The very existence of Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition [Free] is both weird and fascinating. Final Fantasy 15 is the latest in the classic series of JRPGs. It launched last year on the latest home consoles, and on its face certainly didn't appear to be a good candidate for a mobile release. Maybe Final Fantasy 8 next for mobile players? Or even Final Fantasy 10? No, Square Enix clearly wanted mobile players to experience the story of the newest game in the series, and found a way to do just that. Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition is Final Fantasy 15… sort of. It's as though someone had the script and a pretty decent walkthrough of the original game and was told to remake it for mobile devices. Miraculously, it works.

Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition, like the original, follows the story of Noctis, heir to the throne of the kingdom of Lucis. On the eve of peace negotiations between Lucis and the empire of Niflheim, things go terribly awry at home. Fortunately, Noctis and his three friends weren't home at the time, leaving them free to do what is necessary to save the day. That's basically the beginning of the story, and in true Final Fantasy fashion it soon goes in completely bizarre and occasionally nonsensical directions. The characters are strong, though, and that makes the moment-to-moment happenings of the plot more engaging than its whole.

Most of the story from the original version has made the cut here. It's not a one-for-one re-creation, but it hits all of the important points and tells its story as coherently as it can be told. Of course, it's all done through the filter of the game's new visual style, which swaps out semi-realistic high-poly models for a stylistic super-deformed low-poly look. You might think that would ruin the drama of some of the darker scenes, but it works surprisingly well overall. I suppose that's not that surprising, given the series' roots lay in super-deformed sprites. On the whole, the story flows a lot better in this version of the game thanks to how streamlined certain aspects are.

Let's talk about that, because it's really the main story here. Much of the buzz of Final Fantasy 15 was focused around the massive open world that made up the first half or so of the game. You could drive around with your buddies, get in random fights, stumble on and solve side-quests that had nothing to do with anything in particular, and jam out to tunes in your car as you drove around. The same can't be said for the Pocket Edition, but I don't think it's necessarily a good or bad thing. The size of the world has been greatly reduced, and the flow of quests, mini-games, and sub activities have been reduced in scope to go with that. It hurts the game as a vehicle for goofing around, but it makes for a far tighter, more focused game all around. There's still plenty to do, but you won't (and to an extent can't) waste as much time doing it.

The combat has also been changed from the console version. It's still very much action-based, but instead of the original game's ground-level view that felt like it fell somewhere between Kingdom Hearts and a proper console action game, Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition gives you a different angle and a system that works better with touch controls. Battles play out from an overhead position, allowing you to get a clear view of your characters, the monsters, and the area around you. You only have to worry about controlling Noctis, with the rest of your companions controlled by the computer in most respects.

Basic attacking is easy, as you simply need to point Noctis at a foe and he'll start auto-attacking. Timed taps allow you to parry, use special attacks, dodge, and perform warp strikes. It's a lot easier to play than the original version, but still turns up the challenge nicely when the bosses show up. Beating up monsters will earn you AP that you can use to unlock new abilities, combos, and stat increases for each of your characters in a simplified version of the original game's Ascension Grid. While it's not completely free-form the way some Final Fantasy character systems are, it does give you a certain degree of customizability that lets you shape your party as you see fit.

As far as the production values go, Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition is pretty amazing. How one feels about the new art direction is a subjective thing and the game environments have lost a lot of their luster now that the game isn't really about exploration. At the same time, it's incredible just how much of the original game's atmosphere was preserved here. Certainly it doesn't hurt that the voice acting, sound effects, and music were carried over more or less directly from the original version. But visually, it manages to convey its themes and feelings even with its hard shift in style. If the original Final Fantasy 15 didn't exist, I think this version of the game would do just as good of a job in showing off its characters and plot.

But how much does it cost? Well, the game is divided into ten chapters. The first is free and does a decent job of letting the player know what they can expect from the full game. The next two chapters are available for $0.99 each via IAPs, while the remaining chapters sell for $3.99 each. If you want to just buy it all in one go, it will cost you $19.99. Essentially, it's not far off from the model that Square Enix used for the original Final Fantasy Dimensions [Free]. It's not out of line with what Square Enix usually charges for their premium efforts on mobile, and I feel like it justifies that price and then some.

