Final Fantasy Record Keeper is a love letter to a series with which many people grew up. I myself have a deep affection for the series. At least up until ten. The setting of the game seems to be an inter-dimensional cross-section of the Final Fantasy universe where the events of all the games are history and maintained by Record Keepers. But as the world is wont to do in almost every Final Fantasy game, a looming evil intrudes on the realm and threatens to destroy all the records and leave everything in ruin. The main character is a scholar of Final Fantasy-related mythology who jumps into the various realms of the games to relive key battles and keep the worlds intact. In true Final Fantasy fashion, you get to name him. In true Alex fashion, I chose to name him D Booty.
The main thrust of the game is battle, which is conducted in usual turn-based fashion, upgrading your characters and customizing your party. You can recruit all your favorite characters from the series. Cloud Strife, Squall Leonheart, Terra Branford, Bartz (or Butz as he was known in the Super Famicon version) Klauser and Zidane Tribal are all characters you can unlock to join your fight against evil. You can even get Vaan and Lightening if you thought XII and XIII were good…for some reason. Each character can learn different abilities, spells and summons in order to vary their uses in battle and unique Limit Breaks are included to mix things up.
Battle is nothing that would come to surprise any Final Fantasy fan that has played any of the fames in the main series. It’s turn-based and can range from methodical to smashing the attack button depending on the caliber of enemy you’re up against. It should be noted that fighting makes up the entirety of the game. If you’re looking for story outside of “evil force is invading from another dimension and you must kill things in order to stop it,” then you’re out of luck. Each battle scenario is preceded by a three-sentence summary of events that lead up to the events of the battle you are about to participate in. For example, one of the first scenarios you fight in is the AVALANCHE attack on the Sector One Mako reactor in Final Fantasy VII and the preceding summary details how ex-SOLDIER Cloud Strife has been hired by the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE to take the reactor down.
Other than the summaries, there are screen-shoots of certain events (that are rendered rather poorly, I might add) that correspond with the battle you are about to engage in. As a Final Fantasy fan, there is a distinct sense that there is a huge missed-opportunity here. You have all these great characters coming together in one game and they never interact with each other. Not once. They just fight side-by-side and continue on to the next fight. The lack of story in the game really makes it not feel like a Final Fantasy game, which is a true shame. Even if the developers were intent on making a game that was simply a string of battles, I would have loved if they had went the way of Final Fantasy Tactics, which is essentially a string of battles, but interlaced with one of the most engaging and finely-told Final Fantasy stories to date.
That being said, the game is free-to-play. It’s one of the only free Final Fantasy games on Google Play at the moment, in fact. On top of that, that game doesn’t force you to pay once you’ve downloaded in order to complete it. It seems completely possible to continue throughout the game without having to drop money on upgrades and such in order to survive. It won’t be a cake-walk, though. You’ll have to invest a good amount of time to get your team up to snuff and take on the heartier enemies that game has to offer.
What the game does best is music, taking all of the most memorable tracks from the original games and dropping them in depending on which world you’re slicing your way through. Truly my most nostalgic moments were getting lost in the old songs of my childhood.
Ultimately, there is fun to be had here. However, the gnawing specters of what could have been, perhaps the cross-over that Final Fantasy Dissidia was attempting to be, are ever-present in my mind as I play, which undeniably detracts from the experience.
A easy to pick-up and play bit of free fun for a weekend or lazy afternoon, but leaves one aching for a well-told true-to-form Final Fantasy cross-over that does it right.