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I'm playing through all of Final Fantasy, and everyone is invited (Playing Lightning Returns now)


Despite what it looks like, I have played a lot of this game. 30 hours maybe? I'm at over 60, which is kinda crazy. I'm not even sure how this works, but when I kill a single mob, an hour has gone by, or more. Stuff takes forever, and I don't even recognize it.

Anyway, back to the story. Last time, I just reached Bur-Omisace, one of the nicest churchs in JRPG History. They are just plain nice people. I feel a bit reminded of that one church in FF IX, that is so far from the rest of the world, but that is still visited by people. I don't think that game went into details about that church, but here, it seems more like an institution that is based in values, not a single figure that you should believe in. It also doesn't seem to be focused on the gods of this world, the ones that gave away the magical stones, or the ones that punished the Espers. I think?

There is, of course, a leader of this church, Anastasias. And I do find him fascinating. He is a Dream Sage, someone who can see beyond...something. I'm not sure, but he seems to live in the world of dreams, which do show him what happens, and will happen, in some capacity. I wonder, is he simply very old, and the whole church is built around reverence to him?

He also immediately reminded me of Une, from FF III. You know, the one of the three pupils of that grand magician, who got the power over the dream world, or something like that. It is a fascinating concept. He also talks about his dream fades into day. It is probably the first time since Raithwall, that the world of Ivalice has been shaken to its core. And the things that will happen, will make him wake up. Talking about a calm part of History, a stable one, as a dream, as nothing big happens, is interesting.

There is some stuff about how the senat was made powerless by Vayne, about the female judge who wanted to protect Larsa getting killed, stuff like that. After all this time with the game, I do enjoy the story, but I do fill ill-equipped to talk about it in much detail. I guess commenting on political stories isn't quite my strength, at least if it doesn't lay out everything. Point is, Vaynes power grows, and with his father and the senat out of the way, he killed two birds with one stone.

Fun though: There is a judge, whose name is Bergan. I laughed out loud, when I saw that one. And, as always, he is the worst.

I really like, how much this game takes from FF II. I know, I keep talking about that, but it's true. It's really nice to catch it this time, too. In general, I do find this series to be doing a really good job with callbacks. Even IX, a game that is full of them, works perfectly well, if you have never played another game of the series. But they do offer more layers for longtime fans, and I appreciate that.

There is also Al-Cid, a member of the ruling house of Rozaria, the enemy nation of Vaynes Empire. I vaguely remember hearing that name, when people talk about FF Tactics? Yes? No? Is he the Cid of that game? He isn't of this one, but that name makes it seem that way. If he is a reference to Tactics, please tell me.

He has a relevant point to make, though: If Ashe says who she is, publicly, Vayne will just act like she is an imposter. Which, aside from this story, is something I always wondered about: How did kings in the middle ages and beyond proof to others, maybe even other kings, who they are? It's complicated enough today. Did they have to use insignia, documents, rings? I should look into that.

Anyway, the point is clear, and we are, again, at a point where Ashe sees how powerless she is. She has no way of proving who she is, she has no strength to defeat Vayne. While I don't get really warm with this cast, I do find her to be a compelling character with a nice arc, no matter how slow she develops. But she comes slowly to the conclusion, that there is more than she needs, or even wants, than the power to get back her throne.

I critiziced Ashe before, for not seeming to care for her people, and just being focused on getting back the throne. I guess that wasn't fair to the game, as she seems to understand her true purpose: To protect her people. That this is, what being a ruler, a queen, is all about. And learning about this is her arc. It's also why especially this game has a good case to make, for why she travels her realm. She needs to see the places she rules, and meets the people she is supposed to protect. She has to understand the world she lives in, including the regular people, not just royalty. I keep thinking of FF IXs Dagger, who learns to become a stronger person, and therefore better leader, through her travels, and the same is true here (even if their stories and arcs are very different, in most points).

So, I understand why people considere her to be the main character. I still think it's important, that we have at least one regular person, Vaan and/or Penelo, along. The others, Fran, Balthier and Basch, aren't regular people. Vaan and Penelo are, orphaned, with no money, simple, decent people. Ashe needs to see them, to learn that they exist.

There is some stuff about getting a magical sword from another temple. Not much to say about that, I think. But when we get back, the fleet of the Empire, lead by Bergan, attacked Bur-Omisace.

It seems a bit like a "kick the puppy" moment, to make clear how horrible the acts of the Empire, of Vayne, are. Which isn't helped, that Bergan is probably his most despicable underling. But it's clear, the game wants us to see how horrible the Empire is, even striking down the completely innocent people of the order, who do nothing but help the wounded.

Bergan, as mentioned, and as demanded by his name, is the worst. He killed Anastasias, and is super powerful. He is strengthened by manufactured Nethizite, which seems to have driven him kinda insane. Which isn't that far off from how Kefka worked, I guess, except that Kefka was too flashy to simply die away in one battle. But the concept is the same, and it's one that the series used again and again: Don't abuse technology, don't abuse magic. It leads to ruin, for others, but also for you.

Al-Cid wants Ashe to come with him to Rosaria, so she can help him convince the people there, that war is the wrong way. And we are heading that way. Ondore is still collecting troops for a resistance, and Rosaria will use the fight of the resistance against Vayne as a reason to attack. And then, Vayne will destroy them all.

But Ashe has other plans. With this sword, she wants to destroy the Dusk Shard, which Balthier suggests to be found in the Draklor Laboratories, in Arcadia, the main city of the Empire.

On the way there, I kill a mob called Athomos, who, to my disappointment, didn't look like Athomos at all. In general, the mobs in this game are sometimes callbacks to older games. I wonder if FF XI did something like that at this point, letting you fight against, say, Kefka, or the Four Fiends. IX did it, in any case, so it's not completely new to reuse and reinterpret old FF bosses. More in line with his first appearance is Ultros, another mob. The game acted like there is a trick to make him appear, which I was supposed to find out. But, having played VI, it's not hard to find out - your active party has to consist of only female members.

Later on, there will also be Gilgamesh. Looking forward to that one.

In the Salika-Woods, I fight against the Bomb King, a jerk that can heal him whenever he wants, I guess. He still goes down, after a long, hard fight. I'm quite happy with how I beat these bosses, that I could also skip, because they are relatively challenging. At this point, I always have undone hunts, because they are simply too hard.

Which brings me to a problem I have, in that I find it very hard to judge when I'm ready for a hunt. At some point, you get hunts that you simply are not ready for. Or at least I wasn't, but they are so powerful, I can't imagine beating them without breaking the game in some way. But then, I come for them, and they go down pretty easily. Like with Ultros. It's a shame. Sometimes, I wished JRPGs didn't have levels, so these side-quests could be fitted perfectly. But I guess this is the wrong genre for that.

Not much interesting on the way to Archadis, except for the fight against five Alraune monsters. I'm sure you remember these five jerks, if you beat the game. They aren't hard, if you focus on one at a time. But if you aren't prepared, they will use the chaos to destroy you.

By the way, when I played this game the first time, I simply used the super-move all the time. I haven't done so a single time this playthrough. It just feels way too much like a cruch, something you can abuse to simply skip parts of a boss. I'm not that good with the battle system, always thinking there is more than I use it for, but it feels more correct, this way.

Also, for a long time, my main team has been Vaan (as a Thief with Time Magic), Fran (as my Black Mage, with elemental stuffs, which boost the hell out of the elemental spells) and Penelo (who simply is a way better White Mage than Balthier). Penelo also got Green Magic at some point, because why not. I was pretty surprised to find out, that, while everyone can do everything, some characters simply fit better into roles than others. And not in a simple way, like in FF VII. Here, Balthier is just a straight-up worse mage than Penelo. Disappointing, to be honest.

When reaching Archadis (at some point, we learn that Balthier is from there and Cids son - Cid seems to have gone crazy, when learning about Nethizite), we first see that it consists of two parts. When entering, we find old Archadis, which has basically become the slums of the city. Only the ones who have nothing are here. There is even a gross Seek, who seems to have enslaved a bunch of Moogles, which is really creepy. And further up (of course), we get to the "real" Archadis.

This smells a lot like Midgar, even with the old part that was taken over by the new one. Just way less intense, as is the case with all the things this game references.

In Archadis proper, there is a sort-of minigame, where we have to trade information. Basically, we talk to someone who needs something and has something to offer, and then find the person who is looking for someone like that. It feels a bit silly, but I had fun doing it. You get a lot of very small stories. It also feels like a reference, as you get keywords, that you can use at other people. Keywords, like in FF II. Still not the perfect use (doing them all can be somewhat tiresome), but I enjoyed it. I feel like, you could do a sidequest with this that spans a whole game.

The point this makes is, that information is everything in this city. But I don't think it does much with that? I mean, distributing information, or not being able to, is a core part of this game. Ashe can't distribute the information she has about herself, which is part of what robs her of her power. We already spent some time, with Vaan distributing wrong information about himself. And Vayne uses and abuses information to consolidate power.

So, this is a theme in this game. So maybe it is fitting, that this is especially woven into the fabric of the city of the enemy.

I already complained about the difficulty spike in the Draklor Laboratory. Partly, it was just really obnoxious, how there would be new enemies appearing, again and again. Not much to say elsewise. It's annoying with the levers, but thankfully short, and at the end, we fight Cid. Who uses four small, flying machines, who aid him in battle, and which need to be defeated first, essentially. I assume that's a callback to Necrophobia (or however that last boss in FF V was called, before you fought Neo-Exdeath).

We nearly kill him, but some ghost-thing, Venat, protects him. At least there is a reason for why we let him live: We don't, he just is protected. He also dares us to follow him to a place called Giruvegan, where Ashe could find a new magical stone, new power for her. And then, he is gone.

