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Final Fantasy 16 Review (PS5)

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Final Fantasy 16 Review

It’s about time! Final Fantasy 16 is finally here. While Final Fantasy 13 and 15 didn’t quite set the bar, Final Fantasy 16 is a completely different story. Nearly every aspect of the game shines through boldly. The soundtrack is world-class. The action is in-depth and deeply satisfying. Even the story, which represents Final Fantasy’s core chore, feels immensely natural and like a rollercoaster best experienced for oneself. 

Final Fantasy 16 isn’t the greatest game ever. Performance and difficulty, for one, could sure use a little more love. But it sure is one of the greatest Final Fantasy titles. I’ll even go as far as to say it’s the most wholesome RPG game I have seen in a long while. There are a whole lot of goodies (and a few lost opportunities) to uncover, so let’s get right to it, shall we? Here’s our deep-dive Final Fantasy 16 review for your reading pleasure.

The Backbone of it All

The story is, arguably, the backbone that makes the wheels of any Final Fantasy game go ‘round. And in Final Fantasy 16, the developers perfected their craft in nearly every aspect of the plotline. Starting with the characters, who are often the beating drum of any story. Whether from up close or far away, character models look as realistic as virtually possible. Even the shadows cast accurately weave in its character’s fine details to perfection. 

Fortunately, animations fit the narrative well. They look fluid and smooth, allowing you to take your mind off of the nitty gritty and truly enjoy everything else. Square Enix really went to town with the cutscenes. From the art direction to the environmental design, everything is beautifully curated. Though it’s not open-world, Final Fantasy 16 creates the illusion of a freely explorable space. Locations vary from medieval cities to scorching deserts and vast open fields. There’s the option to fast travel across the map, too. 

Meat on the Bone

We rock off to an edgy, dark fantasy start. A few f-bombs here and there, some shocking deaths, and you might write it off as a waste of time. However, Final Fantasy 16 quickly sneaks up on you like a thief in the night, gripping you by the heartstrings and never letting go. In no time at all, you become faithfully and emotionally invested in the story. More than a few moments genuinely move you to tears. Others have you clutching onto the edge of your seat. Even side quests have an intriguing dose of their own. 

Surprisingly, Final Fantasy 16 focuses on a one-man journey. Clive Rosfield. Supporting characters do receive considerable love and affection. But, ultimately, the cast stories wound up in service to Clive. Not that I’m complaining. Following Clive on a journey spanning two decades is genius. You grow to understand him, to learn his motives and his dreams. Like sheep, we grow to trust him. So much so that the 70 hours spent with Clive seem too little. I want more.

Want More, Have More

Final Fantasy 16

The only other element that matches Final Fantasy 16’s intriguing story is its combat. In fact, it could even be the game’s strongest feature for gamers solely focused on gameplay. The good news is that Final Fantasy 16 completely knocks the combat system out of the park. The bad news is that  the game gives you several downtimes in the form of side quests that the developing team likely felt were much needed. 

Good news first, players start with a simple range of tools and skills that continue to grow in power and sophistication over time. All along, you continue to mix and match the skills at your disposal, gradually curating your individual playstyle. It’s an accessible and flashy system that has a surprising depth to it. To some extent, you could see some resemblance to Devil May Cry, except the application feels right at home here. 

Fundamentally, Final Fantasy 16 feels absolutely fantastic to play. Controls are quickly responsive. Animations are effortless, with Clive dancing around bursts of explosive lighting. Only a few fights are too busy onscreen for their own good. For the most part, though, each fight feels fresh and new. Enemies grow more diverse with each encounter. Plus, they can unleash unexpected special moves at a moment’s notice. 

With the Right Tools, You Are Everything

Final Fantasy 16

At Clive’s disposal are some pretty handy tools to fight with. You get the standard swordplay, and, in addition, magic projectiles. Down the road, you unlock Eikon-driven skills that are the traditional “Summons” in Final Fantasy. Except, they have their own kind of play here, where each Eikon gives you an array of skills. 

