In the ever-expansive galaxy of role-playing games, where epic tales and intricate battle systems often take center stage, there exists a hidden gem that embodies the essence of classic Final Fantasy titles while weaving its own unique tapestry of adventure. Final Fantasy Dimensions, a game that could easily be mistaken for a long-lost relic from the SNES era, manages to shine brightly in the modern gaming landscape. With a party of eight customizable characters, a captivating job system, and a narrative structured as an anthology of stories, it offers a distinct experience that deserves recognition among fans of the franchise. Now, without further ado, I, Brighton Nelson, will delve into the depths of this underrated masterpiece, where the past meets the present in a symphony of nostalgia and innovation in today's article... a Final Fantasy Dimensions Review: A magnificent callback with an excellent job system.
Battle System - 8
This game may just have another Final Fantasy ATB system, but it is fantastic nonetheless. Due to this game's incredible customization system and having a 5-player party, this game's battle system slaps. Temporary party members often join up and leave throughout the game, and by the end of the game, you can fully customize your party of 8 and recruit a total of eleven temporarily playable characters that teach you new jobs throughout the game. If you've read any of my other reviews, you know I adore games with five or six playable party members. We also get an excellent Auto-Battle system, of course, and there are some awesome endgame bosses to take on to push the players to their limits. This is a banging ATB system and one of the best in the series.
Story - 7.5
Okay, other than the game's intro and final moments, this game has a feeble overarching story—it's basically a discount amalgamation of Final Fantasy II's and Final Fantasy V's stories. However, there are some great individual moments here that elevate this story beyond the bland. The character stories of The Mask, Elgo, Jinnai, Grapms, Graham, Dusk & Alba, Gawain, Argy, and Matoya? These characters all had fun chapter stories that elevated the weak overarching story to a much more memorable experience. In particular, I loved the stories of Matoya, a dancer who was running an underground resistance faction, and Jinnai and Gawain, two characters that are on different sides of the conflict, but you see both of their sides, leading you to sympathize with both of them. However, even with individual stories I loved, the story was quite disjointed, and quite a few chapters were bland, especially Barbara's and Eduardo's. In summary, I thought this was a fun and well-told game from the perspective of being an anthology of stories, but not as a very cohesive story with a compelling central narrative.
Characters - 8.5
The main cast of this game is solid as a whole, but there are some very weak links here. Glaive and Diana have no time in the spotlight until the final moments of the game, Aigis gets almost nothing after the prologue, Barbara basically doesn't speak, and Eduardo is just a horrible rip-off of Final Fantasy IV's Edward. However, the rest of the characters in this game are awesome. Sol is basically Bartz 2.0, which could be bad for some, but since I love Bartz, I love Sol. Nacht is a more edgy and brooding character, but since he doesn't act annoyingly, he comes off as a very cool character. Sarah? She's basically Final Fantasy V's Lenna, but arguably more interesting (albeit less developed). And best of all are Dusk and Alba, two of my favorite Final Fantasy characters. Dusk is always intriguing and mysterious, and Alba is laugh-out-loud funny. In terms of temporary characters/I loved a lot of them, as I mentioned in the story section. From The Mask, a mysterious character that becomes an awesome anti-hero by the end, to the badass dancer Matoya, who might even be more epic and hardcore than Octopath Traveler's Primrose, and that's saying something—her story is my favorite in the game. From Gawain and Jinnai, who are on two different sides of a conflict yet share a similar end goal, to the beautiful story of Cid loving his robot like a child, there are many fantastic characters here. In the end, while this game certainly has some misses in the character department, its pros vastly outweigh its cons.
Art & Graphics - 8.5
I know many people don't love the smooth pixel graphics here, but I thought it looked great and fit perfectly with the game. The contrast between the two worlds looked great, and I found the forests exceptionally beautiful. Also, the character sprites all looked highly unique and distinct... this game had excellent character design. It'd be stupid to say I don't love the graphics in this game.
Music - 8
Unfortunately, I was always on the go while playing this game, and I never really got to hear the music while playing. But after the fact, I got to listen to the soundtrack on its own, and it was just so awesome. The light and dark worlds both did a great job establishing the mood and atmosphere, and I got a different vibe listening to the music of the two worlds, even if I hadn't experienced it during the game. While I didn't find the music phenomenal, it did a great job with what it was going for and was definitely an underrated Final Fantasy soundtrack. Everything in this game is severely underrated, but overall, this had a great soundtrack.