There is also another guy here, Reddas, a sky pirate. Or maybe former, don't know. Now, he always has to take care of leading Balfonheim, a port city. It was once a pretty rough place, but now, the (former?) pirates have calmed down, thanks to Reddas guiding hand.

Here we actually learn about Ondore being ready for a big battle, that he will fight alongside Rosaria, and so on. The thought at this point was, that Ondore leads the rebellion that we were part in, in FF VI. But here, things work differently. A direct hit won't work.

So our next goal is Giruvegan, to get a new, magical stone. And Ashe is still conflicted, if she even wants more power. But we are going.

The magic shop here has the level 3 elemental spells, which make Fran by far the most powerful of my team. She can hit the damage cap, if the enemy is weak to the element she casts, and if she has the fitting, elemental staff equipped. The way she is skilled, she doesn't even lose much MP, way less than she should. It's kinda crazy, how strong she is. I mean, my physical attackers, mainly Basch and Ashe, can hit hard, but they only do 1000 - 2000 damage, which is nothing, against the AOE spells, that hit a bunch of monsters for > 4k, or even more.

I think I read often, that magic is useless, compared to weapons, in this game. No idea if I made that up, but if not, it's simply completely wrong.

I find out, that I got a thing that lets me talk to cockatrices. And now, the ones from the settlement near Rabanastre, are gone. I can go to different places, solve small quests for them, and make them go back that way. It's adorable, I love these fat birds.

Before continuing, I also visit the Nabreus Swamps, which are super brutal. Just doable, but I die really easily. Funnily enough, I fight Goblins here for the first time. They were gone for a long time, and reappeared as, instead of beginner monsters, some of the toughest creatures in the whole world.

They are also weak to Ice, which makes them really easy targets for Fran.

On my way, I fight Rafflesia, a plant that summons smaller plants and does status effect nonsense. Similarly annoying as that boss from FF V.

Soon, after a bad puzzle and the need to summon Belias, we are in Giruvegan. A pretty cool city, built atop of water. Unfortunately, that's just the outer part. Inside, the dungeon becomes really boring, but also dangerous, which is annoying. The monsters in there are pretty strong, but often also weak against an element.

It gets worse further inside, when we are inside the great crystal. The dungeons, while looking pretty cool, are really bad designed in this game. Everything looks the same, and here, they even took away the minimap, which makes everything even samier. A shame, because the place looks kinda cool (no comparison to the beautiful stuff in IX, though), but god, I had to use a guide to make my way through this. That it's a bit of a teleporter maze didn't help either.

After a third boss (there were two here, before this one) Ashe gets to talk to the Occuria. Only she, as they have chosen her. Essentially, the Occuria are creatures who seem to think of themselves as gods, I guess? I mean, they think they have the right to steer History. They did so, when they gave Raithwall the stones, and they plan to forge a new pact with Ashe. The problem is, that one of them, Venat (that ghost thing, that saved Cid), went rouge, and tought Cid how to replicate Nethizite, giving humans powers that only the Occuria should have.

The Occuria chose Ashe, to hold judgement over the humans. Huh.

She gets a new sword, to forge a new pact. With this sword, she can cut a piece from the Sun Crest (It sounded sorta like "Crest", but not quite? Don't know), to use as a new magical stone. After the Occuria let her go, Balthier suggests that the sword could also be used to destroy the Sun Crest, so that no magic stones will be used again, ever.

Unlike what it had seemed, Cid will not appear. Balthier realizes. He assumes, Cid is just a crazy scientist, who wants to see what will happen, if two Nethizites meet each other. I got a bit flashbacks to Hojo, or that crazy scientist from FF IV. Similar vibe. Maybe even from Cid of FF VI, who also dabbled with things he shouldn't have, even though his conscience caught up with him, eventually.

Anyway, next up is Pharos, and then the last battle. Yay. So, after talking about the Occuria and History a bit more, I'm done for now again.

So, as I understand it, since the time of Raithwall, History in Ivalice has been kinda stagnant. I might be wrong, but I have the impression that he left a stable realm. Yeah, you had your wars and stuff, but on the whole I assume it was a stable time. Maybe because of subtle interventions of the Occuria? I'm not sure, if they ever do anything, aside from chosing a champion for their cause.

Essentially, they control the course of History of Ivalice to a degree. They put i in a kind of stasis, and I just now realize, that this is a reinterpretation of what happened in X.

I wonder, how was Raithwall really? He was THE powerful king of the past, so what was remembered about him is making him look well. He brought peace to the realm. He stabilized it. He was chosen by the gods.

Well, we know now that these gods aren't gods. They are very powerful, but in the end, they are just other, advanced creatures. And they basically gave Raithwall nothing but a super powerful weapon. What did he do with it? Was he brutal, when he put the countries under his thumb? Or was he kind, working with diplomacy? Considering how the Occuria want Ashe to be a judge, and how the power they give seems to be mainly used in destructive ways, I assume he, too, was a judge, slaying his enemies. And, yes, left a peace. But if everyone is dead, that's also peace. I assume that Raithwall is not the great king the game has him portrayed as, for such a long time. Can't help but think of Augustus, first Emperor of Rome. Creating a new time of stability, but only after a giant civil war, that cost many, many people their lives.

I wonder how Ivalice looked before. Did it consist of a bunch of small states? Is that the reason, why there are ruins EVERYWHERE? In that case, maybe this is a reference to Nobunaga? Who made Japan into one realm (or at least started the process). My knowledge about Japanese History is spotty at best, and I'm making assumptions here, so don't take me too seriously.

Point is, that the Occuria aren't the good guys. But they seem to be the ones that Cid and Vayne are fighting against, with the other victims of theirs just being a side-effect. Cids clear goal is, to free Humes (and I guess the other races, maybe?) to choose their own destiny. Which is generally a goal I can get behind. I can only think of Babylon 5, where we have a similar theme. In such a case, I think I will always fall on the side of "People have a right to forge their own path".

I find that interesting, how this game, when it comes to story and theme, has a strong connection to FF X.

Anyway, that's it for now. I already did all the mobs that seemed doable, so I will climb the Pharos next time. Wish me luck.


Round and round I go
Staff member
The critical path of the Pharos isn't especially long: it's on the longer end of 12's dungeons, but that isn't saying all that much. If you want to clear the optional content, though, buckle in.


That would explain, why I remember it not being nearly as bad as people would make me think. It's one of the few things I remember, from my first playthrough, years ago. That the Pharos wasn't that much of a slog. I think I also just ran from battles. The idea was probably, to come back later, when I was done with the story.


For the Pharos, we get another companion: Reddas, the leader of the sky pirates. Pretty nice, a useful addition to the party.

I don't have too much to say about the Pharos. It's far shorter, than people would have you believe, the hundred floors is pretty misleading. I don't get the map, though, because the room that contains it looks you in, and spawns an infinite number of strong monsters, for an unclear time. Mostly, I just die, and decide to leave it. There are a handful of puzzles, including a part where you have to give up something (like you minimap, or the ability to use items, I think), and it's all pretty annoying.

Partly, that is due to the translation. As I understand it, the English one is excellent. I can't say the same thing about the German version. There are riddles in this tower, which were just confusing, nothing more. I guess you can get what you have to do, by simply going around the lowest floor, and killing monsters, but I used a guide to tell me how to progress. Also for that weird teleporter room where, if you choose the wrong one, of the arbitrary choices, you end up in that awful room. Yeah, just used a walkthrough. In some games, I appreciate weird, annoying dungeons, but I need to be in the mood for that. I'm never in that mood, when playing FF games. They just have more interesting things to offer.

Regarding the translation, let me give you two examples. One of the mobs is Fafnir, a dragon with a name out of mythology. The German version translated him to Fabunil. Which I can see, knowing how Japanese Kana works, but come on. Maybe learn a bit about mythology, and find out if that might be from there?

The other example is the Gilgamesh fight. While I wished that Enkidou were some horrible bird, I appreciate him having a companion by that name. I enjoyed him being a huge dork, still, and when the music kicked in, I got all giddy. Only did the first part of the fight, for now, but did get the two Genji items. Was definitely very enjoyable.

Point is, he has an attack called "Final Fantasy", for obvious reasons. Considering the series is called "Final Fantasy" in German, not being translated, you might assume that they didn't translate the name of the technique, right? Well, you're wrong. It's "Finale Fantasie", a direct German translation, which just shows that the translation team, while generally competent, didn't care at all for small details. I wished I had played the English version, but there is no way to change the language on my disc (maybe because it's not there, maybe because of the obnoxious move to not even give the player the choice).

Anyway, it was the longest dungeon in the game, but not that bad. 1.5 hours maybe?

At the top, we finally find the Sun Cryst (yeah, I got the word in the end). Rasler appears, Ashe thinks he wants revenge, and finally decides against it. Here, Gabranth appears, telling everyone that he killed the king of Dalmasca and Reks.

We also learn something very interesting. That horrible place Nabudis, where you never have to go, and which is a challenge, even at mid-30 levels? Cid did an experiment there, to test the power of the Dusk Shard, letting a judge do it. It was Reddas, our companion, a former judge, who decided to walk away from the Empire, after this.

This whole thing smells like FF VII to me. Experimenting with things, hurting/destroying whole towns in the process, just for the curiousity of an insane scientist. It reminds me of Barrets hometown, even if the details clearly differ, but also Midgar itself. It's deeply scary, how the curiousity and power-hunger of a single man, or a handful of them, can destroy the lives of so many people. FF does this stuff really well, going back to FF IV, when you have to fight against Edges parents.

I also appreciate Reddas, having more people from the Empire who saw the errors of its way. Just with Larsa, the game does a good job of not painting the whole Empire as horribly evil, giving some nuance to it.

Ashe understands now, that the ghost of Rasler she saw wasn't the real one. He wouldn't have wanted revenge. And so, the Occuria show that it is just a vision from them.