I think the really impressive thing about Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition is that whether you've played the original game or not, you'll probably find a lot to love here. For fans of the console game, this is a quicker, abridged take on the story and characters you came to love. It's different enough to justify an additional playthrough, but similar enough that it doesn't lose what the console version was going for. If you're new to the game, you'll find a grand Final Fantasy adventure that feels tailor-made for mobile in all the right ways. It's enjoyable to play, the pace is excellent, and even if the story gets a little iffy in places, it's hard not to fall in love with the main cast. I still can't believe this worked, but it did, and it did so in fantastic fashion.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://woottwinds.tumblr.com WoottWinds

    Curious if it has any of the DLC/character episode story content built into it, and how it will handle the remaining bits SquareEnix plans on adding over 2018 and potentially beyond.

    I was pretty down on XV on its release, haven’t touched it since and won’t until they’re 100% done with it, but this definitely has me interested!

  • chfuji

    Well, I guess I’m spending $20 in the not too far off future.

    • CodeREd

      The funny thing is you can get the console version for not much more than that.

      • https://www.behance.net/rgdesignhouse Ron

        $5 at Redbox at the moment.

      • Hiraether

        And when you finish renting it you might as well have bought it. If you beat games in a single rental, perhaps you should consider things like nature, fresh air, socialization, and other non-otaku activities. No joke, FFXI almost killed me health wise.. when I got sick it was for years, not days or weeks or months. I was playing 12-24 hours a day pulling allnighters. Thus the lawsuit and the lovely warning about the sling breaks. I was not in that class action despite putting more hours into Sea (end game) than the plaintiffs.

      • https://www.behance.net/rgdesignhouse Ron

        NO, Redbox sells games to get them out of the kiosk inventory. It’s $5 to BUY.

      • sickbigbrother

        Oh man you Americans with your class action law suits. Sure, some of them have merits but a lot just seem like a money grabbing kind of a joke. Just seems often people sue companies for bazillions of dollars when in the end it‘s still their own behavior that had been at fault in the first place.

        Self-responsibility doesn‘t seem to have a high standing in US civil law and it‘s no wonder lawyers have a sleazy reputation trying to milk millions of ridiculous causes.

        I mean is it really the game‘s fault you played it into oblivion? I sometimes envy the class action system of the US because here in Europe you usually don‘t even get a lot of compensation when it would be more than appropriate (talking about real injustices like getting sick from bad food, drugs or a rich drunk driver killing someone etc) but in the US it seems every company gets sued for every little issue.

        A middle ground would be cool here but unfortunately as soon as people and especially lawyers can exploit the system, they will.

      • pedro stee

        hallo german diesel car owners, and the city air breathers.. cough cough... pity about your lack of recourse... (expiration)

      • sickbigbrother

        Yes you’re right. That’s the other side of the medal.

        Americans - especially some American law firms - exploit having too much recourse, on the other hand in Europe you often have none at all. Even if the other party is found guilty in a criminal court a civil suit mostly doesn’t even merit the expenses of lawyers and the lawsuit itself because potential compensations are so ridiculously low.

      • John

        lol your literally autistic

      • chfuji

        The phone version still has the distinct advantage for me simply because I sadly don’t own any modern home consoles.

      • CodeREd

        In that case absolutely get the pocket version. But in a situation where someone has a console also, I highly recommend getting it for the console instead.

  • 61050

    well, i just finished the first chapter. thats about as far as i got in the original, but the difference here is that i want to keep playing this one. very well done.

  • chinito77

    I have a PS4 Pro and always wanted this game but I rarely play games on it. My iPad Pro however, that is like my gameboy/psp console of choice for playing games these days. Gotta say, $20 for a console quality-like game is a good deal.

  • curtneedsaride

    I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far! However, I have two questions. How often is it saving my progress? And will I be able to replay missions and/or hunts to grind levels, or will I be forced to just progress the story with every step? If it’s the latter, I may only be able to play half-way through this before needing to go finish the console story first.

    • sickbigbrother

      It saves after every fight and mostly after completing quests (but apparently not every time). And as far as I have seen (I'm in the middle of the second chapter now) you can't replay missions. But the game is fairly generous when it comes to earning XP so grinding is nothing much you gotta worry about.

      • curtneedsaride

        Ah. I think we might be able to replay chapters. I was going to try replaying 1 before continuing 2... but I think I’ll try replaying 2 after I finish it and see if it’ll add to my XP and Gil. And as far as grinding goes, I wish I could grind more because I find grinding in RPGs relaxing. Thanks though!

      • sickbigbrother

        Little late reply, but right, one can replay chapters. Thought you were talking about repeating quests (aka missions) during chapters.

