Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition piqued our interest during Gamescom this past August because of how ... strange it seemed. An episodic mobile version of a 100-hour console RPG? Featuring big-headed renditions of our burly leading boys? It was one of those things we needed to see to believe.
I got to go hands-on with it, and it turns out that Square Enix has something really sweet on deck with Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition. A scaled-down remake of last year’s long-awaited new Final Fantasy installment, Pocket Edition uses the same storyline and voice acting from its big brother. Over the course of 10 episodes, the mobile iteration will cover the same major moments as Final Fantasy 15 on console, with a few changes to the gameplay and, obviously, the visuals.
I can’t say I’m a fan of the big heads and dead eyes of the cast, but it grew on me during my time with it. What I liked more was how the game played. Pocket Edition relies on touch controls for moving Noctis around the world map, fighting enemies and driving his fancy car. It works better than I expected: Dragging Noctis around Cindy and Cid’s garage with one finger was simple and responsive. Battles worked just as well, relying on a few extra menu taps and swipes to pull out items or unleash special phase attacks.
What really struck me was just how similar it all felt to the full-fledged Final Fantasy 15. I remembered all of the story beats from the game’s first chapter, right down to the quests the gang had to complete and the areas they explored. Even with simpler controls, the game still felt like it had depth. I only got to play for 15 minutes or so, but Square Enix’s attempt at capturing the original experience and condensing it down to work on a phone or tablet is impressive.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of Pocket Edition’s episodes compare to the original Final Fantasy 15. I’m stoked to get back into the game whenever that happens, though; this is a smart, fun way to play what feels like a serious RPG on the go.
The game will be available on iOS and Android devices on Feb. 9.
Update: Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition is out Feb. 9, according to Square Enix Japan. It can be found on iTunes and the Google Play store; the first chapter is a free download. The full game costs $19.99.