Thoughts on Final Fantasy XIII

So Final Fantasy XIII is officially the first Final Fantasy game I’ve beaten in… at least five years. I beat in it probably record time for me, too: ~90 hours over 3 months.

Personally, I found the majority of the story and the characters interesting. The last third of the game and story, however, I found to be boring, tedious, and confusing.

I have a theory. For as much as Final Fantasy fans complain about how moody everyone in this game is, their moodiness makes the story interesting. All the characters have the same problems: someone they love died and they’re facing their own death. They react to their grief in different ways, which reveals their personalities and goals. Some are angry and act out of vengeance. Some are depressed and try to ignore their problems. Some smile outwardly and act on their beliefs. Tensions are high. The characters clash with one another and have complicated relationships.

In the final third of the game, all the characters have decided to save Cocoon even if they die in the process. They’ve dealt with their grief and feel determined and hopeful. The conflicts that made them feel real and defined who they are and how they act, however, don’t exist anymore. All the characters feel and act the same.

When the characters’ internal and interpersonal conflicts are resolved, the story proceeds by trying to explain the l’cie, c’eith, fal’cie, ragnarok, Cocoon, and Gran Pulse alphabet soup, which doesn’t work. It’s like trying to explain linear algebra to someone without explaining why they should care. For me, I could understand and invest in the first two thirds of the story because the characters felt real and dealt with problems that felt real even if they lived in a crazy, fantasy world. They made the game a giant metaphor about dealing with grief and finding a way past it. l’cie, c’eith, and fal’cie were easy to map to real-world concepts in this context. Perhaps the metaphor continues, but without the characters giving it context, it’s difficult to follow. When the character arcs end but the explanation continues, it becomes pure fantasy with no basis in reality.

TL;DR I think people blame the emo characters for Final Fantasy XIII’s poor story because the third of the game where they’re not emo is so convoluted and forgettable.

Anyone else get that vibe?

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