Developer: Square Enix
Price: $15.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad Air

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½ 
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

I have been a huge Final Fantasy fan since I first discovered Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation. So naturally when I heard about the release of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years I was quite excited, to say the least.

The game itself has had a remarkable 3D facelift for iOS devices; its 16-bit art style has been replaced with updated visuals strikingly reminiscent of DS remake of Final Fantasy IV. The user interface is also designed sufficiently and the control system on the iPad is smooth and painless to handle. However, first impressions are not everything here, and strangely Final Fantasy IV: The After Years delights and disappoints all at once.

IMG_0486Broken into a selection of four different stories, each part specifically focuses on a particular character or group, which players can pick their way through as they wish following the game’s initial story starring Prince Ceodore. This format is unlike anything I’ve played before, but the majority of the gameplay is unchanged and fans of the series will recognize the similarities are not a far cry from any of the seven prominent Final Fantasy titles.

As promising as this all sounds, the story itself is somewhat lackluster, and the first hour or so is especially dull. Supposedly set a dozen or so years proceeding the events of FFIV, almost all of the characters involved are unrecognizable – and furthermore, hardly any of them really stand out or offer anything interesting to the mix in terms of personality. The writing itself is largely inferior in comparison to the majority of the series, and feels somewhat underdeveloped.

IMG_0488The game’s structure feels quite detrimental to the story, and this is largely due to the fact that players can walk through the last three episodes in their preferred order. In turn though, it leaves a lot to be desired where the overall story is concerned.

Sadly, the disappointments fail to stop there. Each episode entails an excessive amount of grinding, and unfortunately this compromises the storyline more than it should. One specific new feature, called Band Abilities, attempts to add something a little different to the game during battle but falls flat. To also factor in the overwhelming emphasis on revisiting previous locations can be highly frustrating, and the overall package results in a subpar Final Fantasy.

That said, although there’s not much new here for diehard fans of the series to experience, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is still worth a playthrough. If only for the nostalgia factor.

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