Ashe seems to finally have come to the end of her arc. She doesn't want revenge, she doesn't want war, she just wants the Dalmasca she remembers - one that doesn't even uses the power of the crystals, uh, shards. No matter if Dalmasca was the way she remembers, she at least has learned through her travels, that it is not what she should strive to create. Her Dalmasca should be one of peace, and without the power from the Occuria, without entities that only judge the other races.

Essentially, this is just a rejection of power that is not earned. It is not much different from the same idea in the other games, where we use power from outside sources (like the crystals in IV or V), or just abuse power that we shouldn't (like in VI and VII). The idea, I think, is that we should do things out of the strength that is within us, not from an outside source. And that, if we use these powers, it is corrupting us (which isn't even subtext, looking at Bergan, or also Vayne later on. People who use nethizite become grotesque monsters. I wonder if there is something to be said, about them just not using the things that are actually there, and instead replicating them. But considering Nabudis, I don't think so. These are powers beyond us, that we never learned to treat with respect, and so it shouldn't be used.

So, Ashe decides to destroy the Sun Cryst, not accepting the offer of the Occuria. Cid appears, and we actually followed his plan. He wants it to be destroyed, so the mysth, it's power, would go out to Ivalice. I'm not quite sure why he wants it. It's clear, that he knows how to use the power that goes out of the Cryst. But does it mean, that the power is now just outside in general, there for everyone to access, instead of just the ones chosen by the Occuria? It actually just seems like the power should have gone "poof", but we needed a boss fight against Cid, or generally for what is essentially the final dungeon. It's fine, just a bit weird.

I did like, that Cid had a summon to assist him. I like, when enemies share specific powers of ours. It grounds those powers better in the world, making it something that we don't get because we are the heroes of a video game, but because it is there, and we are (generally) the ones who get it.

After the fight, Ashe is unable to get close to the Cryst, so Reddas takes over. He sacrifices himself, making me think of our final companion of FF II, Richard the Dragoon. He, too, sacrificed himself in the semi-final dungeon.

Back at Reddas place, we meet Al-Cid again, who failed at making Rozaria not go to war. So, Ondore and Rozzaria are on their way to fight against Vayne. Who will win, because, even though the magic stones are gone, he has something better: A giant sky-fortress called Bahamut (I do like, that the final dungeon thing is called after the king of Summons - concidering that it was powered by destroying the Sun Cryst, you can look at it as a kind of summon, even).

Also, the fortress creates a tornado, or looks like one, and reminds me, once more, as so often, of FF II. This game is so full of references, it's absurd. Really like it.

We see a scene from a Star Wars movie, when trying to get into Bahamut with the Strahl. I love how, for once, the final dungeon isn't this obnoxious, long slog, when all I want to do is kill the final boss. No, the second-to-last dungeon is the slog, and the final dungeon consists of three screens, or so, aside from boss fights. Perfect, A++. Seriously, I want all RPGs to do it like this. For whatever reason, it makes a big difference, knowing that the final boss is waiting at the end, or not.

Inside, we meet Gabranth once more, to bring his and Baschs arc to a close.

I actually had to look up what happened, because I got lost with Gabranth, not understanding why he did, well, anything. So, he lost his home to the Empire, while Basch fled, which gave him an everlasting hatred against his brother. He mainly joins the Empire, to get a chance to get back at Basch.

While working for the Empire, he starts to take a liking to Larsa, who is a good person and will probably be a good king, someday. So he develops a feeling of loyalty towards the kid. Which finally motivates him to help us take down Vayne.

I don't think he ever really forgives Basch, but knows that Larsa will need a protector, which he understands Basch to be able to do very well. So he entrusts his brother with this task. While it isn't perfect, it does reconcile the two, after being estranged for most of their lives.

Vayne is next. There are three phases to that fight, but none are too difficult. I remember the first and only time I played to the end of this game, where I got really annoyed by the time where Vayne was complitely invincible. I don't mind that some bosses can put up these barriers, against either physical or magical attacks. But I hate it, when they have both up at the same time. It's just a waste of my time, and makes me use ressources, while waiting to actually fight back again. It's annoying.

Elsewise, all three fights are simple. Sure, in the last one, some people died again and again, but with a giant stack of Phoenix Downs, there wasn't much of a problem. I just disliked, that the final form had no bar to show me how long I had to hit it, until it was done for. I generally dislike, that it is a standard not to show how much HP a boss has left. I understand he point, but still would prefer to just see it. The cruelest version is in Breath of Fire I, where you DO see a bar, but after that is gone, the boss is still alive, and sometimes his second phase, where you DON'T see his remaining HP, has more HP then the first.

I really like Larsa, and his relationship with Vayne. Here, at the end, he decides to fight by our side against his brother, while still being concerned for him, after the battle. Larsa loves Vayne, and I'm pretty sure that goes both ways. I wonder why Vayne killed his other brothers, but assume, that they were just power-hungry jerks. Larsa, on the other hand, is hope for this world.

Vayne is the conqueror, the brutal man who throws down everyone, forcing all nations in the region to become one. He wants to bring order, peace, to stop the constant struggling and fighting. And to him, the only way there is through power. But he sees clearly enough, that he, the one who destroys, isn't the one who can then create. For that, he needs a good person. He needs Larsa.

I assume it was also important to him, that History would be written by Humans, from now on. Not having it planned, by some "gods", though I imagine Cid was more into that. For him, it seemed essential that people got freed of the Occuria. But in any case, Venat helped them. No matter if Vayne stood so firmly behind Venats idea, they could work together very well - the power Venat brought was essential for Vayne.

I do like Vayne. He has a complexity to him, like the story as a whole, having a clear goal that should help everyone in the end. Yeah, people would die, but it would be worth it, in the end. Which is horrible. It's a very bad way to go about this. Just saying, I like that he isn't just a power-hungry monster.

So, this brings the last of the arcs to a close. The first one is from Balthier and Cid, the second from Basch and Gabranth and now the third from Ashe and Vayne. There is more to be said about them, but I'll do that in the final post.

But it makes clear, that these three are the actually relevant characters. Which would fit, as you have a party of three active characters. Maybe they were the only ones, before there was pressure to include Vaan, as the typical teen-hero, plus Penelo (for the girls who would play this game, maybe?). And that Fran is there, at least partly, for fan-service should be obvious.

This doesn't mean that Vaan, Penelo and Fran didn't contribute anything. But it's pretty clear, that the story is there for Ashe, Basch and Balthier, who all have their big counterparts. Sure, Gabranth has double duty as the one who killed Vaans brother. But Vaan is just a bit of a mix of Ashes motivation with Baschs antagonist. He, like Penelo and Fran, could have been way easier removed from the story, than the other three.

Thinking about it, with exactly three main characters and a fourth guest, who switches throughout the game, this is just another way to pay tribute to FF II. And if you don't look too closely, you could interpret Gabranth as a different play on the fourth one of the friend group in FF II, who becomes the Emperors Dark Knight.

We end the way I like it - with an epilogue from some time later, showing what became of everyone. Vaan and Penelo have become sky pirates, or maybe they are just starting. Fran and Balthier, after seemingly dying to make the Bahamut not destroy Rabanastre, are out there too. Basch is the protector of Larsa and Ashe is becoming queen, slowly detaching herself from Vaan and Penelo - understandable, she has probably a lot on her mind.

And then, we get the credits, where we see different artwork of the characters, often of them as children, it's very sweet. Plus a picture of Cid, holding a baby in his arms, full of love. That one does sting a lot, especially considering how he didn't really get crazy. I guess. Well, more on that next time.

So, yeah, that's FF XII. While my feelings are a bit mixed, I did enjoy my time with it a lot, and put around 80 hours into this, way more than in any other FF since starting this project. But more on that next time, when I will do, as always, a final post. See you then.


Oops, three weeks already. Time for some final thoughts.

So, to mention it a last time, a thing that stood out to me about this game is how much it seemed like a sequel to FF II. Like, it feels a bit like the FF series could have gone in two ways - one, being the way it was, following a more story-heavy focus, starting with III. Or going into a more open-world focus with stories between missions, like in II. Aside from the WoR in VI, no FF felt so free and open as II, up to XII.

Like in II, you have a lot of the world to explore from the start. Not all of it (which is a shame, I feel like they should have just let you go everywhere), but there is a lot of space for you to go immediately, anyway. And there is just way more to do, than in the wasteland that is the world of FF II. Of course, side content is part of the development of the series.

Maybe they wanted to differentiate it, because you can dodge monsters pretty easily. Unlike II, where you simply run into a random batte, and then die horribly.

You have a lot of development space for each character, and while some are more fit for specific roles than others, you are not strictly bound to anything. There is more freedom than even in the job-system games. The only one that is similar is VIII, which might be a stepping stone between II and XII, I guess. You even have levels for different weapon types.

There are, of course also story references, like the princess that you rescue from the airship, that is a dangerous weapon of the Empire. And other things I already forgot.

Normally, I talk about the individual characters, but as mentioned, I never really got warm with them, as I normally do. They feel colorless, and I think that's due to them being less explicitely drawn than in the other FFs. I wished there had been more cutscenes - nothing big and fancy, just smaller scenes that explore the relationship of Vaan and Balthier or Penelo and Fran more. Especially the latter two could have used way more screentime. Yeah, there is the stuff about Fran going crazy, when Mysth is too strong, but it feels like nothing comes of it. Which is fine, I guess, not everything has to have a big payoff. But it is implied at the very end, that, like Balthier is Vaans mentor, Fran is Penelos. And I just don't remember a single scene, where these two talk with each other, directly.

Which I understand. Considering we have specific enemies for Ashe, Basch and Balthier but not for the other three, it is clear for whom the story was first created, and who was later added. Vaan and Penelo for the younger audience, and Fran for the horny dudes. It's a shame, Fran, and the Vierra as a whole, are pretty cool, and feel a bit more interesting than the regular tree elves. At least it seems, like there is quite some potential.