Locations - 5.5
This game has a terrific final dungeon and some great bonus dungeons where you recruit summons, but otherwise, this game has far too many generic towns and forests to give this game a higher score. I can't even remember the name of a single location from this game outside of the Gladiator's Hall, which only stuck in my head because I grinded there for hours. I remember the fantastic final dungeon in detail, the desert in Matoya's story (and that desert's town, which actually may have been my favorite location in the game), the tree that you go through at the end of Gramps's chapter, the toad dungeon with Eduardo, the tower at the end of Barbara's story, and the one place where The Mask joins the party. However, as much as this game has a few memorable locations, the fact I can't remember their names is just a testament to how forgettable the locations are in this game.
Sidequests - 5.5
Fighting in the Gladiator's Hall and coliseum, as well as collecting summons, memories, dances, and songs, are basically all the sidequests in this game outside of a couple secrets hidden on the world map. While these were fun diversions from the main quest, they weren't quite good enough in both quality and quantity to rightfully say this game deserves a higher score.
Quality of Life - 7.5
Three notable things lessen the experience I had with Final Fantasy Dimensions. While I found the JP system to be cool, it needed to be more readily accessible during the endgame... perhaps you could buy it or win it at the coliseum or the casino. Locking job progression behind the postgame was not a great idea, and it just made such an interesting idea fall flat for anybody who isn't a fan of the RPG grind. As a fan of the grind, this was too much... even for me! That's a little embarrassing. Also, switching between parties and leveling up characters leads to feeling super strong, then super weak, then super strong, and then super weak... it was just an endless cycle. While I didn't mind this because, quite frankly, I adored leveling up because of the fantastic job system, it was worth pointing out. The third and perhaps most prominent problem for me was the utter ambiguity of the F-Abilities—having at least some sort of fortune teller or something to help guide you into finding good abilities would have gone a long way. Overall, this game has its issues, but they didn't ruin the game for me.
Customization System - 10
As somebody who genuinely doesn't enjoy Final Fantasy V's job system (more on that here), I loved this job system. I never loved how every job was so imbalanced in that game, especially with some jobs having only two job levels, whereas others had eight. In Final Fantasy Dimensions, however, every job has 20 job levels! This made every job inherently much more balanced, and only the Thief and the Dancer seemed to be underpowered in this game (compared to at least six worthless jobs in Final Fantasy V). Also, my biggest problem with Final Fantasy V was fixed here: jobs not only have more than one slot, but weak abilities take up fewer slots than strong ones! This made weaker abilities worth equipping and allowed for so much more customization—something I felt Final Fantasy V was severely lacking. Also, physical jobs felt fun to use in this game since they had skillsets this time instead of just innate abilities like Two-Handed or Dual-Wield! This made dealing damage much less monotonous in this game compared to many other job-based games. I also found the limiting of the JP system intriguing and fun for most of the game, as it encouraged me to branch out and not spend too much time on a singular class. It just made things much more enjoyable for me! I loved how the light and dark characters learned different jobs, and not gaining them all from Crystals this time made the experience all that more unique and personal, as spending time with people allowed you to develop and learn their skill sets! Also, while some dislike how this game didn't have as many jobs as Final Fantasy III or Final Fantasy V, I wasn't particularly complaining; I'd rather have fewer, more balanced job classes than the mess that was Final Fantasy V's balancing. On top of a fantastic job system, this game also introduced F-Abilities, which basically allowed you to combine abilities of different job classes and learn them permanently, allowing you to use many more capabilities of other job classes than you'd assume at first glance. While I wish the actual learning process of those abilities was much more streamlined, the abilities themselves were an excellent addition that Square Enix didn't need to grace us with, yet they still did. In the end, the job system in Final Fantasy Dimensions somehow was able to fix every single problem I had with Final Fantasy V's job system, as well as make it unlike any other system I've played. Because of that, this game has one of my favorite job systems of all time and is up there with Octopath Traveler II and Blue Dragon for me... a feat that I never thought a Final Fantasy spin-off title could achieve.
Fun Factor: 9
Overall Score: 79%
Letter Rating: A
I loved this game, and quite frankly, I think it is an underrated gem that feels like a missing game from the SNES era. If Square Enix had stuck this between Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI, I would've not batted an eye—that's a firm testament to the greatness of this game. While this game certainly had its issues (which I'm sure would've been fixed if Square Enix had given it a larger development team), I prefer this to Final Fantasy V—seriously, this game is that good. This game is a love letter to why the SNES Final Fantasy titles were so unique, and like Final Fantasy IX, did a phenomenal job of preserving the legacy of these games while still innovating with new, fresh ideas. I recommend this game to every Final Fantasy fan, and I believe this is one of the most underrated RPGs of all time. Maybe one day it'll get the console release it deserves, and I will pay full price for this game; I recommend it that much. Even with its flaws, I can confidently say that Final Fantasy Dimensions is worth a playthrough.
Primary Version: Final Fantasy Dimensions (iOS/Mobile)