Final Fantasy: Record Keeper – Review

The free-to-play RPG for Android and iOS brings the joy of retro Final Fantasy to smartphones without becoming a play-to-win money sink

Final Fantasy: Record Keeper Official Trailer

Final Fantasy: Record Keeper is a free-to-play title from the guys over at Square Enix, an approach those guys and girls don’t tend to make much of. Even though free-to-play mobile games aren’t something Square Enix are known for designing, it doesn’t stop the game from being at the very least a successful venture, now that the game has been out for a little while.

Record Keeper has the player pick from a large amount of characters from the various installments in the Final Fantasy series, giving players the opportunity to pair Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife with Final Fantasy XIII’s Lightning and see how the two work together in a party.

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Gameplay assumes the original mode familiar to players of the NES/SNES Final Fantasy; namely, turn-based attacks and active time battles. In simplest terms, the player waits for one of the character’s action bars to fill, then the player chooses some form of attack, whether physical or magical in nature, and indicates the target of said action with a tap on the enemy or ally target. Gameplay doesn’t get too much more complicated than that on the surface, as you will spend most of your time spamming the attack button and only ever really using your special skills once you come across a boss. Bosses will require strategy and utilization of specific magics in order to achieve mastery over said dungeons. Mastery level rewards players with more in-game currency and stamina, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper‘s system for controlling how long/how much a player can play without hitting a paywall.

Outside of combat, you have the chance to spend some of your hard-earned Gil and materials to make sure your party can handle some of the more challenging dungeons that are to follow. However, if they aren’t, the game will make sure you know it by completely decimating you! It’s amazing that this app has encapsulated this quintessential feature of so many Final Fantasy games. The player will be lulled into a false sense of power and accomplishment, only to have his party destroyed by a rabid Warebit. With a little grinding, crafting, and even a few lucky relic drops if you have the mythril/gems to spend, then you can destroy what was previously an obstacle but it is this sense of unknowing what will present a challenge that makes FFRK a rewarding, if grindy, experience.

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Aesthetically, the game takes a page out of the gameplay’s book and decides on the retro-Final Fantasy look and renders all the in-combat models in beautiful SNES 16-bit era pixel art; be they allies or enemies. If you’re at all a fan of the Final Fantasy series, seeing some of your favourite characters reimagined in 16-bit goodness is something you have to see and experience for yourself.

Quite possibly the biggest downside to Record Keeper is the stamina system that the developers decided to implement. When in comparison to other stamina systems, Record Keeper is incredibly light and doesn’t come close to begging for your money, but it doesn’t prevent the gutting feeling when you can no longer afford to play, all because you need to wait for that stamina gauge to regenerate. But to be clear: This is one of the few games that begs for money or even necessitates money for enjoyment. You will get all of the special things you need just from playing the game consistently and repeatedly. A real breath of fresh air in this sector of the video gaming world.

At first, the gameplay starts off great, because that’s one of the best parts of a Final Fantasy game. Unfortunately, if you continuously play the same turn-based system over and over again without any intermittence, it feels like you’re doing very little else and it leaves a bit of a grindy, sour taste in your mouth. Then again, anyone familiar with JRPGs is no stranger to this formula – and this player, in particular, has thoroughly enjoyed the game, so much so that it dethroned the mighty Pokemon GO as my go-to app in times of boredom.

Overall, despite some of the issues that Record Keeper has, such as the grind-like nature of its gameplay that can get a little stale if you don’t take enough breaks during your Record Keeper career. However, the vast amounts of lore and interest the game has going for it, along with a free-to-play nature that doesn’t jump down your throat in search of your wallet is a nice change in a free-to-play game. Not only that, but the aesthetics that take inspiration from the 16-bit era of RPG’s is an easy reason to warrant a recommendation for this game; even more so if you love Final Fantasy.

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