Review – Theatrhythm Final Bar Line

Fortissimo, Final Fantasy Fans!

Overview

Developer Square Enix
Publisher Square Enix
Genre Rhythm, Music
Platforms PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Release Date February 16, 2023

From finally remaking Final Fantasy VII to the various Pixel Remasters to a steady diet of content for its more recent MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix has realized appealing to its ravenous fanbase is a power play. Enter Theatrythm Final Bar Line, a title meant for fans of rhythm games and Final Fantasy – a Venn diagram of which I am in the intersection. For those of us with those crossing interests, it’s a downright addictive rhythmic dopamine embrace.

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: There are magical and spiritual beings that have been represented in past Final Fantasy titles. From wizards and living fireballs to deific villains, characters run the gamut.

Violence: There is some minor animated violence but nothing alarming.

Sexual Content: Everything is based on the Final Fantasy franchise, including the outfits of the characters from the games. Many of those in the franchise’s history has included ladies with low-cut tops, some of which are shown in cutscenes. Everything in the actual gameplay is shown as a paper doll representation so nothing feels particularly sultry here.

Language/Crude Humor: Some of the flavor text has some minor foul language in it as characters are fighting through stages.

Review

Fans can be demonstrably heinous in defense of what they deserve from a franchise they closely follow. Luckily for Final Fantasy fans, Square Enix is on board with trying to make sure their following is satiated with offerings to keep them happy. While Theatrhythm Final Bar Line isn’t the first title from them to do this with music, it’s absolutely the most comprehensive. It’s also the first to drop on a mainline console instead of a handheld. Anyone who’s ever donned the title “Warrior of Light” will tell you at least a few songs have a special place in their hearts and minds. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line will give anyone who’s ever held one of those songs dear a reason to pick this up and play. With 385 songs in the base game, there’s surely something here for everyone.

While past Theatrhythm games have featured a contrived story in the vein of the Dissidia series, Final Bar Line opted to axe that, offering players three different ways to enjoy the game instead. First, you can take on “Series Quests,” essentially reliving each game’s storyline through its music. Here, you’ll work your way through each Final Fantasy title, unlocking characters from each game as you get access to the title and working through each game’s journey musically. Each song has a challenge for you to conquer, rewarding you with items for completion that buff your characters’ stats, too. Making it halfway through a title will give you a key to unlock other titles. This is ultimately how you’ll open up all the game’s music for the other modes, too.

If you just want to play through some of the gargantuan library in a less structured manner, you can just go into the “Music Stages” mode. This allows you to sift through the library you’ve unlocked playing whatever you please. I see that being how long-time fans will spend most of their time after completing the Series Quests.

Finally, folks can jump online for some “Multi Battle.” This lets you pick your difficulty and play against up to three other people. Each player will pick a song they want to play and a roulette ultimately chooses. The way you perform here will send wild effects to your competitors, making it harder for them to concentrate or land their notes. The standings at the end then reward players with ranking points based on how they did and grant them the dibs to pull collectible cards for their library. It’s pretty seamless and a lot of fun, even if you’re not particularly competitive.

Regardless of which mode you’re playing, you’ll gain rhythm points and conquer challenges to open up classic art, summon stones, airships, and moogle costumes (the latter are just fun cosmetics). As you play, you’ll pick and outfit your party of four, assigning their abilities as they level up. Your party composition does actually matter, too; missing notes will hurt your HP and your party’s level and abilities can make the difference in a pinch.

From an audio design perspective, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is an absolute masterpiece. I dare say you’d be hard-pressed to find anything as comprehensive for fans of either Final Fantasy or Square Enix in general since they’ve already announced DLC that will encompass a handsome array of their other RPG franchises.

Visually, Final Bar Line matches the simplistic paper-doll stylings of other games in the franchise. I love that they could distinctly cover so many characters this way and it’s both cute and colorful. There’s just something somewhat off-putting to me about the way they move on the screen. As that’s really just window-dressing for a fantastic gameplay system, I can’t fault it much. I genuinely love seeing all my favorite characters included, as well. (Ramza, Balthier, and Vivi, I’m looking at you!)

The only way I can say you should avoid picking up Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is if you’re neither a fan of rhythm games nor Final Fantasy. The game is such an incredible package full of fantastic music and memories, it’s hard to find much to dislike. Even the simplistic visuals are endearing and nostalgic. The game is addictive, too; I’ve already put so many hours into it, and I foresee it being in my diet for a few months. The well-executed rhythm gameplay mechanics combined with an astounding, memorable library would be enough to make any fan “Dancing Mad” with joy.

Review copy generously provided by Square Enix

The Bottom Line

 

Theatrythm Final Bar Line is a downright addictive rhythmic dopamine embrace for Final Fantasy fans and an excellent game in its own right.

 

9

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Joe Morgan

Husband, gamer, software developer, animal lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace, he's probably fishing or working on content with his wife for Coffee and Adventure, their YouTube channel

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