That all said, I like some character moments. When we learn, that Fran simply can't hear the woods anymore, it hit me hard. The Vierra are bound to the land in a pretty strict sense, which also makes them unable to change and experience more of the world. The woods are stagnant and boring to some, clearly indicated by all the Vierra that are found in the rest of the land. But leaving, and experience change, seems to always make a Vierra lose an essential part of herself. It's a harsh punishment.

See, while I don't care that much about the characters, I think the world is excellent. There is a strong sense of History and World Building. The Monster Encyclopedia offering more details is a great touch. I love how the characters view Raithwall as the great king who brought peace, when we later learn that he was just a tool of the Occuria. Yes, he brought peace and united the lands, but the Occuria imply clearly, that whoever is their champion will also be a judge of theirs. Continuing a status, the land forever stuck in a certain way, basically stuck in time.

Also, while I would have loved to have more races in my party, I like how this game really shows us only a small part of the world, making it clear that Humes are often annoying to the other races. We, with our permanent battles for control, are not that welcome. This game doesn't encompass the whole world, just a part of it, and so it also doesn't show us all the races in more depth. We never visit the place the Bangaa come from, or the Nou Mu. The Vierra are a special case, because they are directly on our path.

This world feels old. There are monsters from ages ago, like the mighty dragons that have still been made into pets(?), showing by their metal ring around the neck. And we are talking about really powerful dragons, according to the encyclopedia. But there were creatures like the Occuria, so it makes sense - I just wonder about the History, more of it, of this entire world. But getting only a small snippet of everything is pretty much intended.

Hmm, maybe I can get a bit out of the three protagonist - antagonist pairings. Let's try that.

Ashe - Vayne

I think it's fair to call Ashe the main character of the whole story. Her focal antagonist is the main antagonist of the whole game, and her arc is also, imho, the strongest. She develops from a princess, becoming queen but then losing her kingdom, who is detached from her people, mainly interested in getting her throne, the thing that is hers, instead of caring for her subjects. Considerin this is FF XII, I imagine she has a sense of duty, and wants to be a good ruler, from the start. But her focus is simply to regain her throne. It's a blessing for the country, that she is incapable of getting anywhere for such a long time - well, blessing is a bad term, they really could have done without the war, and the poverty it brought. But it likely lead to Ashe being a way better ruler, than she would have been otherwise. Someone, who actually knows about how poor some of her people are, and who cares about her subjects more than her throne.

There is also the shadow of Raithwall, that looms over her during most of the game. And that probably also looms over Vayne. I already forgot the details, but the idea of this great king, who brought peace over the land, seems to be an essential part of the History of this land, and, aside from trying to generally bring peace, this is probably the legend he wants to achieve. While also getting freedom for the realm, from the Occuria.

Hmm, I wonder, did he ever think this really through? But I guess getting freedom from the Occuria is more Cids thing, and Vayne only used them as partners, with both knowing that, while they didn't really had the same thing in mind, their goals were not in competition.

There is an interesting contrast, between Ashe and Vayne - she becomes more of an actual leader, someone there for her people, not just in her idea. She will likely make her realm better. Vayne brought death and destruction over so many people, and he basically made his own Empire, from a republic (I guess, there is a senat) into a dictatorship. Even with a great person as the following leader, Larsas follow-up might be horrible. I imagine there is a reason, why I have to think of the Fall of the Roman Republic.

All of that with Ashe, starting with egoistical intensions, and Vayne having, in the end, just the best in mind.

Basch - Gabranth

I have a way harder time with these two, because I never really got a grip on Gabranth. So, Basch fled when their land was invaded by the Empire. Gabranth stayed, becoming a loyal member of the royal family, while also hating that very fact. He also hated Basch, for leaving him and his mother.

So, we have in Gabranth someone who keeps to his duty, trying to protect whom he can, not running away. Which put him in a situation that made him emotionally very cold.

But it's not like Basch is a bad person. Maybe it's more something out of classical literature, where a failure from your early life follows you for years and years, finally catching up on you (I'm thinking of Jean Valjean from Les Miserables here, even though that case is even harsher).

I have a hard time reading Basch, but I guess his arc is overcoming his guilt for failing to protect the people he was sworn to protect? Maybe even for abandoning his family (I simply forgot by now, it's a bit since I played the game)?

I guess I'll have to leave it at this. I'm sure there is more to say about how these two show similar themes, but I just don't have the details straight to get there.

That said, there is the nice arc of Gabranth, who does get emotionally attached to Larsa. Just underplayed, like many things in this game

Balthier - Cid

I still don't care that much about Balthier, I don't think that character archetype will ever appeal to me. But I appreciate him as a character. He thinks he is the hero of the story, because normally, in many JRPGs, it would be him. With his father as the antagonist, the crazy scientist (or rather nice father, whose experiments put him over the edge). This could have been their story. But it isn't. That Balthier thinks, that he is the main character makes it pretty clear that this is intended.

I read him as someone, who tries to detach himself from other people, because he never got over what became of his father. This was the main motivator for his life, making him a sky pirate, because that means ultimate freedom. Which, funnily enough, is what Cid wants too. Just not for him personally, but for all of Ivalice from the Occuria.

Which feels, again, like with Ashe and Vayne, like the difference between abstract ideals and practicing them.

So, Balthier never left his humanity behind, and as much as he would like to, he can't stop liking and caring for people. Unlike Cid, who completely stops caring for anyone.

Cid is, of course, pretty fun, as the crazy scientist, a reinterpretation of people like Lugae and Hojo. At least he never created any monstrocities...wait, no, he is the reason that nethizite was put into people. Yeah, no, he is pretty much equally horrible.


A few last thoughts on theme.

There is a theme here, of a new dawn. We have this in Larsa, who everyone puts his hope in, and whose presence cures Gabranth from his emotional cold. But also with Vaan and Penelo. We start a new era for Ivalice, freed from the Occuria, but also freed from the all-overshadowing legacy of Raithwall. Ashe became a better ruler, Basch got freed of his guilt, Balthier becomes someone who cares more about other people (who aren't Fran).

And that's it, I think. While I understand, that this is a well done story, I don't think the style of only telling me little bits every few hours, withholding a lot of smaller interactions between characters, and so on, doesn't work that well for me. I liked the story, but I wished there had been more little stuff.

I'm not sure how I feel about playing it. Exploring Ivalice is very fun, and there is a reason that I put so many hours into it. But also, when I stopped for a short time, it was over. If I had just carried on, I could have played 10, maybe 20, hours more. Honestly, I feel like I was just a bit addicted to it, and taking a short break also broke the spell? Dunno, I do like that you explore everything, but everything also takes a lot of time. The game feels made, to make you feel welcome here, to let you enjoy your time.

I don't know, it sounds weird. Video games are time wasters, but I feel like this game did this more skillfully, with me noticing it less?

Whatever, I had fun with the game, that's enough. But it's also one of the games that I'm less inclined to revisit soon. Unlike the earlier games, which I have been itching to replay for a few months now.

But before I get off track even more, I'll call it quits for now. I'll play a few other games, but then, the last game of this project, FF XIII, will be started. I still don't have a better PC than last time I tried, so I guess XIII-2 and 3 are not a choice, and I don't even have XV.

But then, I feel like it's time for this project to come to a close. Whatever, see you later, when I start XIII. I'm not sure if it sounded different, but I'm looking forward to replaying that one. See you then.

And as always, thanks for reading and responding. It's always great to read comments of readers here.


FF XIII is an interesting case for me. It was the first FF that I was actively following. Well, a bit. The only game I every really followed was OOT. But it certainly was the first FF that came out, after I had found out that this series is really great. I watched a trailer for it. Don't remember a thing, but it was interesting to follow this a bit.

This is probably 2008, maybe 2009.

I had no way to actually play this game. No new console, and only a laptop that would probably had died. No idea when the PC version even came out. But I did read about what other people thought of it. It wasn't pretty. A lot of complaints, which I only remember vague things of. Probably just the standard stuff. The game is made up of hallways (but FF X was really great, guys). Female Cloud. Dumbed-down battle system (not sure if my memory is making this up). The main take-away I got was that people were disappointed. Which was disappointing to me, too. I still would have liked to play this. Oh, right, no towns was another complaint. Everything too easy, because you heal after every battle.

I do remember being weirded out by these ideas. No towns? Nearly no equipment? What a strange concept. I don't know if it is, because I read other opinions of it over time, but I do remember changing my mind at some point. All this streamlining made sense to me. I always wanted to actually play this game.

It took me until...I think 2017. I played it, and enjoyed it. Quite a lot, actually. I ignored Pulse at first, but went back after beating Space Pope, and did some side-/post-game stuff. I even planned out who should get which ultimate weapon, and started grinding towards that. Another game took my mind off of it, though. And since then, I didn't play it again.

I started this project at the end of 2020. Only three years after playing XIII. Not that much time. By now, it's six years. Crazy how much time I have devoted to writing way too much about these games. Anyway, my memory about FF XIII is relatively fresh, at least compared to all the other FFs. It still feels somewhat fresh in my mind. But I also played it as an adult, for the first time. Which probably counts for something.

This game has a chapter structure. Which might be helpful, for deciding when to post. Fittingly, up to now, I played through the first chapter.

It amused me, that there are exactly 13 chapters in this game. I feel the urge to map each chapter to the FF with the same number. Let's see, if I can do something with that. Yes, it will be dumb. I don't care.

We start on this train, that brings us somewhere. The guys in hoods are obviously captives, but not for long. Because one of them is the amazing Lightning, and another one is the also awesome, though in a very different way, Sazh. The chocobo chick is adorable and great, and everyone who keeps one in his hair is awesome.

