Like many other PlayStation Portable owners, I’ve wanted Square Enix to make a version of Dissidia Final Fantasy that was built for the PlayStation 4. I loved seeing so many iconic and popular characters from the Final Fantasy series interact in one game, especially with action that was both fast-paced and beautiful to look at. This is exactly what we get with Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT, but not without a few annoyances that chip away at the total package. The trademark visuals and sounds that I’d expect from any Final Fantasy title are all over the place, but some terrible design choices and rocky online multiplayer keep Dissidia NT from being the game I’ve always hoped I would one day play.
Dissidia NT takes places after the events of the first two games on the PSP. Both Cosmos and Chaos are gone, but in their place a new world appears with two new deities in conflict. But don’t expect much setup for the events that unfold, as Dissidia NT hardly does much to establish what’s happened before or during the game’s events. Most of the time, I was confused as to why certain events took place or even why the conflict from the previous games continued. A lot of the plot involves many returning characters from throughout the fifteen numbered Final Fantasy titles, with a few fresh faces to make things interesting.
But unlike its predecessors, hardly anyone on the roster is given enough time to standout, let alone give insight into what’s happening around them or what’s their stake in the big conflict. This may be due to the game’s dependence on already knowing these characters from their respective Final Fantasy games, but the first two Dissidia titles did a much better job at handling so many characters in one story.
That being said, the cutscenes and battles that take place in the game’s story do look beautiful, and the soundtrack is a phenomenal compilation of remixed and original tracks from every Final Fantasy game to date. However, this is all overshadowed by how Dissidia NT forces you to earn Memoria to advance further in the Story Mode. This is done by completing battles in any mode, including the Gauntlet Arcade Mode and Online battles, and leveling up the ranks of your fighters and player profile. I found this to be a real bad hindrance when I wanted to play more of the story, only to find myself run out of Memoria and have to grind through battles to level up and earn more. It becomes more of a chore to get through the story, rather than an enjoyable experience of the game’s plot.
The fighting in Dissidia NT is a bit different than the previous games, but it has a lot more action happening all at once. Instead of having one-on-one fights, you choose a team of three characters (or team up with two other players online) and fight against another team on one map. You still have Bravery attacks that built up damage values and HP attacks to deal damage to opponents, but the dynamics of skirmishes is completely different from before. You also have various summons you can call forth to impact the battle, as well as environmental hazards that can become a factor when engaging opponents.
While I enjoyed seeing multiple characters in battle together, it can get very crazy with so much happening on screen, especially when the camera works against you in certain situations. I’d sometimes find myself getting attacked off-screen, or when my view obscured by an object or crazy effect that blocked my field of view. It doesn’t happen in every battle, but when it does it can cost you the match.
The offline modes and online multiplayer is both a hit and miss respectively. Offline you can play through a series of matches in the Arcade Gauntlet, which gives you the most rewards by completing it. It can get very tiring however when you find yourself constantly going back here in hopes of earning more Memoria to go back to the Story Mode with, but there are different options to choose from with each gauntlet you can dive into. Online multiplayer is where more problems pop up, and not just with how long it takes to get into a match with others online. Because of the aforementioned issues with the camera, fighting other players in Ranked battles can become a struggle.
In all the matches I played online, most of the matches I lost came from being unable to react or adapt to attacks I couldn’t see whatsoever. Pair this up with the occasional slowdown or rough connection to other players online, and you’re almost guaranteed to have a bad time. Though not all my matches ended up this way, plenty of them did work well whether I won or lost, these issues happen frequently enough to become aggravating.
Earning rewards and unlockables in Dissidia NT is also a big disappointment. You can unlock extra music, player icons, or outfits and weapons for every character by redeeming treasure you receive by completing battles. As you level up your ranking with each character, you can earn more treasure tokens and Gil to gain more unlockables, though it does take a long time. Even after I completed the story and played a large number of offline and online battles, I didn’t earn enough treasure or Gil to scratch the surface of what could be unlocked. This made the reward for all the effort I put into playing feel very small. Its great having to earn various music and costumes from throughout the Final Fantasy series for my characters and extras, but I wish it wasn’t so restrictive to do so.
The absolute biggest misstep with Dissidia NT are the summon battles you can partake in during the game’s Story Mode. Unlike other battles in the game, summon battles have your party square off against one of the different summon monsters you can call upon in matches. These battles are completely different and require a lot more patience to complete, mainly because of how one-sided they feel in comparison to every other fight in the game. Summon monsters have incredibly damaging attacks, with a myriad of abilities and skewed properties, that will make battling them feel like a frustrating ordeal.
I constantly had to retry again and again every time I had to complete a summon battle, leading to a screeching halt in my enjoyment of the game’s story. Having to take on a monster with attacks that damage you and your party heavily, and from all distances, is not very fun. These battles break up pattern of the game’s many battles, but in the worse way possible with how annoying and difficult they are.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT does make your favorite Final Fantasy heroes and villains look great, but also offers less than its predecessors. The battles are exciting and can make for some awesome dream matches between various characters. However some of the poor choices for the story mode and unlockables can make one feel disappointed after putting in a lot of time into playing. While online experiences may vary for most, fighting alongside and against other players can still have its great moments. Those that love Final Fantasy will still have something here to love, but I’m left disappointed with what we got, and still hoping to one day see the Dissidia game we always wanted.
This review was based on a digital review code for Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT for the PlayStation 4, provided by Square Enix.