Final Fantasy 16 Review: Like A Phoenix From The Ashes

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Final Fantasy 16 is a promising continuation of the beloved series. It’s a different type of Final Fantasy that we’re used to, which breaks the strict RPG customs of all previous entries, focusing more on combat, yet still nailing a compelling and clearly darker narrative.

It’s hands down the best PS5 exclusive out now, and the first one that will make you feel left out if you don’t own the console. 

The bottom line is that Final Fantasy 16 is a darn good game, worth its weight in gold, and for RPG fanatics, it won’t get any better, so I highly recommend playing the game. However, it does have its shortcomings which I’ll sprinkle throughout this review.

Watch our review of FF 16 on Youtube.

Fires of War

final fantasy 16 clive

The narrative of Final Fantasy 16 is mature. It presents to you a cynical reality filled with violence and lots of it. It’s uncharted territory for the series, but it holds up well.

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Clive Rosfield is a Prince of Rosaria who’s haunted by a past etched in flames. We embody Clive throughout the game, first in his teens, then twenties, and finally, his thirties. The premise of the story is that Clive is the Dominant of the Fire Eikon Ifrit, and first, he makes amends with his nature and then helms the struggle for freedom of the Branded, fighting other nations and Dominants in the process.

The story keeps evolving over the course of the game, becoming much darker. The NPCs and the voice acting is on-point, and they are just as well-crafted as Clive. 

You’ll genuinely love the story of this Final Fantasy 16. It’s gritty, never loses its tempo, and is backed by a supporting cast that delivers a convincing performance.

However, one thing which greatly breaks the immersion is that there is a huge time skip in the latter part of the game, and when we see the characters again, they’re wearing the exact same clothes.

Have you ever gone years without changing your shirt?

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final fantasy 16 clive

An Eikonic Adventure

is final fantasy 16 ps5 exclusive

The plot expands little by little, and the new Active Time Lore feature helps you refresh your memory and understand everything happening on-screen at any point, so kudos to Creative Business Unit III for this remarkable new addition.

Nods to previous Final Fantasy games are also there just so you know.

The highlight of the main story remains its gameplay, the giant boss battles between Eikons, and the built-up to those moments. Clive transforming into Ifrit and fighting the mountain-sized Titan Lost is the biggest brawl I’ve seen since Kratos versus Cronos in God of War, and far more enjoyable. 

If it isn’t clear already, Final Fantasy 16 has a colossal scale that keeps getting bigger and bigger.

final fantasy 16 release date

Unlike Final Fantasy 15, FF16 is semi-open world, but still packs decently-sized areas. Side-quests generally suck, following the same genre tropes of go here, do this, do that. 

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The account of Valisthea’s history is there for those who are interested. You might have seen other reviews claiming it’s too Game of Thrones inspired, but that’s an overstatement in my eyes.

Valisthea does bear a striking resemblance to Westeros, and the plot does follow similar themes, but having watched Game of Thrones won’t make FF16 feel like a remake.

The only negative here I’d say is that encounters follow a weird pattern. You have two hours of cutscenes, then two hours of dungeon crawling before you finally reach the crème de la crème, the epic boss battles.

The pattern repeats itself throughout the game, and while it does get stale, Final Fantasy 16 does a good job of luring you in with promises of adrenaline-spiking scenarios.

Final Fantasy 16 will take you about 40 hours to beat, and it’s a hell of a ride, albeit a bumpy one.

It’s A Gorgeous, Bumpy Ride

final fantasy 16

Death and blood may be the currencies of Valisthea, but it’s as gorgeous as it gets. There are loads of unique terrains, the world presentation is brilliant, and I couldn’t ask for more. 

Beauty aside, the many connected areas altogether aren’t anything special. Towns are small and serve no purpose other than being milestones in the grander scale of things. That’s immensely disappointing as RPGs, let’s say, Skyrim, a game made over 12 years ago, has a far richer world.

The visuals are spectacular, the performance, on the other hand, makes Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s launch on PC look polished.

final fantasy 16 collector's edition

The performance is nowhere near perfect. I never play in Graphics mode, but Final Fantasy 16 made me reconsider my decision quite often. Frame Rate mode promises 60fps at upscaled 1440p, however, more than half the time there are brutal frame drops into the 40s. It’s really bad. The forced motion blur doesn’t do FF16 any favors either.

