What if you could play the best moments of Final Fantasy without the grind? This is what mobile developer DNA proposes with Final Fantasy Record Keeper, a “greatest hits” of the legendary franchise. But is a stripped down version of the industry’s most popular JRPG what we actually want? That’s what we’re about to find out.
A Familiar Formula
Final Fantasy Record Keeper is built with the same formula as Brave Frontier. You collect characters and level them up by completing stages where you fight waves of enemies. There are some slight differences however, as Brave Frontier has you fight to evolve the characters and Record Keeper has you quest to evolve weapons and spells. If you play Brave Frontier you’ll find yourself right at home with Record Keeper.
The story of Record Keeper is actually pretty interesting. You play as Tyro, a student in the library of records. This particular library holds paintings that tell of the adventures of past Final Fantasy games. These paintings have power and are the key to the livelihood of the city. One day a mysterious dark energy begins to steal the power within the painting. It is up to Tyro and the rest of the staff to save the painting and bring order to the world.
Where Record Keeper excels is in its ability to create nostalgia. Stepping into a painting will bring back of memories and feelings of the first time you played the game. Each world contains the music, sound effects, and enemies of the original game. Familiar characters help you on your quest including Cid and Mog. The characters you collect is a ‘who’s who’ of Final Fantasy greats. Of course there is always room to debate who did and didn’t make the cut but for the most part they got it right. For fans of pixel art you will feel right at home as every character, enemy and boss now looks like they were pulled out of an SNES Final Fantasy.
Simplified Combat and Lack of Story
As a mobile game, it’s designed to be played on the go. That being said the game lacks what is important to all Final Fantasy games; An engaging story. What’s interesting about Record Keeper is that the premise of the story isn’t that bad, but it never develops in a meaningful way that makes you want to continue playing. Instead, you’re left wanting to play the original games.
And this is where I find myself at odds with the game. It’s fun in the same way I find Brave Frontier fun; mindless action with an addicting loot system. But Final Fantasy is more than that, and I’m reminded of that every time I hear the victory song, collect a new character, or read a story plot of a painting I completed. Each of these events only serve as a reminder of a great game that I should be playing instead of this one. Now that doesn’t mean the game isn’t fun, or well put together, because it is. But just like sex vs masturbation, one will get you through the day but it will never satisfy you like the real thing. And Record Keeper, even with its quality build, it will never satisfy you like the real thing.