Going back to classic Final Fantasy JRPG sytle, The 4 Heroes of Light returns to a more 8 and 16-bit RPG design. The game isn?t for everyone, as level grinding is a necessity, but can provide entertainment for the intended audience.
In typical JRPG format, the adventure starts with saving a princess but the plot evolves to stopping a great evil with the help of a crystal. The plotline has it awkward moments, like when the heroes break apart and go their own way for no reason, but will eventually come together in a predictable but charming way that RPG fans will enjoy even though it will take a while to get off the ground. Yup, we have an old school Final Fantasy storyboard here.
The storyline isn?t the only thing old school; just about all the gameplay is. Do not expect this game to hold your hand. In fact, the game does not feature any sort of tutorial so newcomers to the RPG genre should be a little hesitant before jumping in. But in order to progress to new areas and conquer boss battles, level grinding is a must. Sure, this brings back that old school vibe, but level grinding is sure to be a negative bullet point for some gamers.
Even though hours will be wasted killing weaker monsters to reach that next level, it is not as bad as it could be thanks to the Crown system. Acting like the Job system of previous Final Fantasy games, the player can swap the Crown of each character to assign new abilities. Finding the right balance of offensive and defensive abilities for each battle becomes key, especially during boss battles. Giving the game customization options, each Crown can be outfitted with special gems to level up abilities. It pays to spend time messing with all the options as finding an ability to turn the tide of a battle might only be one gem away. The downside to all this customization is the pacing and balancing of the game. If you think strategically, you might be able have an easier time with certain areas or bosses. However, if you are struggling to grasp the Crown system, you might want to plan for a more difficult and frustrating experience.
Also, the game often rarely gives the player a strong indication on where to travel to next. Like the old 8-bit RPGs, the player will only receive minor hints from NPCs in regards to what to do next. Again, this style of play is more for the hardcore and is not for everybody.
Like using a double edged sword, the combat system was probably initially designed to be more easily accessible but can actually make combat more of a challenge in a given situation. First, the game uses a combat point system. Every action uses a certain amount of points. Simple attacks might only cost one point, but more powerful magic spells can use several. Never exceeding more than 5 points, the player can wait a turn to queue up points. This system retains a higher degree of balance, as strategy needs to be considered at all times. Unfortunately, the flaw in this design comes from the inability in selecting targets. This means that the game will decide which monster gets attacked, which character will be healed, and who will be buffed/debuffed. And taking it to an additional level, the player also has to consider Front row attacks and Back row attacks. For the most part, the game will make decent choices, but there are plenty of times when your thought process will not line up with what the game did on your behalf.
If the navigation, combat system, and level grinding weren?t old school enough, the game also features a limited inventory slot. Each town has a special place to store your old equipment, but completionists might be upset because they won?t have the room to store 99 of each and every item. This, again, ramps up the difficulty factor and separates this game to the hardcore.
The 4 Heroes of Light was made by the same team that remade FFIII and FFIV. Meaning, they are familiar with the hardware and built this title with a very similar style as the DS remakes. The character models, although they are this odd looking storybook design, animate and show emotion well, but it is starting to show its age. If you played the previous two remakes, you will know exactly what to expect. But I am sure newcomers will probably appreciate the game?s graphical aesthetic a little more even though the environments sometimes come across as a little odd with dull colors. And what would a Final Fantasy game be without great music. This title has solid tunes but will start to become a little repetitive; but this is mostly because the player is forced to level grind so often.
There is no doubt that if you like old style RPGs, you will like The 4 Heroes of Light. You are really not going to find the flavor of modern RPGs in this title, but instead the player is rewarded with that old school charm. Sure, a higher degree of dedication is needed to play this game, but JRPG fans would not have it any other way. There is also a wireless multiplayer feature that no one will use, but it is there if you can find an able friend. It is not a perfect experience but if you can look past the flaws, you will be hard pressed to find a new game with this retro RPG feel.