Final Fantasy: All The Bravest (iOS) review

Final Fantasy: All The Bravest is a new iOS game from Square-Enix. The title was heavily teased by the publisher prior to release, with many long-suffering fans of the series hoping for a new port of classic entries such as Final Fantasy V or VI. Instead, it is a brand new, designed-for-mobile game based very loosely on the franchise’s iconic “Active Time Battle” (ATB) system — the game’s title All The Bravest is a play on this.

The game is available now as a $3.99 download from the App Store with a wealth of additional in-app purchases.

Final Fantasy: All The Bravest markets itself as a “pick up and go RPG with massive battles” and promises “the largest parties in Final Fantasy history.” The latter part, at least, is true; battles in All The Bravest begin with five members (the same as in previous record holder Final Fantasy IV) and gradually expand to well over 20 members at a time. As you might expect, however, managing that many party members at once has meant a significant amount of simplification in the game’s systems — so much so, in fact, that the player’s role is limited entirely to tapping or swiping over characters when the “ATB gauge” above their head is full.

There is no choosing of targets, no selection of special skills, no healing and no strategy whatsoever — it’s simply a frantic, chaotic touchscreen game where players are required to do nothing more than scrub their finger over the screen in the hope of depleting their opponents’ health bars before all their team are wiped out.

The more cynical App Store comments have accused the game of being little more than an in-app purchase generator. It’s sad to say that after spending some time with the game, it’s clear these people are absolutely correct. Get wiped out in battle and the game doesn’t end — you can either wait for your party to “resurrect” at the rate of one member every three minutes, or use a “Golden Hourglass” item to immediately bring them all back. Three of these items are provided to the player at the start of the game; one of them is used in the tutorial. Additional packs of Golden Hourglasses may be acquired through in-app purchase starting at $0.99 for three.

The game also makes use of a “blind bag” in-app purchase system allowing players to acquire one of 35 random characters from past Final Fantasy games in exchange for a $0.99 payment per “draw.” There are also three level packs based on the most popular and/or currently-relevant entries in the series — Final Fantasy VII, X and XIII — for $3.99 each. That puts the total price of acquiring all the app’s content at over $50, plus additional payments to acquire Golden Hourglasses as required.

Social features for the game include Game Center support for two ill-defined leaderboards and a set of achievements. The game also features Facebook and Twitter connectivity — advertising the game via either of these services once every 24 hours provides the player with an extra slot in their party every time this is done.

The main issue with Final Fantasy: All The Bravest is that it completely misunderstands the reasons people play Final Fantasy games — all the more surprising considering the positive reception Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV, Dimensions and Tactics have received on the platform despite their comparatively high prices. Much like the other recent Final Fantasy-branded mobile release Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade — which turned out to be little more than a reskinned Rage of Bahamut — this game relies heavily on its admittedly-impressive nostalgia value but backs this up with nothing of any substance whatsoever — no plot, no memorable characters, no complex but clear battle systems, no customization, no strategy.

It represents all the things that self-professed “core gamers” dislike about modern free-to-play mobile gaming — enforced wait times and play-throttling, overly-aggressive monetization, dumbed-down gameplay — while adding insult to injury by charging admission for the experience in the first place. It’s simply not a good game at all, and doubly disappointing for fans of Final Fantasy who were expecting something more exciting after Square-Enix’s teasing.

As a brand new release, Final Fantasy: All The Bravest is not yet listed on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

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A very poor game overall, and a convenient demonstration of all the things core gamers (such as Final Fantasy fans) dislike about free-to-play gaming in one convenient package.

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