Final Fantasy XVI is my first FF, will it also be the last?

Note: This article has been translated from Italian by ChatGPT and may contain errors.

Intrigued by some comments I read on the web, I made up my mind: I purchased a PS5 and Final Fantasy XVI. After The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, I really needed a linear game strongly focused on the storyline. Furthermore, this is the first installment of the series that I’ve played.

Fire and Flames

Video and Gameplay

Final Fantasy XVI is somewhat what I expected: lots of lengthy cutscenes and gameplay that is relatively basic. At the beginning, it didn’t bother me at all, as I was interested in how the plot would unfold. The story starts off well and overall isn’t bad, but the further it progresses, the more it takes on a “Japanese style” that I personally can’t fully appreciate. Some passages are a bit convoluted due to the complexity of the entire backstory, and the dialogues become excessively verbose, wordy. In particular, the excessive length of the conversations is noticeable in the more advanced side quests, to the point that something happened to me that had never occurred before: having passed 80% of the game, I began skipping lines of dialogue (only in the side quests!). The characters keep talking, talking, talking, and it wore me out, I couldn’t take it anymore! The optional quests, therefore, despite some being charming and others interesting for delving into the secondary characters, are mostly tedious, lacking creativity, and basic. Moreover, there are too many of them and they share similar mechanics. I got fed up with them. The main story, however, remains decidedly more engaging and, despite some lulls, remains enjoyable from start to finish. Nevertheless, it didn’t move me much. I appreciate some of the ideas, the characters, and the great work behind world-building, but I didn’t particularly love it. As I progressed, my interest somewhat waned instead of increasing… The sense of grandeur, however, is quite good.

Gameplay-wise, it’s more or less the same: bearable for a good portion of the game, then it starts becoming too repetitive and basic. The level design is flat. While the formula of killing hordes of enemies in environments devoid of branching paths can work in an action game of less than ten hours, in an action RPG that extends for over fifty hours, it works much less effectively. Furthermore, the same problem arises with the overly verbose dialogues: on one hand, we have too many words, and on the other, too many enemies. At least there’s a significant variety of bosses and mini-bosses. They’re so numerous that you lose count!

Great Torgal!

The spectacle of some boss battles is impressive. The one with Titan represents the pinnacle of majesty and exhilaration, while the final one partially disappointed me. There’s a bit of confusion during some of the most spectacular moments. The image isn’t always clear due to an excess of special effects that sometimes hinder a good understanding of the action. In general, a series like God of War is clearer and more cinematic in its epic phases, but Final Fantasy XVI nonetheless holds its ground well (surpassing the last two GoW games in terms of epicness, in my opinion).

UPDATE: I replayed the adventure in Final Fantasy mode (without using simplifications). About the difficulty: it’s a very easy game, but it’s not an issue. The boss fights are still challenging and long. My judgment of the plot remains more or less the same, but I appreciated the ending and the final boss battle more, and it’s hard to imagine something better or more spectacular. The epilogue is beautiful, emotional, and wraps up the story nicely. Additionally, some fights reach peaks of epicness that are rarely seen: they may not have the direction and clean editing of a God of War, but they’re quite thrilling. My favorite bosses: Garuda, Titan, and Bahamut. Special mention to Ultima.

Is this it? Is this the “new” gen?

Another aspect that left me with mixed feelings is the graphics. For being a game exclusively for the PlayStation 5, I expected more. In my opinion, there are better PS4 games. Now, the locations are wonderfully crafted (both artistically and technically), and the lighting on various materials pleasantly surprised me, as did the richness of details and some well-done secondary details. The main “issue” for me is the characters: from slightly clunky animations (facial and otherwise) to a somewhat “plastic” appearance; they stand out somewhat from the rest. In essence, I found a technical aspect that sometimes leaves you satisfied with the overall look, but at other times not. All in all, though, the graphical level is high. The music is good, even though it tends to repeat in too many situations and can be a bit intrusive at times. And thank you, thank you, thank you for the Italian dubbing!

Clive and Jill

I believe that Final Fantasy XVI is a decent game overall, but it risks wearing out the player before the end. Too wordy, too long, and too repetitive and basic in the over sixty hours required to complete everything. While I might have “complained” about Tears of the Kingdom’s visual backwardness, transitioning from Zelda to Final Fantasy XVI makes you realize how much the former is light-years ahead of the latter… when we’re talking about the “new gen.” In some aspects of gameplay (but not only), I found Final Fantasy XVI to be a backward title. And as beautiful as it might be to look at, it’s entirely static (invisible walls, nonexistent environmental interaction, and so on). From the new console generation, I expect something more. That said, it remains an epic and spectacular journey that I enjoyed. Will I play other Final Fantasy games? I don’t know. Maybe I won’t catch up on some past installments (but never say never), but I might buy future episodes. Time will tell.

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