Mobius: Final Fantasy (Review)

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Format: Android, iOS (Reviewed)
Release Date: August 3, 2016
Copy downloaded from Apple App Store

As a longtime fan of the franchise, I was highly intrigued by Mobius: Final Fantasy.
Boasting a deep battle system, intricate story, and comically huge swords, I was more than willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, my time with Mobius wasn’t deep or intricate, and the only thing that was comically huge was my disappointment.

I’ll be the first to admit that Final Fantasy has more than a few entries with questionable storytelling, but Mobius almost feels like a joke. The game opens with a lengthy cutscene of you drifting through some sort of space/water hybrid. Who you are, where you are, and what your purpose is remains a mystery, and a very poorly acted voice over proves to be extremely unhelpful in understanding the plot.

You’re quickly dropped off into a group of several strangers (all curiously half-naked men) and forced into your first enemy encounter. Compared to the core Final Fantasy games, the combat on display in Mobius feels dull and simplified. You repeatedly tap on the screen to release a chain of basic attacks, which results in your foes dropping elemental orbs. Collecting enough of a certain type of orb lets you unleash a more powerful attack of the coordinating element (fire, water, earth, and air).

You can spend your element orbs in battle to temporarily modify the drop rate of certain elements, which allows you to farm for the required orbs for different attacks. It’s an easily abused system that can turn potentially challenging fights into a walk in the park. Some enemies also have a break gauge that needs to be destroyed before your attacks can cause damage, but it never felt too hard to break through them. For a game boasting a deep battle system, it’s all too easy to manipulate, resulting in an experience that doesn’t feel consistent in its difficulty.

Fortunately, the popular Job system reappears in Mobius, slightly offering some varied battle decisions. Changing Jobs (which are essentially classes) offers new abilities in combat, but performing them remains the same across all Jobs. While you start as a lowly Onion Knight, you can eventually become a Black Mage, Samurai, Thief, and many, many more. The Job system adds a little more depth to a pretty shallow package, but I couldn’t settle on any Job that I particularly enjoyed, which was a bit of a letdown.

Speaking of letdowns, Mobius makes the odd decision to not allow the player to freely roam a world or environment. You simply go from one battle to another, never stopping to explore a wide world and become familiar with it. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed in the Final Fantasy games was the simple act of exploration. Looking for hidden dungeons, visiting new towns, and walking the fields of a new land are all integral parts to the Final Fantasy experience, something that Mobius seems to have forgotten

I also had some pretty big issues with the UI, which appears to be made solely to annoy the player. Jumping through so many different screens to change your Job, check out your stats, or simply look at the games settings is a convoluted eye sore. Likewise, there’s a lengthy tutorial that forces you to do exactly what it wants and locks you out of the majority of menus, options, and gameplay elements until you complete it. I wish this tutorial was possible to be skipped, because the truth is that it’s most likely going to turn off a lot of players.

However, my biggest issue with Mobius, is the horrible performance issues. The game has the tendency to slow down during fights, and there were several moments where the game would flat out freeze for 5-10 seconds. Making matters worse, Mobius probably full on crashed for me about a dozen times. You would think a developer as large and well known as Square would release something that doesn’t resemble a garbage truck on fire, but Mobius is exactly that.

Thankfully, the game is at least admirable from a visual and audio standpoint.
I don’t play games on mobile that often, but Mobius is easily one of the prettiest I’ve played on my iPad. While not perfect by any means, the particle affects, enemy designs, and overall look of the game is commendable. Taking it further, Mobius is just like its console brethren in the fact that it has a beautiful soundtrack. There’s definitely a few tracks that fans will be familiar with, but the new tunes are great as well. While nothing quite stands out like, say, One-Winged Angel, the tracks in Mobius are all pleasant to the ears.

FINAL VERDICT

I sadly can’t recommend Mobius: Final Fantasy.
It feels like a rushed and watered down version of what could have been a terrific mobile experience. A joke of a story, over simplified and easy to abuse combat system, as well as technical issues make Mobius a game that’s just not fun to play. While there’s a tiny bit of redemption in the form of the Job system and the pretty visuals and audio, there’s more things working against Mobius than for it. Even if you’re a fan of the series (like I am), I think you’ll be perfectly fine with passing on this one.

– Zack Burrows

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