Final Fantasy Explorers Review

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?

You look strong.

The story in Explorers takes it premise similar to other Final Fantasy titles. The heroes chosen by the crystal is thrown into the world with the ability to save it. Outside of this very barebones groundwork, Explorers doesn’t focus on the story too much. You’ll meet some new characters along the while that will help you cleanse the darkness that is tainting the land and defeat the summoned monsters that oppose your heroism. Fortunately, the story being simple is perfectly fine as the game’s primary focus is on the action/combat and the auxiliary customization systems.

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.

This is your home. You'll be here often.

While the combat system is enjoyable as you have the ability to change your classes, upgrade and discover new abilities, arm yourself with new gear or craft new ones, there is an ultimate feeling of emptiness to the game. This is primarily due to the terrible monsters you have to fight. None of the monsters really feel like a real threat to you, as they never do enough damage. Likewise, the numerous boss monsters end up feeling like just a large hunk of meat with unbelievably large HP bars. It’s not fun to tackle a monster that isn’t clever enough to outsmart you let alone have the audacity to keep you occupied for dozens of minutes on end.

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.

Summons are cool just like every Final Fantasy before it.

The primo experience of Explorers will ultimately be found in online. However, the game doesn’t benefit much from taking your explorer to meet allies on the fields of battle. Enemies feel even more dull and while it’s cool to interact with your other heroic buddies, the experience is left hollow as it seems something along the lines of attending an amusement park but left with rides that are ultimately boring and bland. The peak of the online experience will be had in the boss fights, particularly the summon fights. Whether it’s Bahamut or Ifrit or Shiva or someone else, the bosses will truly push your party’s mettle. They have strong abilities and actually pack quite a punch. In the end though, because of the tediously large health bars, it feels like a chore.

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.