Nostalgia is a potent poison. You get to relive some of the best aspects of the past. I am guilty of living on nostalgia, and I’m not above hoping on a hype train when it comes to remasters. Square Enix tapped into that with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered.
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is an action role-playing game originally released on Gamecube in 2003. Players find themselves taking on a multi-year fetch quest to find three droplets of Myrrh to bring back to their village’s crystal. This is to stop the spread of the miasma that has consumed the world. The story itself has some developments as players move across the map, but that’s about as good as it gets. Unlike most Final Fantasy titles, the story isn’t the main focus of the game. The game play is the bread and butter for Crystal Chronicles.
In order to find the Myrrh, players are tasked with going on a pilgrimage to different dungeons across the world. Each dungeon offers different puzzles and challenges and can be tackled once every two years. A year progresses after players get their three Myrrh droplets. The dungeons are unique and an absolute blast to look around. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is visually striking with an updated orchestral soundtrack to back it up.
To better understand the combat, it’s best to know that players have the option of selecting one of four tribes to make their characters. Apart from aesthetically being different, each tribe has a different play style and focus in combat. First there is the Clavat, which are the most human like out of the four. Clavat are pretty much the average choice with a focus on sword and board weapons.
Second, are the Selkie. The Selkie are tall, very agile humans with a focus on focus attacks in combat. They have a good mix of skills, but can pop off charge attacks faster. Third, are the Yukes. Yukes are slender figures that are adorned with armor, with helmets that completely cover their face. They are the typical spell casters. Last but not least, are Lilty. They are short and almost cherubic, but they’re known conquerors and terrors in close combat. They are aggressive combat focused.
It’s encouraged that when players start, they create 8 characters to swap between at leisure to better maximize crafting, as well as being able to tackle dungeons to the best of their ability. Combat is extremely simple, but offers some depth in multiplayer. Think of an extremely watered down version of Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo. There are commands that the player will flip through such as attack, defend, using an item, or casting a spell. Before each dungeon players will get the chance to set-up their command bar to fuse spells for better effect, or ensure healing items are at the ready.
Actual combat follows a rhythm system to be able to pull off a 3-hit combo. It is rather hard to get at first, but it’s best to watch the animation to find the best rhythm. From what I’ve been able to see, there were only visual updates made for the remaster, it would have been nice if there was a combat update to bring the game up to modern standards.
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is absolutely not a single-player experience. It’s possible to clear it solo, but it’s not fun. It’s a chore to beat the game alone. Crystal Chronicles truly shines in multiplayer, but more importantly, cross-platform multiplayer. Players can team up together on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS devices, and Android respectively. With multiplayer, players have the ability to stack spells or focus attacks to completely obliterate the field. The more players, the more fun.
The biggest issue I have with Crystal Chronicles is there is no couch co-op. Playing online is fine, but the true joy of playing with friends together on the same TV is missing and something Square Enix cannot add back in. With the issues with online connectivity, playing online is a chore. Playing solo is a tedious adventure of being too weak to handle the monsters or being too strong that it becomes a drag to clear rooms.
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is a great game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It would have been the perfect game to sit on the couch with someone and take on with the state of the world currently. This could have a great introduction to video games, but instead it’s a slog fest.
Crystal Chronicles feels stuck in time, but the developers wanted to keep up with the times with cross-platform online multiplayer, like the rest of the experience is neglected. The game feels like a grasp at nostalgia while forgetting what drew players into it in the first place. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is nice, but it’s difficult to recommend.
This review is based on the PS4 version of the game, purchased at retail.