Let’s get this out of the way – Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire isn’t a good game. It’s kind of like Game of War or Mobile Strike, which makes perfect sense given it’s from the same development studio. It’s like that but somehow more cynical as you find yourself despairing at its use of the Final Fantasy franchise. Nothing about this really feels like a Final Fantasy game, and that’s a big issue.

Starting out, you can immediately feel any franchise-based personality leave the game. You’re guided through a tutorial by Noctis, the moody, main protagonist of Final Fantasy XV. He’s suspiciously not moody here, and seems to lack any kind of personality whatsoever. Instead, he’s just busy telling you what to do and when to do it. What that means for you is a lot of tapping on some buildings, hitting upgrade, and either waiting a few minutes or pressing a speed up button. It’s as soulless as it sounds.

As you get tapping, and working on different buildings, you’ll realize not that much is changing. Sure, you’re technically gaining experience and leveling up, but your base doesn’t feel any different than before. Each time you complete an objective, you can dive into your quests area and hit the button to retrieve a reward or two. It’s all distinctly functional and as if someone forgot to inject some style and personality into this experience.

Keep working on building your lacklustre empire and, eventually, you’ll find you’re out of resources. Wait a while and you’ll be replenished and so forth the monotonous structure continues. It’s very, very samey. You can choose to work on some research projects which make things almost interesting but they don’t quite hit the spot. In a similar vein, you could always deviate from the recommended quests but this will just slow your progress down. Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire likes to hand hold to a ridiculous degree. At least, that is, until it throws so many timers and ads for premium stuff that you’re acutely reminded that this is a game that really wants your money. Don’t reward it.

There’s a teensy bit of respite in the form of guilds. You’re encouraged to join a guild early on, and they’re able to help you build things a little faster. It’s a concept you’ll have seen elsewhere in the MMO base building genre, and it’s about as exciting as before too. The key, of course, is to find an active guild but these aren’t that easy to come by.

If you stick with it for long enough, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire rewards you with some opportunities to battle other players or compete in special events, but really, you don’t want to hang around for that long.

If you’re wondering just what redeeming features Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire may have, it’s mostly down to the visuals. There’s an occasional glimpse of something that does feel quite Final Fantasy-ish. Even if it’s just an animated chocobo. That makes it a teensy bit better than most other games of this ilk, but it’s a really small amount.

You know when you’re trying to convince your non-mobile games playing friends that there are some good freemium games out there? This is the kind of thing they’ll throw in your face to counteract your argument. They almost have a point.