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


Eight days already, huh? I wished I had more time to play this game, I enjoy it a lot. Way more than I expected, it's a blast. I think the only other FF that surprised me so much was FF III, which became an instant favourite. Fascinating, really.

Well, where was I? Right, Lightning pushed ahead, with Hope running after her and Sazh and Vanille taking a break. It just so happens that a bridge gets destroyed.

So, Lightning has a plan. She wants to fight Eden, who seems to be the leader of the Cocoon Eidolons. Fitting, with him being basically a fortress, nice choice. I wonder, is Bahamut the leader of the Pulse fal'Cie? But then, they probably don't have a leader, having a very different structure, if I remember correctly. Bahamut, as a strong, flying summon feels like he belongs more on Pulse than on Cocoon.

Speaking of, I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but it feels a bit like an inversion to games where danger is coming from the moon. Later on, with only Sazh and Vanille, we get this great shot from a cliff, where we can see a continent in the sky. A continent from Pulse. It's a great shot, really. Anyway, my point is that normally, we are on the planet, and the moon houses our greatest fears. Here, it's kinda reversed. Cocoon is the small place in the sky, but it's our home. And the danger comes from the main planet.

Except that this isn't true, and the danger comes from Cocoon. I guess. I forgot what Dysley had planned, exactly. We'll get to that.

Right, Lightning wants to get to Eden, and make him pay for what happens. It's fight of flight, and she choses to fight. It does feel kinda hopeless, really, so it's understandable. They just deal with things completely out of their control.

Still, it's a bad plan, because they all KNOW that this will destroy Cocoon. She is just lashing out, ignoring the fallout of her plan.

Interestingly, Vanille sees through Lightnings anger. Vanille is clearly set up as being emotionally strongly connected, and getting stuff (also, she knows more than she lets on). She sees how Lightning suffers, and how this plan of hers is a cry for help.

It is nice, having the person who charges forward, who would often be clearly the one who gets it, is here always shown to be in totally over her head. And the bubly, cheerful airhead is not only emotionally connected, but also simply smart. Granted, this isn't new, it was always part of this archetype, starting with Yuffie in VII. But this just shows that this series always had deeper characters than standard RPGs.

This is the point where they decide to split, in a way. Lightning pushes forward, and Hope follows her. Vanille and Sazh decide that they go the opposite way, getting as far away from the fal'Cie as possible. Interesting, that the two more level-headed people of the party, who aren't just operating on blind anger, decide to not fight the fight, but run away. It's normally the opposite of what the heroes do, which might be part of the deconstruction of the hero myth this game does.

There is a fun, short scene, where Hope climbs into a machine and lets you use the arms of it to throw enemies just away. It's dumb and fun, but also kinda pointless.

Also, even before Lightning really starts to see Hope for how he feels and is, she seems to start to respect him. She offers him to call her Light.

Interesting. Later on, she explains that Lightning can only destroy, it pushes forward. But Light is something helpful, even protective and warm. Considering that she starts to care for the boy, which will only get stronger, this already shows where she is headed, personality-wise.

But we aren't there yet. For now, she soon gets tired of taking care of Hope, with her snapping at him when he falls down, exhausted. It's when Odin appears.

That fight felt annoying, like a gamble, if I would survive the initial onslaught. Because he attacks really fast and strong, plus knocking both characters to the ground, meaning that their actions will take a break. Even when I made it, it was partly luck that I didn't die at the start. The time limit seemed also a bit too harsh. But it worked out, thankfully, and this time, I did it as I should have. Felt good, but he could do a bit less damage.

Interestingly, it seems to change Lightnings mark. She does apologize, having gotten something out of this. Not that she is perfect - she promises to toughen him up. But it got through to her, that it is important to care for others - that this boy is dependant on her. She soon takes a break, when he starts to stumble again.

Later on, she wants him to be the hope he is named for. I guess it's the other way - she needs him, as a hope for herself, that there is still a future, something to fight for.

We switch to Snow and Fang, for a bit, though I think we didn't get Fangs name there. They are on the Lindblum (I like that they kept the name), the main ship of a special unit of the Guardian Force, lead by this games Cid. I remember this guy as the hardest boss in the game, but nothing at all about him otherwise. Pretty forgettable, for a Cid. Considering that Fang will later join us, and also work together with Snow now(?), I don't get where they exactly stand (I think she is part of his unit?), but there is still time to explain.

He explains, that the public is tired of being scared of the danger that are the l'Cie, and that there will be a public execution. And they are close to the others. Huh.

We see a flashback to day 7, where Serah tells Snow about being a l'Cie now. And, after being shocked at the start, he soon runs after her, making sure that she knows that he will stay at her side, no matter what.

Snow is an idiot, and he has a romaniticized vision of his role in the world, but I do like this. That he doesn't care about Serah being a l'Cie. This is the expection here, not the rule, he is exceptional here. This scene hits more the longer I play, and the clearer it gets how incredibly hateful the people are against Pulse l'Cie.

They talk about what works basically as a legend here, that l'Cie who fulfill their focus will love forever. Which feels really like a sick joke, at this point.

But also, I find it interesting how this world has this creation myth, these legends of godlike creatures who might give you tasks and eternal life, which people know about but also don't believe in. But it is all a thing. But it fits together with how there are gods here, which actually exist. Like, it would be like Apollo would actually pull the sun over the sky, and every thunder bolt is actually thrown by Zeus.

The datalog tells us about the War of Transgression, from hundreds of years ago. Back then, armies from Pulse attacked, but where thrown back by Cocoon. Interestingly, it was the last, known time, where Cocoon fal'Cie created l'Cie. With even the datalog pointing out that it is specifically the last KNOWN time. Sazhs son probably wasn't the only victim of this nonsense.

During this war, the outer rim of Cocoon was badly damaged, but the attack was stopped. And the war boosted the public faith in the Sanctum and the fal'Cie.

Which really begs the question: Was this intended by Cocoon? I guess not, but it was likely used by the Sanctum and the fal'Cie.

Also, considering that humans aren't really the focus of the fal'Cie. This was a war between the two groups of fal'Cie, about whatever it was they disagreed on, right? I guess the game will go more into detail, but I tend to think of the summons as creatures there for us. For the people in these gameworlds, for us the players. Sure, there are societies, but they are not really explored. Or rather, the summons were never such a group where there was infighting, where they weren't a unit. It seems like they are the main creatures of this planet, with their own war, that humans are part of, but not the main players.


I played more, but I'm also tired. Will write more later.


Last time, Lightning got her Eidolon, realizing that she should care for others. Which is what she does anyway - it's more true to her than pushing everyone away.

The Eidolon battle didn't completely change her outlook, it just gave her a nudge. It's interesting, these aren't completely personality-evolving, like events like this tend to be. She stilll has a lot of work to do, a lot more struggling. Sure, she wants to help Hope now, but revenge is still everything on her mind. Which makes her even tell Hope, that he shouldn't have empathie for the enemies they fight.

But caring for Hope seems to help her get her own empathy back. So that she is able to actually think back on the day, where she scared Serah away, by not believing her, by not caring for her, by making an important talk that Serah needed to have about herself.

Serah ruined Lightnings birthday. That's how Lightning looks at it, that's what she tells her sister. Giving her part of the fault for Serah becoming a l'Cie.

This is straight-up an outing scene, where the outing goes bad. Including the whole "you made this up", or whatever nonsense Lightning argues here. You really can put any form of queerness in there, and it would fit with how people have experienced their outing. It's pretty painful.

But, while mapping the status of being a l'Cie onto queerness (or simply minorities) doesn't work on the whole, there are clear similarities. Including how bad actors use the panic against minorities to control people. I'm not sure how well this all works as an analogy, because the world-building falls a bit apart, as the game goes on (at least that's how I remember it).

