June 22nd 2023.
Final Fantasy 16 is Square Enix's reimagining of its popular Final Fantasy formula as an action role-player inspired by Game of Thrones. Producer Naoki Yoshida described the game as not a JRPG, but its surface trappings of the mainline games are all present and correct. The major influences on the game's story and presentation are quite obvious, from the locations to the array of regional British accents, including some voice actors from Game of Thrones itself.
The art design is more grounded than usual for the series, and the combat is also completely different from the traditional turn-based action. Combat director Ryota Suzuki, who also worked on Devil May Cry, has designed a fast-paced battle system that requires players to be stylish and creative in their approach. The magic system revolves around Eikons, with each one representing a different elemental ability. Players can even transform into the Eikons themselves, making for some exciting boss fights.
Unfortunately, the other elements of the game are far less interesting. The side quests feel like something out of a bad PlayStation 2 game and the storytelling is convoluted and overly grimdark. The character work is also quite weak, with protagonist Clive being a reasonably likeable character, but not nearly enough to balance the books.
Final Fantasy 16 would have been infinitely better if it was half the length and had a much more streamlined story. The combat is excellent, but it's shackled to a dispiritingly dull and long-winded fantasy adventure that takes an inordinate amount of time to say nothing of value. Our biggest takeaway is that we wish Ryota Suzuki would be given his own title, one that didn't have the unwanted baggage of trying to be three different games at once.
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