That Final Fantasy Dimensions exists at all is something of a miracle. That we have a somewhat original (it is based on a game that came out for other mobile devices last year), ‘old-school’ Final Fantasy game coming out in this day and age is a pretty special thing. And the fact that it’s a pretty amazing game to boot is just icing on the cake. Square Enix has given Final Fantasy fans a love letter to the games of yesteryear that built the foundation of our love for the games we enjoy now. What’s old is new again.
Dimensions is a huge game, with a story that is the very definition of epic. It’s told over the course of four massive chapters and takes place in a world that has been torn asunder by magical forces into separate dimensions of light and dark. You control a large cast of characters over two separate yet intertwining storylines in an attempt to right the wrongs that have been done to the world.
The land between top-down and side-scrolling.
The game has you traverse through war torn villages, castles that reach up to the sky, twisty turny dungeons, chocobo pastures, flying airships, and mazes that can drive you mad. The plot is deep and involving and has twists at every turn. It will draw you into a world that’s somewhat familiar (old names and places from former Final Fantasy games show up) but is different enough to make you feel like you’re discovering something wonderful and new with every step you take.
At the heart of Dimensions are the characters. Most have their own motivations for doing what they’re doing and you’ll have a blast uncovering their stories. Delving into the characters is almost as much fun as exploring the deepest dungeons in the game. Adding to that complexity is the fact that you actually control two totally different sets of people: one group on the ‘light’ side of the world and one on the ‘dark.’ Their quests parallel each other as they both try and figure out why the world has been so terribly maligned. Over the course of the game you’ll also pick up other characters who will join your parties and help to advance the story in key areas. Almost every party member has a secret, some motivation for why they’re there, and uncovering those is one of the greatest joys in the game.
Triplets and their snake sister.
Prominently featured in the game is the ‘jobs’ system, which is something that Square has been playing with and refining since all the way back to Final Fantasy III. Your characters initially start out as blank slates, with no real defining characteristic to their fighting styles. Eventually you’ll unlock the job system, which allows you to customize them however you like. They range from the typical ones like white mages and warriors, to the slightly more esoteric like monks, thieves, and dragoons, who are powerful spellcasters with dragon-like abilities. Each job has different abilities, skill sets, armor and weapon limitations and favor some stats over others. You can switch a character’s job whenever you like, so if a thief isn’t working out for you then maybe the powerful fists of a monk can do the trick. You do have to be careful though, because you only have a limited number of ‘job points’ to spend on changes.
The game has two glaring problems, which may give some people pause. First, the game mechanics aren’t really explained all that well. There is an in-game help guide, but it’s marginally useful at best and would be downright cryptic for people who aren’t already schooled in Final Fantasy tropes. It seems like the game was designed for those who already know what’s going on. Weapon and armor stats are barely explained, and harmful effects (like poison or silence) done to your characters are only indicated by tiny icons which give no indication as to what they mean. The battle system could also be totally alienating to newbies who aren’t used to it.
Wait till he bites.
The second problem is the controls, which range from merely passable to downright awful. The best option is the ‘default’ which creates a virtual D-pad wherever you put your fingers. It works fine, but sometimes the game gets confused and doesn’t know if you’re trying to move your character or create a new anchor point for the controls, and this can end up causing a lot of irritating mistakes. There is ‘fixed’ D-pad option, which is OK, but is useless if you’re playing the game on an iPad, since its position is too high up on the screen. The less said about the ‘sliding’ option the better. Lets just say it’s pretty terrible.
We can’t tell you if the game is worth the hefty price tag or not. You have to make that decision for yourself. What we can say is that we played the game for 20 hours, and there’s still a lot of game left to be played. A whole lot. Square Enix has made a truly masterful game here. The story is huge, the characters enjoyable and fun to play, and other than the iffy controls, the game works fantastically well on the touchscreen. The menus in particular are elegantly designed. The music and graphics are even great in creating a world that reminds us that the old and new can coexist, and do so with aplomb.