I also remember Sazh as the adult / straight man of the group? We'll see.

It would probably have made sense to note down the stuff the game pushes onto me, and the stuff that is just written in the datalog. But for now, I read all the entries. Which gave me a lot of interesting stuff.

Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

So, Lightning is an ex-soldier, or probably more an ex-policewoman. And yeah, there are certainly memories of Cloud in her. A bit. Because I feel way more reminded of Celes, the other ex soldier, who fell from grace. I'm not sure if Lightning is in the position, because she was thought to be "infected", or if she spoke up and got axed. In any case, she was once with the bad guys, and is now one of our heroes.

Reminding me of Celes means she is also reminding me of Beatrix and Cecil, all being part of the same archetype.

I kinda get, why people compare her to Cloud, but it seems to be a very surface-level reading. She is grumpy, as is Cloud at the start. Except that Cloud is also a dork and does dumb stuff, and Lightning doesn't. She is just tough and kinda a jerk (she doesn't care a second, when she has to leave Sazh behind - who loses his cool for a second there).

There isn't that much more here, for now. Lightning needs to get to the fal'Cie. And Sazh follows her.

We also get to three other of our heroes. Snow is a bit of a dumbass who hits things really hard. Basically a new interpretation of VIIIs Xell. He is part of a resistance movement called NORA. Well, not a resistance movement. They defend the neighbourhood against dangerous wildlife. Except now, where they seem to have learned about the horrible thing their rulers are up to.

They remind me, very lightly, of Avalanche. Mainly a bunch of teens, who are in over their head. Except that this game isn't quite as grim as VII at the start. We get some levity, and some of it from this group. I'm not sure what to think of that, that they don't even get how they are killing people. I would think that they care?

Point is, that Snow sees himself as a hero. Not sure of what exactly, considering that this is the first time they fought the authorities. But I guess it's the super-short version of a JRPG. First, you fight angry wildlife, and then the evil authorities.

Oh, I'll take this as the comparison to FF I, where you kinda do that at the very start. You fight goblins and then a knight. Yeah, I'm not looking close at all.

We also immediately break his illusion, when a woman dies, plus a ton of other people. His bravado is still there, but there is a bit of him that seems broken. He feels indepted to the mom who died, and who he feels responsible for. So he will try to find and take care of her son, Hope.

Hope knows who Snow is. He saw him, when he couldn't protect Hopes mother. He wants to talk to Snow about it, but fails. I think he becomes a deconstruction of the Chosen One? But I guess that's all of them.

Our last member is Vanille. Who immediately starts to narrate the game, at least doing it from time to time.

More on the characters as we go on. There should be more then enough times to talk about them.

The battle system is still very simple. You have nearly no choice in what to do, but that's a good thing. I remember liking the battle system, but also that I am glad about how long it takes, before you get full control.

About the world - I think it starts very interesting, with pretty cool ideas. As mentioned, I don't know what I got from cutscenes and what from the datalog, which is unfortunate. Anyway, we have this supposed paradies, where everyone is save. Which isn't really the case, right? Snow and his friends are protecting the people against aggressive wildlife, so, even that basic concept is a lie?

The name is very on-the-nose. Cocoon, like, something that protects you against the dangerous outside, where you are kept in stasis and bliss, never to think of anything relevant, because you are ok. Until you aren't, because the government decides that it is better for you to die, instead of trying at all.

And the innocence stays, because the people think who stay won't know that you are killed. I mean, they probably assume you will die on Pulse, but it's not the government then.

So, if FF X the first one to bring up the society that is stuck in time? We had it there, we had the idea in XII, and now it has come back, again. Only this time, we are in a sort-of paradise. Strange, how this didn't seem to be a theme before, and now it's in the third single-player FF in a row.

We are also in a theocracy, it seems. The Sanctum rules over all, because the fal'Cie of Cocoon, who created it, aren't interested in ruling. Right, not paradise, people still have to work. But at least they are save, and don't have to think about politics and stuff. Except if you are queer, uh, have the BAD SIGN.

Maybe interesting is, that Cocoon was built with material from Pulse. I mean, would be expected, as Pulse is the actual world, if I remember correctly. Still, leaving that part behind, and branding it as hell, when you are coming from it seems horrible.

Hmm, are we the Moon in this game? Pulse is the regular planet, and Cocoon is that other world that is above it. Does bad stuff come from Cocoon to Pulse? I don't remember. We'll see.

Another awful thing about Cocoon - they turn wildlife into bioweapons, monsters, essentially enslaved creatures, turned into murder machines.

I nearly forgot: The line "This is not your home anymore." was enormously chilling. There is more to say about how people are just thrown out of their home, turned from basically children to monsters, somewhat literally. Growing up -> being a monster. Maybe there is something there.

Well, that should be enough for the start. Looking forward to playing more.
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Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I'd be glad to play along, because as I've expressed many times around here, this is just about my favourite game in the series in many ways... but I currently don't have access to hardware on which I could play it. I'll see about making the effort if my living condition changes.

On Lightning at the start: she isn't really "defecting" or changing sides at the start because until the very beginning of the game, there was no active conflict for her to choose sides in; she was simply part of the governing system and effective military police of her society, but circumstances lead to her willingly abandoning her post and turning against the system, because it had literally branded her family a traitor to it.

As for the surface-level comparisons to Cloud, what defines and sets apart Lightning for much of the game is that she's Final Fantasy's first genuinely and all-consumingly angry protagonist. All previous and subsequent leads in the series displayed their ranges of emotion, but none had been foremost cast as being furious and lashing out recklessly at the situation they were thrust into by their narratives; Cloud is a fellow jerk to his teammates but his personality as portrayed is primarily withdrawn and taciturn in how he expresses--or doesn't--his emotional state. Women don't often get to be the leads of stories like this and be as outwardly angry as Lightning is without being dismissed and reduced to "bitches" or whatever else, so I think this is something really central to the character's depiction and why people who like her may appreciate those qualities about her. It's also not necessarily an "admiration" of those aspects of her within the story, either, as when the game progresses it showcases many times over how out at sea Lightning is with her own emotional state, reactions and the way they spill and lash out at the people around her. I really love the character and narrative for acknowledging and maintaining all of that at once and allowing her to make those selfish and fist-clenching mistakes.


As a side note, when people compare Lightning to Cloud it's not something the fandom invented, it was the comparison the director made before the game came out which colored interpretation of the character

"EGM: What can you tell us about the heroine of FFXIII?
Motomu Toriyama: We can't tell you all the details, unfortunately. Looking at the history of the FF series, there were already female main characters, like in FFVI, FFX, and FFX-2. This time, one of the characteristics of this heroine is that she's not that feminine. I tried to make her someone very strong, independent. When I asked Mr. Nomura to design this character, I requested someone like a female version of Cloud from FFVII."
Yeah, I think the comparison between Lightning and Cloud comes down to appearance more than anything else. They have similar faces (it's a face Nomura draws a lot, to be fair), and they both wear sleeveless turtlenecks and a piece of armor on one shoulder. Oh, and the names. But they don't have much in common as far as their personalities or roles in their respective stories.


I'd be glad to play along, because as I've expressed many times around here, this is just about my favourite game in the series in many ways... but I currently don't have access to hardware on which I could play it. I'll see about making the effort if my living condition changes.
If it doesn't work out, feel free to still use this thread later on, even if I'm done by that point.

I didn't know about the interview, and I totally see how Cloud was a visual inspiration. I'm just surprised how much she is NOT a female Cloud. Yeah, seems like something people just took from that interview and just interpreted it wrong, or something.

Considering her constant anger (and wow, there is a lot there, especially when it comes to Snow) makes the name pretty fitting. It's fascinating, seeing your main lead being so pissed-off, and not at all friendly to the other party members.

To contrast that, the game shows us her softer side for a short scene, when she tries to get inside the Fal'Cies hull, or whatever (I forgot the name). It's pretty funny, how Sazh holds his ears shut, assuming something bad, when she simply doesn't want him to see her vulnerable side. And not only vulnerable, she apologizes, seeing some wrong in something she did.

The game already showed me the flashback, where Serah tells Snow that she is a l'Cie now, and how she is afraid of Lightnings reaction. The game also withholds day 12, which, I assume, shows her reacting pretty badly. I can't remember, but it would explain her reaction here.

It is interesting, how this is the way to get further inside, closer to the Fal'Cie. I was surprised to learn that it was Anima. Google says that this is a term from Jung, meaning "breath, spirit, life", I think basically meaning something like mother, something nurturing. Which explains the name of the summon in X, but leaves me confused, for now. I assume we will learn more about what Anima wanted - for now, I guess it tried to destroy Cocoon, so humans would stop living inside this place, where humanity was stuck in comfort. There is certainly something sympathetic there, considering that Lightning needs to show empathy and vulnerability, to be let in.

Serahs job was to gather people, a group, that would be able to do what Anima actually wants. At least it seems that way. And now they are bound to achive something.

Not sure what how to feel about this. The Fal'Cie are not benevolent creatures, at least not purely. The punishment for failure is horrifying. Especially the weakest Cie'th are aggressive, but helpless. They get stronger, but still, their existence is miserable.

I guess it works well as a contrast. The Cocoon Fal'Cie let the people in their care stay children forever, just giving them food, shelter, energy. The Pulse Fal'Cie offer more, they offer something more harsh and real, including a big risk.

But I'm looking ahead. I guess we will learn more about the two groups of Fal'Cie, as we carry on.

As a last point regarding that topic, maybe - the Cie'th immediately reminded me of the animals, turned to mechanical monsters, by the Sanctum. Like the Fal'Cie use people as (horrible) tools, so do the people themselves.

