Review: Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster (PS4)

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Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster Review - Screenshot 1 of 10

Final Fantasy IV is the game that put Square’s series on a new path, one that prioritised dramatic, character-driven stories — something that would define the franchise going forward. It tells the twisting tale of Cecil, a skilled knight who starts to question his country’s militaristic ambitions. Even 32 years after its initial release, the game’s plot is deeply engaging, and is held together by a great cast of personalities, each with their own understanding of a world that’s on the brink of all-out war.

Party members come and go as the narrative progresses, and the pacing is almost perfect throughout. This was really the first time that Final Fantasy attempted to meld gameplay systems with storytelling, as numerous plot points actually influence the way characters conduct themselves in battle, opening up new abilities and the like. As such, the whole adventure has an impressively cohesive feel, from the story direction, to the turn-based action, to the process of levelling up your ragtag band of heroes.

And you probably will need to level up. Final Fantasy IV can be brutal RPG, with weaker characters constantly kicking the bucket if a monster so much as sneezes at them — but the difficulty curve does even out once you’ve got a few mainstay party members. Thankfully, if you’re not up for the potential grind, the Pixel Remaster’s exp and money boosters alleviate a lot of the pressure.

Combat also takes a notable step forward in this instalment with the introduction of the now iconic Active Time Battle (ATB) system. Character actions are essentially governed by a timer, adding a welcome layer of strategy to issuing commands, and the timing of such. What’s more, individual party members come with their own unique traits and abilities, making for an impressively rich turn-based experience.

Final Fantasy IV was a significant cut above what had come before, and it’s still a fantastic RPG today.

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