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    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD: The PSP game that’s had a bath

    If We're Honest, up until recently, the thing that most excited us about Final Fantasy Type-0 HD was that buying it means we’ll also be given access to a demo of Final Fantasy XV . After having some decent hands-on time with Type-0 HD, however, we realise we’ve been grossly unfair to the game, because it deserves to be viewed as more than a means by which to get a sneak peak at Final Fantasy XV.

    Part of what’s won us over is the degree to which we found the game to be evocative of one of our favourite Final Fantasy games: Final Fantasy VIII . Roaming around the elite military school in which protagonists Class Zero are enrolled, all prettified in HD, we couldn’t help but be reminded of Balamb Garden. The appeal of that isn’t just about nostalgia; there’s something about the high-school atmosphere of Type-0 HD, as well as the school’s sense of place, that drew us in. Think of it as a Hogwarts for JRPG fans.

    Continuing on that high-school theme, it’s worth noting that Type-0 HD contains some of the social systems that you might be familiar with from the high-school JRPG, Persona 4. That is, while you’re in the academy between the campaign missions, you have a certain amount of free time to spend. There will be various activities for you to choose from, with each taking a number of hours off your total free time for that day. That proved to be a great way of building your relationships with characters and structuring your progress in Persona 4 we can only hope that is also the case in Type-0 HD.  

    The meat of the game, however, is to be found in campaign missions. The game’s mission-based composition makes it feel different to other Final Fantasy games, associated as they tend to be with a more open structure. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; Type-0 HD is a game that’s divided into digestible chunks, a game that’s designed to be thought of as segmented, where your doing your best to maximise your ranking in the particular section you’re playing.
    In terms of its combat, Type-0 HD favours a more action-based style, closer to Lightning Returns or Kingdom Hearts than it is to the older, menu-based Final Fantasy games. Each character has their own unique weapon and associated special attacks, which lends a bit of variety to the combat in that different characters are better suited for different approaches (you can cycle through your party at will). Each character’s style of combat also impacts on one of Type-0 HD’s key combat systems Break Strikes and Kill Strikes (essentially critical hits).

    As with Squall’s various Gunblades in Final Fantasy VIII, you can increase the damage of attacks by timing them correctly. On-screen prompts will appear when your foes are vulnerable to a critical hit and timing an attack to coincide with that will either kill your enemy instantly, or result in massive damage. Naturally, when using, for example, a ranged rather than melee character, the timing you need to master for critical hits will vary significantly. Switching characters in order to make use of their abilities and successfully timing critical hits for huge damage can make Type-0 HD’s combat very satisfying, at least in the little that we’ve been able to play. Whether combat will remain engaging over the course of the game remains to be seen.  

    Having pointed out a number of similarities and differences between Type-0 HD and its brethren, it should become apparent that the game occupies the odd position of feeling like a title that’s simultaneously within the lineage of Final Fantasy, but that also deviates from the standard formula in a number of significant ways. That makes it a Final Fantasy game that’s interesting to us.  Indeed, when you take into account the positive reception Type-0 received on its original Japanese release, we suspect that anyone who is going in to this game simply to get at that aforementioned Final Fantasy XV demo could end up being surprised by the quality they find in the actual game they are purchasing.  

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