"What really sells me on Opera Omnia is its restrained implementation of gacha mechanics."
"Assemble, warriors of light, and bare your steel against the encroaching tide of darkness! But before you go, would you like to buy some summon tickets? Purchase ten and you'll receive a bonus ticket at no extra charge, kupo!"
I've made no secret of the fact that I dislike gacha games. It seems to me that no matter how gacha games differ mechanically, they are built upon a foundation of misdirection: Look over here at these shiny rare items and pay no attention to the pilfering tendril slithering its way into your back pocket. Aren't you happy you got a rare item, alight in tantalizing hues of pink and orange? Why not make just one more
draw before the limited-time campaign expires?
My deep affection for its source material notwithstanding, my interest in Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia was tempered with worry that it would be just like its gacha contemporaries. And it is, to some degree; Opera Omnia features an item draw system, a friend summoning mechanic, and ability crafting that necessitates a fair amount of grinding.
And yet, I don't hate it. In fact, I rather like it. Something about Opera Omnia rings true in spite of its familiar facade.
Opera Omnia, like its action-centric Dissidia brethren, is a vehicle for Final Fantasy fanservice. Beloved characters from myriad realms assemble in a superfluous war between light and dark that probably doesn't matter because everything in these games is cyclical. The overarching story here is thin and serves merely as window dressing for tiny vignettes of amusing character interaction. The writing is fun, if nothing extraordinary, and every member of Opera Omnia's eclectic cast is more or less a caricature of themselves from their original games. But there are some surprisingly underrepresented faces among the game's playable cast, from Final Fantasy XIV's scrappy pugilist Yda (or should I say...well, I won't say, because spoilers
) to Final Fantasy IV's flirty ninja Edge. Much of my amusement with Opera Omnia was in seeing how these characters might interact when sharing a screen for the first time ever.
A hyper-simplified version of a traditional Final Fantasy that strips away exploration, Opera Omnia uses the same Bravery combat system as the Dissidia fighting games, except modified for a turn-based format. Players with previous Dissidia experience will feel immediately at home here, reducing enemies' Bravery levels before defeating them with hard-hitting HP attacks. Despite its shift to a less active paradigm, Opera Omnia's combat retains a smooth and flashy finish; character models have a pleasant, PS1-era aesthetic upscaled to HD, with poses and animations faithful to their original games. It's especially satisfying to watch characters fly into the air in pursuit of weakened enemies before smashing them to the ground with iconic special moves.
What really sells me on Opera Omnia, however, is its restrained implementation of gacha mechanics. As far as I can tell, playable characters join the party during the course of the story instead of being relegated to a cash shop. Better still, there is no stamina system to artificially inhibit player progress, and its character customization menus (which tend to be overwrought and barely navigable in most gacha games) are surprisingly streamlined. There are summons to earn, abilities both active and passive to equip, and something called a "Crystal Level" for each character to raise; aside from these, progression is fairly straightforward. Battles reward experience points and gil, better equipment makes characters stronger, and that's about it. I would personally prefer for the game to drop the auxiliary growth mechanics entirely, but it is less egregious than both Final Fantasy Record Keeper and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius.
tragically lacking in Ariana Grande, though. ♫ Oooh, ain't nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it...
The true test of Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia's longevity will be how the game evolves going forward. If Square Enix continues to add new and interesting characters that can be earned via in-game achievements, I can actually see myself regularly returning to Opera Omnia whenever I have a few minutes of downtime. That's more than I can say for any other phone game I've ever played.