Dissidia originally debuted on the PSP many years ago as a Final Fantasy crossover fighter, bringing characters from every major title together in a 1v1 fanservice brawl. I didn’t think much of it until I played the demo and was utterly flabbergasted; the game was incredibly tight, the motion and action indefinitely satisfying, and the challenge enticing. And the game had a ridiculous amount of depth, with deep pockets of rich gameplay that I never would’ve expected from what was displayed as a fanservice game. Needless to say, I was super excited when they made a new title for arcades 2 years ago, formatting the game as a 3v3 fighter using streamlined mechanics and HD graphics. Since the game was built using PS4 hardware and software, and because Final Fantasy is one of the biggest game franchises in the world, a worldwide console release was practically guaranteed, which brings us here. So how is it?
Well, it’s only been a few days, but I’ve already sunk about 20 hours on this game, and for good reason: Dissidia NT is great. What’s interesting is that it manages to be great despite plenty of evidence that it shouldn’t be. See, if I had to compare this title to its portable precursor, I would say it’s more restrictive and erratic, largely thanks to the streamlining of mechanics and focus on unpredictable 3v3 combat. However, I also consider those attributes a boon, as my key complaint with the original Dissidia was the supersaturation of freedom: between the game mechanics and huge variety of character abilities, there was almost no limit to what could be done. Nearly everything was customizable to the point of approaching absurdity, but that also made it crazy and fun. Unfortunately, in a versus game, you do eventually have to draw the line, and as a result Dissidia was fairly unwieldy by the end: the sheer fluidly of motion and options made it nearly impossible for either side to land a hit. It’s definitely true that Dissidia NT is more choked; a majority of the customizability for characters and summons is gone, and most battle values like health, speed and overall mobility have been assimilated globally. And yet, for all these restrictions, I find Dissidia NT lean and tough, with greater potential thanks to its team gameplay.
It’s not quite free from criticism though. This game has the same problems as another game I reviewed in a very similar vein: Gundam Versus. Gameplay is a treasure trove of unique and complex artifacts expressed through relatively simple systemd, but suffered a severe lack of tutorials or explanations for many of the game’s more nuanced mechanics (which, similar to Gundam, becomes problematic when working with such an uncommon genre). The game has roughly 20-30 different status effects that provide a wide berth of boons and impairments, all represented by small graphical icons – but not a single one is ever explained in-game and some are too complicated for that lack of information to slide. Offline play is fairly limited, offering a simple 6-fight arcade mode and a story mode that’s largely unimpressive. There are boss fights against the series’ summons which are cool and unique, but quickly run out of steam. Oh, and once again it’s a team vs. team game with no offline multiplayer, so each of your friends will need to get a seperate copy. If it’s any relief, I do think Dissidia NT doesn’t commit such harsh errors as Gundam in any of these categories (lack of offline multiplayer doesn’t feel like as big a loss since it never had it to begin with), and it’s a more accessible game overall. Unfortunately, Dissidia NT does have a unique hurdle that might hamper the game’s longevity: an extremely poor release date.
I’m legitimately worried about the lifespan of Dissidia NT. This game literally came out five days after two of the other most anticipated titles of the year. In one corner, you have Monster Hunter World, the first high definition console debut of one of Capcom’s most beloved franchises, constantly speculated about for well over a year. In the other corner, Dragonball FighterZ, a graphically stunning, highly accessible fighting game made out of arguably one of the most famous franchises known to young adults worldwide, by Arc System Works, probably the strongest company when it comes to games in that genre. Now Dissidia NT is no slouch. After all, the Final Fantasy franchise is possibly bigger than each of those other games, and being released on a modern console from Square Enix almost guarantees that the visual and audio performance will be absolutely sublime (Final Fantasy XV was very well received, especially in these categories). But here’s where we run into problems: it was only five days. Monster Hunter World and Dragonball FighterZ were both massive titles, swinging hard right out the gate. They’ve been gaining crazy momentum since release and it’s fairly impossible to compete in their space. Moreover, players can enjoy World or FighterZ as effective 1-2 player experiences (FighterZ can also be played with friends offline), but Dissidia NT is a 3v3 arena style game; there’s a high dependency on a large community for it to thrive.
Square Enix is a large company, Final Fantasy is their flagship franchise, and the game remains incredibly successful in arcades, so I don’t think developer support is going to stop anytime soon – but if the online community is enfeebled right off the bat, it will quickly lead to a poor multiplayer experience. That social element is very important, and even a game as deft and dazzling as Dissidia NT needs momentum to chart a path. So if you’re looking for a recommendation, I’ll offer it conditionally: You will definitely enjoy this game if you’re a fan of Dissidia, and will probably find something enjoyable if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy (any of them). You will also enjoy it if you’re digging these emerging, arena-style games like Gundam Versus – and its lower barrier of entry is a definite plus. Outside of that, it’s a total gamble whether you’ll enjoy it. Regardless, I won’t be putting it down for a while.