As part of the "international" release of Final Fantasy X-2, Square decided to conclude an epilogue to the Final Fantasy X world of Spira. This epilogue would be done in a completely new game, done in the style of what we like to call "rogue-like" games. A randomized dungeon that you must progress through using only what you find inside. Does this game bring closure to the saga? Is it a game that you as Final Fantasy fans should be excited about, and pick up the HD Remastered version to play? Let's take a closer look.
First, as always, let's look at the story. The game takes place 3 months after the conclusion of X-2. The world is at peace, or at least trying to get there. No earth-shattering evil or danger is present. Yuna has returned to Besaid and has been spending time with the resurrected Tidus. Rikku has been keeping herself busy with all sorts of odd jobs. Paine... well we find out eventually is writing a book about the adventures that happened during X-2, and in doing so started to reminisce... so she wrote letters to Rikku and Yuna to convene for a new adventure at Iucytyr Tower. The significance of this tower is never really stated.
So, we climb the tower, and the girls realize that really they are different people, and they start to fight. Maybe they were never really close to begin with, and were only able to stick together because of the circumstances. Who knows, really. They climb to the top, and find a broken machina, which fixes itself once the girls renew their friendship... yay...
Yeah, not much of a story. Really, it starts out pretty well as you learn what everyone has been up to in the last few months... however, once that is over, the story kind of stalls out, and becomes incredibly uninteresting... almost a little reality showesque.
On to the mechanics. I stated before that this is a rogue-like game. What this means is you crawl through a dungeon, 80 floors in all, each one randomly generated with spawning monsters and randomly placed treasure. You must accumulate treasure with VERY limited inventory space and you can only use this to make your way to the top. This is also a turn based game, each time you move or attack, the enemies on the floor will then get their turn. You can use this information to create the best possible strategy to keep you from getting too hurt or dealing the most damage possible before you get hit.
What's unique in this game is the class system. All the dresspheres from X-2 appear in this game but work differently. You collect dresspheres, and you can combine ones of the same type to make a stronger version of that dressphere. You can equip up to five dresspheres, each one giving its own stat boosts, and conveying certain abilities onto you. Certain combinations of dresspheres also give you "auto-abilities" or passive abilities, whcih if you have them equipped for long enough you can create accessory versions of. You can equip up to two accessories. You should also know that equipped dresspheres and accessories still take up room in your inventory which is limited to 16 spaces.
So, basically, the game is one of inventory management. You can only hold so many items, and you need to reserve 7 of them for the current dresspheres you have equipped and the accessories you have equipped. You may want to carry some healing items or pick up more dresspheres you'll want to fuse later, it really becomes a game of choices.
Now, each dressphere you have equipped has its own life bar, and if it goes to 0, it is destroyed. In addition, whichever girl you choose to play as, has her own life bar, and if all life bars go to 0, it is game over... well sort of. You get kicked out of the tower, your levels reset, and you can only access what you have placed in your vault via a certain book you can find. This personal HP is also a resource used by some skills... which may or may not... okay they are... quite overpowered.
Every 5 levels, you are prevented from advancing until you perform certain actions, which including reading a certain number of books, killing a certain number of enemies, dropping a certain number of items, throwing a certain number of items, passing turns, attacking air... etc. This is fine and all, though it is extremely annoying if you are trying to play the game blind, as there are no indications of what you are supposed to do. Seriously, I can't find clues anywhere. Also, seriously, when you start off, read the tutorial and make sure you have all the commands down... the passing turn thing is so obscure, and there's very little visual indication if you're doing it right...
All in all, this makes for a fun game. It is simple enough, and goes on just long enough... or maybe just longer than it needs to... to keep it from getting too repetitive. You get cutscenes every ten floors which makes for a good carrot to chase. I will say though, that the balancing is really not great. There are some abilities and combinations of spheres which are just amazingly overpowered. Once you find something that works, you can just grind up your power and will have absolutely no trouble getting through it or fear for death at all. Seriously, even in my initial run, before I used a restart guide to start over with all my items, levels, and dresses... it was just taking longer to kill anything... I was never really in any danger.
The graphics... are not fantastic. I mean they're not bad for what's really obviously a quick, thrown together side game. All the monsters are in a nice 3D model, the cutscenes use the same engine as X-2, and I will say the backgrounds for the little areas the cutscenes take place in are real nice. Obviously, there's not a lot of selection in the music, but it makes for fine background music, I never really got too sick of hearing it. Its not anything special, in conclusion... but it is not supposed to be.
So, in conclusion, I would not fault anybody for skipping this game. Sure, play it, if you want to be a completionist, or get all the trophies, or you really like rogue-like games. There are probably better rogue-like games out there... there are certainly better Final Fantasy games out there... but I guess if you are bored, there are worse things you can do then just plug away at a few floors. I wish the mechanics didn't have to be so restrictive, and there's probably enough variety in the spheres to give some replay value, but the story is not worth anything. This is a kind of unnecessary epilogue to a game that didn't need one.