Dissidia Final Fantasy NT review: May the light guide you

Credits: Square Enix
Credits: Square Enix /

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT has been a polarizing title since its release in Japanese arcades and has only recently made its move to PlayStation 4 consoles around the world.

Developers: Square Enix, Team Ninja, Koei Tecmo Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed)
Release Date: January 30, 2018

A lot has changed since the Dissidia Final Fantasy franchise launched on the PSP more than ten years ago this year. Marking the 8th year since the launch of Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy, Square Enix and Team Ninja have teamed up once more. With their teaming up comes a return of the Final Fantasy-focused all-star arena fighting series, one boasting its use of verticality, iconic summoned creatures and RPG elements the series is known for. But how do you bring back an already established series and offer an entirely new experience? How do you evolve something that has been absent for so long and ensure that fans will want to play it?

Credits: Square Enix
Credits: Square Enix /

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (NT meaning New Tale), is, by all means, a new tale. The stories we once came to know from previous titles are now gone and we see a new conflict unfold before us. This new tale sees a new Goddess of Light, Materia, and a new God of Darkness, Spiritus, appear, both drawing their heroes of light and dark from various universes within the Final Fantasy franchise.

But this is where things get a bit odd. To play the story and understand why these heroes and villains have been chosen, you can’t simply set out on a single player adventure. Rather, to unlock your single-player story, players must undergo playing either online or offline matches. Win or lose, you are given a chance to receive an award for participation called “Memoria.” This token allows you to view cutscenes of your choosing and, at times, undertake epic battles against shadows of heroes you know or even your foes that the God of Darkness has summoned.

While this does seem like a minor drawback from the game, we do have to take into consideration that Dissidia Final Fantasy NT was an arcade game. The original version of this title wasn’t a story-based game at all, which is why the story tokens must be earned through combat whether offline or online. Fortunately, this approach gives players a chance to see this game at a rather enjoyable pace while playing many of the game’s offline modes or taking their battles online.

Credits: Square Enix
Credits: Square Enix /

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT isn’t a reboot. Rather, it’s a sequel to the PSP title Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy and takes place many years after the events that unfolded in the previous title. As this title is the third within the series and a follow-up to the original brace of Dissidia Final Fantasy titles, it’s hard not to consider this game a variant of its own. While Dissidia Final Fantasy NT itself prides itself upon past successes, the game changes up a few elements from its predecessors. The biggest changes made have been to the sheer size of the arenas as well as the move to one-on-one to three-on-three matches.

What does remain unchanged is the Dissidia franchise’s bravery system. Players chip away at one another’s bravery meter, breaking the other player of any damage their “Bravery Attack” may do before unleashing your own. These bravery attacks can then deal out damage to another player’s HP.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a love story about all things Final Fantasy. It’s a game that could be seen as a child’s toybox of lovingly crafted tributes. The nostalgia is driven home by seeing some of the franchise’s most beloved characters dashing about, unleashing their mighty trademark attacks such as Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud as he beats a player to a not-so-bloody pulp with Omnislash, or Firion from Final Fantasy II piercing an enemy’s flesh with his trademark ability Blood Arrow.

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Characters such as Shiva, Ifrit, Alexander and even the famed Romuh are magnificent additions, ones that alter how each match will play out as they unleash their trademark abilities, each providing beneficial buffs throughout the course of every match. They aren’t merely additions to add some flashy bits of fanservice, but rather, they add depth to the game itself. Whether it’s Romuh unleashing a storm of lightning while players dart about the fields of Final Fantasy VIII’s Promised Meadow, or Bahamut unleashing his Megaflare upon Midgard, the summons throw exciting spins on the gameplay that will please long-time series fans.

It’s an admirable feat to be able to split 28 nostalgic characters into various classes and continue to do so post-launch with DLC characters, which will be offered up at discounted prices for season pass owners. Each comes with their own unique call outs, weapon designs, combos, bravery attacks, and approach to combat. Everything about each, from class to gameplay style is reminiscent of their origins, which drives the nostalgia home.

Credits: Square Enix
Credits: Square Enix /

Unfortunately, some elements of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT are pure chaos, which can be hard to pick through and ultimately can take away from the experience for newcomers. The UI itself is one of the biggest problems, and its complexity only adds to the already overwhelming cacophony of combat. Toss in a horrible targeting system (akin to that of Final Fantasy XII‘s, but not as solid) and things become a bit problematic.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT sticks true to its arcade depth and charm, and overwhelming as its chaos can be, it allows us to imagine ourselves in the busy and often loud arcades in Japan.

Another downside is the move to three-on-three combat, which ramps up that volume, making it hard to determine who is attacking whom and from where they are attacking. Toss in a bit of lag (which I experienced in about half my matches), and the noise begins to become a bit too much to handle. A simple fix to this lag situation would have been allowing players to choose the region they are from and limiting matches to those regions.

Since the game does not have a setting like this, I’ve had many matches where players from around the world have been picked and tossed into a lobby together. The lag at times rendered the game unplayable and caused connection errors, canceling out some matches due to a loss of connection to the host.

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Dissidia Final Fantasy NT sticks true to its arcade depth and charm, and overwhelming as its chaos can be, it allows us to imagine ourselves in the busy and often loud arcades in Japan. But since most of its appeal is in its nostalgia, with so many other fighting games out recently, Square Enix has some work to do to Dissidia Final Fantasy NT before it can catch on beyond die-hard Final Fantasy fans.

7. Despite its nostalgic appeal, <i>Dissidia Final Fantasy NT</i> still has a long way to go before it can stand with other recently-released fighting titles. With a little love, a little bit of fixing and something to compensate for the game’s lag issues, <em>Dissidia Final Fantasy NT</em> has the potential to be a great experience.. Koei Tecmo Games, Team Ninja, Square Enix. . Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.