The world of Final Fantasy 3 has been in a constant battle between light and dark. However, unlike the previous games, neither light nor dark are real representations of good and evil. Instead, they represent opposing forces that must be held in equilibrium. In this game, the forces of darkness have begun taking over, and you play as four warriors of light who must try to stop this act and bring back the necessary balance. This Final Fantasy 3 review is of the “remade” version for the PC, not the original Famicon or NES versions.
Taking it from the story above, the warriors of light seek to gain power from the crystals around the world and to eventually defeat the Cloud of Darkness, the force trying to use dark to plunge the world into the void. Unfortunately, the 20+ hours you spend trying to get to this final moment is seemingly filled with random minor stories that did not interest me and tended to not add much to the overall story or to the themes. For instance, in one, you arrive at a town of transparent people put under a curse and must find a Djinn to defeat and free them; in another, you must climb the mountain to save a woman’s husband from a dragon to gain his knowledge of spells. And this happens dozens of times. Throughout this, your characters don’t seem to be substantially developing, and instead are moving through a fantasy RPG world completing what are standard, cliche fantasy RPG questlines.
The main overarching story itself is also not fleshed out and simply not interesting. It is a story about how good and evil tend to be more grey than one thinks, and how they must be mediated so as not to let the other take over. But these themes are explored in the most simplistic fashion that they could possibly be told in. An argument could be made that the game is rated-E and at least partially targeted towards a much younger audience, but there are many rated-E and children’s games that do a far better job at still giving a great story with more complexity. It can also be argued that the game is one of the earliest RPGs we have, so of course, the story is simple. But we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years, and writing a decent story for a game even in the medium’s early stage should not have posed a challenge for a decent writer.
Obviously, for people playing these early Final Fantasy games, the story may not have been the main focus. It was gameplay, exploration, and the sense of progression. But to me, I don’t find those factors enough to merit a story that doesn’t try. Final Fantasy 2, while not a great story by any means, at least attempted at creating more interesting characters and a more solid overarching plot, but this one, unfortunately, went back to the roots of Final Fantasy 1, and left the story on the back-burner.
Fortunately, the gameplay was a massive improvement from the previous two of the series (although that is partially due to me having played an updated and modern version of the original). The first game was far too simple and the second game had that same simplicity but added a very poorly done leveling system. Final Fantasy III took away those poorly done features and added some much-needed complexity such as summoning and a more balanced but comprehensive combat and job system. Still, even with these added features, I just am not a fan of very old-school RPG gameplay, especially if they rely on repetitive turn-based combat. The fights become tedious and boring after a while, especially if you get unlucky and find a ton of random encounters. But this is more my preference towards gaming style, so if you do like that type of old-school turn-based combat, then this game does a much better job than the older two.
Final Fantasy 3 is not a game worth playing except for the historical perspective of gaming, or if you are 100% sure this is the type of game you enjoy. The story is noninnovative and actually takes a step back from Final Fantasy 2. The gameplay is very outdated but at least improves from the first two games. Out of the first three Final Fantasy’s, I would still argue that it is only worth playing one of them to understand the early stages of video game RPGs and where they originated. Which one you play is up to you. I would play the first if you want to understand the true origin. I would play the second one if you would rather have a semi-decent story. And I would play the third one if you want a bearable gameplay design.
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