Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
There’s no denying that Final Fantasy All the Bravest received a rather unfriendly reception on the App Store. There’s also no denying that people are going to be inclined to think of Final Fantasy Record Keeper as more of the same.
I’d urge you not to write it off so quickly, though. While it’s not an all-star tour de force like, say, Dissidia, it’s still a decent stroll down Memory Lane.
There’s some mumbo jumbo about paintings of the various Final Fantasy universes being guarded in one location, and said paintings are being corrupted while some sinister influence is spreading across the land. The two might be (read: totally are) related. Really it’s just a tenuous excuse to let players romp through 16-bit recreations of classic Final Fantasy moments throughout the series. And I’m okay with this.
Right from the start, you’re tossed into the beginning moments of Final Fantasy VII as Avalanche attacks Shinra’s Mako reactor. Many recognizable enemies are there, along with a 2D rendition of the boss, but you’ll be using your own rag-tag team of heroes rather than the group you might expect. And then you fight wave after wave of enemies until you finish off the boss or fall in battle - whichever comes first.
This is pretty much the tone for the entire game, with you fighting almost ceaselessly while acquiring new heroes and gear as you complete dungeon challenges and unlock new story bits. If you manage to bring a character along who belongs to the specific title you’re playing (i.e. Cloud helping with a Final Fantasy VII dungeon), they’ll get a pretty decent stat boost and will earn experience faster. Equipment is also tied to specific games in the series and will get their own boosts when used in the appropriate universe.
It’s quaint to be able to use 16-bit renditions of more modern characters, and it’s cool to throw together an all-star team, but the music is the real reason I keep coming back. The iconic battle and boss battle tunes for each game represented in Record Keeper are present and accounted for - it was extremely tough not to crack a smile once I finally unlocked the door to Final Fantasy VI, fought through the first dungeon, and heard The Decisive Battle again.
That said, Record Keeper is still very much a freemium game. If you fall in battle you’ll fail the dungeon and lose anything you’ve acquired from that particular floor. You do get to keep the stuff you’ve earned from other floors of the dungeon, but you’ll have to start from square one and fight your way back - which of course takes stamina, which is in limited supply. Premium currency (Mythril, naturally) can be spent between floors to heal everybody for a surprisingly reasonable amount, but it’s really only the final floor (the one with the boss) that can be a problem.
The Ability/Equipment creation/fusion/upgrade system is also a bit of a drag as the amount of money you earn is never quite enough to regularly stay on top of things. So you either need to grind a lot or reach for your wallet if you want better spells and weapons. But grinding uses up a lot of stamina, of course.
Final Fantasy Record Keeper’s freemium trappings don’t ruin the fun, but they do force you to pace yourself. Given how much of a blatant nostalgia trip it’s supposed to be that may rub some players the wrong way, but I’ve been having fun with it in small doses.