The Final Fantasy franchise has come a long way from its humble beginnings on the NES, but one beloved title did not make it to the West, until now. Final Fantasy Type-0 on PSP, released in 2011, was never officially available in English until the HD remaster. Final Fantasy Type-0 (henceforth Type-0) is a very unique FF game. It has elements from the classic games that every fan will immediately notice, like Moogles, plus many things the franchise hasn’t seen before.
Type-0 is part of Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy that includes the FFXIII trilogy, and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. It is also the first M-rated FF game, with its dramatic themes and plentiful use of death and blood. You can tell right from the opening cutscene that things are different here. Type-0 tells the tale of 14 members of Class Zero, an elite combat force, in the world of Orience. Each character has a unique combat style and personality, with the cadets named after the various cards in a pack (ace, queen, king, seven, etc).
Type-0 has one of the best battle systems I have seen in a Final Fantasy game. You get to switch between all 14 characters in the midst of battle, and everything here is real time. Gone are the timers and turn-based systems. Crisis Core’s battle system is quite similar. Some missions will forcibly split your group up or enemies will one-shot-kill your leader, so get used to learning the different combat styles and levelling up everyone. Sacrificing your leader for a mission allows you to summon the elemental machines known as Eidolon. If summons aren’t your thing, you can use a triad manoeuvre and combine three abilities into one special attack. Earn AP and EXP in battle to level up and learn new abilities. Harvest Phantoma from fallen enemies to upgrade your magic.
This is a remaster of a handheld game, and the structure is evident. Even the menu design from the PSP version of the game has been retained and I’m quite disappointed by that. Type-0 doesn’t even make full use of the Dualshock 4 controller. L2 and R2 are basically mirrors for the analog stick in some combat mechanics. The only real improvement is with the right analog stick for better camera control. The silver lining here is that the game controls brilliantly via remote play on PS Vita.
The game is divided into chapters and each chapter into missions. You get to spend time between missions as indicated on the bottom right and the time mechanic ensures you don’t waste too much time in side quests or grinding. NPCs with a ‘!’ over their heads will use up two hours of your time if you decide to talk to them while leaving Akademia. The good thing about the mission structure is that each chapter is unique. Sure, you’re killing enemies to pass through areas, but after the first few average chapters, the game starts to shine. Chapters 5 and 6 are the highlight of the game for me, thanks to their visuals and unique boss fights.
You get access to the world map early on in the game and this is one of the places the visuals really let the game down. PS1 Final Fantasy games had better world map visuals. The world map lets you go across the Rubrum region to other regions and there will be random encounters. There are also large enemies visible on the map akin to FOEs in dungeon crawlers that will destroy you. They are level 99 creatures. You can, however, use Chocobos to cross regions, and Type-0 lets you breed various kinds of Chocobos in the stable.
The biggest let down, however, is the visuals. I know this is a remaster of a PSP game, but come on, Some textures look so bad I wasn’t sure if I was playing Type-0 HD or Black Ops Declassified on Vita. The problems are not just limited to the textures. Just like in the FFX HD Remaster, the main cast has been animated well, but NPCs look like they are on the wrong console. Faces are flat, attire looks plain ugly, and there’s no lip sync at all. Some of the pre-rendered cutscenes look fine, while the in-engine ones are awful. The game may run at a high resolution, but it is visually painful in a lot of places. The motion blur added to the camera makes things worse. I wish Square Enix put some more effort into remasters of their flagship franchise. Little things like changing the light bar colour on the Dualshock 4 controller to red or gold to match the theme would have been a nice touch.
The music in Type-0 feels like a breath of fresh air, with grand, atmospheric orchestral pieces by composer Takeharu Ishimoto (The World Ends With You) and a catchy main theme, Zero, by Bump of Chicken. The English voice acting, on the other hand, is a disappointment. It lacks emotion and feels like a script being read out. I switched to the Japanese voice over after about six hours and didn’t look back.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is not the perfect game. It is, however, the most unique single-player Final Fantasy game available today. The inconsistencies in visuals and lazy remastered content pull it down from being an easy recommendation for everyone. Type-0 reveals more of the plot on a second play-through and you’re encouraged to play it more than once. My first play-through took around 38 hours and I’m already a few hours into my second. Don’t buy and play this for the HD visuals or for a demo. Do it for the amazing combat, unique boss fights and story. It is one hell of a memorable experience.