Some Eikon skills are drastically powerful, albeit with long cooldowns. Others offer a wider range of effects. It all works seamlessly, allowing players to develop their unique signature moves and combos. Plus, the upgraded skills only unlock after you rack up enough points from battle, giving you more incentive to progress.

Forced Downtime 

Learning an enemy’s signature move pays off handsomely. It’s equally rewarding to strategize moment-to-moment gameplay and come out on top. Especially against the more vicious boss battles that literally drain every last ounce of fight in you. Perhaps that’s why Final Fantasy 16 felt the need to incorporate side quests. Something to take your mind off of the linear-ish rollercoaster and spend some time with the locales. 

But see, side quests are mostly ways to stop for a chat with NPCs. There are some that prove useful with respect to learning more about the world. Others provide insight into the lore. But, for the most part, side quests are spent tracking NPCs down and listening to them go on and on about stuff you probably couldn’t care less about. I constantly found myself longing for the story and the combat to kick back in – any minute now. Though, to be fair, side quests are entirely optional.

The Difficulty Issue

Weirdly enough, Final Fantasy 16 only has one difficulty level. It’s not too easy to feel like a breeze. However, skilled veterans may feel like the playthrough is like a walk in the park. Especially, when Clive picks up new specialized skills that make him stronger. To remedy that, Final Fantasy 16 adds a “hard” mode, where veteran players can challenge themselves. 

You unlock “hard” mode when you complete the roughly 70-hour playthrough. From there, you’re free to dive into New Game+, which is essentially starting the game afresh with stronger enemies, remixes of enemy encounters, and new items and equipment. You even unlock the base game’s level cap. While not exactly a harder difficulty, there’s a silver lining to replayability. Even though New Game+ is effectively only accessible post-game.


Final Fantasy 16 takes full advantage of the PS5 console. Load times are extremely fast, with mere seconds in between reloads. Technological innovations like haptic feedback transmit seamlessly through the DualSense controller. The only drawback is that frame rates sometimes dip in performance mode. So, you might as well cap the graphics at 30 fps. Still, it’s not a too-bad experience to hamper your overall playthrough.


Final Fantasy 16 review

Final Fantasy 16 is the kind of game where you can get lost for words in your first playthrough. It’s incredibly exciting to play. Everything from its fluid animations to the realistic character models syncs well together to create the perfect cinematic masterpiece. The story starts off slow. However, it creeps up on you, clutches at the heartstrings, and never lets go, through to the finish line. 

Further, combat is exhilarating. It’s effortlessly fluid, accessible to all players, flashy (as always), and pretty in-depth. Progressing through the levels feels rewarding, even as you come face-to-face with the most dangerous, jaw-dropping boss battles. Like the gift that keeps on giving, Final Fantasy 16 offers a “hard” mode post-game, where you can challenge yourself to remixes of battles, and stronger enemies, equip new items and equipment, and even unlock the level cap. It’s the kind of game that never ends.

Oh, and you can’t speak of Final Fantasy without mentioning the music score, which, in Final Fantasy 16’s case, absolutely nails its orchestral magic. Save for the frame rate dips here and there in performance mode, and side quests feeling a little lackluster, Final Fantasy 16 is an epic masterpiece every gamer ought to take for a spin.


Final Fantasy 16 Review (PS5)

A Must-Play, Jaw-Dropping, Cinematic Action-RPG

After a rather painful wait, Final Fantasy is back to its true form with Final Fantasy 16. This single-player RPG campaign leaves no stone unturned with its delightful sequence that leaves you craving for more. At its center is a gripping, emotional story that latches on from start to finish. Combat playthroughs deliver above expectations, with a thrilling, hugely satisfying system. Characters feel genuine and easily resonate with you. Environments perfectly nail the essence and Final Fantasy lore we’ve come to love. Even the voice acting and storytelling have been localized to better identify with the audience. It feels like so much gushing, yet so rightfully earned. So, if you’re looking for a game that actually delivers on its promise, Final Fantasy 16 is the way to go.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.