Lightning does realize what she did, though. With Hope, she sees, over the course of the next few hours, how her actions influence people in her care.

Switching to Vanille and Sazh, they are in some forest, the Sunleth Waterscape. I played Theatrhythm before FF XIII, and, maybe because of the lyrics, that song really stuck with me. It's beautiful. As is the place. Now that we see more natural places, I can see way better how this is a great-looking game. It has some really great places.

Maybe my favourite shot is on the cliff, where you can see a continent in the sky, which has to be Pulse. It's pretty neat.

Here, Sazh opens up, about being a single dad, and taking care of his young son Dajh. That the boy was picked as a l'Cie, the only known Cocoon l'Cie since the War of Transgression. It's part of what hurt Sazh so much - how fair is it, that a small boy like Dajh is chosen?

It really shows how the fal'Cie are beings that see us more as animals, or something, not even getting us at all. As if they don't understand the difference between a small child, and an adult, who might be at least able to fulfill his Focus.

This is the reason why Sazh even went on the train, and why he followed Lightning. He wanted to do Dajhs Focus for the boy, saving him from becoming a Cie'th.

I do find it interesting, that Sazh did question the situation before Dajh became a l'Cie. How he thought there was something fishy about the constant scare from Pulse. That the Sanctum had bad intentions. Seems like it fits to how I remember Sazh, as an adult who doesn't just buy into every nonsense he is told.

Until what happened happened, and his son got put into danger. His whole being was taken over by rage and fear, just stronger than before, so that it would even work on him. And now, he hates Pulse.

Vanille is scared. She knows that she has to do with this, that it was she who was the danger to a fal'Cie, that made it choose Dajh as a l'Cie, for protection.

Back to Lightning and Hope, we are now in Palumpolum, Hopes home. We see Rosch for the first time. He starts up more of that fearmongering nonsense, making the people of Palumpolum even more scared. And, of course, quarantining already starts, and some people are taken away to their own Purge.

Lightning and Hope go through some pipes to get into the city unseen, going through Carbuncles place, where food is created. There is a very interesting scene here, where Lightning talks about how she looked at the fal'Cie. She now realizes, that Cocoon was created for the fal'Cie, and that the humans are just pets for them. But essentially, that this isn't their place, they are just accepted here, but have no say in anything.

It means, that the fal'Cie protected them, by feeding them, giving them light, all that stuff. And then, the protection got taken away, and Lightning got deeply scared. Which made her lash out.

She does realize her mistake now, and tells Hope as much - that his hunt for revenge is over. But also that she will not abandon him.

It was the connection to him, that helped her. She tries to do the same for him now.

Both, Lightning and Hope, realize that lashing out at Snow was unfair and pointless. Both accept that they messed up. And so, for a new goal, they will try to reach Hopes dad. Who is scared of his dads reaction. Especially now, that he knows how bad Lightning reacted with Serah.


That's it already. Sorry, it's not a good entry. Didn't really work, but I wanted to write a bit about my progress. I hope next time will work better.


So, I played up to chapter 12, where you return to Cocoon. So I'll summarize the plot. I'm still covering the main points (and probably get lost in them).

Lightning and Hope enter Cocoon, but are spotted by cameras immediately. Snow appears and saves Hope, not realizing that the boy wants to kill him. Fang and Lightning meet and team up. Fang explains, that she was a crystal, too, so we know that Serah can wake up.

There is one scene here, with Snow and Hope, that stuck strongly with me, the first time I played. It's the scene, where a mob, scared out of their minds, go all torches and pitchforks on Snow and Hope. It was the first time where we actually saw how insane the fear of the people is, how scared they are, how they don't care that they have people, even children, there. How there might be people who knew Hope, and now only see a scary, dangerous monster, not a person. How clear this scene made that he lost his home, for no good reason at all.

It was one of the strongest scenes in the game, for me. I get that Hope can get on peoples nerves, but I just can't help but feel for this kid, who has lost basically everything. Which is true for the others too, but he is so young. Dunno, got to me.

We get the scene where Hope tells Snow that Nora was his mother. And he attacks him, but a monster attacks them, and they fall down the building. Hope is knocked out, Snow carries him.

After meeting up with Lightning and Fang, the four of them finally reach Hopes dad. We don't get too much about him, especially not why Hope is so angry at him (I guess he works a lot, and has problems with showing his emotions?). But he clearly tells Hope that he will stand behind him, no matter what. So, while Hope has lost the home he thought he had, on a bigger scale, this home is still his.

Again, it's really easy to map queerness onto this. Including the fear of telling your parents, when you know that so many people hate you, think you are a monster. And the relief, when at least at home, you get the acceptance you seek.

Rosch is invading Hopes home, and we fight a helicopter. It's grand and goofy. Also, I guess he dies here, just so.

Cid rescues us.

A last switch to the rest of our not-quite-chosen family, Vanille and Sazh. There isn't much happening here for the most part, the two have some fun in Nautilus, the main amusement park of Cocoon. Playing hide-and-seek with the chocobo chick was a nice, fun diversion (I love that cute thing), and seeing some chcobos and these super-adorable sheep was very nice.

Also, I feel like these sheep are asthetically pretty close to the ones from FF V (or maybe other early FFs, I just remember them in V, because Bartz is bugging one and gets kicked over a fence).

There is also the parade, where we see a legend of theirs presented beautifully. Did I mention that Nautilus is a pleasure to look at? It looks great.

The Cocoon fal'Cie are shown as Eidolons here, to fight Pulse l'Cie, and I keep wondering if fal'Cie and Eidolons aren't the same kind of being. Fittingly, the Pulse fal'Cie looked like Ifrit, the one from Cocoon like Odin.

These seem to be children stories, the fairy tales and legends of this world. This is what they tell their children. This is everything in this world, isn't it? All its myth, all its story, all its media, it's all about the good, caring fal'Cie of Cocoon, and the horrible fal'Cie and there l'Cie from Pulse. That's all the culture they create, isn't it?

Maybe this is overreading here, but even that puppet we see earlier looks like a cartoon version of the classical Carbuncle. So, if it isn't everything, it certainly is a lot. But considering that the fal'Cie are creating so much for the Cocoon citizens, it fits that all they are fed, culturally, are fal'Cie centric things.

At the end of the chapter, soldiers hunt us, and in the end, we meet Jihl. The person who did the research of Dajh, basically taking Sazhs kid away. And she shows him, that it's Vanille who is kinda responsible for turning Dajh into a l'Cie.

I forgot about the fake-out, where we see Sazhs silhouette, where he points the gun at his head, and the camera cuts away. And then, we see him in a coffin, and Vanille following, being caught by Jihl. I really dislike this cheap trick. It just feels tasteless and really cheap.

Back to the others, on Cids ship, the others know about the planned, public execution of their comrades, and plan to free them. Fully knowing, that it is a trap.

There isn't much happening, it's a dungeon crawl. Except that Vanille and Sazh make it out of their prison on their own, which is pretty cool. I really like, that they aren't just waiting to be rescued.

Also, like other FFs did, this dungeon feels a bit like the final dungeon. It isn't stated, maybe not even subtext, but we know that the Primarc is here, the leader of the Sanctum. The ship is called the Palamecia, the center of hell on earth in FF II, which is an interesting contrast to here, were we attack the church. But then, its an RPG, I guess churches tend to bring hell on earth often enough , these games.

Before we face Dysley, the Space Pope, he kills Jihl off. She failed at catching us, and gets nervous. He just offs her. I don't think it has anything to do with her not fulfilling her task. He simply doesn't care for her, or humans in general.

So, Rosch and Jihl. They feel so underused. Rosch is just there, so you have a face to be angry at, when people in Palompolum are sacrificed in different ways, just to catch the l'Cie. And then he just dies. Yeah, he has his speech, how the most important stuff is to keep the order, but it feels like such a waste.

