Final Fantasy Dimensions II is a premium title that started its life as a freemium one. This much is apparent from the get-go and may have pushed a lot of players away when it initially released. Don’t be afraid however, because there are no hidden purchases, stamina bars or other detritus attached to the game to catch you off-guard. Does it merit the price tag of a premium game though?
First and foremost, this is not a sequel to any of the themes, narrative arcs or gameplay modes of the original ‘Final Fantasy Dimensions’ game, which saw release in an episodical format in a manner similar to ‘Final Fantasy IV: The After Years’. That game used traditional exploration and combat to provide a slice of classical nostalgia in a fresh wrapping for fans of the series, whilst this new title takes a very different route. It appears that Square Enix has chosen to use the Dimensions brand as a test-bed for different direct to mobile premium experiences. Dimensions II started life as a separate title that launched freemium before being overhauled, renamed and concluded as part of this rebrand and it finds its own strengths, this time in adapting the Final Fantasy format to specifically touch-screen controls.
Graphically, Final Fantasy Dimensions II is a mainly menu-driven game with graphical narrative and combat sections. These uses a 2D pixel-art style that can at times feel at odds with the larger, more modern screens. Whilst the colour palette is lush and vibrant there are obvious jagged edges on scenery and around characters where the graphics have been upscaled and this is especially noticeable where parallax scrolling takes place. The character models also employ proportions more similar to ‘Kingdom Hearts’ than traditional Final Fantasy, which can make them look unwieldy in two dimensions when static. Design for the world and characters themselves is a mixture of the tried-and-true Final Fantasy staples and some genuinely fun fantasy components that look great and help to keep the atmosphere somewhere between light and breezy and high-fantasy in feel. Menus are clear, easy to use and well-constructed for touch-screens, surprising nobody with their blue and while visual style.
There’s a surprising amount of music included in Dimensions II and almost all of it is completely original (excluding remixes of the standard Final Fantasy victory or crystal themes) which is a refreshing change of pace for a mobile title at this point. Though there is a mixture in quality (some tracks are more memorable than others) characters and locations have themes, as do different time periods. Some of these tracks are honestly excellent, and evoke an atmosphere similar to that of a Studio Ghibli movie. Sound effects work well in their design to seamlessly blend with the music, and often serve as transitional aids.
The narrative of Dimensions II kicks off when a meteor falls from the sky onto a small island that plays host to the rural town of Navos. Local lad Morrow and travelling scholar Wrieg investigate the anomaly to discover both a phantom airship and the amnesiac girl Aemo before being swept into the realm of the Eidola and being tasked by a mysterious woman frozen inside a crystal with preventing a great mistake in their world’s past. This quickly opens up an adventure spread across not just a fantasy world ripe for exploration, but parallel versions in both the past and future in a manner not unlike Chrono Trigger. The initial trio quickly gains additional aid in the form of a small dragon who aids the party and later gathers other party members to their cause, but remain the tight focus of the narrative throughout. Bonus ‘Episodes’ are also unlocked through play that act as mini scenarios that shed more light on character motivations and back story that are well crafted though completely optional (unlocking bonus stat boosts when completed) as well as a number of sub-quests in the main game. The writing it light, and the story moves rapidly with few sequences lasting more than a minute and dialogue feels natural. The group quickly develop a good sense of banter and even humorous asides that makes playing an enjoyable though light experience in comparison to a main-line Final Fantasy title.
Gameplay is split between narrative conversations and combat for the most part, with the player not having to explore locations one to one, rather jumping between them with a tap of the overworld map to select the next event. These conversations between the party take place in a side-view that is designed to be reminiscent of a standard Final Fantasy cutscene but plays out more in the vein of a linear Visual Novel, not offering choices but delivering plenty of snappy dialogue and keeping the games plot at a running speed. Surrounding these are combat, which is turn based and sees a party of up to four characters fielded at any time. At its most basic it’s attack for attack and can be both sped up and set to automatic for grinding purposes, with MP and HP regenerating between fights (eliminating the need for an Inn). Delving a little deeper opens up the ‘Signet’ system the game employs for teaching skills that maps each ability to a Summon, with party members able to equip up to four at a time each. Whilst the summon is equipped that character can both summon that spirits powerful bonus attack once a gauge is charged, and access the skill. Fighting enough battles with the Summon equipped allows the character to learn the skill full-time and remove the need to keep it equipped, though losing the summon itself. These can then be levelled up between 1 and 3 stars to unlock and learn new variations of that ability, starting the process again whilst many sub-quests deliver new summons to the party. Grinding takes on an additional pleasure when you’re also unlocking abilities and the whole system works very well. Each character can also equip 1 weapon and 1 piece of equipment, and the game dolls these out very slowly, which can make them feel pre-functional at first. Whilst the game does pad gameplay elements heavily around combat, the difficulty curve is very easy, with challenges presented as sub-quests the player can take on and the game is always pushing to keep the player involved to the best of its ability. Time travel is actioned using a menu to switch seamlessly between maps and the games developers have actioned it in a patient and thoughtful manner rather than simply re-skinning the same areas to pad the run-time. An early area that the player will uncover, the Tower of Babel, acts as a stand-in for what obviously was originally a form of online or PVP arena. Here a special currency can be wont through grinding the tower’s battles to exchange for prize items.
Overall, this is a fun title that dispenses a gameplay experience that can be enjoyed in small slices or over longer sessions, though it never really challenges an experienced RPG player. It doesn’t feel a lot like playing a main-line Final Fantasy title, having more in common with ‘Brave Exvius’ than its predecessor, and does have a strictly ‘mobile’ vibe to the whole game that does make the full asking price a little steep. Purchasing this title in a sale however will enable an inquisitive gamer to enjoy what the game has to offer guilt-free.