Title: Final Fantasy Record Keeper
Version Tested: Android
Available On: iPhone, iPad, and Android
Publisher: Square Enix
Official Site: Final Fantasy Record Keeper
Release Date: September 24, 2014
Final Fantasy Record Keeper was designed with Final Fantasy fans in mind.
Final Fantasy Record Keeper was originally released globally in March of 2015. So that means its now been over a year since it was first available to North American audiences. In that time, the game has gone through a ton of updates and changes. I recently returned to the game after a hiatus of a few months, and I decided to share my thoughts on the title finally. My review is for anyone wanting to try the game for the first time, and it is also for those who quit playing and are thinking about returning to this mobile RPG.
For those unfamiliar with the title, Final Fantasy Record Keeper is a role-playing game whose story spans the entire catalog of previous Final Fantasy titles. It uses a turn-based battle system and has many of the standard bell and whistles you would expect from an RPG designed for mobile platforms. These include the much-disliked recharging energy system, but also weekly content updates and events. So as is the case with most mobile titles, you have to take the good with a little bad.
Record Keeper was designed with Final Fantasy fans in mind. In fact, I would almost call it a love letter to series fans. From the art to the soundtrack this game is a deluge of Final Fantasy nostalgia. This brings me to my first and maybe the only complaint about the title. It seems it was intended only for fans of the series, as others might not find the same attachment due to not having the fond memories of the series this game plays on. So I will go ahead and let anyone reading this right now know, if you aren’t a fan of the Final Fantasy Franchise, then steer clear of this game. For those of you who are fans of the series, or at least don’t dislike it, please continue reading.
The story is a pretty simple one, but it works well enough. You take on the role of the titular Record Keeper, Tyro or whatever you choose to name him. He along with his boss, Dr. Mog, are the caretakers of a museum that houses memories taking from the various Final Fantasy games. An evil force has shown up and corrupted these memories, so it’s up to you to restore them, by reliving them. This situation leads to you (and your party of just about every other character in the history of the franchise) battling your way through key moments from every entry in the series.
The core of Record Keeper is in its combat system, as you will spend most of your time engaging in various fights. At first glance, it seems to be a simple turn-based system, very similar to the active-time battle systems used by the earlier games in the series. In combat, you can use a party of up to five at a time, and there are hundreds of possible characters for you to unlock and use, but more on that later. Each one of these characters can equip several pieces of equipment and two abilities that can then be used in battle. There are dozens of different skills, ranging from healing spells to magic attacks, to summons. Not everyone can use every ability; some are specific to particular types of characters. The differences in what your different units can do will have you swapping them in and out of your party to take advantage of the weaknesses of various enemies. A final note about battles, this game, does include a competent auto-battle option, which for me since I play at work a lot, is a requirement.
Record Keeper has something in common with most other mobile titles, and that is energy. In this instance, the energy is called stamina. This is a finite resource that is expended every time you participate in a battle, and once it is exhausted, you must wait for it to refill. There is a way to increase how much you can have at one time, by collecting stamina shards. Also, you can automatically refill your stamina gauge by spending either a Mythril, which can be obtained through various means or by spending real world money on gems. This system brings one of the few complaints I have about the game, but since this system is a cornerstone of mobile gaming I’m not sure it’s fair to hold it against Record Keeper.
One of the things in Record Keeper you will spend a lot of time on is equipment, which is this game is called “Relics.” The various pieces of gear are rated on a star system, from 1 to 5. The star rating among other things determines the level cap for gear, which can be leveled to increase its stats. You can increase the star rating for a piece of equipment by combing it with an identical item. There are various ways to acquire the gear, either as rewards from battles or by spending Mythril to get a random, possibly legendary, items. It can be frustrating at time when you work to obtain enough Mythril to try for a relic and only get a 3 star, but I never felt cheated or like I had to spend real world money.
As important a role as your gear plays, one would have to ask “whats equipment without people to wield it?” This question brings us to another of Record Keepers core strengths, the cast of characters. You can use both heroes and villains from nearly every entry in the franchise. Want to roll with fan favorite villain Sephiroth? You got it! Would you rather use a group comprised of the Warriors of Light from the first couple of games? Go for it! Each unit also has one or more unique “soul breaks”, which is an ultimate ability they can use at certain times in battle. Another layer to the system is synergy, which gives characters and equipment a stat boost when used in events and fights based on their native games. This increase in stats will encourage you to swap out your party members to take on tougher battles.
Many other mobile titles make the process of unlocking various heroes a complicated affair, often forcing you to spend real money if you want certain units. Final Fantasy Record Keeper, on the other hand, allows you to unlock characters in a few different ways, through normal battles, events and using an item called “Soul of a Hero”. If you have a particular unit you want to unlock then, it’s just a matter of participation more than luck or spending money.
I want to take a moment to talk about the soundtrack; it is a Final Fantasy fans dream come true. Record Keeper uses music and sound effects from almost every game in the franchise. Going to fight in a Final Fantasy X battle? You are going to get the same music you remember from that game. I usually play mobile games with the sound off, and this game is one of the few exceptions.
If I had to pick the most positive thing about Final Fantasy Record Keeper, it would be developer support. This game has received continuous updates since its release, with weekly events, new features, and systems, and new content. Every time I feel like I might be losing interest in it, something new comes along to pull me back in. Since release they have increased the level cap for characters twice, added dozens of new dungeons, new characters, equipment, and abilities, and even a wardrobe system that lets you change a character’s outfit. This constant attention has lead to DeNA being my absolute favorite mobile developer.
So to sum things up, if you are a Final Fantasy fan and own either an Android or iOS phone, there is no reason you shouldn’t be playing this. If you are looking for an engaging and fun mobile RPG and don’t mind turn-based battles, I would also recommend you give Final Fantasy Record Keeper a try. Lastly, if you have played the game before and quit, I would encourage you to return and check out all the new additions, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
- Gameplay: Tons of content to play through, combat is simple enough to be easy, but complex enough to be engaging.
- Graphics: Beautiful 2D sprites of all of your favorite Final Fantasy characters and enemies. Summons and special attacks feature impressive particle effects.
- Sound: Takes pieces from the entire Final Fantasy franchise.
- Presentation: Menus are easy to navigate, the presentation is aimed at fans of the series and using similar graphics and fonts to previous entries.
- Engaging and fun battle system
- Tons of content
- Weekly updates and events
- Great soundtrack
- Lots of nods to previous games in the series
- People who aren't fans of Final Fantasy will not find as much to enjoy.
- Having to wait for stamina to refill.