It's very similar with Jihl. She appears to be this scheming genius (with the info, that she is some kind of prodigy, or something - together with Rosch, they were the best of their class), then one plan fails, and she gets killed.

This sounds mean to FF XII, but it feels like they were from that game. Getting introduced, existing for a story beat or two, and then getting out again. It's not enough for me. I get that the story gets to its next phase, and being on the run, it's probably hard to have these two interacting with our heroes. But maybe at least give us some cutscenes? Something? I don't know, what we get feels not enough, and I would have liked to get more of these two. There was potential there.

When the whole team meets up, the game gives us full control of our party. It's the first time, where we can decide who to put in the team, completely freely. It felt overwhelming the first time, and it felt overwhelming now.

Maybe this is the ideal time to talk about the hour-long tutorial of FF XIII, which always seemed to be one of those sticking points for people, something they disliked about the game.

It feels like a really weird criticism. Partly, it still felt a bit much at first, choosing the whole team and the paradigms, out of all the choices. The game is still easy enough, that it doesn't really matter, but it was a bit much, at first. Had I gotten the whole choices earler, it would have been too much for me.

But also, and I feel this is something overlooked, this feels structurally very similar to FF IV. You get these structured parties, where the encounters are tailor-made for. I don't think it's that well realized here (or maybe it's just me, not getting the details of the battles - the battle system is just a lot), but I like how you have to use the tools that you have. Honestly, now that I have the free choice, I miss the specific challenges the game gave me, restricting what kind of paradigms were possible.

I imagine both points are the reason for doing it the way they did. And it feels really unfair to critizise the game, just because it didn't let you play with all the toys, all the time. Restrictions can be good.

Getting back to the story, the l'Cie meet Dysley, the Space Pope. As mentioned, the story switches gears, we get a new revelation (and I can't help but feel remembered of FF VI here - we get to a flying place, were the leader of the evil empire is, the dungeon feels a bit like a final one, we get heavy revelations, and we move to the other world of the game).

So, Dysley orchestrated everything. He also watched over us, so our struggles didn't matter, he wanted us to get this far. And I guess you can interpret the ability to redo every battle, immediately, as him intervening if we lose. This is probably above his power, but it works thematically well enough. He wants us to succeed, and apparently, l'Cie work similar to Saiyajin, and get way stronger when fighting for their lifes (which is why we unlocked new parts of the Crystarium after major boss fights). Also that we can't diverge from our path, it is all part of this being something we can't escape from. And with us now strong enough to face him, being all collected here, Rosch and Jihl served their purpose, and can be killed. They are responsible for getting Sazh and Vanille back, after all.

The backstory is, that there is a powerful creature, the Maker, who created humans and fal'Cie as sibling races, and then vanished. And since then, the fal'Cie yearn for their creator, their parent, to come back. As I understand it, Cocoon is just built to create a huge populace that can be sacrificed, so the Maker will feel it and return. Plus, the fal'Cie of Cocoon couldn't do this themselves, so they need Pulse l'Cie to do the job.

So, Pulse and Cocoon fal'Cie worked together on this plan, for centuries. Some decided to do the Cocoon bit, actively caring for the wellbeing of the people in their care (in some way, at least), some stayed on Pulse. fal'Cie are bound to not hurt the humans in their care (which is why Dysley needs us), which might be the reason why Cocoon needs to exist. If there is only Pulse, all fal'Cie are forbidden to hurt any human, no matter the way. But with a second home in Cocoon, the spell that binds the fal'Cie changes enough. Two homes, so one can be attacked.

No idea if it really works like that, but I'm going with that.

I don't like how Dysley, or rather Barthandelus, doesn't seem to be hurt in any way, after we fight him. I wished it was something like with Beatrix, where he destroys us after taking some damage, or showing that he is a bit hurt. But I guess he only does the battle so we can actually just defeat him, so we get our Saiyajin-Near-Death-Boost.

In any case, after the battle, we flee. The airship we board is controlled by Dysley, though, and even teleports away at one point. Into what is called an Arc, basically a Gran Pulse armory, that Barthandelus is keeping around for...something. It is there as a training facility for l'Cie, which fits nicely with his plan to make us stronger.

Not much of interest here, except that we meet Cid again. Who now fights us.

Last time I played this game, this was the part where the story lost me. Up to here, I had no idea what people disliked so much about the story of this game, as is was perfectly easy to follow. But here, it got confusing. And while I think I have a firmer graps on it this time, it certainly lost the tightness of before, and becomes kind of a mess.

So, Cid wanted to make Cocoon into a place for humans. He got the power, but is now bound to the will of the fal'Cie. He wants to kill us, so the fal'Cies plan fails. Considering it would destroy the world, I can see the logic there. It is also him trying to rebel against his Focus, trying to help us, which would lead to the end of the world.

A short word on the battle - the first time, this was a roadblock. I had to try again and again, always dying when he did his huge attacks. This time, I made it the first time. Yes, when he attacks, he hits like a truck, but he attacks very rarely, so there is more than enough time to heal in-between. It was a fun fight, but very doable.

So, we are the Chosen Ones here, but in a different way. We are chosen to destroy the world. Still heroes to some (the fal'Cie need us), but definitely not to us, or humans in general.

Also, I wonder about the humans and fal'Cie being both created by the Maker. Are we equals? Or are the fal'Cie supposed, decided by the Maker, to take care for us?

Oh, there is one more scene of importance, before getting to Pulse. Fang has her Eidolon battle (I think it's Bahamut, which feels fitting). After being pretty much emotionally stable, she gets weirdly angry. Suddenly, she wants Cocoon to get what it's got coming.

Like, it would kinda work. We learn later, on Pulse, that down there, the people learn about the devils from Cocoon. The antagonism is created there, too. So I get there being some irrational anger still being there. But the game never shows us that, until this point. Fang always seems to have her shit together, never showing any sign of hating Cocoon, except for this very scene. It feels artificial, like they needed to get her Eidolon battle in somewhere, and it was about time. I guess that's just what happened.


I think that's enough for now. Next time, we visit Gran Pulse.
im a little bit behind right now, but all i really want to say is how perfect i feel like every plot beat has been so far. I'm realizing now that people weren't really complaining about the linearity, but it's more that it's relentless "combat zones" for the first 7 chapters. I still can't complain about that though, the game needs the necessity of the entire world being opposed to the main party's livelihoods. Once you get to nautilus it is a really nice breath of release after the biggest gauntlet of the fights to that point. Doesn't last that long, but it doesn't need to.

Great chocobo song too! I'm about halfway into Palamecia, so I can't comment on the rest.

The Sazh curtain pull is awful too, well in agreement there. It would have been bad if he died there too. Just a bad bit of cliche at best i feel like.


Agreed on all of that, especially with Nautilus being a nice place, just for not having to run or fight, just having fun, for a bit. It was nice playing with the chocobo chick for a bit.

Last time, we reached the point of fleeing from Cocoon. As a thematic idea, we have the contrast between it being a place of savety, being walled up, but also of being walled IN. You are bound to the dangers from inside, when the people who should protect you are becoming your enemies.

This is not the first time the series uses this theme, at least FF VII does this very well, too. Except that Midgar doesn't even try to protect anyone, and doesn't fulfill it's very basic duty.

Pulse works as a great contrast to what we experienced before. Immediately, we are attacked by some flying monster, and it's not the only one. Monsters are everywhere. The wild part of the world is free to kill everything that is weaker. There are no rules, and no safety.

But there is also more freedom. Food isn't given out, like it seems to be in Cocoon (I'm still not really sure about that), you have to get it, but if you are strong enough, no one stops you. And instead of this long, linear path you keep following, you are free to move around a big, expansive space.

