All the warriors unite.
Every once-in-a-while, I find myself totally bored with just about everything. During those loathsome times, I pick up my trusty Xperia tablet and thumb through the Google Play store until something catches my fancy. My first stop is always the Square-Enix store page, where even Final Fantasy IX lurks to be purchased and played. Before that was an option, however, I discovered a little title known as Final Fantasy Record Keeper, a free mobile app that appeared to have some potential – and I also recognized that I didn’t want to spend $15.99 on Final Fantasy V.
So what is Record Keeper? Apparently, the Moogles have kept records of all the most significant pieces of history in each of the Final Fantasy games. When disaster strikes, Tyro, an apprentice to the Moogles (but not a Moogle himself), must venture into the records and clear the dungeons to restore them. On your journeys, you meet up with plenty of familiar faces, as many or most of the main characters from each Final Fantasy become available to fight alongside in their little sprite bodies.
Record Keeper is split into two modes at this point in its life. There is the Realms (Dungeon) mode – the main story mode – and the Event (Dungeon) mode, where, for certain periods of time, you can venture into key moments from other Final Fantasy titles to recruit rare characters. Combat is extremely simple. Characters line up like FF games of old (very reminiscent of the PSP versions of Final Fantasy). You can choose between attack, defend, magic, or soul break (a variant of limit breaks). As you progress, you can choose a random character from another user and utilize that soul break, as well (though only twice per dungeon).
Outside of dungeons, you are given the option to upgrade your heroes (only by leveling), hone your magic, or upgrade your weapons/armor. This is done by either feeding your characters growth eggs, using orbs that enemies drops for magic, or using scarlitite or adamantite to upgrade your weapons and armor respectively. Gear and magic are given star ratings – the more stars, the better the gear. Named gear from the other Final Fantasy games generally begin at a five-star rating and significant power boost over the standard one-star items (like a bronze sword).
It’s no simple task to obtain these rare weapons, however. Players will either need to draw relics with Mythril, an item usually dropped for completing a dungeon for the first time or purchased via micro-transactions. You use Mythril to randomly draw a relic (with a rarity of 3-5 stars) and hope you can obtain that rare weapon. The main reason to wish for a rare relic weapon is that each one is imbued with a new soul break, often a limit break from the character it came from.
And that’s pretty much Record Keeper. In order to keep the game value continuous, elite dungeons become available upon completion of its regular counterpart. So, if you clear the first dungeon from Final Fantasy VII, that same first dungeon becomes available to clear in elite mode. This is all well and good, but the gameplay quickly becomes stale. I played this very casually for a few months upon inception, but like most free apps, I tired rather quickly. Since I had already committed a decent amount of time to the game, I continued to auto-battle my way through dungeons, so I could do other things while it ran. Basically, for the last few months of playing, I didn’t actually play anything.
But if there’s one positive aspect of Record Keeper, it’s that during the dungeons, the game plays songs from that specific Final Fantasy soundtrack. This instills the game with a bit of nostalgia, but the lack of song variation kills that far too quickly.
Final Fantasy Record Keeper is a momentarily fun free app that requires little attention to advance through the game. The difficulty spikes once you progress far enough, but it’s never enough to really draw your attention. While the timed events rotate often, it’s still the same, stale game that you’ve been playing for however long. Even the quest for rare weapons and armor is dulled by rarely obtaining it through Mythril, and there’s no way I would ever pay for a randomized chance (I did pay .99 cents for one draw, netting me the same crappy three-star weapon I had already received three times prior). The experience itself is not bad, but it is a paltry serving that feels more like a shameless money grab than anything else.