On the bright side, load times are near instantaneous. You’ll never be out of the game for more than five seconds, but that’s still five seconds more than what no loading screens mean. That said, by the time Final Fantasy 17 comes out on the PlayStation 6, loading screens will indeed be a thing of the past.

Final Fantasy 16

Game Name: Final Fantasy 16

Available on: Playstation 5

Developers: SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD., Creative Business Unit III, Square Enix

Release Date: 22 June 2023

Buy Now

Hitting The Right Notes Again And Again

Final Fantasy 16 has the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a game this year. The combat theme is snappy and fits the sword slashing very well, and when things go Eikon mode, the music does too. It makes cinematic storytelling all the more compelling, and the audio direction is the best I’ve heard since Death Stranding. That’s another category FF16 will snag an award in at the end of this year. 

Pull My Devil Trigger

final fantasy 16 characters

And now let’s move on to the meat of Final Fantasy 16, the combat system. To put it bluntly, it rocks. It’s very Devil May Cry-ish, which is in order as it’s built by Devil May Cry 5’s combat designer. It’s a mix of Devil May Cry 5 with hints of God of War, yet more forgiving than either in difficulty.

Dodge, shoot magic projectiles and use dozens of Clive’s superpower abilities. Clive might be Dante’s secret little brother as he has also got a Devil Trigger equivalent called Semi-priming in which he channels Ifrit’s powers in his human form.

The magical abilities Clive has make melee combat more explosive, and there’s an insane degree of violence and gore happening on-screen because of FF16′s gritty tone.

Each boss battle between Eikons is distinct, and you’ll feel euphoric throughout their duration. Enemy variety is generous, and they have large health pools allowing you to freely test out your newfound skills — which will happen frequently.

final fantasy 16 gameplay

Final Fantasy 16’s core gameplay loop is action incarnate. It has its complexities, but you’ll have just as much fun executing the most basic of attacks.

Gameplay is top-notch, and there’s no doubt about it. However, the RPG elements? Highly dated. 

Quest designs are unappealing, the reward system screen, although necessary to serve as a transition between cinematics, is a pain, and Clive’s weaponry and accessories are just there for show. The developers seriously wanted to make this an action game, but that would’ve strayed too much, so they threw a couple of RPG cliche placeholders into the pot.

An unnecessary crafting system, merchants where you will literally upgrade the same weapon over and over again, and an utterly useless screen of Clive’s stats which you’ll never pay attention to are the worst hallmarks of Final Fantasy 16.

It would’ve been way better if the developers had just made some stuff up and given Clive an “ever-evolving” weapon that grew with him as he gained more powers.

A Game For The Ages

Final Fantasy 16 redefines what action-RPGs can accomplish if they don’t limit themselves by the genre tropes that are so hard encoded into studios. It sets the bar high for what gameplay in RPG games can achieve, but it focuses on that so much that it forgets it had to prove itself in both.

This is a bold departure from the Final Fantasy we know. Square Enix took a big gamble in doing so, however, despite its flaws, Final Fantasy 16 is a sensational successor to a classic franchise adored by millions.

It’s a strong contender for Game of the Year, going head-to-head with Tears of the Kingdom and Hogwarts: Legacy

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Alan Wake 2, and Starfield are yet to take the stage. That said, whichever game ends up winning Game of the Year, Final Fantasy 16 is going to be remembered as a tale for the ages.

9

FinalBoss Verdict: Final Fantasy 16

At its core, Final Fantasy 16 is a glorified amalgam of the best action-RPG games of the past decade. It’s a stunning work of art which thanks to its enthralling narrative, phenomenal orchestra, stupefying boss fights, and amazeballs combat, shines amongst its lineage as a worthy, yet different addition.

Final Fantasy 16 is an Eikonic adventure, and while it has severely lackluster RPG elements, it’s still the best mainline Final Fantasy game we’ve had in a long, long time.

Final Fantasy 16

Game Name: Final Fantasy 16

Available on: Playstation 5

Developers: SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD., Creative Business Unit III, Square Enix

Release Date: 22 June 2023

Buy Now
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Tayyab
Tayyab
Tayyab's an anime & gaming enthusiast, and since he can't make them (yet), he loves to write about why he finds them amazing. Also, he's a huge Hideo Kojima fan, and everything else that's Japanese for that matter.

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