Esoteric and sprawling as it might be, the Ultimate Fantasy collection has at all times been unified by sure persistent themes, photographs, and music tracks, and one of the crucial recognizable of those continuities is that of the chocobo, the goofy-looking species of chook mounts that present up in a lot of the most important video games. Over the previous few many years, Sq. Enix has launched a number of spin-off titles centred across the chocobo – spanning a stunning number of genres – and one of the crucial distinguished of those was Ultimate Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon, which noticed a Wii launch within the West in 2008.
This new launch, Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy!, is a remake of that Wii title with a recent coat of paint and a few further content material thrown in to sweeten the deal, however the actual query on everybody’s lips is how properly the core sport holds up after practically ten years. The reply is “Type of.” Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! is unabashedly an pleasurable RPG romp by endlessly generated dungeons and it actually advantages significantly from the Ultimate Fantasy DNA that it borrows, however – like lots of its fellow Thriller Dungeon brethren – it inevitably falls into the lure of repetitive gameplay that does restrict a few of its enchantment.
Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! opens with a surprisingly bold sequence by which you, an totally lovely little chocobo, and your treasure looking accomplice, Cid, plumb the depths of a desert temple to discover a misplaced treasure, solely to seek out that a rival treasure hunter and chocobo have already beat you to it. After a magical explosion and an impressively detailed FMV sequence, the chocobo and Cid discover themselves transported to the mysterious city of Lostime, which labours underneath the fixed menace of a magical bell within the city sq. that frequently rings and wipes the reminiscences of anybody inside earshot. After the chocobo discovers that it has the power to leap into the minds of individuals and restore their reminiscences after exploring twisted psychological dungeons, you set out on an journey to uncover the darkish secrets and techniques of Lostime and return to the ‘actual’ world with Cid.
On condition that this can be a Thriller Dungeon title, the deal with story will be surprisingly intense at occasions, nevertheless it’s a welcome ingredient of the expertise. Although the characters are all largely one-dimensional creations that fulfil apparent roles within the overarching plot, the exploration of reminiscence and its surrounding philosophy typically goes to unusually deep locations given the cutesy look of every part. Even so, the story additionally seldom overstays its welcome; cutscenes are stored brief and are simply skippable, because the Thriller Dungeon video games are at all times in regards to the grindy dungeon crawling gameplay at first.
You’ll spend most of your time with Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! trawling your manner by seemingly infinite randomly generated flooring of dungeons, trying to find the steps to take you to the subsequent flooring whereas choosing up any objects and killing any enemies you encounter alongside the way in which. Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! is the kind of sport that reveals its hand comparatively early and rarely deviates from a inflexible and repetitive gameplay construction that, whereas missing in general selection, sufficiently gives sufficient of a suggestions loop to maintain you coming again for extra. You go down into the dungeon, degree up and accumulate highly effective gear, return to the floor for a break, then go down once more to repeat the cycle, and – in true roguelite style – should you die within the dungeon earlier than you make it again out, you lose all of the objects you’re at the moment holding.
Apparently, Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! is much less of a regular JRPG than it’s a turn-based RPG. Dungeons are specified by a grid-like sample and each time your chocobo strikes a single area, every part else on that flooring additionally strikes a single area. If you’re in a fight encounter, this makes for some surprisingly cerebral gameplay at some factors. For instance, should you take a step in the direction of an enemy two areas away, they’ll be capable to assault you as soon as earlier than you possibly can reply, so it’s greatest to as an alternative assault the empty area between you two and bait the enemy into coming nearer so you may get the primary strike. It’s essential be excited about long-term technique, too, as your chocobo has a ‘Starvation’ degree that slowly drops with each few steps you’re taking – ultimately sapping your well being if it drops too low – and every flooring is rife with myriad traps that may inflict quite a lot of debuffs, like poison or burn. Correctly equipping chocobo with the proper objects and equipment prior to every run is essential to succeeding the trials you’ll face beneath, and the problem typically applies sufficient strain to make sure that it’s important to stay conscious of these items if you wish to succeed.
This being a Ultimate Fantasy sport, the roles system lies on the coronary heart of your chocobo’s progress, with every class change being represented by a cute new hat the chook can put on. There are dozens of courses on supply, from Thief to Black Mage to Knight, and each brings with it a singular stat construct and listing of assaults. We discovered that the fight appeared somewhat skewed in the direction of favouring courses that prioritized ranged assaults, however the general depth of customization right here is admirable for a Thriller Dungeon sport; it’s under no circumstances advanced the way you purchase or strengthen jobs, however the jobs system affords up ample depth and selection for retaining the ‘grindiness’ to a minimal. With just a few notable exceptions, each class necessitates its personal type of playstyle, and this goes a good distance in the direction of extending your enjoyment of the marketing campaign.
