
The moment a battle begins, however, and the gameplay mechanic reveals itself; all that hope and nostalgia value crumbles into betrayal. You touch a party member in order to get them to attack; they attack. That is the sum and total of your ability to control the interaction. In Final Fantasy All The Bravest you can't select which monster to target, and each party member only has as single attack ability. You unlock various weapons and classes as you play, but each class only has a single attack, and each weapon is merely a simple damage boost. It is literally a game based on RTS nostalgia with all of the strategic elements stripped out.
Were the game merely an oversimplified battle game using the look and feel of classic Final Fantasy gameplay, it would be disappointing but ultimately harmless. What makes this game actively repugnant is the fact that it is entirely designed to milk in-game purchases out of the player. All of the characters in your party, for instance, are randomized examples of their class, but if you want to substitute in a franchise character, you can make that purchase for $0.99.
Of course, you can't actually select whether you add Cloud or Squall to your party; you get a character completely at random. If you didn't get the sprite you were hoping for, you have to cough up the cash again. Your fighters die easily and take three real-time minutes to regenerate – unless, of course, you want to speed up the process by paying. If you get tired of the limited numbers of venues for the gigantic fights, you can buy new worlds to play in, for a shocking $3.99 a piece. Considering Final Fantasy All The Bravest is not even a free game, with a middling $3.99 price tag, this shameless attempt to drag as many purchases out of the player as possible is downright offensive.
What makes all of this possibly more infuriating is that the game is so easily fixable. By removing the most gratuitous excesses of the in-app purchases and putting a little bit more effort into the combat structure, the game should have been a genuine pleasure. As it stands, Final Fantasy All The Bravest in its current form is far more adept at alienating than at serving the nostalgic, classic Final Fantasy-loving audience at whom it is targeted.
GameDynamo's Score for Final Fantasy All The Bravest (Mobile)
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Natalie Zina Walschots is a music writer, poet, and editor based in Toronto, Ontario. She writes about comic books, video games, combat sports, sadomasochism, feminism, and difficult music for a number of publications, both in print and online, and currently serves as the Managing Editor of Canada Arts Connect, as well as the Reviews Editor of This Magazine. She also has published books - DOOM: Love Poems For Supervillains and Thumbscrews, which won a Robert Kroetsch Award.
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