Review: How anime helped ‘Final Fantasy XVI’ get the franchise’s groove back

Clive Rosfield and Jill Warrick as children

At one point in its history, “Final Fantasy” was the pinnacle of video game storytelling and graphics. Each title pushed the limits of the hardware and delivered a satisfying tale full of epic adventure, heartbreaking moments and stunning surprises.

Square Enix lost its mojo around the PlayStation 3 era. That’s when the hardware managed to push out visuals that could handle developers’ imagination. Suddenly, it took much more to impress players than fancy computer graphic sequences or the summoning of the Knights of the Round.

What worked in previous generations seemed dated, and it didn’t help that the combat system was going through an identity crisis. Again as technology advanced, the developers veered away from turn-based combat and sought a battle system that meshed with the epic confrontations they wanted to bring to life.

After several entries that felt like shallow missteps, Square Enix’s Creative Business Unit III finally found a formula that feels just right. “Final Fantasy XVI” is an interpretation of the role-playing game that feels right for the moment. The latest entry comes off more as throwback as it returns to the high fantasy setting of the past, but this chapter is more mature.

At first, it seems that “Final Fantasy XVI” was aping “Game of Thrones” with its focus on different nations, politics and adult situations. The campaign throws players into a world where enormous crystals the size of mountains are worshipped without much explanation about the countries or the powerful beings called Dominants, who are people blessed with the power to call godlike entities called Eikons. Each Eikon is associated with an element.

“Final Fantasy XVI” follows the exploits of Clive Rosfield from his charmed early childhood to the darker days after the fall of his country. (Square Enix) 

Although it may seem like the HBO series at first, “Final Fantasy XVI” is more influenced by anime. That’s evident in the addictive storytelling that follows Clive Rosfield, the eldest son of the archduke of Rosaria. He was apparently born without any powers while his younger brother Joshua inherited the Phoenix, the Eikon of Fire. Clive becomes the First Shield, or protector of his Dominant sibling.

The two along with Jill Warrick, a ward from the Northern Territories, were close friends until an ambush from the Holy Empire of Sanbreque led to the downfall of Rosaria. Joshua died, Jill was captured and Clive was sold into slavery. Everything changes with an unexpected reunion and a mysterious man named Cid Telamon aiding Clive. It begins a journey that upends the world order and leads to the confrontation of an even darker foe.

“Final Fantasy XVI” is separated into 68 chapters that take players through Clive’s life. Like any good anime protagonist, he has a hidden power and players have to extract it from him as he discovers how his fate is linked to the grander drama.

The combat in “Final Fantasy XVI” is comparable to “Devil May Cry” but what makes it special is how Square …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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