Final Fantasy Explorers is an experiment to take the popular monster hunting genre of Japan and integrate some of the aspects that made its franchise renown. At its core Explorers is a Monster Hunter or God Eater game with staples found in Final Fantasy like jobs and summons. Don’t be surprised to find the fist-wielding monk destroying monsters or the fiery Ifrit causing some trouble. The question that is posed is thus: is Explorers a great investment of your time much like its competitors or is it something that is simply a waste of time?
When it comes to different approaches to combat, nothing screams better than jobs in Final Fantasy games. In Explorers you have a plethora of jobs to choose from, whether it be the sword and shield of the Warriors or the traditional staff wielding Black and White Mages. Each job has its own long list of abilities for you to master and ultimately sets each class apart form each other. You’ll find the typical mages to have spells like Fire, Ice, Cure, and the like while you’ll see something like Counter from Monks. Crushing monsters is fun as you can utilize the various classes and swap them out at your leisure.
As you chain abilities together you’ll have your Resonance meter build up over time. When you reach a certain point you can unleash your Resonance, a beneficial and unique gameplay mechanic that alters how you play. For instance it can alter elemental affinity for moves or shorten your cooldown for certain abilities. It’s an extremely neat feature and one that I found fun to fool around with. However, in the grand scheme of things, Resonance doesn’t ultimately change the fundamental combat system. The abilities, mapped to the various face buttons in combination with the shoulder buttons, don’t change the tides of battle. If you were losing a fight, activating Resonance isn’t going to save you.
One of the cool features in Explorers is the ability to create monsters and have them join your squad to defeat the “dangerous” foes that stand in your way. The summoning of monsters is costly but having one in your party is cool in the sense that you can mimic an online cooperative experience. In addition you have the ability to merge monsters together to create stronger allies. It’s a mix of classic Shin Megami Tensei without the terrible complexity of ability managing. Although, one can say it’s also not to the game’s benefit.
The elements outside of the gameplay and story such as the graphics and sound don’t come across too welleither. The visuals while looking cute and vibrant are watered down by uninspired visual landscapes and somewhat cheap looking textures. Granted the 3DS is old and it makes sense as to why the games looks like the way it does, it is a drawback nonetheless. The repetitive and uninspired musical tracks become annoying after a while and you might be better off putting on some tunes from your phone while playing the game.
If you told me that there would be a game that’s based on Monster Hunter/God Eater for gameplay while takings its roots from Final Fantasy then I would be the first in line for that. Unfortunately, what is a great concept and idea on paper is something that is ultimately disappointing. Final Fantasy Explorers ultimately strips the complex portions of its genre counterparts into a barebones action title with Final Fantasy-esque elements. Explorers is not a terrible game by any means. What you get with Explorers is a game that can help you waste time as you wait for your next anticipated game or something to play in short bursts while you’re on the go but it’s not an experience worth partaking in, even if you’re a fan of both genres.
Versions tested: Nintendo 3DS
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.