Initial release date: February 16, 2023
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Composers: Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimomura, MORE
Series: Final Fantasy
Publisher: Square Enix
Mode: Rhythm Game, RPG
"Review Copy Provided By Square-Enix"
Over the past 30 years, Final Fantasy has been a game I have consistently played, and if you were to inquire about the game I was currently playing, chances are Final Fantasy would be in the title. Although I am fond of the stories, characters, and world-building, the music has always been the most cherished and unforgettable aspect of the series. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line revitalizes familiar songs that I have heard numerous times with its lively action and fanciful presentation. It triggers a pleasant sense of reminiscence and leaves me feeling content when I play it. The game encompasses exceptional songs, a wealth of love for the central series, and an exceptionally attractive visual appearance. This rhythm action RPG has impressively included over 385 playable songs and 104 playable characters on your Switch or PS4, providing various options to experience the symphonic catalog.
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line offers a variety of options to suit your preferences, including 'events' which involve playing along to FMV sequences, 'battles' which feature RPG-style fights against series enemies, and 'fields' which require you to travel as far as possible within a limited time. The gameplay in 'fields' and 'battles' is a blend of features from previous installments, with simplified 'events' that allow you to focus on the accompanying movie. The Feature Drive mechanic from previous 3DS games has been eliminated, along with the swipes and tactile inputs.
If you're familiar with rhythm games, Final Bar Line should be relatively straightforward. Instead of a fretboard, you hit a sequence of buttons on your controller, with the addition of holding a button and using the joystick to follow notes - almost like conducting an orchestra. I particularly enjoyed this feature during grandiose pieces like the main theme from Final Fantasy VII.
The game boasts an extensive catalog from the series' most prominent composers, including Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, and Hitoshi Sakimoto. It features 385 tracks from mainline titles and the numerous spin-offs and sequels - almost twice as many as its 2014 predecessor, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. Although Theatrhythm Final Bar Line features a simplistic chibi art style, it offers a surprising amount of depth. Throughout my playthrough, it felt like I had only scratched the surface of the game's potential. I mainly played on Basic and Expert difficulties, as I focused more on immersing myself in the music than mastering the precision and speed required at higher levels. I only attempted Supreme and Ultimate difficulties a few times, but I quickly failed within seconds.
Furthermore, the game includes role-playing elements that contribute to its replayability. You can create a party of four from a vast roster of 100 characters that unlock as you progress through each title. I chose a mix of my favorite heroes from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and IV, which was a thrilling experience.
To complete the quests that accompany each song in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, party customization is crucial. These quests vary from achieving a perfect run to defeating a series of monsters during the track's duration. To overcome some of these challenges, players must customize their party with abilities that exploit enemy weaknesses. Although the combat is automated, setting up abilities before battles is enjoyable enough to encourage players to revisit their favorite songs.
If you have an appreciation for the Final Fantasy soundtracks and enjoy feeling happy, this game is a must-play. It commemorates 36 years of music from a beloved franchise in the gaming community. This top-notch rhythm action game serves as a tribute to the Final Fantasy series, filled with ample content and imbued with love and care. However, at times it can feel like quantity is prioritized over quality, particularly when navigating through some poorly designed note maps to reach the more inspiring ones. Some players may have more patience for this than others. Now, I'm going to relive some of my fondest childhood memories.