Final Fantasy: All the Bravest on iOS is a steaming pile of in-app purchasing horseshit
It’s important to remember that Final Fantasy: All The Bravest costs $3.99 to buy for iOS devices. This is a premium game, not free-to-play, although the game contains some of the most heinous monetization practices I’ve ever seen on any device.
The game itself is dead simple. You have a stack of characters on one side of the screen, and Final Fantasy villains on the other. You tap your character to get them to attack, and then wait until their attack gauge refills before doing it again. This is the entirety of the game. I actually played most of it by simply rubbing my finger up and down the rows of characters.
It takes a single hit to remove one of your party members from battle. You regain one party member every three minutes, but you can also use an hourglass to get them all back right now.
You get three hourglasses “for free” with your $4 purchase, and to get more you have to pay real money. You can not earn Hourglasses through playing. $1 gets you three hourglasses, $2 gets you eight, and $3 gets you 20. Be sure to stock up!
What’s fun is the first major enemy wiped out my entire team. There was nothing I could do: I tapped as fast as possible, but I didn’t have enough characters on my team to take him out before we were destroyed. My choices were to either to use an hourglass, wait three minutes per character to get them back, or attempt the fight again, even though I can’t tap any faster and there’s nothing strategically I could do to improve my chances without buying characters or another hourglass.
As far as I could tell, the game forced me to fail and then gave me the choice of using a premium item or waiting to play more. “Oh, you wanted to actually think about combat?” the game seemed to ask. “Well fuck you, buddy!”
Character regeneration is this game’s version of an energy mechanic, but it takes real balls to create a game with such a blatant ploy for in-app purchases, while forcing players to use two of their three “free” hourglasses during the tutorial, before you even see the title screen. I’m not sure it’s even possible to play through the first 30 minutes or so without paying for items on top of the $4 price of the app itself.
It gets better. You can purchase “legendary” characters from the Final Fantasy series, but the character you receive is random, and they cost a dollar each. So buying every character will cost you $35. You can also buy airship tickets to other worlds, taking you to Midgar, Zanarkand, and Archylte Steppe. These tickets will cost you $4 each.
A missed opportunity
The skeletons of a good game are visible. Giving the player an army of Final Fantasy characters and an action-based version of the Active Time Battle system, complete with items to use and character placement to consider, might have resulted in an amazing game. Instead we get this, a lobotomized title that fails to reward thought or strategy. You simply buy things, tap things, and then buy more things when you lose. You can’t even choose the characters you purchase, as they are randomly assigned.
It’s a shame Square Enix offered little more than a slot machine for fans of the series. There could have been an amazing fast-paced take on Final Fantasy combat using classic characters where this blatant money grab exists instead. When you lose a battle there is no reason to rethink strategy, adjust the placement of your troops, or think about smarter item use. Outside of the hourglasses, none of that is under your control. Instead, you simply try to tap slightly faster, or pay more money.
This is garbage.