Final Fantasy 16 reviews have officially launched, with strong praise across the board for Square Enix’s latest fantasy epic. The game’s flashy, Devil May Cry-like combat seems to have struck a chord with critics, while the game’s story has achieved high-to-mixed reviews – with some praising its sweeping nature and character intimacy, and others labelling it pure ‘soap opera’.
Regardless of these differences, it appears many reviewers were enthusiastic about their experiences, and Square Enix’s attempts to reimagine its flagship franchise.
Here’s the review roundup for Final Fantasy 16.
GamesHub – 4/5
In the GamesHub review of Final Fantasy 16, editor Edmond Tran highlighted the sheer spectacle of the game and its detailed level of storytelling, while also identifying weaknesses in the game’s hybrid RPG system.
‘Final Fantasy 16 largely shines as an epic-length action game, though the places where it attempts to find a comfortable compromise between action game and RPG feel largely unambitious, and certainly fade into the background against aspects that are approached with gusto.’
‘However, in the same way it’s hard not to grow a strong affinity for the roguish charms of Cid and the rest of his outlaws, despite their character flaws, it’s difficult not to get swept up by the earnest saga that Final Fantasy 16 eagerly lays out for you, and the egregious heights of spectacle it displays.’
The Guardian – 4/5
Writing for The Guardian, reviewer Malindy Hetfeld also took note of the game’s incredible spectacle, and how its realistic tone and rounded heroes elevated an epic 40-hour story. Hetfeld particularly enjoyed the balance between spectacle and intimacy, and how each character interacted with their peers.
‘The game radiates a sense of care, in its themes and in the way characters treat one another. Like Final Fantasy VII, it reminds us that we have one planet to live on and that we should treat one another with kindness. Sure there is swearing and violence, but they are genuine expressions of desperation and surprise, and they feel earned. Who wouldn’t swear at seeing a monster the size of a mountain raze everything in its path?’
VG247 – 4/5
Over on VG247, reviewer Alex Donaldson claimed Final Fantasy 16 lived up to the franchise’s legacy somewhat, but was also weighed down by its ties to the RPG format and systems. Donaldson’s experience was saved by the game’s rugged combat and strong story, but he also noted poor pacing in the narrative, and an unmemorable world.
‘FF16, Clive, Cid, and the others ultimately derive their power from the same mysterious origins as the crystals themselves. To complete their objective, they need the very thing they seek to destroy. And so too does FF16 need that history, those traditions, leveraging some even as it drives a dagger through others. That is the duality of the game. A dichotomy at the heart of its structure, its triumphs, and its failures alike. It’s a fascinating piece of work, a wholly imperfect but nevertheless enthralling experience.’
IGN – 9/10
IGN had one of the most positive reviews of Final Fantasy 16, thanks to reviewer Mitchell Saltzman, who thoroughly enjoyed the game’s ‘outstanding story’, characters, and worldbuilding. While Saltzman claimed the game departs from traditional Final Fantasy storytelling, this change was praised as worthwhile.
‘Featuring fast, reflex driven, action heavy combat, Final Fantasy 16 is certainly a departure from what fans may expect out of a Final Fantasy game, but its excellent story, characters, and world building are right up there with the best the series has to offer, and the innovative Active Time Lore feature should set a new standard for how lengthy, story-heavy games keep players invested in its world.’
GameSpot – 9/10
GameSpot reviewer Michael Higham also gave the game 9/10, with similar praise for its narrative and how it captures the Final Fantasy magic in new fashion. Higham noted the game’s ‘thrilling’ combat, ‘tremendous’ soundtrack, and ‘sharply written’ dialogue as core draws.
‘There are eras of my life that have been defined by Final Fantasy games and my connection to them. Having seen FF16 all the way through, I’m happy to include it alongside some of my all-time favourites in the series. It’s heartening to see that this bold approach to both story and gameplay is now part of that legacy, expanding the definition of what a mainline entry could be. It may fall short in some respects, but it should be celebrated for its most stunning moments and the characters who embody them.’
Eurogamer – 3/5
Eurogamer was less effusive in its praise, and was one of the outliers for reviews from major publications. Reviewer Edwin Evans-Thirlwell expressed admiration for the game’s clever combat system, but was less keen on the overall story, which he described as ‘ponderous pseudo-medieval soap opera’ drama.
‘While Final Fantasy 16 is perhaps the state of the art for real-time Final Fantasy combat, its dreary sidequests and slight excess of worldbuilding leave me reluctant to fire up New Game+. All told, I still prefer the older Final Fantasies, which also trade in stories of heroes averting the apocalypse, but always place those heroes second to the party.’
Final Fantasy 16 launches for PlayStation 5 on 22 June 2023.
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