Right, one more point: I wonder why the Fal'Cie think, that being turned to crystal, for all eternity, would be a good thing. Don't they understand humans at all? Even without the game telling me, that sounds horrible. Maybe it's a blissful existence? I feel like, you could read the Focus, the goal the people get from the Fal'Cie, as life in Christianity, with the goal to do something right with it. If you fail, you land in Hell (which seems to be pretty accurate, for becoming a Cie'th). If you do it right, you land in Heaven, where you spend eternity glorifying God. Maybe that's just me, using the reading from the Megaten series about this, but this reading can be easily reached, I feel. Like, what is heaven supposed to be like? The grim interpretation sounds fair. And being stuck as a crystal forever sounds not unlike that.

I do like how Anima looks like some sort of eldritch horror, something incomprehensible. It's horrifying.

The flashback was very effective for me. How fast the lives of all the people in Bodhum became so much worse, how it turned from a very regular life, to a journey to their deaths, against their will. By the government, that is supposed to help and protect them.

Again, the sentence: "This is not your home anymore." comes to mind. It's a very chilling thing to say. You get turned into a monster, just by a word of the government, while you were a regular person, one second ago. Just out of fear, that you could become something bad.

So, this world works, if you are the perfect citizen, right? There are, generally, no bad influences, but as soon as there is, you are a criminal. Just because you might, maybe, possibly, be dangerous. It's a horribly cruel system. Fitting for broken Utopias.

As I said, the flashback worked well for me, showing how nice the life in Cocoon is. I guess it's no coincidence, that we see a nice seaside city. It still seems like I get conflicting messages, about if people have to work or not, but if they have to, Bodhum implies that this is paradies.

After the battle, after everyone got a sign from Anima, after it turned the ocean(?) into crystal, our group wakes up, finding themselves turned into l'Cie. Everyone is terrified, everyone in their own way.

Well, everyone but Vanille. I vaguely remember her already having a Focus? Don't tell me, I'm just wondering, my memory is pretty vague about story details. This would explain, why she can deal with the whole situation better than the others, not being disturbed by the bad news at all.

Sazh isn't as calm and collected as I remember. He kinda reminds me of Wakka, in how he is totally into the "all l'Cie are evil and should die". There doesn't seem to be much sympathie or thought for them. They are dangerous, so they have to die. And sure, he has some reasons why that's better anyway, about how they either turn to crystal or monsters anyway, but that doesn't ring true at all, to me. Feels more like he wants to rationalize why he is ok with the government killing people.

I know how people hate Hope, but I do have sympathie for him. He was just visiting a nice city with his mum, living a normal life, and then all this happens. Including his mother dying, and him seeing her while falling to her death. And now he is on the run, knows that he is basically deadly ill, and is surrounded by strangers. Some of which not caring for him at all.

And he is only, what, 14? This has to be really horrible for him, even moreso than for the others. He is litteraly a Chosen One, the kid of the group. As always, it's horrible. But normally, you have the young hero jumping to this, taking it on with bravado (like Snow does) - but here, we see how a kid would likely react. Including all the snotty, aggressive behaviour that will follow.

Together with Snow, we have even two deconstructions of the chosen, male hero. Snow totally embraces the situation. At least he seems to be aware, that he is just putting on a show. I guess. A little?

At least the game tells him, that he is a dumbass. By letting Lightning punch him. But it's not like the game says she is in the right here. It's just what she would do, putting a lot of the blame for what happened to Serah on him (and herself, of course - I guess that gets channeled at him too).

It's also clear, that Lightning doesn't consider herself as part of the group. Snow has to introduce her, when everyone does. She doesn't have time for people, getting to know these strangers. She works together with them, though, which is worth a lot. With all her anger, she is still pragmatic about that.

About the battle system, i got paradigms now, and can create them myself. I also died a few times, because the monsters don't mess around. If you don't have a healer, you die fast. And while changing paradigms is fast, it's not immediate. It's fast, but with very few options at the moment. Which is the reason why I can do a bit better with this, than with the system in X-2. But coming from that game, it's very obvious that this is just the next interpretation of X-2s battle system.

Regarding graphics: It might be because I turned the quality pretty low, so that the game will run on my PC, so it just looks fine. But even if it would look good, the ways all look kinda same-y. I try to look for landmarks, instead of always focusing on the mini-map, but at the moment, it doesn't look like the game gives me that much.

Also, I'm surprised how much this game, even after XII, already feels like a dungeon crawler. I guess that happens, if there are no towns, and everywhere you are, you get attacked. Everyting IS a dungeon.


Well, that's it for now, at the beginning of chapter 3. I'm surprised how much I get out of the setting. There is really a lot there. Very fun, reading into that.


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
On the fal'Cie: XIII released globally weeks apart from the North American release of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (which I imported, in those halcyon region-free days), and both of them cultivated my sensibilities in how I liked to see myth and deities depicted in fiction, both those derived from the real world and totally imagined ones. The fal'Cie have this mixture of ubiquitous ever-presence in the mundane reality of the setting as far as its maintenance and upkeep and how they hover over it as constant fixtures, but they are also--what you can glean of their actions in absence of direct communication--capricious, uncaring and incompatible to the human concerns and human mortality of their effective subjects; they are not in any way benevolent, but "malice" doesn't capture the dynamic that well either. They simply exist outside of the scale and moral thought of the people their existence affects, and why things like the l'Cie branding are framed so impossible in nature and cruel no matter the outcome. Sin was just about the perfect antagonist in X to embody the unpredictable devastation of natural disasters, so to have this pantheon that operates on a comparable scale, and just as integrally shapes the society they exist in context of, but explores the effects from a completely different angle is such a good move for them to have made in terms of antagonistic forces. Great visual designs too--it's often really hard to have a defined mental image or impression of a given fal'Cie, if they are even identified by name, because their silhouettes and physical detail are so dense and complex that they reject imprinting at a glance, which goes so well with their unknowable natures.

On Lightning punching Snow: this scene is both a blessing and a curse for the character. It plays into the aspects I mentioned before in things I think should be portrayed, but given that both times Lightning decks Snow come early in the story, it became a sort of "calling card" for the character in people's minds who at that point were probably looking for things to latch onto about her. Given how many uncharitable opinions XIII cultivated, those impressions then turned into dim memories, and maybe remained all there was; should a player quit the game early on, Lightning will forever be defined as "the person who keeps hitting Snow." It both trivializes the severity of the act in how it should be looked at (there is an aspect here of people disliking Snow as a character and taking it favourably that his sister-in-law is physically abusing him) and negates the development both characters will go on to have as the game progresses. It also interacts with gendered roles and presentation in a way that's specific: this scene would never be treated as a humorous aside should it be Snow hitting Lightning instead; the only reason it's even in the game is because people feel it is "allowed" for a smaller in stature woman to physically assault a towering man--he "can take it" and "probably deserves it" if you're viewing that Snow needs to be held accountable for his irresponsibility and collateral damage at the game's beginning. I think it's inarguable that he does, and the game will not ignore it going forward--but championing Lightning's violence has always sat poorly with me in how I read the interaction. It is not a triumph or fist-pumping own on her part, but just another notch on her stressed beyond the breaking point psychology and mindset at this stage of the game.

On graphics: I don't know how PC-platform settings would affect it on the low end, but given that in its native 720p form on the PS3 this game still looks astounding, I don't think there is a way to make XIII look unflattering. It will always stand out as a visual marvel in every respect, from character-modeling, environmental framing, visual design, direction, and any and all kinds of visual effects that convey the ludicrous fidelity that was poured into the project. It was completely on a different level in its time and stood out particularly during an era that I think was large-scale console gaming's most visually hideous--here was this one game that fixated on microdetail, imaginative landscapes and creature design, vibrant and luminous colour palettes and everything else that rejected the trends of the period totally. I would believe that the game's messy production is partly responsible for how it ultimately came out, in that there didn't seem to be a lot of partitioning of allotted resources as far as development or a grand plan to tie it all together--the game as it is consists of a succession of independently arresting environments with no breaks applied as far as the extravagance of it all. A more "capably" handled production might've resulted in something far visually flatter, for all we know, so I'm just glad this game is as characteristically itself as it is, and that you wouldn't mistake it for anything else.
this is giving me the urge to play xiii again, so i'll join this as well. never actually finished, and probably won't play at a good enough pace to keep up with the thread, but maybe i'll be able to add some words here and there. always really liked the combat system though i didn't get far enough to have a very fair opinion on the story (tho it's not negative, i just don't know the characters well yet really)


Round and round I go
Staff member
I replayed 13 last year. My biggest surprise was how vestigial the equipment upgrade system is. You don't have the items you need to perform any meaningful upgrades for 75% of the game, and you don't need to touch it for the other 25%, either, unless maybe you're going for the high-end marks.

Summons: also extremely unnecessary, except when cheesing turtles with Vanille. I wonder if anyone has summoned Alexander more than just the one time to see what the summon looks like. "Summons make turtles fall down" is an odd choice that feels like it was designed with the explicit purpose of easing the pain of the ridiculous late CP costs.

Cutscenes aside, the game is paced pretty well otherwise, and it really is a gorgeous game.


this is giving me the urge to play xiii again, so i'll join this as well. never actually finished, and probably won't play at a good enough pace to keep up with the thread, but maybe i'll be able to add some words here and there. always really liked the combat system though i didn't get far enough to have a very fair opinion on the story (tho it's not negative, i just don't know the characters well yet really)
Great! And take as much time as you like. I tend to slow down a lot, so that might not be a problem anyway. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Regarding graphics, it's mainly me being me. I prefer cartoony stuff, and don't care much for realism, even if it looks good and interesting. I know that, if nothing else, people really loved the graphics of this game. I don't have a point of comparison, no idea what came out elsewhise and I'm too lazy to look it up. I'm glad people enjoyed how it looked, though.