It was calming. It felt like the pressure was gone. No soldiers to hunt us down, and if we kept to ourselves, no monsters to attack us. Without the tattoos, which would transform us sooner of later, we could have spent our time here, maybe the rest of our lives. We are free to do sidequests, to befriend Chocobos, to hunt ofr treasures, and simply to relax.

There is some development with Hope. He seems to have gotten over the unfairness of the world, specifically against him. He certainly is over wanting to kill Snow, knowing that he has a home now. And he finally realized, how much the people around him mean to him, by now. He doesn't want to see them hurt. I'm not sure the Eidolon battle works here, but Alexander, as a fortress, fits to a kid from Cocoon.

There are missable cutscenes here. One shows Hope and Vanille joking around with each other, I enjoyed it a lot. In general, at this point, the interaction between the party members has become very enjoyable.

I love this party. I found them nicely developed, they have interesting arcs and well developed personalities, wartz and all. I love seeing their strengths, I love seeing their struggles. And when they finally get comfortable with themselves, being true to who and what they are (not as l'Cie, but as people), they become people I love spending time with, people who love spending time with each other.

Their interactions started to remind me of the party from FF V, which is a big compliment. That party is one of my favourites, just for how nicely they interact with each other, and I find these six people even better.

I think here we finally get the rest of the truth. That back a few hundred years, Vanille and Fang were the ones who attacked Cocoon as Pulse l'Cie. That it was Fang, not Vanille, who turned into Ragnarok, and destroyed Cocoons shell, before going to sleep. Later on, when they woke up, Fang had forgotten about their past, but Vanille had not. She tried to walk away from her task, and set everything in motion.

The fault lies with the fal'Cie, of course.

I did enjoy my time in Pulse. Just doing side-stuff, ignoring the main quest. I saw people argue that the pacing of the game is bad, due to the open part being focused on this place in the game, but I found it worked really wonderfully. Only having to be forced on a linear path for so long, being hunted all the time, with nearly no break, do you get the immense contrast of finally having some freedom.

The first time I played it, I tried to ignore the missions, but found myself underpowered. I just wanted to get on with the story, but had to do something. I think I grinded against the Hoplits, which are very easy to defeat and give a nice bunch of CP. I also remember doing some missions, but am not sure. I certainly didn't care for having any form of freedom here, I just wanted to carry on with the regular game. Very different from this time.

I only did nine missions, though. The Behemot afterwards was too hard for me, it destroyed me. But I also got the missable scenes, and explored a lot. It was a really nice change of pace.

Also, I find it interesting with how people only mention the freedom here, there is still a lot of linear stuff to do in this chapter. It includes exploring a lot of Pulse, which is quite a walk, with a bunch of forced missions. Essentially, we are looking for Fangs and Vanilles home village, hoping to find something there that might help us. But we find it in ruins.

Which brings me to the fact, that all of Pulse seems to lie in ruins. There was way more civilization here, way more buildings with only ruins left. There are lanterns on the main, open plains. And nearly nothing is left. Certainly no people. I wonder what happened here.

Sure, it could just be nature that got too strong to handle. There is no protection through fal'Cie here. Maybe the monsters developed further, new, stronger monsters appeared. Maybe fal'Cie attacked.

It doesn't seem quite fitting, though. There was a developed civilization here, with skyscrapers, which implies a lot of other technology. It seems like a catastrophy happened.

Also, the skyscrapers and Fangs and Vanilles village, where everyone shared everything, implies that there were multiple settlements. And I can't help but get reminded of FF VIIs world. Like people developed technology too far, and it got out of hands. A big catastrophy, destroying civilization here.

I'm not sure it quite fits, as the Cie'th stones imply, that people lived mainly like Vanille and Fang. Being warriors, able to kill strong monsters. Which makes sense, as the creatures here are dangerous.

Still, it's what I'm going with, until I find something more fitting.

At the very end, we meet Barthandelus again. Apparently, he gave his job to Cid, who is now unable to withstand his Focus,doing what he has to do. The cavalry takes this as a sign of being a traitor, so they will attack him. And, in the process, Cocoon will be destroyed, no matter if we attack, or not.

With that, he leaves us. And the question is, what we should do. The conclusion is, to attack Dysley, saving Cocoon in the process.

Our group has decided to do what they think is right. Choice is the thing they have left. I think this is the main point here. A critizism I remember is, that the group decides to not follow Dysleys plan, and then do it anyway, out of their own free will. I'm not sure where this is coming from. They think, that Dysley wants them to kill Eden, but they are planning to kill Dysley. Saving Eden, in the process.

Dysley left a flying machine, a way back to Cocoon. We arrive at a race, in honor of the new primarch, Cid. And crash the celebration. It's really dumb and flashy.

But Dysley also opens portals, letting monsters and machines in from the place where we fought Cid. More stuff to kill citizens, create chaos and fear. We meet Rosch again, who I thought had died. He is angry, and attacks us. Two times. A dumbass, who decides that we are l'Cie, so we have to die. Not matter if it makes sense or not. It's just how it is.

The fights were brutal. The hardest fights in the game. Weirdly enough, I don't even remember these battles. Maybe it's the reverse to the Cid fight, where the first time, I had a lot of trouble and this time, it was really easy.

After some time, we finally reach the heart of Eden. And find the cavalry turned into Cie'th. Dysley only used them to bring us back. Which seems unnecessary, but I guess I can forgive some backup plan. His goal was to get us back here, no matter how.

It's not a great final dungeon. It looks cool, but doesn't makes much sense. There is nothing interesting here, aside from the looks. The enemies are also brutal here, specifically the motorcycles oneshoting me. As with most final dungeons, I just want to get to the final boss, and so avoid the monsters. But here, I also just don't want to fight the exhausting, long and hard battles.

At the very end, we meet Barthandelus, fighthing him a last time. As always, the fight is exhausting, but managable. And this time, he really dies. We are finally strong enough for that.

And he comes back. Here the plot finally lost me. I think he needed to die, so he could become Orphan, and dying now will destroy Cocoon. I die here the first time, not being fast enough when a gravity attack reduces all our HP close to zero, and then attacking me. The second time, I'm prepared, and it is not problem. It's always kinda close, but never too much, there is time if one is careful.

There is some stuff about humans being born with infinite potential, even though we are at the start way weaker than fal'Cie, who are stuck in their power and who they are. And Fang finally seems to be taken over by her Focus, I guess? I wished the game was more clear on this, as up to here, except for the part with Cid, we can always act on our own accord. It's the threat of turning Cie'th that makes us follow the Focus. But I guess he can also just force us? This, at least, seems inconsistent.

Fang kills the others, now in Cie'th form, and starts to turn into Ragnarok. Orphan continues to torture her, trying to make her even stronger.

Until Orphan is attacked. By the others, who weren't killed. It seems to only have been an illusion.

This point interests me. What does it mean? Is all the fal'Cie do create illusions? Illusions that get strength, just by us believing them? It seems to be one of those cases, I guess. Or maybe just with the humans realizing their potential, not being bound by the illusions anymore.

I find something about this really fascinating. Illusions that become real, but only if we are too weak to resist them.

The others talk about a new idea, a new Focus, and I think they mean one they gave to themselves. New potential. The ability to do miracles. To force their own will.

Yes, they now decide to kill Orphan, to accept that Cocoon will get destroyed, but also take the task onto them to save the people.

The last fight is easy. Orphan can only be hurt, when he is staggered. But then, he can be juggled, making him unable to defend himself. And he was weak enough, so that he died in one go. It was an easy battle. Despite being timed, due to curse, but you have enough time, with him not being able to take much.

Last time I played this game, I died in the last form. Orphan cast death onto my party leader, and I died. Maybe I remember wrong, though, and just didn't realize that the Doom counter ran out?

So Orphan died. And yes, the group did what he wanted them to do. But out of their own decision, and I think that is relevant here. They decided that it was the correct thing to don, not caring about what Barthandelus wanted. Not being bound by what someone else thinks includes to do whatever you think is right, even if it is exactly what that person wants.

