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Stop me if you’ve heard this before…*ahem*…two unique heroes from a different country is on a mission from their land that is not only personal, but also important to the main characters. Suddenly they meet a stranger and their world is changed forevermore, now they must deal with creatures of darkness, men wielding powers that only a rag tag team of heroes can stop…also something with crystals.
This is a very basic setup of how Final Fantasy Brave Exvius sets itself up, and joking for what could see as a negative point of view aside, the real story is more interesting to follow along for this fairly, yet interesting game published by Square Enix and developed by A-lim. It takes what we know of how a Final Fantasy game plays out, stays within that recipe but then uses different materia to make the finished product in front of us feel unique.
Take the well known and highly beloved turn based combat system that many fans enjoy (myself included from time to time), mix in with the standard of mobile games today’s collecting, fusing and evolve leveling system then make sure to sprinkle an ever-expanding line-up of desirable goodies in form of collections that you can get through microtransactions, that the players always have to chase after without them fully knowing it. The recipe might seem simple enough, but it’s the execution that makes the difference from other games.
With a whopping 5.000.000-10.000.000 downloading and installing this game, it’s very likely that some success has been had with this game which came out on June 29, 2016.
Although games like this can come in varieties on the Google and Apple store, there’s something about the social RPG genre that doesn’t have the biggest market in the Western part of the world as it has in Asia.
One thing I cannot stop giving credit for with this game, is its ability to let you run around and explore towns, dungeons, semi-open areas to complete daily quests, side quests from NPCs and even just to follow along the main quest. Not only that but there is a good chance to find the well known giant treasure chests that just for some strange reason, is standing in the middle of nowhere…also there’s potential for some nasty random battles with nostalgic monsters from the different Final Fantasy games, depending on what area you are in. However, while the dungeons themselves might not be very complex in you having to remember certain pathways and hidden walls for some extra loot. This game does give you the ability to continue run around before slaying the main beast to complete the quest, where by doing this…you can gather materia enough to level up your characters further (this being you are only going at it with no intention to put up some money on the counter), I will still say this is more than what you normally get out of these types of games.
The end result for this game is something that for me is neither nor fowl, but strangely something I still groan a little for when I see it being implemented in a social RPG game. In a sub-genre mostly known for its short and sweet experiences, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius often feels positively as if it’s plodding its paces deliberately. It’s dialogue-heavy (as most JRPGs are well known for), and the towns as well as the dungeons are just long enough in design that it can – as I wrote a little before – take a few minutes to navigate. Though design wise for the towns, you are still as old school RPG games have shown, inquired to learn the layout of the town and where every NPC is that can give you the quest.
If you are at a point where you just need to battle a few rounds, then you’ll be just fine playing this game, but in other situations, this isn’t the best choice for a “quick time-killer”. The game fares best when you have some time to sit down and devote to it what is required. Nevertheless, if looked at from that angle, the free-to-play hooks greatly detract from the experience given. Your sessions only lasts as long as your stamina meter and while it’s initially generous with how much is needed per quest, battle etc. You’ll eventually hit a point or something along of a wall, where you can’t do more than a few missions with a full meter prepared.
Almost all of the usual social RPG stuff is in Brave Exvius, of course. You have a stamina meter, limited inventory space, the ability to use your friend’s character in battle, a billion and one ingredients to collect for crafting and evolving, random gatcha draws, and a premium currency that is doled out frequently enough for a free-play gamer to get by, if not much more than that. Even with new ideas like dungeons and towns, the structure is mostly familiar. You’ll enter a new stage, fight a series of battles with a tougher boss-type battle at the end, then head to the next stage. Once you’ve cleared all the stages in an area, exploration mode opens up, which allows you to wander around, look for treasure, and get in as many fights as you like. The occasional town allows you pick up new gear and solve sub-quests. Outside of the story mode, there are limited-time stages that help you earn gil, experience, or crafting ingredients, and a colosseum. It’s all quite standard, and if you’ve played a social RPG before, you’ll feel pretty comfortable.
Realistically, however, most players are going to be here for the fanservice, and that aspect is done well. Most of the games in the series are represented in Brave Exvius, and the enemies are almost entirely drawn from franchise mainstays. As you play through the game, you’ll unlock familiar summons, and the music naturally contains the familiar riffs and melodies that have echoed through the franchise. Though I will give the warning that this game must be played with a headset or you will quickly hear that a phone speaker doesn’t like the way that the music has been coded into the game with its delivery in volume.
Your first set of pulls from the game’s premium gatcha draw will almost certainly include someone familiar (everybody remembers Cid right?…right?), and their stats and abilities are largely faithful to their original forms. Also, there’s white text on a blue dialogue bubble, which means this officially satisfies the requirements of the series creator of being a Final Fantasy game. If you just want your Final Fantasy fan-belly scratched, Brave Exvius will happily do that for you.
Score: 6 out of 10
Overall, this game is a great appreciation to Final Fantasy and its community. From the beginning to where I am now it has been a joy to play, from the main cast to the music as well as the mechanics. If not for the fact it’s still a mobile game and therefore there’s the infamous wait timer to boot for forging items or synthesize abilities it would be getting a higher score, but it’s not something that should deteriorate you from trying this game out. But it’s still a JRPG with the faults that social RPGs have to accommodate for both the business and pleasure side. However, if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy and JRPGs in general, you will likely enjoy this, but do give it some time to grow on you.