On Lightning punching Snow: this scene is both a blessing and a curse for the character. It plays into the aspects I mentioned before in things I think should be portrayed, but given that both times Lightning decks Snow come early in the story, it became a sort of "calling card" for the character in people's minds who at that point were probably looking for things to latch onto about her. Given how many uncharitable opinions XIII cultivated, those impressions then turned into dim memories, and maybe remained all there was; should a player quit the game early on, Lightning will forever be defined as "the person who keeps hitting Snow." It both trivializes the severity of the act in how it should be looked at (there is an aspect here of people disliking Snow as a character and taking it favourably that his sister-in-law is physically abusing him) and negates the development both characters will go on to have as the game progresses. It also interacts with gendered roles and presentation in a way that's specific: this scene would never be treated as a humorous aside should it be Snow hitting Lightning instead; the only reason it's even in the game is because people feel it is "allowed" for a smaller in stature woman to physically assault a towering man--he "can take it" and "probably deserves it" if you're viewing that Snow needs to be held accountable for his irresponsibility and collateral damage at the game's beginning. I think it's inarguable that he does, and the game will not ignore it going forward--but championing Lightning's violence has always sat poorly with me in how I read the interaction. It is not a triumph or fist-pumping own on her part, but just another notch on her stressed beyond the breaking point psychology and mindset at this stage of the game.
If one looks a bit closer (and really, it only has to be a bit), it is pretty clear that Lightning is horribly stressed out, and doesn't know how to deal with the situation. She also clearly has a grudge against Snow, which is likely entangled with Serahs state, it's obvious that she puts unfair blame on him for that, in some way. She is unable to deal with the whole situation, and lashes out at him, because she knows him (and probably didn't like, even before her world broke apart). And it has nothing to do with his actions we see at the start of the game - Lightning has no idea of them (at least I don't think she does).

Reversing the roles really puts into context, how problematic her behaviour here is. You are totally right, if it was i.e. him hitting her, it would read very differently to most of people. And really, that people read it at all as humorous is irritating (and, honestly, I tend to fall for that too, when scenes of this type happen, at least in the moment). It's just a tragic moment, of two people unable to cope with the horrible situation they are in.

I recently watched the first Gundam show, where Bright (the commander), near the start, hits Amuro (main character and Gundam pilot). Because Amuro isn't willing to get back into the Gundam, being psychologically scared from what happened. I'm sure people who know about Gundam know also that this is a meme, and how a lot of people think it's great to "punch sense into someone". Which is a very bad read - I think it's after this scene, that Amuro steals the Gundam and runs away with it.

It's not any better here. Punching Snow solves nothing, and helps no one. He doesn't care, and Lightning just carries on. It simply says way more about her, than him.

I replayed 13 last year. My biggest surprise was how vestigial the equipment upgrade system is. You don't have the items you need to perform any meaningful upgrades for 75% of the game, and you don't need to touch it for the other 25%, either, unless maybe you're going for the high-end marks.

Summons: also extremely unnecessary, except when cheesing turtles with Vanille. I wonder if anyone has summoned Alexander more than just the one time to see what the summon looks like. "Summons make turtles fall down" is an odd choice that feels like it was designed with the explicit purpose of easing the pain of the ridiculous late CP costs.

Cutscenes aside, the game is paced pretty well otherwise, and it really is a gorgeous game.

Yeah, during my first playthrough, I never upgraded, until I was at the postgame. And I think even than did I only plan out the route to the ultimate weapons, which I actually never went through. I also never used summons. Didn't quite get how they worked, and I enjoyed the battle system with multiple characters too much.

I'm wondering how the story will work for me. I enjoyed it last time pretty well, and everything worked (well, most of the time). Up to the battle with Cid. After that, it lost me. I mean, the characters still worked, but the story itself didn't anymore, after that point.


Round and round I go
Staff member
The problem with summons in both 12 and 13 is that they simultaneously occupy "this feels like a cheating option meant for people who are bad at the game" and "this feels like a great way for enemies to target down my summoner and blow a bunch of TP/mist for very little gain." At least in Zodiac Age, you weren't using up your entire MP bar, but even then, I never once felt like, "Yes, this is a great opportunity to summon one of my Espers."

Summons in 13 have a leg up in that they cast Arise if they leave before you gestalt. It's a full-party revive/heal for 3 TP. There are worse ways to use TP in the game (Quake).


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Once you compartmentalize the use-cases for upgrading equipment (organic materials to bump up the experience multiplier; inorganic materials to cash in said multiplier) and stick to the preferred upgrade subjects (there's little point in upgrading weapons before you have the full arsenal and want to decide on a niche for a character--better to boost accessories instead which can be passed around between the party during the bulk of the game when they're separated) that corner of the play systems becomes about as pleasantly straightforward as the rest of the game's mechanics. I wouldn't blame anyone for having an opposite, or completely unclear intuition of what to do with all of it, though--thankfully the game doesn't care much, as noted.


Round and round I go
Staff member
I wouldn't argue with "straightforward" (although it's bizarre that the game doesn't teach you about organic vs inorganic). I just think the whole system could be excised with little impact on the end product. The best thing it does for the game is probably to provide random encounters with a little more value; the worst is to make certain weapons unnecessarily weak until they're upgraded. Neither effect is strong enough to care much about, but I suppose it feels more like an RPG if your weapon numbers can go up.

You know what was cool, though? The equipment synergy bonuses. I wish the game were a bit more transparent about how those work.


I loved this game (but not -2 or -3, those baffled me) but apparently have forgotten a ton about it. I legit do not remember Lightning punching Snow, huh.
The battle system was fine for me in 13. The upgrade system was annoying without surprise; I've disliked random FF games in that way since 8.

Enjoyed 13 most for Lightning herself. Found her quite relatable and have the barest memory of the meme hivemind fixating on her punching Snow, as noted above. I ignored it then as I do now. Probably helps that I would have hit him, too. Boorish idiot...
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Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I like Snow a lot. He's a good-natured idealist among a cast of weary and sarcastic cynics whose most attractive qualities as a person make him singularly unsuitable for the role and responsibilities he's risen to fulfill. I get the impression that a lot of players recoiled off of his commitment to heroism in that they thought the game was telling them to buy him as one, when I always saw him as a largely performative character who tries to live up to the person he pretends to be. If you are coming at the game and its narrative qualities armed with a cynical predisposition yourself, I can only assume the reaction to Snow's performance will be much akin to Lightning's.
I've made it basically to where I stopped first time i played (mid way through chapter 4). Couple of notes

-I don't remember much of this at all. I think i wasn't paying too much to the story first time which explains why i fell out of it. Feels like I'm playing for the first time again which is cool.
-Which also means i'm remembering characters way differently and I really like this cast. There's really interesting interpersonal dynamics, for a lot of things. With both Lightning/Snow and Sazh/Vanille there's just constant conflict of pessimism/pragmatism against unrelenting optimism and cheer,. Which i think works for Hope as a child who's lost everything in the course of a couple days and has no direction or confidence. Not much to say yet, I think there's a really slow reveal of pretty much all details in this game including character development (Lightning feels so disaffected that I can't even really tell who she is yet), but I'm really enjoying the party.
-One thing i do remember, and had the exact same reaction to, is paradigm shift. I remembered liking it the first time, but again in the first couple battles I thought "ah, I was overemphasizing how much I liked it" only to quickly shift into loving it again. It just feels great, and it feels great to put plans into action.
-I didn't remember the way to win the eidolon battle, so it was nice to work through it again. iirc these had a bad rap as being inscrutable but i really enjoyed it. (e: note on inscrutability. turns out on pc above native resolution there is a bug that the notes don't show in libra. This would explain why I couldn't make sense of the tip that using libra helps with the eidolon battles)

In general I've been pretty far from online discussions about 13, so I don't know most of what people like/don't like, which is refreshing. Basically all I know is how much people dislike that it's linear, but I don't really mind that. Even after all this time I've heard very little about the cast and plot; nice to not be saddled too much with others opinions on it.
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Round and round I go
Staff member
All of the eidolon battles have the same solution: do the thing from the character's role that isn't Ravager or Commando.


The problem with summons in both 12 and 13 is that they simultaneously occupy "this feels like a cheating option meant for people who are bad at the game" and "this feels like a great way for enemies to target down my summoner and blow a bunch of TP/mist for very little gain." At least in Zodiac Age, you weren't using up your entire MP bar, but even then, I never once felt like, "Yes, this is a great opportunity to summon one of my Espers."

Summons in 13 have a leg up in that they cast Arise if they leave before you gestalt. It's a full-party revive/heal for 3 TP. There are worse ways to use TP in the game (Quake).

The only time in XII when I tried to use Espers was with strong bosses/hunts. Which simply resulted in Ashe, who I wanted to be my summoner, simply dying very soon. Didn't take long for me stopping to try.

I'll try to give them a shot again here, but in the end, I feel like I change battle systems when using them. Strangely, I don't mind much in X, but there, I mostly used them as the glass cannons they were - good for one shot, and then accepting that they would die in a handful of hits.

-One thing i do remember, and had the exact same reaction to, is paradigm shift. I remembered liking it the first time, but again in the first couple battles I thought "ah, I was overemphasizing how much I liked it" only to quickly shift into loving it again. It just feels great, and it feels great to put plans into action.
Agreed. Just they way it looks, how characters take stances, is always fun to watch, but it also feels like you really have a more tactical approach to battles, in how you give rough directions to most of your party. It feels a bit overwhelming, especially when changing groups. But when I understand who brings what to the fight, it's a lot of fun.

In general I've been pretty far from online discussions about 13, so I don't know most of what people like/don't like, which is refreshing. Basically all I know is how much people dislike that it's linear, but I don't really mind that. Even after all this time I've heard very little about the cast and plot; nice to not be saddled too much with others opinions on it.
Are you ignoring the Datalog? Just curious, because I wonder how much you get when you don't read the extra info from it. I always start a new chapter by reading through all the new entries, which often seems to contain details that the game doesn't give out otherwise. I actually like how this gives people who care for more backstory the chance to get it, without forcing it on people. It does feel like, even without opening it at all, you get the gist of what is going on (plus the characters, which are the essential part of this game, anyway).

