Orience is under attack. The land, that once consisted of 4 different Crystal States, is being attacked by one of them, the military technophile Militesi Empire. When de Militesi cross their neighbours and go to magic-using Rubrum, there is only one team that can fight those soldiers and stop the end of the world: the legendary Class Zero. Of course AVO took a look at these red hooded superheroes’.
Death, perdition, hope
While we’re all waiting for Final Fantasy XV, the HD remaster of the, once only released in Japan, PSP game gives us the chance to relive the epic story of the Fabula Nova Cristallis series. In Type-0 HD the focus lies with the pain that comes with death. Blood is not being avoided and the fact that the dead in the world of Orience are being forgotten, makes it clear that morality in Orience goes deeper than we are.
The (super long) intro gets you right into the right mood. When a young man with his chocobo searches for his friend from Class Zero during the attack on Rubrum by the Militesi, a few of his fellow students are being murdered in cold blood right in front of his eyes. The young man manages to escape, but that freedom is short-lived. It’s Class Zero’s Ace who spots him in the streets bleeding to death. It’s too late for this young man and when he has drawn his last breath, there is no one left in the world who will remember his existence…
Despite these grim parts of the story, there are also lighter parts. With a story that changes from life as a student to conducting military tasks, you get a lot of possibilities to talk to fellow students, professors and other characters. The conversations coming from these, are from a bit strange to seriously weird. The conversations between Class Zero members are also comical most of the time. The tragic romance between Machina and Rem, two teenagers who join Class Zero a little later, do take up most of the story, making you wonder if the other members of the group even have a story.
Surprises around every corner
If Type-0 HD does one thing perfectly, then it is introducing new gameplay aspects. Once you get deeper into the story and the mission, you get more options and freedom, making sure your head doesn’t overflow from the start with all the different details you have to remember.
The game starts of big. After the into-story you and your team are being dropped in straight into battle, here you learn the basics of fighting. Also the extraction of Phantoma, the heart and being of creatures, to keep your own magic running is being explained straight away. The first mission leads you through corridors, doors, crystal terminals, elevators and many enemies. After a boss-fight, which also counts as an Eidolon-summon-tutorial, you finally get the chance to rescue the capitol and the Akademeia school from the white tigers. On the first look, it seems like you got to know most of the game-elements after the introduction mission. You know the controls, know how to release your magic on someone and the quick combat is your new favourite thing. Now that the peace has returned to Akademeia and you are your team become their new students, you believe that life in Type-0 will consist of similar missions with short breaks in between to get to know the students and the world.
But it’s not as it seems. As the presence of an Chocobo-ranch suggests, there is a whole world to explore outside the borders of Akademeia. The first mission you get, is one that makes you able to explore a part of the overworld through helping the Rubrum troops and to eliminate all the Milites influences from this area. Every new part of the map consists of new secrets to explore. You learn about Rubrum in overworld battles, in finding tasks in free domains and in recognizing treasure caves protected by various monster’s form fun surprises for the player. The second region, Togoreth, introduces you to catching Chocobo and in dodging the very powerful and lethal overworld monsters. The game does it best to introduce new things with each new mission, making you excited to start them.
Like all the surprises suggest, Typo-0 consists of various different game mechanics. The most important aspects are the fights, who are not just real time but also spectacularly visualised. If you attack strangers with a pack of cards, a flute or even a scythe, every move looks beautiful. And with 14 cadets with each a different Class Zero move set, it will take you a while to get the hang of each one.
Missions where you have to free cities from the inside and the fights with monsters on the overworld will be done with a team of maximum 3 men. These teams consist of you chosen leader and two other Class Zero members, who are either chosen or are the 2 first members of your reserves. Each Class Zero cadet has its own unique fighting style, even though some students share the same weapons, which makes composing your team a thing to profit from. Battles go by quickly but comfortably, giving you the simple option to change from fighting team member with one simple click, making you stay in charge of the fight. Is a cadet injured on the battle field? Than a simple ‘up’ is enough to call a reserve and change the fight around again. Do keep an eye on your reserves, losing all of time will cause a Game Over.
Different locations come with different extra additions to your fights. Overworld random encounters often come with the message that more enemies were spotted in the nearby area, giving you the possibility do fight multiple battles in a row, instead of walking around waiting for a new encounter. During liberation missions you get the chance to strengthen your team with Class Zero recruits. These recruits are often a gamble though. While a lot of time are really strong, you also encounter under-levelled recruits whom you have to keep alive if you want to keep a clear conscience.
Summons are also a fun part of the game. These ‘Eidolons’ are unlocked once you get further into the story and do ask some preparation from the player itself. Summoning Eidolons isn’t easy thanks to some restrictions and the fact that each Eidolon needs a sacrifice, namely the life of your active leader. Furthermore, liberations missions also come with special S.O. assignments. These are in-mission goals which you can activate when you want and, if you fulfil them correctly, give you extra rewards. If you fail however, then it will get you killed. S.O. assignments that pop up on your screen in red envelopes, often hold a story-based submission. If you’re up for the challenge, we suggest you not to ignore these red envelopes.
Paper buildings and cardboard colleagues
The addictive fighting elements do not take away the obvious flaws in the game. Fight-commands seem to have a clear delay, which makes switching to a ‘cure’ or offensive magic only possible once the last attack is completed. Luckily, the AI of your teammates is very good, making sure that the delay is not a game breaker. The ‘paper-craft’ buildings are often a thorn in the eye, and make it even more obvious that Type-0 HD is a port. A lot of the cities feel fake or cheap, and the fact that the overworld cities don’t look bigger than a village square after you freed it, make it even worse.
Also de characters in this world aren’t all of the same quality. While Class Zero looks reasonably modern and the school looks very good in many places, the rest looks like cardboard. NPC’s that fill up space look like statues who are just standing there, while NPC’s with more animation still show less detail than you would expect as a player. With the switch from PSP to PS4 we did expect more than just this remaster, even if it was only to explore more of the cities if you’re not doing a mission.
The Duscae award
Another unfortunate aspect from Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is the price, which is almost 70 euros. The game might be fun, but the delay in the controls and the graphics that complete hide the fact that this is a remaster, give you the feeling that the price is for the brand name and the early look into the Final Fantasy XV demo then for the actual game. The Final Fantasy XV demo, who got the title ‘Episode Duscae’, is 3 hours’ worth of gameplay, and from this aspect the most obvious reason for the higher price of Type-0 HD. The demo is nog a part of the Type-0 HD disc, so check if you get the code for Episode Duscae with your sale (while stocks last). We’re hoping on a future price reduction, which can give this addictive game a better place on the market.
Despite the PS4 substandard graphics, battle control delay and the obvious PSP roots, we like Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. The high price and the fact that this title is connected to the Final Fantasy XV demo, do leave a bitter taste. The world of Orience fades the moment you enter a Duscae region, which makes the return to Type-0 a true awakening. We recommend people who are on a budget to wait until the demo-madness is over, the price will lower so you can fully enjoy this title.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD has been in stores since March 20th for PS4 and Xbox One.
Title: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix