Final Fantasy really likes making homages to its original formula of Crystals and Warriors of Light, but it always seems to work. Light Warrior games don't have the intricate plot twists or metaphysically tragic figures that other games in the series like to go for. Instead, they go for pure charm factor, and this one's no different.
4 Heroes of Light
is an homage to older games, but it's clever enough to subvert the stock storyline. Sure, you get your four destined kids in the first dungeon, charged to fight darkness by a crystal and given some nifty job classes, but the characterization isn't anything like the others. As soon as they return to their Doomed Hometown
, the "heroes" fall into bickering and split up. One pair wanders around in a desperate effort to find someone who can lift the curse, but the other two plop down in a seaside resort, happy to give up and see to their own comfort. Then both pairs split again
and scatter into the wilderness, completely in over their heads—hardly the unified and purposeful True Companions
you'd expect. They're so distracted by the calamitous messes they get themselves into they forget that they have a larger goal, and you have to wonder if the Crystal got the wrong kids. But it makes it all the more rewarding when they do
start getting it together. It's some very realistic and satisfying Character Development
The gameplay, though, can be very frustrating. The job classes are good, familiar but not total copies, and there are a few new ones. The battle system is turn-based, but you can't actually direct where the characters aim. It takes some getting used to and makes battles harder than they have to be. There's no way to flee except with a particular job, either. Basically the game has a very steep learning curve and the second half punishes you viciously if you think you've gotten comfortable with it. On the other hand, the jobs are easy to switch around, and the AP system makes it easy to rely on mages, so you can experiment freely to devise your own strategy.
If you can get past the artificial difficulties, the game is very much worth playing—the music is great, the writing is charming, and the job system is as always lots of fun to play with.