Point is, I think everything works out. The story, the motivations, they make sense. Yeah, there are some problems in the details, but on the whole, it fits.

With this, Cocoon falls apart. And we flee. But Fang and Vanille stay back. Cocoon turns into a fireball or something, and starts to crush onto Pulse. And is stopped by Fang and Vanille, who turn everything to ice.

Ok, not sure what happens here, and why Pulse is supposed to get destroyed here. Maybe because the people are transported there, to actually kill everyone and call the Maker.

Maybe that's just the humans? Was it a powerful human, who created more humans and fal'Cie, then vanishing? Are humans as powerful?

We, that is Lightning, Sazh, Hope and Snow, find themselves on Pulse. And we meet Serah and Dajh again, being well. But Fang and Vanille are gone, frozen in ice, in the middle of what was once Cocoon. They won't come back (I guess so, at least, having not played XIII-2 and 3).

And that's it. I beat FF XIII. And with that, I am done with the project. I will try to play XIII-2, hoping for a patch to make it run better. But if not, if it still runs as bad as last time I tried, I won't be able to play it. Which means I'm done.

But more on that later. I'll write, as always, a final post. And then a final, final post about the whole project.


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Pulse is great since it occupies this structural spot in RPG progression conventions of the late-game side-quest central, which is a role it fulfills... but in a distinctly FFXIII flavour. Hunts were introduced to the series with XII and haven't left it since, and in there each of them told a little mini-narrative of the circumstances around each individual mark and the person who requested it to be brought down, and in here that formula is ostensibly retained. Only there are no longer people with their troubles, just odd and disquieting Cie'th Stones that communicate their regrets and unfulfilled goals to their successors walking inexorably toward the same eventual fate. You can see the seams with this decision: a game as famously troubled in production and overall scope as FFXIII was probably saw fit to streamline and consolidate a design element like this like any other it took on, so it's easy to look at it as a cost-saving measure and a deliberate reduction in the investment on an existing concept they still wanted to utilize in some form. If you are in a position to buy into the game's storytelling and cosmology however, the rationalizations and contextualizations around a decision like this can also become tonal strengths that benefit the game's overall narrative. Pulse is distinct from all of the preceding game, for how much it allows the player to roam in a wider space, but it also does not stop FFXIII being from what it is and how isolated its party are from the society around them, where all they really have are each other. On Cocoon, that society was hostile against them, but on Pulse there is reprieve in desolation, in the ruins of past cultures, only interacting with people turned into their own unliving gravestones. It's the "fun sidequest zone" but blanketed for almost all of its breadth in a deep melancholy--aided greatly by what Hamauzu brings to the portrayal, with tracks like "The Archylte Steppe" and "Dust to Dust." It's one of my favourite executions on a last moment prep zone in any RPG, for being able to provide that mechanical incentive while never breaking the game's tonal cohesion--if anything, only emboldening it.

Fun thing about Pulse's conclusion in Oerba: FFXIII famously opens with a FFVII riff--Lightning and Sazh standing in for Cloud and Barret, taking on a Guard Scorpion automaton in a greenish, train-themed setting. I think at this point the game delivers another, where Midgar culminated in the escape along the elevated highway leading into nowhere after fighting another mechanical construct--XIII recalls that scenario and setpiece too, with Barthandelus standing in as the machine-god obstacle to overcome, only this time the context is reversed in the game's structural arc: VII's party was breaking out of the linear confines of the world they had up to that point known into the great unknown beyond, whereas XIII's folks are fighting to return to the constrictive setting they had previously abandoned for a newfound sense of freedom. It's a bookend and parallel that I very much enjoy, less cloyingly literal as some other references and allusions that pump through the series.


Round and round I go
Staff member
Fang kills the others, now in Cie'th form, and starts to turn into Ragnarok. Orphan continues to torture her, trying to make her even stronger.

Until Orphan is attacked. By the others, who weren't killed. It seems to only have been an illusion.
This is where I feel they dropped the ball. This part makes no sense to me. Among a dozen other questions, why is Ragnarok is strong enough to destroy Cocoon but not strong enough to dent Orphan? Ragnarok as a whole really feels like a loose end, and the transformation happens here only so that it's less jarring in the ending.

As for the Maker, the FFXIII setting has a whole pantheon that, by and large, doesn't end up doing much. Etro gets lots of mention in XIII-2, and Bhunivelze is a central character in the plot of XIII-3, but XIII proper doesn't talk much about the gods outside of the Datalog (which I have not read much). I'm not 100% sure, but I think Bhunivelze is the Maker mentioned by Orphan.
I've always thought the downfall of Pulse's civilization was caused by the Fal'cie turning everyone into cie'th. Some of the cie'th stones' hunt descriptions talk about how they just keep turning people into l'cie to hunt the same monsters, and many of the hunt targets are cie'th themselves, so it gave me the impression that whenever a l'cie failed their focus, two more would be created, then four, then eight, and so on until a whole town was nothing but cie'th. Vanille and Fang don't talk about this being a common occurrence on Pulse, though, so it must have started after they crystallized. What's not clear is whether the Fal'cie were doing it maliciously - the Pulse Fal'cie do share Barthandelus' ultimate goal of wiping out humanity in order to open the gate to the next world - or it was more like they were just "programmed" to make people into l'cie whenever a monster posed a threat, with no safety check to make sure they weren't making the problem even worse by doing so.


FF XIII is a great game. I had a lot of fun with this one, more than I expected. This includes roughly - the story is fun, the characters some of my favourites, the world-building is interesting, there are some really cool places to visit, it looks great and the battle system is simply fun.

I don't think I ever really got the battle system, though. I'm not sure how much most players actively control the one character they have direct control over - for most of the game, I just used auto, or decided on the actions in the first round, only to choose repeat in the following rounds. Most of the time, there was no necessity to try harder. I did have a lot of fun with the game, but mostly I just had to switch to the right paradigm at the right time. Which was pretty fun! But it felt pretty simple.

I feel like the idea is to actually decide on your abilities each round, but even if it had been necessary, the game was just too fast. Which might not have been a problem, I think you can turn down the battle speed.

Dunno, I just wonder if I missed out on something, even if it wasn't relevant. Maybe it would have been important in the harder hunts? I'll never know.

I actually started the grind (while listening to a podcast), but the time for grinding everyone up seems pretty crazy. And I only would have done so to get all the achievements, which seems like a big waste of time.

So, instead of getting really everything out of the battle system, I just enjoyed how it opened up more and more. I love how the game gives you these setups of characters, giving you more and more options, until you have full control over your characters. I really like fixed challenges, where the game sets me up in a specific way, and I have to do my best to meet the challenge. Over the years, I realized that I clearly prefer this to more open-formed systems, where I'm not sure if I am strong enough, or not. And this game offers a lot of that.

I tried to play around with different teams, but in the end, I mostly used Lightning, Vanille and Fang. I like all these characters, but I felt drawn more to these three. I think I never actually used Snow, surprisingly also not Sazh, but had Hope in my team quite a bit too. It worked out nicely.

This is just about their roles, but when it comes to personality, I enjoyed spending time with them all. Especially because of their chemistry. I already mentioned this, but this is one of my favourite teams, right up with V and VIII. With the added bonus of them changing from a bunch of one-person teams with their own secrets and problems, to a group of friends who like each other, and enjoy spending time together. The missable cutscenes on Pulse are especially nice for that, the one with Hope and Vanille will probably keep sticking in my mind for a long time. I found the work done here excellent, and I think it is the best executed version of group development (but the characters developed nicely, too, even if some moments felt off).

