Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is an example of some of the impressive feats that mobile gaming can pull off. It’s also some of the most fun I’ve ever had with a game based on a popular franchise tailor-made for smartphones. The concept is simple: Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is meant to downsize a 100-hour RPG that’s absolutely massive into an easy-to-digest episodic version that players can try a bit of, then purchase the rest of the episodes as they see fit. It’s also supposed to be cute, to boot. I was a bit skeptical when the game was initially announced, because typically ambitious endeavors like these aren’t at all what we expect, and hardly ever do they reach the potential set out for them to aspire to.
On the Road
I’m pleased to report that my time with Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition was everything I had expected and then some. Having massively enjoyed the full-fledged PlayStation 4 version after a lifelong love affair with Final Fantasy as it is, I was pleased to start playing the first episode of ten, seeing that not only did the game follow the path laid out in the main game perfectly, but it did so with just as much gusto and panache as the full-sized version.
If it weren’t for the fact that I were playing on my iPhone X and staring at the decidedly less attractive leads Noctis, Prompto, Ignis, and Gladiolus as veritable chibi bobbleheads, I may have lost myself in the experience and forgotten that this wasn’t a full release in some segments. From the very first chapter, the spectacle, music, excellent English voice acting, and the storyline is intact. It’s nearly identical to playing the console version in many ways, minus much of the complexities, but as an abridged version it’s actually a pleasant and engaging experience.
Playing in landscape mode with touch controls can be a little frustrating, but that’s par for the course when you’re playing with a larger phone, and I preferred playing on the iPhone X to my old iPhone 7 Plus, but you can either tap and direct Noctis and crew where to go or hold down your finger continuously where you’d like then to head to. Otherwise you’ll interact with your environment with a series of taps, whether it’s a speech bubble above Cindy’s head at Hammerhead while waiting on your car, the Regalia, to be fixed or engaging in battle with enemies. It’s a simple and fairly responsive system that has the occasional hiccup, but is generally without a hitch.
Take Your Battles to Bed
Battle is one of the few areas where there are less complexities to take heed of, but that’s to be expected when trying to translate Final Fantasy XV’s systems into touch-based mechanics. You’ll only control Noctis directly, and he’ll automatically continue attacking enemies while you occasionally dodge, parry, and team up with the rest of the guys for special attacks as well as your own set of skills to wipe out enemies. They’re quite fun, and while simplistic, there’s a sense of depth to combat that lingers despite how much less involved it is than the console version’s.
Originally when I had played through the preview build, I was met with some issues that forced me to stop playing. I was no longer able to access my game and thus I could only play one part of the game. Fortunately, since then I've been able to conquer the game without any issue or save problems, which I was delighted to see. I really didn't want to have to start over a few more times to regain all the progress I've lost. I've not seen any other save issues since my time with the preview, but as is the case with any mobile game, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your save data.
After my time with the game and playing through the smaller version of classic moments I enjoyed actually hoping Square Enix goes ahead with more translations of its larger games like this one. There's a wide variety of fans out there who may not have the time to spend on playing the full-sized versions. These are the same folks who have difficulty hanging around at home long enough to enjoy console releases. Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is exemplary of the kind of game that can be crafted when a company cares enough about a property to give it a proper mobile adaptation.
I'm hoping to see more bite-sized chunks of my favorite stories released in this manner for when I just don't have the time to sink into the version I want to. There's definitely a market out there for these types of releases, and I'd love to see it grow beyond the cheaply-made mobile cash-grabs out there.
This review is based on an iOS download code provided by the publisher. Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition via the App Store and Google Play Store and is free to play for the first chapter. The game has been rated 9+ by the ESRB.