If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy music, you simply HAVE to play Theatrhythm Final Bar Line. Bringing with it over 380 tracks from across the Final Fantasy universe, addictive and engaging rhythm-based gameplay, and a vast array of collectibles to keep players hooked in for hours on end, it really is the perfect celebration of all things Final Fantasy in the year of the series’ 35th anniversary.

Check out some screenshots down below:

The gameplay loop of Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is best described as ‘easy to play but difficult to master’, with the player having to hit the notes of the music being played through a variety of different means. Whilst timing is the most important factor (the notes themselves will move across the screen and you have to perform the appropriate action when they hit a specific marker), the action you have to perform differs based upon the colour of the note.

Red notes simply require a button press, with the player able to hit any of the face or shoulder buttons. Green notes require a button to be held down, with the player then having to time the release of the button with the end of the note. Some of these green notes will require the player to move the analogue stick to control the direction of the note as it moves, with the complexity of the movement determined by the difficulty you’re playing on. Lastly, you have yellow notes, which require the player to flick one of the control sticks in the direction shown on the note.

It’s very easy to get used to, with the accessible gameplay mechanics making Theatrhythm Final Bar Line one of those games that just about anyone could pick up and play with minimal fuss. However, things do get more complicated when you hit the higher difficulties, with a higher note count to be found and more advanced mechanics embraced to really test your reaction speed. Some yellow notes will require players to flick two sticks in separate directions at once, for example, whilst the green notes might require the player to flick the stick in a set direction when they release the note. There’ll be a lot more double notes to press too, with these alternating between the different note varieties to add an extra element of complexity to the experience. Players might even face an increased speed with the notes or have to hit the notes with more precision, with the game really upping the ante on those higher difficulties.

“There’s a staggering amount of songs to play through, but given the quality of Final Fantasy music as a whole, it’s something fans will be left in awe of.”

It’s a rewarding difficulty curve though, with the higher difficulty levels actually proving more satisfying to play. You’ll constantly feel your skills improve as you put the hours in, whilst it’s easy to find yourself in a rhythm where your hands respond to the notes shown on the screen without even having to really think about it. What’s most important though is that it’s REALLY fun, with the addictive nature of the gameplay making playing through each and every song in the game a real treat. You don’t even have to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy the gameplay loop, with the simple yet complex rhythm mechanics sure to keep any fan of the genre entertained.

Players progress through Theatrhythm Final Bar Line by playing through a selection of tracks from each of mainline Final Fantasy titles and a wide selection of its spin-offs, with more options becoming available as you progress through each title. Whilst you won’t find EVERY track from each title available, each has a decent selection that consists of a lot of fan favourites (though I am a little bitter that ‘A New Hope’ from Final Fantasy XIV isn’t available). It is worth noting that you don’t get the full song though, with one of the most noticeable examples being the opening section of ‘One Winged Angel’ from Final Fantasy VII being missing – whilst it’s not a deal-breaker and you still get the bulk of the track, it’s something that some fans will notice.

Still, it’s hard to complain too much, especially when you consider there are over 380 tracks available in the game. There’s a staggering amount of songs to play through, but given the quality of Final Fantasy music as a whole, it’s something fans will be left in awe of. It gives players an opportunity to hear music from the series they might have never heard before too, whether that’s in one of the games they might have never played or even with one of the bonus tracks that doesn’t feature in a specific game. Either way, it’s the most expansive and impressive soundtrack I’ve seen in any game, and it’s full to the brim with absolute bangers. One personal favourite I have which I never heard before is ‘The Skies Above’ from The Black Mages, which Final Fantasy X fans are sure to appreciate…

Check out some screenshots down below:

Of course, it couldn’t be a Final Fantasy game without including some form of battling. Whilst the rhythm-based mechanics make up the core of the experience, players will also have a party of four characters battling throughout each stage – upon completion, they earn experience points to increase in level and unlock new abilities. You’ll lose HP when you miss notes, whilst you’ll also dish out additional damage to enemies (and score points) based upon the accuracy in which you hit each note. With plenty of protagonists and villains from across the series to use in your party, a myriad of cool abilities and summons to use, and plenty of familiar foes to face off against in battle, it adds a really neat twist to the gameplay that increases the stakes of each stage. And sure, it can be hard to keep an eye on the battles themselves since you have to watch the notes hit the screen, but it always brought a smile to my face when a familiar enemy showed up.

Each track also brings with it a specific mission to complete, with objectives consisting of the likes of getting a certain percentage of notes hit with a ‘critical’ score, hitting every note in a track, defeating a set amount of enemies in combat, or playing on a higher difficulty, just to name a few. Some of these missions will be tough to complete until you’ve levelled up your party, so it encourages replaying stages to get the most out of them. It’s worth doing though, especially since the missions reward you with some cool collectibles to add to your collection. There’s PLENTY to unlock in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line and it’ll take a long time to get everything… it’s a good job it’s just so much fun to play then.

There’s also plenty of replayability offered in the game’s multiplayer modes, with local co-op seeing two players work together by having to hit their own sets of notes in a song, and online competitive play seeing up to four players compete for a high score whilst obstructing their opponents. Admittedly, my time with multiplayer has been limited, but what I’ve played has been neat and adds a whole new way to experience the game’s rhythmic action. Competitive play is a hell of a lot more intense than playing solo, but its clever implementation ensures it’s something I’ll definitely stick some hours into.

Oh, and the game’s cute visuals? I love them, with the whimsical and charming vibe of the aesthetic making the game even more joyful to play through.

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line Review

I absolutely adore Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, with the brilliant rhythm-based gameplay and rich song selection making it a real treat for Final Fantasy fans. The accessibility of the gameplay makes it easy for just about anyone to play, whilst the complexities introduced in the higher difficulties ensure that it always remains entertaining no matter how many hours you’ve already put into the game. Add to that the rewarding party building elements, the host of unlockables, and the fact that you have over 380 songs to play through, and you’ll quickly find that there’s plenty to love about this celebration of all things Final Fantasy.

There were a few notable omissions from the track list (at least as a personal preference for myself) and it is a shame that you don’t always have the full song to play through, but they’re minor complaints in what is otherwise a sublime experience. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is simply unmissable.

Developer: Indieszero
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Website: https://www.square-enix-games.com/en_GB/games/theatrhythm-final-bar-line