If Game of Thrones and Godzilla had a baby...it'd be this game
As a voice actor, I have a different take on reviewing things and I really look for and recognize different aspects of games that other reviewers may not. And hey, this is just my opinion so I recommend checking the game out to form your own. The format of my reviews now covers the following facets of games: Gameplay & Performace, Story, and Voice Acting.
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This review is Spoiler & Drama Free for your reading pleasure! Enjoy!!
Final Fantasy is a staple in the RPG community. It's a staple in my gaming life as well, as Final Fantasy 7 was the first game I ever purchased as a youngling. (If you want to hear more about that and the games that shaped me and my co-hosts, check out The Weekend Dabblers podcast episode about it - here). Even though I knew this game was coming, I did my best to not see a single thing about the gameplay and story because I wanted to be surprised when I got a chance to play it. And boy howdy was I...
Action RPG meets Michael freaking Bay
EXPLOSIONS, GIANT "SUMMONS" (Called Eikons), BEAUTIFUL GRAPHICS, OH MY!
In the previous iteration of the Final Fantasy Pantheon (Final Fantasy 15) we were introduced to a new style of combat that varied away from the traditional turn-based combat that was the norm witnessed for 30 years. Action RPG's excite the user and are certainly more engaging than a traditional turn-based system. I do love the classic RPG style though that made those games so wonderful to begin with. With this shift in the guard so to speak, Final Fantasy 16 elevates this combat to a new level.
The combat has shifted from just being action-oriented to cinematic, with moments in combat called "cinematic clashes" occurring during pivotal fight scenes along with your standard abilities being a captivating eye-gasm. It is absolutely the most beautiful combat I have witnessed in a game. The combat is intuitive and there are many a ways to play with the amount of abilities in the game.
There is A LOT happening on the screen at times and the frame rate never really drops, and to be honest, the 60fps mode is just as beautiful as the graphics mode. The lighting in the world is immaculate and you feel the world is living and breathing when just standing in a field and the wind is blowing, clouds are moving, and townsfolk are wandering the plains.
Everything is within the game's native engine so the transition from cutscene to battle is seamless. And believe me, you'll appreciate that since about half the game is cutscenes and world-building! Some folks could see this as a con, but I love the amount of lore in the game. Speaking of lore there is a really innovative feature called "Active Time Lore" where you can pause the scene and get a quick recap on who the heck is talking or what the scene is pertaining to. There are quite a few characters so this feature is SUPER helpful.
The characters and allies in Final Fantasy games are pivotal to what makes the different games in the series so great and unique. The biggest change Final Fantasy XVI does in this regard is that you don't really have a "party" of characters like you used to.
Now you will have one consistent ally named Torgel, who's a CONFIRMED good boy, but everyone else who joins you isn't controllable which I understand as this is a very singular character-focused story, but it does take away from what made Final Fantasy games so strong for years.
The game does a great job on so many things when it comes to gameplay and graphics but there are a few "bad things" I could call out, especially as I play through New Game+ to get the Platinum Trophy as we speak. For one, the leather... is... so...damn...SQUEAKY! Well, only in one location but still, for some reason you just hear those leather-bound legs squeak squeaking across the map as you run around in the hideout.
Other than that, the game doesn't have an official sprint button which I suspect is to help keep up with the graphical content and loading actively. Which is wonderful but also annoying because it takes a second or two of movement before the auto sprint gets working in the open world. I'll take this over games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor where the sprinting begins to be a drawback because moving too fast causes loading and graphical issues.
Besides that, there are a few too many fetch-style quests for those of us who like doing all of the side quests.
But those are by far minimal issues in an otherwise wonderful and gigantic game!! I mean just look at this map!
Welcome to Valisthea
Game of Thrones eat your flippin' heart out! This game is GOT if you replace the dragons with
Eikons the size of Balerion the Black Dread or more (Cough Cough Titan) that can destroy or protect the world.
Oh and did I mention there are Chocobo... Cavalry - CHOCOBO CALVARY! YESSS!!!! (But also screw you Square Enix).
Final Fantasy 16 has one of the most complete stories in the franchise and I don't want to even get close to spoiling things so I'll leave you with this: The characters from the blacksmith to royalty are relatable, villains hatable but understandable and engaging, the plot is fantastic, and you will be going on a cinematic masterclass during every bit of story. Is 11+ hours of cinematics too much? Some say yes, and I say NO! Especially when it ties the story it weaves together so well.
Welcome Back to Valisthea -Where "F#&k" is the Exclamation of Choice
In the early parts of the game, you'll hear a character scream a wonderfully versatile obscenity while sprinting through what seems like two gods having a little tussle are destroying the landscape around this person, and then you'll hear it used by the fantastic voice actors in the game at least 100 more times. Is it fitting in this medieval fantasy world? Abso-fucking-lutely. The cast of voice actors in Final Fantasy 16 is massive and they all may play more than one role but you'll never feel like they do. The main character Clive Rosfield is played by Ben Starr and he brings such a wonderful dynamic and emotional performance to the role. Are there some odd lines here and there? Yes, but I believe that's actually a writing issue more than a delivery issue. His performance is RAW and should absolutely be seen.
In regards to the overall voice acting in the game, it's beautiful and British. The great Ralph Ineson plays a very pivotal role in the game and my only gripe I could ever have is his very first scene. I believe the engineers boosted his bass a bit too much and it didn't sound right compared to the mix in the rest of the game. He's got a soothing and deep voice already, no need to boost it to the stratosphere (or would it be to hell because bass is lower?).
Besides the occasional, and rightfully used, vulgarity, the writing is well done and nothing seems forced throughout the entire story. Emotion is real and a rollercoaster... prepare thyself.
The Verdict for Final Fantasy 16
Final Fantasy 16 is a whirlwind of an interactive cinematic experience. It is more than a video game due to it's wonderful storytelling, engaging and beautiful gameplay, and emotionally driven voice acting. It above all is worthy of your time, concentration, and occasional tear.