        Grinding really isn‘t necessary in this game though. It‘s already pretty easy and if you explore the maps you have much more Gil than you can spend anyway. Same goes for XP - Even though you can‘t upgrade everything by only playing every chapter once the game is even beatable if you wouldn‘t upgrade anything.

        But if you still like the grinding and replaying chapters - Have fun 🙂

        I initially planned to do the same, but alas I found the game to be missing any challenge at all.

      • curtneedsaride

        Yeah, I haven’t been challenged either. Shoot, it could be a FFXV interactive novel, and if I could grind mindless battles in the middle of chapters, I’d totally spend more time on it than anyone else. But, yeah, FFXV in general isn’t very challenging I guess.

  • TheVimFuego

    I’m 46 and have never played a FF game despite being a gamer for a large proportion of that time, do I win a prize? Going to give this a pop though, sounds ideal for my more limited gaming time these days.

    • CodeREd

      Missing out mate

      • TheVimFuego

        Yeh, it’s a genre that’s never appealed to me. Going to dive in now and see what the fuss has been about. In that sense a cut down version is the perfect introduction for me.

    • Hiraether

      I'd say start with the beginning but FFIII is a wonderful cross section of all the games, even the online ones, so you'll get the just if all the discussions, the Japanese D&D of it, the Latin elementals combined with a lot of Shinto. They are all tied together through resonant ages. All of the weapons, monsters, myths are sampled from anthropology like a who's who of legends. FFVII is my baby's bottle. FFXI almost killed me it was so good. FFXIV is perfect in a way that would make Joseph Campbell blush. Don't be fooled by the "fantasy" title. The heart of every problem with institutionalization be it religion or government will hit hard like Dickens or Dostoyevsky and most people will Never understand it and think they're games.

      • TheVimFuego

        Interesting, thanks for the background, I’ll play them with that in mind!

  • http://aggromagnetgames.com/ Aggro Magnet Games

    Thanks for the review! I'd heard about this, but figured it was a more-typical-these-days F2P offering designed to drive premium currency IAP purchases; I didn't realize it was a full game! It sounds great. And I can grab that free chapter to see whether it'll run reasonably on my 5S.

    • curtneedsaride

      From what I've read, it seems to only work on a 6S and up. Hopefully, I'm wrong, though!

    • bryan gonzalez

      Please reply back if it works on 5s

  • Morgan Leecy

    Question: I have a PS4 and in a few months time will be able to play the PS4 version of this game. Should I play the pocket version now, which I have more time for, or wait till I can play the PS4 version.. will playing PE somehow ruin the full version. Thoughts and opinions please

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      From what I’ve played if PE, skip the full version entirely. They stripped out everything I found to be dumb or annoying.

      • http://wizodd.tumblr.com Wizard of Odyssey

        This is exactly how I want to play a JRPG nowadays. The best games are those that don't waste my time with busywork. I'm legit stoked to get into FF15 in pocket form.

        The more I think about it, the more "big boy" games could get shrunk down in this way.

    • curtneedsaride

      Personally, I love exploring in the console version. Flicking through music in the car as Iggy drives, taking a fishing break, riding Chocobos whenever I want... There are tons of things I love doing in it that doesn't really further the story. If you enjoy that stuff, then you may want to wait. However, if you're big on just playing through the story, this should be perfect. And then you could play through the console to fill any gaps in case the pocket edition doesn't have the DLC episodes.

      • Morgan Leecy

        That’s a fairly good piece of advice. Play the abridged version and if I need more, play the full one. Thanks both

    • CodeREd

      Personally I’d skip the pocket version and get it on PS4. Game of the year edition wouldn’t be much more than buying all the chapters on mobile. Besides which, all the extra open world stuff in the console version is optional. You don’t HAVE to go fishing and do all the monster hunts but it’s there if you want. Which is not the case for the pocket edition. Also, driving around and listening to the soundtrack for every final fantasy game is definitely recommended in the console version, not to mention the beautiful graphics.

  • Edward

    I can’t wait to try it out

  • Mike Villeneuve

    Can all chapters be installed at once?

    I completed Chapter 1 and it looks like only Chapter 2 installed (1.6GB) after I bought the chapter bundle.

    I don't want to be out and about and hit the end of a chapter and not be able to download and play the next chapter because i'm away from WiFi. Especially, when the high resolution assets make the game weigh in at 8GB+. Easily, the largest iOS game I've gotten to date!