Once again was I surprised by how well done the story was. I don't think general opinion ever came around on it. When I hear good things about the game, it's mainly about the battle system. But, while the game at the very, very end goes to weird places I didn't quite get, this is restricted to the cutscene between the second and third phase of the final boss. I already talked about the story enough, and how some things felt missing, but these were small details. In general, what happened made sense and worked out.

The more important thing are the characters, anyway, and I think the game shines here. Showing how they fought through their troubles, getting rid of the garbage Cocoon and Pulse pushed on them during their former lifes, and becoming their true selves in the process. Learning how the world pushed them into roles, how they were just playthings, and getting to a place of power out of it - I found it to be really well done.

A final shout-out to Pulse, as such a great contrast to everything on Cocoon. Not just for the gameplay points, but just for having the possibility to move around over a giant plane, seeing animals roaming and hunting, meeting up with wild Chocobos, seeing all the giant fauna walk around.

All that said, I feel like the final word can't be spoken here, as there are two more games. I tried it today, and got to the point still at the beginning, where you fight some monsters on a beach. The performance was tolerable, which I remembered different. But also, after the monsters were defeated, a cutscene started, which immediately froze up. Thankfully, I found a patch, which worked, and made the performance better.

Which means there will be more to be said, about the characters and this world. And apparently also about the gods, which didn't get much mention in the first game. I'm looking forward to learning more here.

This also means, that the project is not over. Not only that, XIII-2 and -3 are games I have never played before, so that should be especially interesting. I mainly remember -3 as a game that sounded super interesting. I hope my PC is able to run it good enough, so that it is at least playable.

I already had a break, playing through Lufia II, so I will soon start XIII-2. Looking forward to it.


Round and round I go
Staff member
Assigning actions is most important for Synergist. Most roles are good enough with auto-actions.


cyber true color
(she/her, or something)
i think in a strict sense the sentinel AI is least likely to pick good actions, while i think synergist will eventually do the things you want, but after playing XIII-2 i also realized that using sentinel is more like pressing a guard button than a job that really relies on the actions themself


So, FF XIII-2. It does work! I started it, and it looks, while overwhelming, like fun.

I watched the intro twice, because I didn't expect the game itself would just show it one more time. No biggie, it was fun to look at, and seeing Lightning do stuff is always enjoyable.

To summarize, Lightning is in some big city, wearing some Valkyrie-inspired getup, and considering that his place seems to be called Valhalla, that's obviously intentional. There is some edgy dude, Caius, outside, whose girlfriend (?) died (?), and he attacks the city. With his monster army. Against Lightnings monster army, which is fun.

Lightning and Caius fight for a bit, then he transforms into Chaos Bahamut, and we get a battle tutorial. The problem here, and for the rest of the game, is that special battles have QTEs. But the buttons showed are from the keyboard, instead of the controller, which makes things complicated (and makes me constantly fail roughly half the prompts). Thankfully, the timing has been pretty forgiving, up to now.

After some time, a guy, Noel, falls out of a portal, who looks like someone made a mashup of Sora and Tidus. I don't think they know each other, but Lightning sends him back(?) to find Serah. Because he can travel through the gates, he can do that, and therefore change the future.

Lightning also gives Noel a moogle, who floats and can transform into a crossbow (Serahs weapon). Noel also seems to know Caius name, maybe?

Anyway, I guess it's hopeless, and Lightning finally send Noel through the portal.

So, this is a mess. The game gives you a summary of the story of XIII, thankfully, but even knowning that, this here is a very confusing situation. We somehow get from Lightning and the others being on Pulse, ready to start a new life, to this giant city surrounded by a wasteland, attacked by a guy we don't know, and Lightning leading the guard of the city. Something about the world ending, Serah being the key to stop it (I guess) and a dude who can travel through dimensional portals.

Which is fine, we'll get some answers, but still. Wild stuff.

Episode 1

We start in New Bodhum, on Pulse. Like with Noel, it reminds me a lot of Besaid, or generally FF X. I guess there were people who worked on both games, so not too weird. I certainly like it, it is a nice, small village at a beach.

But I'm jumping ahead. We start with Serah dreaming the prologue, and weaking up due to a meteorite. Oh, right, Caius cast Meteor, I guess one of the meteorites came through the portal.

Immediately positive - I can jump. I like when I can jump whenever I want, it's really nice to be able to in an RPG.

When walking out of the bedroom, we also get the first of many times, where we get to choose one of four options of what we, as Serah, say to a situation or a person. It's a nice bit of small roleplaying, and gives you the possibility to focus on whatever interests you most.

Here, before doing anything, the beach vanishes and turns into a horrible wasteland, all gray and dead. It's a pretty grim and effective. I can't say what exactly it is that gives it the intense effect, but I guess if there is something that SE is really good at, then at creating striking, atmospheric visual places.

We soon switch back to the beach, where the members of NORA, Snows friends from the start of XIII, now sort of a guard force of New Bodhum, fight against some giant insects.

We also learn, that Lightning is dead. And apparently, there was some change. Later on, we see a changed ending sequence from XIII, where Lightning is not there, but part of the ice pillar that stops Cocoon from dropping. Except that Serah remembers how it really was. Only her, though, the rest thinks she has a shock, or something.

Here, Noel appears, the moogle turns into the crossbow, and together, we fight against the bugs. There isn't much new here, we have two characters with a bunch of premade paradigms. There is nothing hard about these fights, they are still tutorials, except that now we can also change paradigms, and have to keep an eye on two people. Still easy, but a fine increase in complexity.

After the fight, Noel tells Serah about what happened, so Serah knows that Lightning is alive.

We make our way to the meteorite. Near it, Cocoon vanishes, and a monster appears. We fight it (the Sentinel job gets introduced here), and get a fragment for our troubles.

There are 160 alltogether. And knowing that this game is way more open than XIII, I'm sure many are optional, which is like honey for my ears. Or something like that. I like having collectibles, with a fixed amount of them, and being able to search a game for them.

Noel talks about his reality, 700 years in the future, where he is the last of humanity. There, only a few humans were still left, and at some point, it was only him. The earth was dry and not usable to grow anything, so the people were dependent on hunting alone.

Maybe we will learn more about his world later, but it seems a bit weird. Cocoon doesn't exist in his world at all, so I guess it crushed onto Pulse, destroying both planets. Which works out, but how did humanity, or anything, survive for 700 more years?

I guess we'll see. Here, in Serahs reality, it's three years since Ragnarok. Lightning vanished, as mentioned, and Snow seems to be the only one who believed Serah, at some point leaving to look for her. Since then, NORA takes care of Serah.

Oh, Serah has a cat named Snow, which I find really funny.

Noel also seems to be a bit of a jerk. He criticizes Serah for waiting so long, after Snow was gone. Which, yeah, this is her decision, not yours, new guy.

But he offers, at least, a useful way to look for Lightning and Snow: With artifacts, we can open certain portals and move to parallel dimensions. Episode 1 ends with this - Serah and Noel open a portal, and travel to a different version of the world.

There are some nice parts that I really like. A single reality, like 003 (which is Serahs reality), isn't very big, but it is kinda an open space. And while there is, for now, a linear path to go forward, this will likely change in the future. We can walk around the city part and talk to people, including taking on side-quests or find places where Noel will want to say something (and Serah can give four different answers, your choice). Talking to people will surprisingly often start short cutscenes with character work. I really enjoyed spending time here.

The moogle design is not my favourite. I don't know, it feels like they tried too hard to make him cute, when I prefer the versions from FF IX. It's not a big deal, and I got accustomed to it already, but not my favourite moogle design.

Another thing I don't quite like is this games version of random battles. No matter if you move or not, after some time, outside of city-parts, monsters will spawn. Often you can just run away, but sometimes they will run after you, and start the battle by touching you. It's better for you to do so - you have the possibility to hit monsters with a sword, and initiate the battle with an advantage for you (mainly hurting them a bit and giving your team Haste). On the whole, I do really like it, I just wished it was more like in XIII, where monsters don't just spawn again and again, no matter if you move or not.

