Become the Warrior of Light.
Square-Enix, video game publisher mogul and profiteer of mobile games, has taken quite a bit of flak in recent years. Multiple disappointing Final Fantasy releases (in the eyes of fans), the delaying of Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy VII splitting into three separate entities, and many other business decisions have cast the developer/publisher into a darkened corner. Of course, Square-Enix, of late, benefits from numerous positive releases, too. I am Setsuna was a beautiful digital RPG published by SE, Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV (the movie) released, and various free mobile Final Fantasy games also released on iOS and Android. Each release and announcement claims its own successes and failures, but one thing is for certain: Square-Enix appears to have remembered its fan base.
Mobius Final Fantasy is Square-Enix’s attempt at bringing a complete Final Fantasy experience to mobile devices – free of charge. Now, I know what you’re thinking: free of charge means multiple microtransactions, right? I would be lying if I said there weren’t many opportunities to send money Square-Enix’s way. The good news is that they aren’t necessary in the least, though I’ll touch on all of this later. The real question comes down to whether Mobius Final Fantasy succeeds as both a “full” Final Fantasy experience and as a free-to-play mobile game. Shall we?
The first thing that jumps out at the player when booting up Mobius is the truly impressive graphics from a mobile app. Yes, I can count a number of visually pleasing mobile games, but this one is consistently impressive with no frame rate issues or freezing/closing issues (I have been playing on my Sony Xperia Z4 tablet). Classic Final Fantasy music accompanies the stunning visuals, which adds a layer of success to an already positive startup.
All of this is well and good, but what is Mobius Final Fantasy? Mobius Final Fantasy tells the tale of your created character, who happens to, coincidentally, be named the Warrior of Light of prophecy. Pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, a million other wandering folk also claim the same name as you and seek to become the next Warrior of Light. These souls are known as Blanks. You, however, appear to be destined for something greater – so great, in fact, that an armored fellow named Garland takes a special interest in you. Soon after you begin your journey, you befriend Mog – a friendly Moogle and firm believer of the prophecy – who guides you on your exodus to Sarah, the key to this entire prophecy.
As you travel the world of Palamecia, you’ll encounter countless stages filled with rounds of enemies to overcome in order to progress the narrative. Before we discuss this, however, gameplay mechanics should be understood. To begin the game, you’re given three jobs to play as (you can switch freely before or after any battle). These three jobs are: Onion Knight, Rogue, and Mage. Each job can be advanced to a third stage, and multiple jobs are available to purchase with magicite or summon cards at your whim. To level up your classes, you must equip cards (obtained by slaying enemies or purchasing ability cards with ability tickets) and level those up by card fusion or completing battles.
Each card you equip to your job doubles as an ability. During combat, you select your enemy and tap the screen to physically attack. With each strike, you gain magic orbs that allow you to utilize your abilities. Each ability costs a select number of magic orbs (for example, Fire may cost four fire orbs). Enemies have a health bar and a ‘guard’ bar. The easiest route to dispatching enemies includes knocking out the guard bar by combining abilities with physical attacks, then exploiting your foe’s elemental weakness with a countering ability (so if the enemy resistant to wind, rock it with an earth attack). Every battle generally consists of two-to-five rounds, with each round ramping up in difficulty. Again, you’re rewarded experience per card post battle (as well as an overall character level), along with other spoils (like any obtained cards or elemental orbs).
In order to enhance and advance your jobs, you must obtain enough elemental orbs to unlock every job upgrade in the skill panel, then use a crystal to unlock the next tier. For example, once the Onion Knight job is fully unlocked, you can advance it to the Warrior job. With each job tier comes further upgrades to your job, as well as new weapons. This is an essential feature to the game, as the main storyline increases in difficulty at a fair but steep pace. At level 100, I found myself still having a difficult time cutting through the master levels in the arena of chapter two. On the whole, the job system works extremely well for this setup.
Now, each battle is engaged by moving your character to a new dot on your map. Each story chapter contains a large amount of locations to visit – some are necessary to advance the story while others allow you to find treasure chests and more encounters for more experience. With every engagement, you lose a set amount of stamina. Stamina is gained every two-and-a-half minutes (one per 2.5) or upon consumption of an elixir (completely refills the gauge). As you complete battles and level up your player level, you’ll be privy to larger stamina caps. For now, it appears easy to obtain elixirs, as I rocked over 20 in the first two chapters alone.
Should you find yourself in a bit of a pickle, you can shop at the game’s store. Every 18 hours, your magicite filter fills, and you’ll be able to gain 100 magicite. In order to summon a new job, say, you’ll need 3,000 magicite. Ability cards (3-star rarity) cost only a couple ability tickets, too. Gil is also required to fuse your cards (fusion is where you combine cards to level up a selected card and, potentially, gain a number of elemental orbs). Gil, too, can be purchased with magicite. This is where it gets tricky, however. If you’re impatient, you can purchase magicite with actual money, but the rates get pretty steep pretty quickly. A dollar won’t buy you much magicite; in fact, you won’t get much magicite until you’re unloading almost $75. I have yet to spend a dime on Mobius, though my progress through the game has been a slow one.
Now, I thoroughly enjoy my time with Mobius Final Fantasy. I’ve recently rescued an adorable puppy, so my console time has been limited since he’s not allowed in the basement (that I save as my cat’s last bastion). When I’m home with my wife and dog, Mobius Final Fantasy provides the perfect casual experience that still comes with a pretty solid story. There are many negatives to explore, though none of these are game breaking – for me.
The biggest issue I have with Mobius is its lack of enemy variety. You’ll see the same five enemies hundreds upon hundreds of times with only elemental resistances and weaknesses changing any given battle. Sure, the developers do a great job of adding events to the game that offer a variety of new enemies and cinematics (for example, right now you can battle an armada of PuPus, and the Adamantines finished up the week before). Still, if you choose to follow the narrative through its first few chapters, you’ll see that enemy variety is almost non-existent. Combat, too, can become boring; most of the weak enemies are killable in one-to-two physical attacks, and the larger creatures only require a few abilities combined with melee attacks to drop. The only thing that motivated me to continue was the story and the potential to unlock and advance new jobs.
In order to wind this review down, I’ll offer a recap. Mobius Final Fantasy is Square-Enix’s attempt at a full Final Fantasy mobile release. While the campaign certainly offers competitive hours of plot, the battle system and enemy variety can stale very quickly. Though learning the entirety of the game’s mechanics can also be a handful, the experience is worthwhile. To keep the game fresh, the developers insert time or special event quests for players to partake. With rankings resetting each week, players also have goals to strive towards (not that they particularly matter). Still, fooling around with abilities, upgrading and advancing jobs, and the aesthetically pleasing graphics/music make Mobius Final Fantasy worthy of a download. Remember, nothing is necessary to purchase unless you so desire, and for that, I appreciate the effort.