Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is a difficult game to recommend, partially because its existence is odd to begin with. The After Years is a direct sequel to Final Fantasy IV, an SNES classic that’s been ported more times than anyone can possibly count. There’s even been a mobile port of a Nintendo DS remake that utilizes 3D models in lieu of squat 16-bit sprites.
When The After Years was first released, it hit Japanese cell phones in episodic chunks. Then the game was ported to the Wii, also in episodic chunks. The game has come full-circle and is now on mobile again, but as a full package, and with the same 3D facelift Final Fantasy IV experienced on the Nintendo DS back in 2008.
Here’s the thing about The After Years. It was developed for big-time Final Fantasy fans aching for more adventures with Cecil, Rosa, Kain, Yang (who is awesome in his old age), and the heroes’ children. If you haven’t played the original Final Fantasy IV.The After Years’ story has nothing to offer you.
While that’s not a game-breaker, so to speak, The After Years’ gameplay is a pale shadow of the grand adventure offered by Final Fantasy IV. Enemies often outclass your party, making battles a bit of a slog. You can grind for levels, of course, but even Final Fantasy IV avoids making you grind too much by making sure your given party at any time is decently-balanced.
Random encounters are frequent, and the sprawling layout of caves and dungeons doesn’t help matters. The on-screen map lacks important details, like the locations of treasure chests. Unlike the 3D Final Fantasy IV remakes, you’re not offered any incentives to explore 100% of a floor. Moreover, bosses are usually just recolored enemy sprites. And just as you get settled into one character’s story scenario, you’re bumped into another (though everyone does reunite for the grand finale).
The After Years is a jarring experience overall. It’s also an expensive experience, as its normal asking price is $15.99 USD. It’s important to mention the game’s price in this instance because many of Square-Enix’s mobile games fall under the same pricing tier, but are better games overall. Final Fantasy IV and V are already available. Final Fantasy VI is coming soon. There’s also Chrono Trigger, and The World Ends With You.
All of the aforementioned games are worth the price of admission. The After Year isn’t. If you’re a hardcore Final Fantasy IV fan and you have some money to throw around, you might find The After Years is worth shelling out for it if lets you re-visit old friends. Otherwise, let Cecil’s legacy rest in peace.