Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition Review – Memory Lane

    Title: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition
    Developer: Square Enix
    Release Date: August 27, 2020
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: Square Enix
    Genre: Action RPG

The Crystal Chronicles series has had its growing pains in the past as it tried to figure out precisely what it wanted to be. Being exclusive to Nintendo platforms gave it the freedom to experiment with console gimmicks from the time, such as using the link cable with the Game Boy Advanced. Now, the series is getting a second chance on current generation hardware with the release of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition. While it adds a new layer of refined visuals to a game that I share many memories with, a few features are missing that hold it back from feeling like an authentic remastered experience.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition’s story centers around an adventure that is ultimately shaped by the players from the game’s earliest moments. Players assume the role of an adventurer who sets out from their home in search of gathering a mythical liquid known as myrrh. Myrrh recharges Crystals that ward off Miasma, which plague the world and will kill anything that comes into contact with it.

Players will choose a character and set out their own caravan adventure to collect myrrh across a few years as the story unfolds. The story doesn’t really shove itself in your face because it’s mostly about your own adventures within the world. This is all reflected in your in-game journal that details the dungeons you defeated and the characters you met along the way.

That’s probably the highlight of the overall story of Crystal Chronicles. While there is an antagonist introduced later on in the adventure, it’s these created memories that truly stand out. This is true when playing with others as well, which was a highlight for me in the Gamecube version. Looking back in your journal at the events of each year is like a memory capsule that reminds you of what you had to do to get where you are.

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Now, provided players mostly shape the story; you’ll progress the years by collecting myrrh in dungeons. Dungeons begin as straight forward as you’d expect, but they also feature some interesting gimmicks and light puzzle elements that make them more engaging. Also, each year a handful of the dungeons will become tougher, which means you’ll have to take them on multiple times to collect the myrrh.

While exploring a dungeon, the Miasma will have the power to kill those who come into contact with it. So, players will need to travel with a crystal that creates a safe barrier around the caravan. It’s a unique way of forcing players to stick together as well as work together during tense situations. You see, someone has to be carrying the crystal, but they can’t attack while carrying the object, so others have to protect them. It creates some exciting moments of gameplay that encourages communication. In single-player mode, players have a Moogle that carries the crystal for them.

Boss battles cap off each dungeon, and some are more interesting than others. Being a remastered version, I didn’t expect too many changes to the way the enemies behaved, but I wish the developers switched up the boss attack cycles. If you’ve played the game before, you’ll already know how to quickly beat these massive enemies and move on.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition 2

After you clear a dungeon, you’ll receive some myrrh, read a letter from a friend, and then choose an upgrade. However, you’ll ask yourself, “Why would you want to play through these dungeons multiple times?” Well, that’s an easy answer, loot. Every monster drops something, and sometime you’ll receive materials to create powerful equipment. Fighting tougher enemies provides better rewards, but it’s all somewhat random.

Characters will also need to create their character’s loadouts, which increase in capacity over time. This just gives you fast access to magic, items, and attacks. The system works much better in the multiplayer mode when you can choose what type of role you want to play in the party. Still, the level of customization players have over their character is entirely tailored by their choices after a dungeon, which gives the entire experience a Dungeons & Dragons feel to it.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition 1

Outside of battles, players can explore towns and encounter secret scenarios while caravaning around. The towns don’t have too much going on besides a few NPCs to talk to. I honestly wouldn’t have minded some fetch quests to do while I farm materials. In place of this are random caravan encounters where NPCs will ask you for GIL or to trade items. Towns are pretty much only useful when you’re trying to craft new equipment or look for Mog stamps.

When it comes to the Remastered updates, we see a full visual overall, and the game has never looked better. Dungeons feature some aged layouts, but the character designs still hold up today. Given that players can choose from a handful of characters and even more using the game’s mimic system, I appreciated the work that went into making the characters as charming as ever.

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Sadly, the lack of local multiplayer is a massive shame as it was something that I remember most fondly when thinking back to the original release. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get into a party for this review, so we don’t have impressions of that system. However, since this is a remastered release, I can say with confidence that you’ll want to play this game online. It’s possible to complete the entire campaign alone, though, but it will lack some of the more memorable moments. One thing I wish was improved on are the loading times which get pretty noticeably long throughout the quest, especially when you’re trying to get somewhere. While the UI was improved in some ways, it’s still confusing to navigate to where they have menus hidden, and navigating them is a chore.

One thing I ended up really liking was the new music and additional dungeons. This just made some moments of the adventure feel new and gave it a modern appeal. Also, voice acting has been added, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. While some characters sound fine, others come across like robots.

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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition carries with it many hours of action dungeon crawling and loot collecting. It’s a Final Fantasy game where the story is centered around the player’s actions and how they take on the many trials thrown their way. This is a game created for multiplayer, so the lack of local offerings hurts it a great deal, but the online features are their to group up with friends and create your own adventure.

I had a great time returning to Crystal Chronicles, but there were times where I wished they pushed the remastered offerings a bit further. The new dungeons, semi-UI improvements, and more refind graphics were great for old fans like myself, but that may not be enough to grab the attention of new players.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.