    • sickbigbrother

      I only bought chapter 2 (wanted to play another chapter before deciding even if it costs me 1-2 bucks more) and it installed an additional 153 Megabyte. But I'm also at 1,62 GB in storage now.

      Would seem weird that the game wouldn't download every chapter when buying all at once, especially due to the Wi-Fi issue you mentioned. Isn't it possible to remedy this situation in the game's settings (meaning to download the rest there) once chapters 2-10 have been purchased?

    • LightKeyDarkBlade

      In the options, you can choose to "download all chapters." I assume that it downloads all the chapters you own since I only have Chapter 1 currently and I can't download anymore..

  • meowmel

    Its worth spending the money imo. Combat is really fun and smooth

  • Adam Stevens

    Just wish it had MFI support...But it seems better adapted for touch screen than any other mobile FF ...loads better than 9 was at launch, until they added mfi ... Hopefully they'll update this one with controller support as well, though I somehow doubt they will considering how it seems built only for touch.

  • Adam Stevens

    Grid Autosport, Civilization VI, and now FF 15! Anyone else finding iPad to be a better mobile gaming console than even the Switch? ..

    • Mr. Mayhem

      No

    • cor segers

      Hahahhahahaha no

    • Paul

      Yes. I own a Switch and use the iPad Pro more with a Gamevice. Its always with me and has more games if not always better.

  • Chris

    I originally thought this PE was a ridiculous idea, but the more I read about it, the more interested I become.

    I played through the PS4 version, and while I liked it, it felt extremely unfocused. I would typically ignore the main quest, spending hours and hours exploring the world and doing a hundred different sidequests and hunts. By by the time I got back around to doing the main quest, I often forgot what I was doing and why it was even important. It caused the game to feel extremely disjointed and really hurt the overall flow.

    PE's more streamlined version that focuses specifically on the main storyline and cuts out a lot of the other distraction will likely make the game work significantly better as a whole.

    Between this review and Fahey's initial impressions (over at Kotaku) I've definitely become interested in this version, and will be giving it a shot this afternoon.

    • CodeREd

      There are certain sections and scenes of the game that are better served by the graphics of the console version. Also while the console version is a vast open world with plenty to do, you don’t HAVE to do the extra stuff. You could make it streamlined yourself by just playing the story sections.

  • Morgan Leecy

    So a little way into chapter 2, entire game purchased and I am getting a little frustrated at one 'ill thought out' game mechanic

    I am looking for all the sparkly items on the floor, some of them are in 'difficult; to get to places.. but if you 'accidentally' hit the trigger area that continues the story... booom.. done and you cant go back to get the item.

    This is really really annoying as you don't have an option to restart the chapter, or even go back

    Apart from that, solid game, certainly make me want to play the full version at some point. The main 4 characters are actually quite engaging

  • Ernesto Ibarra

    Anyone here have problems went try to load the game on iPhone X?

  • https://www.behance.net/rgdesignhouse Ron

    Downloaded this...played for 15 minutes. Looked at "full" version for $20...too rich for my blood. Looked up the xbox version on slickdeals, went and bought the full console version for $5 from redbox.

  • CodeREd

    I love Final Fantasy and am happy they’ve done this. Probably not for me though, I have Final Fantasy XV for consoles and am enjoying it mightily enough there. Especially as it’s a beautiful game and I like all the side quests, activities and open world feel of it. Driving around and listening to past final fantasy soundtracks is worth it alone
    Now where the hell is FFVIII and Secret of Mana remake on IOS?!

  • So Unmotivated

    If the art style doesn't bother you (I like that it makes Cindy less fanservicey), then I think this is one of their most interesting projects. A mostly complete FFXV in your pocket. Pretty damn cool. I'll probably still play the PC version too for the modding, but I bought a PS4 for a few games including FFXV since it was finally releasing, but after that I got rid of it because living room gaming turns me into a potato, so here's hoping we see more projects like this for other FF games Or more games using this one's engine.

  • RinoaHeartily

    This is fair and good review you nailed it Shaun. Totally agree with you and this is absolutely a good game and therefore worth buying.
    I didn't agree with your final fantasy dimension 2 review though :p

  • Metroglyph

    I have to admit, I am enjoying this one much more than I did the console version 🙂

  • nelson a

    i don't have the time to invest over 40 hours on console(adult hood is hard to find free time)this mobile version is enough for me to enjoy ff game like this and its rare to find a game like this on smartphones.

FINALFANTASY XV POCKET EDITION Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 5