Square - Final Fantasy (1987), 5/10

Final Fantasy's simple story works in its favor, as the gameplay is equally simple and easy to grasp, yet surprisingly enjoyable even returning many years after its release. Of course, the game's influence is vast as an early role-playing game featuring random encounters, open-world exploration, and a class-based combat system. This is impressive considering its release in the late eighties, but more importantly, its systems are still fun to play. These gameplay mechanics in conjunction with the game's effective approach to story makes it a classic for good reason. The straightforward plot beginning with the Warriors of Light seeking four elemental crystals takes a backseat to the gameplay but has surprisingly engaging moments considering its transparency. Exploring dungeons while fighting for the party's survival feels tense and escaping dangerous encounters feels rewarding. Seeking out the next instance of progression can be frustrating at times, but the payoff of finding that veiled next step is more often satisfying than frustrating and contributes to the battle balancing intentionally. The series would see a vast change in direction regarding characters and methods of storytelling, for the better, but beginning with such a solid foundation of gameplay was essential to future successes for the franchise.