written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
If there is one thing that the influx of high tech mobile devices have contributed to gaming, it’s the diversity in mobile games… of course with this comes the good and the bad, but with Square Enix’s latest mobile game, this isn’t just an adaptation of one of their classic titles but rather is a free-to-play mobile game with a surprisingly deep story for an original mobile game.
When a great evil threatens the world and the crystals of various kingdoms, Rain and his trusted friend Laswell embark on a quest to vanquish this evil. To better achieve this, Rain employs the help of “visions” to combat the baddies of the world. These visions are manifestations of storied heroes that transcend the confines of space and time. Among these visions are heroes (and villains) from a wide range of various Final Fantasy games.
In my game, for example, I’ve enlisted the aid of heroes like Terra in her Magitek armor and Bartz to name a few. These heroes are unlocked at random by summoning them from random crystals. Standard crystals generally yield 1-2 star heroes with rare crystals yielding ore potent variants of these visions. As you progress through the game’s narrative, your visions level up and eventually you can awaken your units to increase their star level.
The world map is presented as a series of fixed contact points, with a fixed set of dungeons (battles) located in each area. Rain must fight through all of the battles in a given dungeon, spending energy per round, to unlock and advance to the next dungeon. Clearing the required battles advances the game’s narrative to the next story point.
Cleared towns and dungeons may be freely explored or replayed as you see fit. In free exploration mode, the player can traverse a given area for treasure and other items, but will also encounter monsters in random encounters much like most classic Final Fantasy games.
Brave Exvius employs a turn-based combat chain system. Each available unit is featured on the lower half of the screen. Swiping left/right/up/down open additional menus (like abilities and items etc). You tap a unit’s portrait to initiate the action, with the actions occurring in the order the unit was tapped.
Chaining attacks helps increase attack damage and further helps to better take down the monsters in the world.
As I said earlier, one of the most surprising bits is how deep the story is, especially for a mobile game. Gameplay wise, combat is surprisingly deep despite its simplicity. Enemies increase in difficulty and as far as I’ve gotten into the game I haven’t come across the dreaded “pay-wall” that hits most free-to-play mobile games. You can pay to better increase your chances in combat, but as far as I’ve gotten it hasn’t felt like a requirement to win.
Full of Final Fantasy goodness in a handheld package, the combat system works surprisingly well and fits right at home on mobile. The surprisingly deep narrative plus a game format that doesn’t feel like it’s forcing you to pay in order to win, this is a winner… and being free? Even better!
+ surprisingly deep story
+ simple yet robust combat
+ Final Fantasy goodness
- free-to-play mobile format gets old fast
- slight FPS drops