Well known for arriving with a demo for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, the catchy-named Final Fantasy Type-0 HD arrives on the PS4 having been a decent success on the PSP over in Japan. As someone who has dipped in and out of the Final Fantasy games over the past 20 years or so I only knew a little about Type-0, and going into it fairly blind the mechanics and styling took me a bit by surprise. But it’s a fun adventure, and if you can get round the obviously low-grade visuals and twitchy controls there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had.
You’ll find yourself in Orience, a world where four Crystal States are fighting between themselves to gain control. The action surrounds Class Zero, an elite unit based in Vermillion Peristylium (try spelling that after a couple of drinks) who set out do something about sorting the mess out. Action flicks between real-time fighting sequences and the calmer academy setting, and no matter where you find yourself there’s plenty to be doing or getting your head round. The academy itself lets you carry out some of the more standard day-to-day tasks such as trading your kit and upgrading your magic abilities, and the inclusion of an easily accessible world map lets you travel (by Chocobo, naturally) around the place to take part in random fights or bag yourself a new chocobo to tame. It’s certainly a nice way to explore and practise your battling skills.
The fights are unlike those seen in games like Final Fantasy 7, and instead of being turn based are far more action oriented. You have full freedom to run around, dodging attacks, casting your magic spells and generally being as much of a badass as you can without getting nailed yourself. Each character has their own way of fighting, and over the course of the game you’ll learn to use pretty much every character on offer, with each one having their own unique ways of dealing with specific enemies. There’s no avoiding the fact that the game clearly wants you to avoid sticking to the same person throughout, and learning the ropes with all of the folk on offer certainly gets rewarded by giving you a much bigger box of tricks up your sleeves. It’s far more tactical than is initially apparent too, as you’ll learn to bring other characters into the fight and use various methods to heal characters and super-charge your abilities. It’s slightly baffling initially, but as with all games that contain an element of complexity it soon becomes easier to get your head round. Even while learning the ropes you won’t be penalised for messing up – on the occasions when everything goes wrong and your entire cast are flat on their backs, your experience doesn’t get reset, instead letting you pick yourself up, figure out what to try next and go again. You might fail a few more times (this isn’t the easiest game in the world) but once you click all the pieces together and figure out the route to success it feels pretty good.
Presentation is the mixed bag you might expect with this being a remake of an older generation game. The styling itself is nice enough, but it’s very clear that this isn’t a PS4 game. It’s a well-used adage that visuals don’t make a game, and that’s certainly true with this, but it’s a stark reminder of just how much things have moved on, and when you give the FF XV demo a blast as well you’ll struggle to see Type-0 in quite the same way. But in a way that will surprise absolutely nobody, the music score which accompanies the action is fantastic, giving a mix of hauntingly sad melodies to intense action sequences which help to get the heart rate up as a battle plays out. You’ll have plenty to do to keep you going too, with this having a typically Final Fantasy campaign size of well over 30 or 40 hours, and you can probably add a similar amount again once everything is taken into account. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth.
All this said, there’s absolutely nothing new over and above the original (as you’d probably expect for a simple remake) so if you’ve already spent huge amounts of time on the original PSP version then be prepared that you’ll just be doing the same things again just on a bigger screen. But with this being mostly limited to a Japanese release the likelihood is that you won’t have had chance to try this out, and the English voice acting certainly makes it an accessible experience (although the original Japanese voice work is available with subtitles if you’d rather go for a more authentic feel). Overall though this is a very worthwhile release, and certainly something to keep fans of Final Fantasy busy while the development of FF XV ticks over into its 10th year. Remember it’s an HD remake of a PSP game, and remember that it plays differently to a lot of other Final Fantasy you’ll have played before, and you might just find yourself drawn into it.
Reviewed on PS4