What’s somewhat stranger, nonetheless, is the way in which by which you degree up the roles. Each enemy destroyed grants you a specific amount of expertise proper off the bat that goes straight in the direction of your chocobo’s degree, however Job Factors are solely distributed on a random foundation as an occasional merchandise drop from the enemy, and the quantity of Job Factors per drop is random, too. Maybe this was achieved as a manner of retaining you from having access to every job’s strongest talents too shortly, nevertheless it typically seems like an pointless and inelegant roadblock that retains you from progressing too far too quick. Whereas your character degree development is kind of outlined as being a pleasant, straight line that inclines at a predictable price, your jobs’ degree development may very well be outlined as a jittery collection of large spikes, adopted by lengthy plateaus.
New to Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! is the ‘Buddy’ system referenced within the title, in which you’ll convey sure NPC’s or a pleasant variant of nearly any monster with you to assist in battling your manner by the dungeons. Buddies are unlocked at a reasonably regular clip, with NPCs becoming a member of you after sure story beats have been handed and with new monsters teaming up with you after gathering sufficient ‘Buddy Factors’, which drop like Job Factors. Admittedly, Buddies don’t do a ton to vary up the core gameplay, however they’re a welcome inclusion in how they make sure enemy encounters rather less one-sided. You’ll be able to’t actually improve any Buddies, aside from BP pickups unlocking new variants of monsters inside the similar household (i.e. new sorts of Goblins or Elementals), which makes this function come off as being a bit tacked on, however the flip facet is that it additionally creates a chance for a buddy (heh) subsequent to you on the sofa to hop in and take management of your accomplice in the event that they’ve received a controller.
One thing that bears mentioning about general gameplay progress is the mind-numbing repetition that inevitably units in because the hours roll by. The shortage of distinctive differentiators between dungeons (aside from new monster sorts) isn’t all that noticeable at first, however dungeons ultimately really feel excessively homogenous, and that is solely additional exacerbated when you end up grinding flooring seeking JP to shore up some jobs that you simply haven’t been utilizing shortly, or retreading the identical ten flooring for one more crack at a troublesome boss. Thriller Dungeon veterans shall be all too conscious of this ‘downside’ – it’s additionally arguably the primary draw of this area of interest collection of roguelites – however we discover that it’s essential to reiterate that this isn’t the kind of sport you play for the variety and creativity of its gameplay; that is nearly as grindy as RPG’s can get, and that may be each a blessing and a curse.
Fortunately, issues are made somewhat extra attention-grabbing by the tools improve system, which acts as a giant motivator for persevering with to grind away at flooring. Your chocobo can put on a saddle, talons, and necklace, and also you’re certain to come back throughout all kinds of kit in your many dungeon crawls. This tools can then be introduced again to a smith in Lostime the place you possibly can then ‘Hone’ the tools to improve its effectiveness or ‘Fuse’ it to switch distinctive properties between like items, akin to including a passive hearth impact to a beforehand vanilla merchandise. Constructing and designing totally different tools units for various dungeon sorts (i.e. fire-resistant gear for a fire-themed dungeon) helps so as to add some additional customization choices and granularity to the totally different builds you possibly can run in your chocobo, and we discovered that it additionally went a good distance in the direction of making every dungeon run really feel that rather more significant; not solely are you constructing expertise to your chocobo and its jobs, however you’re additionally continually buying gear that may give you these further few stat factors you want on a given merchandise.
This being a remake of a Wii title, the presentation typically reveals its age by the semi-blocky geometry and infrequently muddy textures that permeate the environments, however Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! additionally manages to equally shock in lots of locations with how properly it appears in movement. It’s clear that Sq. put within the effort to switch at the least a few of the textures with a lot larger decision equivalents, and we discovered that efficiency hit 60FPS on a near-constant foundation. That is most undoubtedly not a system showcase by way of its visuals, however we discovered that the charming, vibrant worlds are well-realized and detailed; that is hardly a boring sport to have a look at. Equally, the soundtrack is stuffed with a group of playful and infrequently critical tracks that mix properly with the various well-made remixes of standard Ultimate Fantasy music. Followers of the collection will undoubtedly get probably the most out of this soundtrack, however we have been a bit shocked on the variety of authentic tracks in right here that show to be catchy; anticipate to listen to just a few that’ll stick in your head for a short while after enjoying.
Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! simply proves to be one of the best model of Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon, and we might even go as far as to say it’s within the working of being one of the best Thriller Dungeon sport basically. The story proves to be surprisingly heartfelt and mature in lots of locations, and the depth supplied by the roles system, coupled with auxiliary methods like Buddies and tools, helps to maintain the endlessly repetitive dungeon crawling from changing into too taxing. For those who’re the kind of participant who doesn’t thoughts very a lot grind of their video games, otherwise you’re searching for one thing rewarding, however comparatively senseless you could dump a whole lot of hours into, Chocobo’s Thriller Dungeon: Each Buddy! is a strong buy that’s certain to entertain. For those who’re not in both of these camps, we’d warning you to consider it somewhat extra earlier than taking the plunge, as this might simply show to be a disappointing expertise should you come into it with the flawed mindset.