If you don't read the datalog, I would be curious to learn what doesn't make sense to you, as you go on. If you feel like writing about it, of course.


I'm also in the middle of chapter 4. I do like how we constantly switch groups, and how our heroes are always split up (by their own decision, no less). I feel like this is one of the strongest cases of people not feeling as a group, of them being individuals first, who mainly think about themselves and their goals. This is the strongest with Lightning, Snow and Hope. Lightning simply leaves the others behind - she clearly also does care about them, showing this in singular, small instances, but has other things on her mind. Hope is a teenager, completely unable to deal with this situation. As is Snow, kinda, but he deals with it very differently. Still, his focus is on Serah, not caring what the others are doing.

Vanille is different, but for reasons I don't remember at the moment. We'll see. I assume part of it is her personality, all bubbly and cheerful, but I also guess that much of it is forced, to do whatever she tries to accomplish. But I do like her enthusiasm and positivity. Especially when she is alone with Sazh for a time - pudik mentions some contrast between them, which is clearly there. But on their own, they work very soon like a good team, working together and just trying to go forward, while thinking of each other. They have a very nice dynamic, I like them a lot. Like, Sazh is careful, but he is also adult enough to know that there is no point in giving himself over to pessimism.

I found it interesting, how we carry on with the theme of how you have to pay heavily for your power. It's a topic very close to the essence of FF - you get stronger, you lose something. Sure, you can work for something and get stronger that way (basically by leveling, and sometimes, that includes magic). But if you take shortcuts, like overusing technology, or just straight-up taking power away from the planet, it costs you a lot (not just, but also, your soul). But we see this at least from II, where the Emperor sells himself to Hell itself. But it gets more interesting in FF VI, where we get our first Espers, a way of getting way more powerful than before - and there is no cheerful music, because that power comes from dead Espers. We get stronger, but the price is very high.

The strongest case might be made in VIII, maybe, even if the game doesn't seem to commit totally?

It's similar here. We get magic, and are strong enough to take out PSICOM guys. Lightning says that it's mainly because these are grunts, but it doesn't seem that way. We wreck our enemies. Sure, this is an RPG and this is how it works, but it feels like there is an explicit reason to us being so overpowered here. But the price is enormously high.

Point is, it's not worth it. The price is always higher than what you get. Except that often, it's others who pay it.

I find it fascinating, how much people here hate the l'Cie. They are hated. It's painful, when Hope says that they (including himself now) are not human. I still remember Palumporom, where the hate our group experienced really struck me. For now, it's just talk, even though we see the effects just from our group.

Lightning and the others find some palace, that the game doesn't say much of anything about. While being there, we switch to Snow, who still tries to free Serah, when he is attacked by PSICOM soldiers. It's here, where we meet our first Eidolons, the Shiva Sisters.

I guess the symbolism is simple, with him, as someone who tends to rush forward and simply punch his enemies, here trying to protect someone. He is growing, maybe motivated by feeling responsible for the death of Hopes mother. I guess this is what calls the sisters, seeing him becoming a better, stronger person.

To be honest, I couldn't do it. I tried being a Sentinel, but the gauge didn't fill up, after the first time. I mean, after switching to easy, I probably got it - fight in general, and when that one sister charges for a big attack, switch to Sentinel. I'm not sure how I feel about these battles for now. I'll try to do them fairly, but won't promise anything.

I'm not going to comment any more on the fact that they turn in motorcycles, aside from this time. It's weird in a way that I can appreciate, but don't care much for.

The Eidolons themselves are interesting. I guess they are interested in humans who grow beyond themselves, while being ready to kill them, if they don't fulfill their potential. It's a brutal way of dealing with these things, as the humans don't ask for these trials. And suddenly they find themselves in a high risk-reward scenario. More power, but with a high risk. That said, Snow was in over his head, and he might have died, without the sisters. So maybe it's more a last chance they give. Like, if you are close to death, but show potential for growth, they give you a chance, just out of curiousity. And if you don't fulfill it, if you fail to grow, you simply die.

Are they fal'Cie? Considering there are so many in Cocoon, it would fit to have some just roaming around.

Speaking of fal'Cie, the datalog mentions that there are a lot of them. Some doing big, fancy things (like Pheonix playing the sun), and other being below him and taking to role of the wind, or something. With that knowledge, they are essentially gods out of antiquity, fulfilling similar, essential tasks for the world, but also being inscrutable to humans. Except that they actually seem to care for humans, too, so the analogy doesn't work quite that well.

Oh, we meet Fang, who takes Snow prisoner. Well, prisoner seems too harsh, she seems quite sympathetic. She also takes Serah. I remember liking her.

Switching back to the others, there is an action sequence of them using a flying machine to flee from PSICOM, getting away by getting close to Pheonix and his plasma streams, or whatever that is. We get through, the PSICOM guys don't. To me, the scene is a confusing mess, but that's sequences of that kind. They look fancy and exciting, so I guess they do their job.

When reaching some wilderness, we see the pope telling the people that the Purge was a success, and everyone was nicely relocated. He also mentions something interesting - his Focus is to keep Cocoon save and in peace.

He has a Focus. I mean, the word could have been used in the regular sense, but that would seem strange. I guess he is just a l'Cie, like us. Just of a Cocoon fal'Cie, Eden I guess.

Going on to chapter 4, we are at the Vile Peaks, with Lightning waking up first. It's one of the short, rare moments, where she shows her true self - she tries to wake Snow, softly asking if he is ok, or something. It's clear that she cares for him. She just woke up, and didn't have time to put up her stone mask, and the thing she does is to care for the child who lost his mother.

It's short, with wolves attacking them, and the others waking up. And she is soon back to her old self, with Sazh and Vanille needing a break, and her not caring at all. Which breaks up the group - Hope follows her, though. Seems sensible, I guess.

It's here were, yeah, Vanille tells Sazh he gives up too easily, and he tells her that she is still a kid. But there is also clearly a lot of sympathy already, with them being able to laugh together a bit. It's nice to see.

Reading through the datalog, I learn that Lightning actually has a real name. With names like Lightning, Snow, Fang and Hope, I would guess that these are normal names in this world, but it's apparently not the case. Are these all nicknames?

I also learn, that Snow has no family, and neither do Serah and Lightning. Which - I don't get it, I know there are monsters, but isn't Cocoon supposed to be save? Mostly, at least? How do they not have a family? What the hell happens here, that adults just die? I wonder if I will learn about this.
I'm snarky, when calling Dysley the pope, but he basically is. He is the bridge between humans and gods, as the person who talks to Eden. Which also gives him the power to interpret Edens words, or simply invent them, maybe. Interesting, though, was that he seems to have been a nice, if conservative, leader. But the Purge is on him.
Final interesting detail is that there are rumors, that the soldiers don't completely kill off the monsters in the Vile Peaks, to keep humans away from these parts.

While running through this place, we see more flashbacks to day 11, day of the fireworks. We learn that Lightning was actually not to be on the train, but that she pushed herself onto it, to find Serah. But it's also clear, that soldiers of whatever type are exempt from the Purge. Not much to add there, aside from "of course".
It was horrifying, seeing the soldiers who forced the people on the train, had no qualms shooting two who tried to flee. It was actively shocking me.
We also see, a bit later, Hope thinking of that fireworks day, where we learn that he was already a grumpy teen. No idea what his father did to him, but he REALLY doesn't like him. So he was a jerk to his mother, too (he just gets moody, so she catches his anger). Which makes him a good bit less sympathetic - I get it, his situation is horrible. But it was not what made him into a jerk, apparently.


I think that's it for now. See you later. I actually have no idea what is coming up next, which is nice.
yea I'm reading the datalogs as they unlock. What I meant to say is that before starting i didn't know a lot about the public perception of the story, and haven't picked up on "spoilers" at all, so it feels like I'm playing a brand new game in a sense, and I'm getting to see the character growth without really knowing where it goes (aside from some things like knowing which characters are in the sequels and theatrhythm, but those are more like "oh they don't die early" rather than "this is who they are"). Which is really great, the story is so far keeping a lot of cards close to its chest and i love how slow things roll out. The datalogs are a really great way for that to play out too, each time the 13 days log has a notification i get a little giddy. The datalogs give a lot of context to Lightning and her motivations, but i am still arguing that at this point we don't really know that much about lightning's personality, even compared to the rest of the cast. Vanille and Sazh have bigger mysteries in who they are and what their motivations are, but Lightning, up until we get more time with her and Hope, has that somewhat cagey exterior she shows to Sazh and Snow, but it extends to the player. That's sort of where the Cloud comparison works for me too; I think lightning intends to be unknowable as a persona in the early going.

and for the eidolon battles, I was able to figure out a good pattern, I think attacking influenced nix to start charging an attack, so it was attacking, then switching to sentinel each time she charged atb, then switching back when her moves finished. That put me at a pretty good pace. I also like the story development that they presumably. The datalogs is a little mixed-feelings about them: there's the idea that the eidolons are retaliating against those that refuse their focus, but it seems more that nix is there to guide him in a time that looks hopeless (and truly, hope did leave snow behind). I assume they are fal'cie, which puts them into the same category of "unfathomable", so I like the mystery of figuring out what their actions mean to their focus. It feels like the sisters are there to ensure Snow can protect Serah and probably to survive unto being captured. Maybe not so much the exact happenings, but I can't help but read that the eidolons are making sure the story goes their way. I think the next is more clear about that too (I'm a little bit ahead of writing at this point)
would have to be but also aerith is in theatrhythm and in additional ff7 games (though not sequels) so even that isn't an indicator i guess