The new version of the Crystarium was a bit confusing at first, and I'm a bit unclear in how to develop Serah and Noel. I started with focusing on him as a COM and her as a RAV, unlocking new jobs for now.

On the whole, this is a strong start, and I'm looking forward to playing more. Especially waiting for the part, where the game will get more open.
knew i would fall behind, so i'm ignoring some posts because like i alluded, i have shockingly never been spoiled about even most plot beats of 13. Have been spending a lot of time on pulse, and it's a little overwhelming at first but what an entirely earned feeling. just want to chime in with how much i loved the optional scenes too. these characters are extremely good, maybe becoming my favorite final fantasy cast. excited to continue and i really hope i can quickly move onto 13-2 after it... though unfortunate timing with baldurs gate 3 out now too eep. luckily i finished yakuza 7 recently but im really tired of having multiple giant rpgs running at a time when i'm short of free time anyway.


How are you doing, pudik? Got distracted, or did you make it through? No pressure, just being curious about more of your impressions.

I haven't played too much, considering the time, but when I play, I do a few hours in a row (which is a reason why I don't start playing too often). It is similar to X-2, except there I simply couldn't stop. I guess that is the mission-like way these games work. Just the typical "one more little mission", "just one more part of the map", and so on.

So, the story is somewhat convoluted (it's a time-travel story, so of course it is), but works well enough, for now. I'm probably somewhere in episode 4, but after starting episode 3, I forgot how to check that. But that episode structure feels realtively pointless, anyway.

There isn't too much story, compared to the linear mainline game, which is fine. Noel comes from a future, where he is the last human alive. The crystal structure that holds Cocoon in the air gets destroyed, for multiple possible reasons, and lets the giant Cocoon fall to the ground, basically wreaking Pulse, making the ground unable to let food grow. This is somehow connected to the way timelines got weird, and why Lightning vanished from XIIIs ending, being in Valhalla instead.

Also, Noel is a guardian of Yeul, a person who gets reborn every time the former incarnation dies. A seer, who knows everything that happens in every from the whole of time, as I understand it. And they all look like young girls, which I find irritating. Every incarnation also looks the exact same way as the one before. We sometimes ran into an incarnation, and despite knowing everything (I guess?), they don't recognize Noel. Dunno, time travel is weird. The point is, that he was tasked with protecting one of them, together with Caius. The guy who fought against Lightning, at the start of the game.

Caius protects Yeul, and the timeline. At one point (in Oerba), we fight against him, because we ruin the timeline with our jumping around.

I met nearly everyone in some way, by now. Fang and Vanille are, of course, still in the crystal structure, and Lightning is in Valhalla. Snow, who was gone by the start of the game, was in the Sunleth Waterscape, where, due to a paradox, a ton of flans came in from a different time, and merged into a giant flan, which destroyed the crystal structure. Well, tried to. After correcting two paradoxes, it's power is greatly reduced. Defeating it makes Snow vanish, as he was a l'Cie.

I guess we will get an explanation for that later.

Probably connected to that is me meeting Hope. We find him ten years after the ending of the first game. Where he tells us that everyone from his life was gone, basically back then. Vanille and Fang are clear, and Lightning now vanished, too. Snow went away, looking for Lightning, probably pretty soon there, too. Which leaves Sazh, who became a pilot again, and went away because of some difference of opinions, I think?

It's kind of disheartening. I know, it has to do with the paradoxes, but that this group, who work through so much and became a family, broke up here. Even on a personal level, the story here is pretty grim.

So, hope wants to solve the paradoxes, to get his family back (including his mother - there is something about the future changing the past). So he tries to learn more about the paradoxes and artifacts.

Part of his research will be the proto-fal'Cie project, where he creates an artificial fal'Cie. Which then KILLS HIM, and as I understand, every human? Not too clear on that, I guess I missunderstood something, because it would mean that Noel, Yeul and Caius are also just artificial? More on that later.

Hope certainly dies, though. By a crazy machine.

I learned about these details later. First, I was in the Augusta Tower, which I then learned is populated only by holograms, which seem to be selfaware, but also want me dead, I guess. At the moment, I'm actually stuck in this tower, in one period. As I was in the city Academia (a giant city, bigger than Cocoon ever was, and lead by an artificial fal'Cie, a new Adam), this Adam found me, and thought I should be dead, because I was stuck in the tower in an earlier time.

These idiots did recreate the fal'Cie with all capabilities, it seems - the artificial Adam still can turn people in Cie'th, which I have nothing to say about, except that it's really, really dumb. But I guess the responsible humans were dead, so no sensible oversight here.

So, everything is horrible and goes to hell. There are some interesting themes going on here, but I feel I need to wait for the rest of the game, to sensibly comment on them. Like the idea of the future changing the past, or the artificial fal'Cie. I mean, I do find it interesting that development of technology goes into this direction. It makes sense, as this is the power humans know to exist, and orient themselves on it, trying to recreate it. Just as a controlled version now. Which went horribly wrong.

For something more fun, I find a casino. I thought they were gone in RPGs now? Or is that just Pokemon? Does DQ XI still have one?

After Lufia 2, every other casino is just boring. I can do Chocobo racing, which I ignored, but might look into later. I did play some slots, and lost. There seems to be a cardgame, offered through DLC, and as I understand it the Steam version has all the DLC. It should open up, after I beat the game. Ok, fine, I get bored of these games pretty fast, anyway.

The more interesting point here is, that I find more Chocolinas! And knowing now that they aren't humans makes it possible that they have actually chocobo wings instead of hands? But with arms?

There is nothing really interesting about this, but I wondered what was up with Chocolina, and her appearing in every time period. I guess it's all we will learn about them. I do find the idea of a casino in between dimensions, or whatever, pretty funny, in how silly it is.

Regular battles are not too bad, most monsters are simple to defeat. But bosses can be brutal. Mainly, and this is somewhat frustrating for me, bosses get harder, as they get weaker. Often the start goes pretty well, but as the fight nears its end, the bosses can get so aggressive that I can't keep up. The "wound" mechanism does the rest, reducing the max HP for the rest of the fight, if I don't use an item to heal it (which I can't just buy).

It is managable - when I fought Caius, I died when he got more intense, but I then realized that I already had access to alternative times, and could do other stuff. After that, including the leveling, I had no problem winning. But against two other bosses, some dragon and a stronger Cie'th, I died, and had to adjust to win, while nearly dying a few times still. Not too bad, I made it through, so it is a fair difficulty. But it feels like some of the harder bosses in the series, which makes me a bit scared of the late-game bosses.

You fight Chocobos in this game! Which means that you can get them, and have them as part of your team! I replaced my yellow one already, but I love having these birds on my team. Chocobos are great.

Status effects feel way worse than in XIII. It is really hard to make anything stick on a boss. I like the status effects in XIII, because most of the time, you could put at least some pretty easily on a boss. Here, it feels more like in most other games, where the wasted time just isn't worth it. Which is probably dumb, the fights are long enough, but it's pretty annoying.

Buffs aren't great either, because they go away very fast. Serah and Noel also don't get great buffs - no haste, or the ones that increase attack or magic power. You need a monster for that, which is fair, but again, the buffs don't stick for long. Feels like I waste too much time, when I need to be on the attack constantly.

Also, breaking monsters happens really rarely, mainly with bosses. In XIII, nearly every monster needed to be broken, so you could decently damage it. Here, most monsters just die before that point. With bosses, that's different, of course, but in general the things that defined the new battle system got turned down. It feels more like a regular jRPG again, in some ways.

It's still fun, though, and it's nice to explore different times and places. I wished it was more open, though. That might be me, I already missed out on some possibilities, but I wished you got more obviously ways to visit times/places, that aren't mandatory. X did a way better job here, just letting you go to any place, nearly all the time.

