Mobius Final Fantasy Pushes the Mobile JRPG Ahead in the US

Mobius Final Fantasy Pushes the Mobile JRPG Ahead in the US

Square Enix works your smartphone hard in its latest Final Fantasy title.

The mobile market has been successful for Square Enix in the last few years. The company has seen good sales on ports of classic games like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Dragon Quest II. The booming mobile market also led the company to create all-new titles for iOS and Android, including the Chaos Rings series, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper, and Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius.

Yesterday, Square Enix launched Mobius Final Fantasy for Android and iOS. Mobius is intended to be the first premium Final Fantasy game on mobile platforms and Square Enix has brought console-level resources to bear, including Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII Yoshinori Kitase, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy X writer Kazushige Nojima, Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 art designer Toshitaka Matsuda, Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates character designer Toshiyuki Itahana, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns composer Mitsuto Suzuki.

So what did they come up with?

Mobius puts players in the armor of Wol. Technically, "Wol" isn't the character's name, instead being shorthand for Warrior of Light. Wol - or whatever you name him - is a Blank, an amnesiac soldier brought to the world of Palamecia. The world is under attack by the forces of Chaos and one of the Blanks is prophesied to save the world. By Wol's side is the moogle Mog, and occasional allies Garland and Princess Sarah Lotte Cornelia.

Right from the beginning, Mobius Final Fantasy impresses in its presentation. No, it doesn't look as good as early promo shots; the models are solid, but the texture work is constrained by the platform. If you can get over that, it was a damn good-looking mobile game on my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Mobius is a game that would be at home on the PlayStation Vita, if Square Enix wanted to go that way. In addition to the strong graphics, it features fully-voiced characters and an orchestral soundtrack.

Mobius Final Fantasy is essentially a turn-based RPG mixed with puzzle mechanics. When Wol faces groups of monsters, you tap the screen to attack. Every attack draws orbs of various elements into Wol: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Light, and Shadow. Wol can then use those orbs to attack or buff/heal himself. As an example, Fire orbs power Fire spells, but can alternatively be used to increase your Fire Resistance. Of course, buffing yourself with Fire lowers the chance of you drawing in Fire orbs for a short period.

Monsters all have elemental affinity. The strategy in Mobius comes from this give and take: draw orbs to use spells that exploit monsters' weaknesses or prevent massive incoming damage. More powerful monsters also have a Break bar, which players have to whittle down using other spells. If you're taking on a powerful Monster with a Wind affinity, your best best is to use Fire or Water spells to destroy their Break bar and while they're in a weakened state, hit them with your best Earth spell.

There's a surprising amount of strategy in the basic gameplay loop and Square Enix did a great job with the UI as well. All of your attacks are right at your fingertips and switching from attack to resistance buffing is rather easy. It's a satisfying combat system and every attack from Wol feels solid, which amazing given the lack of tactile buttons on a touchscreen.

The game is split up into Chapters, two of which are live right now. In each chapter, there are distinct regions that Wol can travel in-between, each with a set number of battles. Tackling a region costs Stamina, like Record Keeper and Brave Exvius.

And like those titles, Mobius is a free-to-play game. What you're collecting here are various cards. Wol's different jobs are the key to each deck. You start the game off with Onion Knight, gaining the Mage and Ranger job cards once you complete the tutorial. When you kill monsters, they have a chance to drop related cards, each with a spell. You can equip these cards in sets of four with each job card, within certain restrictions: Mage can only equip Fire, Water, and Wind cards, for example. Each card in a deck gains experience as you use it and the combined level of your cards determines your Job level.

There's a whole additional level of depth in card acquisition as well. More powerful cards drop from stronger monsters, or you can summon them via tickets, which have a better chance of drawing cards with a higher rating. You get tickets in the game or you can buy them. Item Shop purchases are done via real money or Magicite, a resource that recharges daily. Cards can be fused with one another to increase their power, or with special Cactuar cards to really give them a boost. Cards, cards, cards for days. Down the rabbit hole you go.

As a first step into more premium mobile titles, Mobius Final Fantasy is a good shot. The game is fun and I have yet to hit the upper limit of the free-to-play card draw system. If this game was on Vita, people would probably play the hell out of it. On mobile, it potentially hits a different audience, but it's still worth a try if you want some portable Final Fantasy in your life.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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