Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is the fourth main entry in the Theatrhythm series which started life on the Nintendo DS before getting ported around to consoles like the PlayStation 4. As someone who has no rhythm at all, could this be the game that finally teaches me things like staying on beat and singing along in key to some of my favorite Final Fantasy songs of all time? Let’s hope so because this white boy needs something to up his dance and singing game!
Name: Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch & PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Developer: Indies zero Co., Ltd
Publisher: Square Enix
Game Type: Theater Rhythm Action
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer
Release Date: February 16, 2023
Story: There is none…
Yep, you heard me right. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, much like the other Theatrhythm games, has no storyline to speak of. However, we do have the following information about why things have come together for this musical gathering:
Theatrhythm follows the events of the gods Chaos and Cosmos, a similar plot to Dissidia Final Fantasy for the PlayStation Portable. The space between the two is called Rhythm, which gives birth to a crystal that controls music. Chaos causes the crystal to become disrupted, and the only way to return it to normal is to increase a music wave known as “Rhythmia” (known as “Rhythpo” in the Japanese version). As such, various characters from the Final Fantasy universe are brought together in order to harness the power of Rhythmia.
While this is the “plot” of the games, there is nothing connecting your adventure through each of Theatrhythm Final Bar Line‘s many game entries that cover the whole mainline Final Fantasy series of games, their spin-offs, and special entries and remixes… Sorry, Kingdom Hearts fans, you don’t get anything here.
A cute but cluttered mess… (Graphics)
First of all, I love the cute chibi style of Theatrhythm Final Bar Line. All the characters look really cute, and that includes the monsters too. While some characters and monsters take a moment for some people not too familiar with them to work out who they are (I had beaten Jenova twice before I realized who it was), 99.9% of them look exactly like they would in a weird 2.5D-ish style that makes for a nice battle system… If you could take a moment to enjoy it.
The main overlay for Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is where you are meant to focus your vision at all times since you need to hit the notes in order to not get a GAME OVER screen in every song. The problem with this is two-fold: The first is that a lot of work went into the character designs, the summons, the monsters and other creatures, and the backgrounds of the scenes. All of this effort feels to be for nothing because I never looked at any of it till I went back and rewatched the recorded footage I took for YouTube. It looks great, but you forget that it’s there most of the time as you concentrate on hitting the notes.
The second thing is that as someone with mid-to-poor vision, sometimes my eyes would “reset” during a song, costing me that one note that could have given me a higher score or a perfect score. This happens more often in the FMS (See below) scenes than most as the scrolling of the background would confuse my eyes, causing me to blink more and miss notes. I would actually recommend that if you do not have pretty good eyesight, you actually give Theatrhythm Final Bar Line a miss because this is not made for you.
The interfaces in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line are really simple and clean (No pun intended) with it being really easy to find your song of choice and how to modify things like difficulty level and the characters you want featuring in your party for that song. You do get previews of some of the visual aspects of the songs, especially when they accompany an FMV sequence. The overall presentation of Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is one that is meant for younger audiences, but older audiences can also appreciate it.
Simple gameplay, but punishing too (Gameplay)
As with previous entries in the Theatrhythm series, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line has rhythm-based gameplay that involves timed inputs of the triggers that appear onscreen; red circles indicate touch triggers via simple button presses, yellow circles with arrows indicate side triggers that require the correct direction through the analog sticks on the controller (some inputs require two analog sticks to input), green circles with green lines indicate hold triggers where a button must be held until the duration of the trigger ends, and a combination of green circles with green lines and arrows at the end that indicate held triggers with directional inputs at the end. Inputting a “Bad” or missing trigger results in the parties’ HP loss, and if fully depleted, the game is over.
The three main gameplay types in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line include Field Music Sequence (FMS), Battle Music Sequence (BMS), and Event Music Sequence (EMS), the latter returning from Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call. FMS and BMS now have an amalgamation of gameplay features from previous installments, while EMS is more simplified so that players can view the movies more easily during gameplay; the Feature Drive mechanic from the 3DS games has been removed.
There are three main game modes in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line: “Series Quests”, where the player can play through a total of 29 titles throughout the Final Fantasy series whilst unlocking additional playable characters. “Music Stages” is where any song the player unlocked through Series Quests can be played freely and acquire high scores. And “Multi Battle”, where up to four players can take part in online battles. Additionally, the “Museum” from previous entries returns, where players can view any CollectaCards acquired and use them to boost character stats.
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line features 104 playable characters, all of whom return from Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival. Playable protagonists are acquired when unlocking a new title in the Series Quests mode via a Title Key, whilst playable antagonists are acquired when the player clears all quests in a title.
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line features 385 songs at launch, with additional music added via DLC, featuring tracks from other Final Fantasy games as well as Square Enix titles. A total of 27 Special Songs are included in both the Digital Deluxe edition and Premium Digital Deluxe edition, the former includes the first Season Pass containing 30 tracks totaling 442 songs, while the latter contains three Season Passes containing 90 tracks totaling 502 songs.
Do you want to hear One Winged Angel for the 1000th time? (Replayability)
If you have played previous Theatrhythm games, then Theatrhythm Final Bar Line isn’t going to be something too new to you. The main Quest mode will give you everything you unlock through each game, then there are the special DLC items too. However, if you have played the previous games all the way up to now, then the extended playlist isn’t going to make you want to run out and buy Theatrhythm Final Bar Line on release day. Most of the track list returns from the arcade game, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star & the 2014 Carnival Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call release, so if you played either of those, then you already have most of this game. Not to mention that there are a lot of remixes in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, with things like One Winged Angel getting three different versions (I think), and most of the prelude songs are the same too… You get what I’m saying… There’s a lot of repeats and filler in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line.
Despite all that, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is one of those games that would appeal to the Final Fantasy fan in all of us, with additions like Final Fantasy XIV Online, Final Fantasy XV, and other new entries being just enough to make you think about the cover price and see some value in buying this game. For those of you who haven’t bought a Theatrhythm game before, this would be the best entry for you to cut your teeth on and enjoy all those sweet Final Fantasy bops that we all love.
Nice game makes brain go “brrrr” (Closing)
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line was something that I was worried about going into since I haven’t played the series since the original on Nintendo DS, which I sucked at. However, now that I’m a bit older, and my enemy isn’t the game itself, but my failing vision and hand-eye coordination, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line was a nice enjoyable experience where I jumped in for a couple of songs just to get the review done, but ended up spending a lot more time with and just enjoying the songs for the classics they are. Yes, my eyesight might hamper me every now and again… I am getting old, and Theatrhythm Final Bar Line showed me that… But once everything was said and done, I see Theatrhythm Final Bar Line as a great entry into the rhythm game genre that can appeal to music fans, Final Fantasy fans, and gamers all at the same time; which is nice.
Review Disclosure Statement: Theatrhythm Final Bar Line was provided to us by Square-Enix for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is a great musical adventure through the past of the Final Fantasy series and celebrates everything from the 8-bit chiptune days to the crystal clear renditions of the Final Fantasy VII remake, the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV Online (With an expanded free trial which you can play through the entirety of A Realm Reborn and the award-winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 for free with no restrictions on playtime.), and Final Fantasy XV. While those of us with less than 20/20 vision might struggle with the speed and location of the notes, others will have a toe-tapping good time from start to finish.
- Lots of songs to choose from
- Characters, monsters, and backgrounds are cute and beautiful
- Lots of nostalgia for us old gamers
- Some songs repeated for no reason other than to pad out the tracklist
- Not recommended for those with poor eyesight/can’t keep track of things as they move
- Not too much new in this fourth entry into the series