The World of Final Fantasy demo packs JRPG flavors you thought were long gone

In the lead-up to the November 29 release of Final Fantasy XV, some of you may not consider buying a non-numbered Final Fantasy title so close to the launch of the presumably more mainline title.

The demo for World of Final Fantasy, however, may prove to be the more traditional Japanese role-playing game offering from Square Enix when you compare the two.

If you're going in blind, with little knowledge of the basic story of World of Final Fantasy, you'll at least be happy to know that you won't need to know much to enjoy the demo.

MEETING SQUALL. Reynn in her Jiant form and Lann in his Lilikin form, along with a mirage monster, talk to Squall Leonheart.

MEETING SQUALL. Reynn in her Jiant form and Lann in his Lilikin form, along with a mirage monster, talk to Squall Leonheart.

The simple premise

Light on story, the World of Final Fantasy demo has a simple premise: scale a mountain and fight boss at the end of the route.

Along the way, you'll encounter mirages, essentially cutesified versions of iconic Final Fantasy characters such as Squall Leonheart and Lightning, as well as creatures like the Ahriman, the Behemoth, and the Bomb.

SQUALL SPEAKS. Squall Leonheart doesn't have time to shoot the breeze.

SQUALL SPEAKS. Squall Leonheart doesn't have time to shoot the breeze.

You'll take part in random battles as you ascend the mountain and descend to your end destination, and along the way, you can capture and fight alongside the mirages you battled on your way.

Battling in stacks: A strategic endeavor

Battles are turn-based, with your team and the opposing team taking turns firing off attacks or disrupting enemy formations.

BATTLING. Reynn and Lann take on a pair of Behemoths

BATTLING.

Reynn and Lann take on a pair of Behemoths

Formations, in the sense of this demo, is a bit of a misnomer. Each main character can take two other mirages into battle, with the characters and their mirages stacked on top of one another, large characters at the bottom, medium-sized characters in the middle, and small characters stacked up top.

Part of the strategic allure of the game, as far as I can experience from 90 minutes of demo play, is coming up with effective 3-character stacks that can work well versus enemy stacks or against a big singular enemy.

The demo's battles can also be adjusted to the type of Final Fantasy game you remember playing. The type of turn-based gameplay – enemies can be set to wait for you to finish your turn before taking theirs – and the representation and style of the battle menus can be adjusted during the demo, which is a welcome addition to a free download.

THE ODDS ARE STACKED. You can stack a character and two mirages together for combined awesomeness.

THE ODDS ARE STACKED. You can stack a character and two mirages together for combined awesomeness.

While it looks pretty simple, Character training appears to allow for much more depth.

The demo allows for only a limited number of mirages to be picked up and kept in your adventuring stable at one time, but you can level all these mirages that are in your stable even if they aren't in battle.

When a mirage gains levels, it earns skill points it can use to learn new skills via a branching path system. New skills earned can confer bonuses to the mirage and the stack it is used with.

STRONGER CHOCOBOS. Make your Chocobo mirage stronger by giving it new skills and powers.

STRONGER CHOCOBOS. Make your Chocobo mirage stronger by giving it new skills and powers.

Some of the path choices will also confer new abilities or spell or ability-giving enhancements to your team. In other words, it may pay to collect a ton of mirages and level them up for maximum effectiveness. 

It may also be a grind in the future, but that may entirely depend on the player. The demo is geared to provide a pleasant survivable experience, but the final game may prove to be slightly more difficult. 

CROSS SLASH! Lann and the Fenrir mirage perform a Cross Slash attack.

CROSS SLASH! Lann and the Fenrir mirage perform a Cross Slash attack.

Final thoughts

The World of Final Fantasy demo is a fun hour-or-so-long romp that aims to give a small sampling of traditional Final Fantasy-styled gaming.

From the gameplay alone, I feel that many traditional Final Fantasy fans may do themselves a disservice by dismissing World of Final Fantasy outright. At the very least, I recommend you download the demo and play it to completion.

You may find yourself with a new game to dive into a month before Final Fantasy XV.

The demo is currently out on the PlayStation Store. World of Final Fantasy will release on October 25 for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. – Rappler.com

Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.

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