Aside from XIII, X-2 is an obvious point of comparison for this game. Both are direct sequels, both do the more open nature, both explore the situation after a mainline games quest is over. X-2 is a different game, so this isn't a thing of strictly better or worse. But I still feel X-2 did the open world better. I'm actually disappointed, that I still have so few options, despite being in the middle of the game. Maybe I misunderstood the idea, but I thought this was something the game was intended as. And it would work so well for this game. It's weirdly linear, for how it is set up, a wasted opportunity, I feel like.

I remember being a bit disappointed with how X-2 did the whole "how are they now", but they still clearly tried with that game. Don't remember the details, it just didn't use quite all the potential.

A comparison here isn't fair, though. In X, you visit a lot of places where people live. It's easy to let people revisit these places and the people who live there.

In XIII, not only were you on the run (meaning you didn't often visit lived-in places, and if, you didn't interact with the people there), but the places you visited simply don't exist anymore. A lot of the game world of XIII is simply dead now. So XIII-2 does what it can, and lets you meet the members of your former team again, when possible. But seriously, where is Sazh? I'm deep into the game, and simply haven't met him. That's just lame.

Still, it's a pretty fun game, I enjoy my time with it. And I do like the story, weird and confusing as it is.
Finished yesterday actually! Well that is to say, I saw the final cutscenes, I may jump back in with the expanded crystarium to do some hunts, but I have a feeling I'll get pretty discouraged by the time investment when I already had enough of a time setting aside time for the main story.

I really liked it. I'll try to keep it brief but man was that a strange ending. There's this constant sense that of course no one actually knows how they are going to subdue Barthandelus, spare Orphan, save Cocoon, revert Serah and Dajh, and prevent themselves from becoming cieth, so I kind of admire that even at the end with the final rush of bosses through to the final cutscene there's constant questioning of "are we doing the right thing" or even "what are we even actually doing". There is the great little recap and Vanille's line about how it wasn't anger that drove them, but passion (or something similar), and that's a gentle reminder that the strength of the game is the cast, and it really is one of the best casts in the series. I do love the world and its cosmology, but I think it's a pretty normal feature of sci-fi stories to funnel gigantic, world-altering events into an ending on the emotional resonance of a small main cast.

My only other real problem probably is that Fang just wasn't given enough to do as a character. Still liked her, but just left a little underwhelmed by her outburst before gaining Bahamut and at the end. Doesn't hit as soundly as the rest of the emotional beats. The strange meandering of Barthandelus and Orphan in the final battles is fine with the mystery, but the ending felt almost incomplete in it's invocations.

I did like the final battles though. Bathandelus was arduous, but I didn't feel too fatigued. Final Orphan was a pretty fun race against the clock, though maybe unfortunately it's just a bit easy. Once she's staggered it's just over.

I think I'm of the same opinion regarding the battle system. It's a lot of fun, but i just didn't interact with it as much as I felt I should have. Probably changes if I go back and finish hunts, and I won't complain anyway because there were definitely hard fights (I feel like some of the fights in the cradle and Eden were harder than the final fights, even accounting for differences in crystarium progress), so I got good engaging moments out of it.

Great game. I'll probably wait a bit before I start 13-2, but I am eager


Thanks for the write-up, I'm glad you played through it, up to the end. And agreed, both on the party being excellent (of course), but also on how Fang didn't get the time she needed. A shame, because I love her, I did enjoy it every time she did stuff.

Looking forward to your opinions on XIII-2, if you get to it (and feel like writing about it, of course). And also about you taking on the postgame. I feel like the time commitment for that one would have been just way too extensive, but maybe it works for you.


Back at this game, after getting lost in the world of Hollow Knight for a month or so. And I beat it.

Last time, I was somewhat stuck in Augasta Tower. What I got out of it is, that there is a closed time loop. the artificial Fal'Cie, another Adam. Which got its full powers, being able to turn people into l'Cie and Cie'th. It also realized, that Hope would learn about what it would do, and would therefore kill him at the very beginning of it's existence, making sure that it would exist.

The reason for this Adam to exist, was that the pillar would get destroyed, with time, and when Cocoon would crash onto Pulse, it would destroy everything, creating a dead world. Hopes plan is to create another Cocoon, where everyone can leave, making sure that everyone is up there and secure. But with Cocoon being a giant place, something like Adam is needed. And it goes horribly wrong.

It's a fun story, I always enjoy weird machines-run-amok stories. It's interesting, to have this sub-dystopia inside the general story. In the end, I guess there is a Cocoon, either way. But if we don't do something, it will be ruled by a fal'Cie once again, and we are back at the start. Except that there is no "danger", from Pulse. And no one says that this Adam will try to get the gods back.

Not saying that killing Hope and his colleagues isn't bad. And people shold rule themselves. But in the end, I'm not sure if there is any actual danger from Adam, as long as he isn't attacked. Which is bad enough, I guess. It's just not, as it seems implied, like we are back at zero, if this Adam is ruling Humanity.

The tower itself was annoying, with enemies that could be hard to avoid, with the narrow platforms. Still, I enjoyed this storyline.

With resolving the paradox (I guess), the city of Academia is in a great state, and lead by scientists. I think. Some stuff either isn't made very clear, or got lost in the chaos. It's what I remember, that the scientist group under Hope is leading the city, which would be an interesting point to explore, which the game never does. Academia is now a seemingly great place.

There is nothing to the city. It's just a nice utopia, working great. But it's one of the first times, where I realized how ugly these giant, utopian cities really are. There is no single plant, nothing green, anywhere in this city. It looks nice, because everything is very clean and shiny. It probably wouldn't be, in any form of deconstruction, or reality.

This is just an aside, not important for the game. Just saying, the idea of these giant cities with giant skyscrapers of old sci-fi isn't really my idea of the perfect future.

There is a bit of a fetch-quest, to open another portal. We have to look for fragments called Graviton Cores, with hints to where they are. At this point, I learned that the pictures in the descriptions of these fragments actually show us where they are (as long as we got the corresponding quest). This made it relatively easy to get, especially because we also know the place and timeline.

I liked this fetch-quest. I generally enjoy, that you have these things hidden around in relatively small spaces, ready for you to find if you just look around. Actually, I got reminded of Mario 64, and its small open world levels. It was always the perfect size for me. I don't get much out of gigantic worlds like from the Elder Scrolls games. But small places, which are relatively easy to explore completely, with a bit of structure but still a lot to find, is ideal for me. Which is a reason why I feel now motivated to get all the fragments, despite being done with the main game. I enjoy exploring these places.

Oh, Hope and Alyssa created some things that let them travel through time, into the future, so we met them here.

With the portal usable, we use it, but for some reason I'm still unclear of (I guess it might have been Caius?), stuff gets broken, and Serah and Noel are separated. We see Noel die, and Serah get to a place on her own. Mog is still there, but she can't see him. We find different Yuels, and learn some stuff.

It's all a bit of a mess, and I stopped taking notes, so I'm not too aware of the details anymore. But the main point is, that there are different ones (which always look the same). They get their powers of future-sight from Etro (one of the gods, like the maker, who the Fal'Cie wanted back), but are unable to change the future, as if it does, they die.

Caius wants to change that. He is a guardian of one Yuel, and had to see her die due to that. Stuff happens, he travelled through time for hundreds of years, met a ton of Yuels, and wants to protect them all.

Despite looking identical, they are different. Not sure why I find that interesting, but I like this detail. I guess it is relevant to make sure, that they are people, with hopes, dreams, and love.

Point is, Caius wants to destroy everything, making all of existence into a place like Valhalla (where we saw him and Lightning fight), a place where nothing ever changes. Where nothing happens. So no Yuel would have to die again, just for this reason.

His plan is to trap Serah and Noel in their perfect places. So, after fighting him, