The Final Fantasy series is no stranger to the mobile scene, as they’ve been putting games onto the portable devices for years now. Many of these games have been huge hits, such as Brave Exvius and Record Keeper, and most of the titles fall into a particular genre known as “Gacha Games.”
Interestingly, the term Gacha Game is based on toy capsule machines in Japan in which you spin a handle and get a capsule with a random character or toy in it. The term “Gashapon” is an onomatopoeia of the sound the toy capsule machine makes when you turn the handle, and Gacha is derived from the first part.
These types of games rotate around a luck-based system of getting new content, like a Lootbox in a sense. In most Gacha games, you use some type of resource, whether it be orbs or tickets, to purchase characters or resources. Fire Emblem Heroes and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius are examples of Gacha design. Both feature resources – either earned in-game or purchased with real money – that are used to summon new characters into battle, but which characters one receives is totally random.
Unsurprisingly, the random draw system doesn’t always sit well with players. It can be hugely frustrating to have to spend money on getting better characters. It’s better implemented in other games, such as Mobius Final Fantasy, which strikes a good balance between providing incentives and for players that want to go through it organically and other non-essential options for those that want to drop money. Dissidia Opera Omnia uses a more inventive approach to Gacha by keeping it separate from the game’s characters.
In true Dissidia fashion, Opera Omnia throws together Final Fantasy characters from across the series. There’s a surprisingly fun and original story to play through, with a big focus on character interactions. It’s fun to see these different characters interact and each of their respective personalities shine through. Characters are the heart of Dissidia games, and cleverly, Square Enix designed Opera Omnia in a way that allowed players to acquire each of its characters naturally through the story and confined the Gacha elements to getting new equipment only.
Opera Omnia could have easily turned into an all-star character raffle like Fire Emblem Heroes, but instead Square decided to focus on a specific cast and not base the characters you have on luck. There’s also no stamina bar dictating your progress through the story mode, another staple of some Gacha games. You can play through as much or as little of the main story as you want at any time, although a Stamina Bar does come into play with side content like The World of Illusions. The one caveat is that the story isn’t finished, with new chapters being released later.
Opera Omnia’s Gacha elements feel less intrusive than other games, even compared with other Final Fantasy games like Brave Exvius. At no point does one feel pressured to spend money to bump up equipment, unless you get really invested in the game and plan on taking on its toughest challenges. Players just looking for a nice Final Fantasy nostalgia fest can play through the story at their own pace, while players looking to dig deep into the game’s systems can do just that. New characters are added through timed events, but simply playing the first couple of quests in each event will nab you the characters, while completing the entire event will give you a good piece of equipment for them.
Opera Omnia hits on that nostalgia note for Final Fantasy fans. In fact, it feels as though that’s exactly why this game exists. Each of the game’s characters frequently makes reference to the respective games they’re from, and original music from past titles play during specific boss fights. It’s fan service taken to the nth degree. And that’s exactly why this redesigned, less pay-to-progress implementation of the Gacha mechanic is so appropriate.
It’s great that fans can play the game without much difficulty and without having to grind for new characters or spend money. And for those who want to take it a step further, there’s the option to splash out and purchase resources if they want. But it’s optional, and that’s exactly how it should be. Opera Omnia’s use of Gacha is a breath of fresh air, and it’s something we desperately need to see more of in the mobile gaming space.