Robotic process automation has become buzzy in the last few months. New York-based UiPath is on course to launch an initial public offering after gaining an astounding valuation of $35 billion in February. Over in China, homegrown RPA startup Laiye is making waves as well. Laiye, which develops software to mimic mundane workplace tasks like keyboard strokes and mouse clicks, announced it has raised $50 million in a Series C+ […]
Fantasian on Mobile
It is finally here, folks. Gone are the days where the first thing you think of when someone mentions playing a game on your phone is a freemium title like Candy Crush. Instead, we can now rejoice, as there are actually good, full-length products being developed for mobile. Fantasian is one of those games.
Created for Apple Arcade, Fantasian is a JRPG that takes place in a beautiful fantasy realm where players must embark on a quest to save the world. If that premise wasn’t by the book enough for you, the game’s protagonist, Leo, also has amnesia.
Using this device, players learn all about the world through Leo, uncovering important memories along the way. This adventure takes you all over, as you’ll explore a plethora of amazingly designed backdrops, including mysterious vaults and sprawling cityscapes.
Enough can’t be said for how good all of these settings really look. Honestly, if you showed most gamers a screenshot from Fantasian, they’d likely be shocked to find out that it was a mobile game.
Alongside the fact that it looks great, the game runs and plays smoothly as well. And aside from some buffering here and there between loading screens, fights and navigation are fluid, thanks in no small part to an intuitive UI.
This UI feels particularly nice in battle, as the ability to click on menus, sort through skills, and select attacks flows perfectly. Outside of fights, movement still feels seamless, as you’ll simply point where you want Leo to go and wait for him to arrive at that spot.
While feeling good may sound like a simple feat, it’s a rather important one for a mobile game. There have been plenty of titles in the past that have either put way too much on screen at once or just have downright terrible movement that ruin the experience.
I still have PTSD because of Honkai Impact’s screen clutter and overzealous digital joystick. With Fantasian, everything has its place, allowing you to focus on its stellar gameplay.
Fantasian’s gameplay feels like a classic JRPG, focusing purely on the beauty that is turn-based style combat. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the game was created by Mistwalker, a studio founded by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series.
Sakaguchi’s fingerprints are all over the game from the start, as you’ll fight numerous enemies using turn-based battles, learning all about their weaknesses and planning your attacks accordingly. There are also plenty of new tricks in Fantasian that help set itself apart, too, including the ability to hit multiple enemies at once with specific skills.
Boss battles are particularly fun when using all of these skills, as each encounter carries a weight about it that really requires you to strategize. While this can certainly make things a bit more challenging, it is also that much more rewarding when you finally are able to overcome some of the more difficult bosses the game throws at you, especially near the end.
These battles wouldn’t be anything without the awesome soundtrack Nobuo Uematsu, another Final Fantasy legend, created to accompany them, though. Just about every boss in the game has its own unique theme, giving it an air of gravitas that makes them feel really intimidating.
If there was one gripe about Fantasian’s gameplay loop, it would have to be its encounter rates. When the game starts, it is pretty much impossible to go more than 10 steps without running into an enemy.
While this is fine at first, it gets a little repetitive, as you either have to choose to fight the mob or run away. Either way, it takes up a lot of time when you’re first starting out.
Thankfully, the game does introduce a device later on called the dimengeon, which lets you delay battles for a short period by trapping monsters in the device. This can be a bit of a double-edged sword, though, as you’ll then take on all of the monsters you’ve trapped on at once when they are released.
While this is definitely cool, as it results in huge brawls, it would have been nice if the game gave a slider to lower encounter rates. The other thing you’ll need to expect coming into Fantasian is that its story is pretty generic.
Sure, the characters and some of its world-building is pretty enjoyable, but they also follow just about every run-of-the-mill archetype for the genre. It was pretty hard to tell Leo apart from any other protagonists we’ve seen in Final Fantasy, as he doesn’t really have any interesting or discernable traits outside of being the flamboyant lead.
This standard plot isn’t enough to take away from everything Fantasian does well, though. In fact, it is because the game follows such a classic JRPG format that you likely won’t even notice you’ve been playing it for 20+ hours when all is said and done, which is quite the accomplishment for a mobile title.
Any Final Fantasy or JRPG fan is going to want to check this one out, as its gameplay, soundtrack, and accessibility create a fun experience, you’ll likely forget you’re even playing on a phone. One can only hope that future mobile games can follow in the footsteps of what Fantasian has done.
Reviewer: Andrew McMahon | Award: Editor’s Choice
- Doesn’t even look like a mobile game.
- Feels like old-school Final Fantasy.
- Stellar music that adds to the ambiance.
- Easy to use UI.
- Encounter rates can be frustrating.
- The plot is about as generic as it gets.
April 2, 2021
iOS, Apple Arcade