Final Fantasy IV shows how tedious modern JRPGs have become

Welcome! This column is part of a regular series in which we share what members of the Tom’s Guide staff are playing and enjoying right now, with an eye towards helping you find great games that you may have missed. Be sure to check out our previous entry, where we talk about Halo Infinite.

If you’ve played Final Fantasy IV, you don’t need me to tell you that it’s one of the all-time classic Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs). With its deep combat system, memorable cast of characters, heartfelt story and charming graphics, it essentially pioneered the formula that most JRPGs still follow today. But after recently replaying the game, what struck me most about FF4 was that it took me 21 hours to beat, side quests and all.

Modern fans have gotten used to the idea that JRPGs are huge, grandiose, bloated productions that can consume 100 hours of your life, or more. FF4 stands as a stark reminder that this doesn’t have to be the case. During my 21 hours with FF4, the game never dragged or overstayed its welcome, and left me feeling satisfied rather than exhausted. I started to wonder: Are modern JRPGs really better than their ’90s brethren — or just longer?

Revisiting the classics

(Image credit: Square Enix)

If you’ve never played FF4, it has an extremely straightforward pitch: You play as Cecil, a dark knight in the kingdom of Baron. He defies a horrific order from his king, and sets off on an adventure to pursue the magical crystals that protect the land. Along the way, he teams up with a delightful cast of characters, from the brooding dragoon Kain, to the eager summoner Rydia, to the cantankerous sage Tellah.

Leave a Comment