Freeplay Express: Final Fantasy Record Keeper
The Final Fantasy universe is…expansive. There are few gaming franchises that can dip into their own history as an inspiration and basis for an entirely new game based on past games, characters, and events. Square-Enix did just that when they created Final Fantasy Record Keeper for iOS/Android.
For a free mobile game, Final Fantasy Record Keeper is surprisingly deep. It’s still a mobile game that isn’t meant to be played for hours on end, but in the 20 minute chunks of time you do experience it you’ll see just how much fun you can have and how addicting it can be.
As for the “free” portion, there are certainly opportunities for you to use real money to buy Mythril and/or coins to up your arsenal of weapons, spells, and armor. However, after playing for well over 15 hours in total, I can confidently say that at no point did I feel pressured to drop a dime of real money into the game. I may have been tempted to do so (especially when I really wanted that Buster Sword…), but I wasn’t bombarded with ads saying something like “Special Sale on Mythril! 50% off when you send $20 or more!”
The premise of the game is complicated at first, but becomes simpler the more you play. You’re in charge of making sure the memories/records of past Final Fantasy games and events are kept intact. However, something has attacked the library and many of the events are out of whack. You, along with the help of many main characters from previous Final Fantasy titles, will enter these events and battle baddies to restore the memories/records back to normal.
And this is where the nostalgia factor of Final Fantasy Record Keeper hits the stratosphere. When I started playing, the only past games previously available were IV, V, VI, VII, and X. However, this was plenty to start with because you’re able to fight alongside characters like Tidus, Wakka, Celes, and even Cloud.
However, one is not simply given these awesome characters at the start. No, you have to earn them by completing certain events within that game. Still, gamers are able to obtain Cloud early in the game by playing the Final Fantasy VII records, which is not only great for nostalgia, but also because he’s one of the best fighters in the game.
As time goes on, Square-Enix has added more titles into the mix as well as new characters, records, and events. Events are where gamers can earn some serious bonuses. Whereas records advance gameplay and the story within that specific game, events are either timed or only on specific days, and they offer things as simple as more gil or elemental orbs to upgrade equipment, to brand new characters like Aerith and Sephiroth! The events can be quite challenging, but the grind is usually well worth the payout.
While the nostalgia of Final Fantasy Record Keeper is reason enough to download (did I mention that the music in the game is wonderful and also uses original OSTs from each game?), the game isn’t without its faults. Three big issues keep the game from being near perfect. For one, progressing through the game requires Stamina which wears down the more events or records you enter. Early on your Stamina refills enough to fight multiple times in a sitting. However, as you reach tougher realms and events, more Stamina is required, which can cause you to have to stop and wait hours for Stamina to refill before advancing.
Another issue is that weapons, armor, and spells require large amounts of gil and upgrade materials to level up. Weapons do not level up based on experience, but rather by honing them with different elements, which all costs gil. If you reach the cap for equipment levelling up, you then have to combine it with the exact same weapon or armor to give it more room to grow. Sadly, this causes obvious issues with rare equipment, and it was the cause of much frustration when I reached the cap on a weapon. You can help alleviate this issue and the previous one by spending real money on Mythril to refill Stamina or in the hopes that you’ll get a rare weapon during a relic draw, but I’m not the kind of person to do that.
Lastly, the game has some balance issues. There were certain times where I’m blowing through realms with ease, only to get destroyed by a final boss. It just gives the game a feeling of cheapness. I’m okay with a game being difficult from the beginning (Earthbound) or gradually ramping up difficulty (most well-balanced RPGs), but to keep it chill then spring a hard-as-nails boss or level isn’t fair to gamers who’ve put in some hard grinding time. This happens infrequently, but when it does it can stall the game quite a bit.
There’s even more depth to this game than I’m mentioning here (Elite Dungeons, more games and characters, summoning), but I think it’s best for fans of the series to experience this game for themselves. The flaws might turn gamers off if they don’t have an emotional connection to many of the games and characters like I do, but if you’ve ever played a Final Fantasy game you owe it to yourself to download Final Fantasy Record Keeper.
[Images via Square-Enix]