Final Fantasy V is probably the most overlooked instalment in the mainline series. It didn’t come West until years after its original release, and by the time that it finally got a PlayStation port, it had been left in the dust by its genre-defining successors. What’s more, V never really received the retroactive attention that was granted to the likes of Final Fantasy III or Final Fantasy IV.
But Final Fantasy V deserves another chance. It combines a more involved gameplay loop with a storytelling focus, making for a fairly robust-feeling RPG. That said, the story and the characters are actually a step back compared those of its immediate predecessor. The game’s crystal-based plot can be slightly plodding and predictable, while party members lack depth in terms of personality and motivations.
Still, the game as a whole retains the sense of adventure that’s so key to retro Final Fantasy — and this is another world that’s enjoyable to explore. There are also more light-hearted moments sprinkled throughout V, which gives it a unique kind of charm when compared to its darker, moodier siblings.
Final Fantasy V’s gameplay systems are what makes it worth playing today. It takes the job system from Final Fantasy III and runs with it, letting you tweak your heroes to an impressive extent. Instead of just assigning classes to your team, you can master specific abilities from different jobs and apply them to others. This basically means that you can create hybrid character classes, allowing for an addictive level of party customisation.
This does, however, push a need to grind if you want to unlock a wide range of job abilities. Thankfully, the Pixel Remaster makes the process easier than ever, as a new ‘Boost’ can multiply the amount of Ability Points that you acquire from battles. Handy!
With a decent story, okay characters, and pretty standard turn-based combat, Final Fantasy V does feel a bit too safe at times, but the expanded job system really ties a lot of the experience together. A forgotten Final Fantasy for many, but one that’s still fun to play through.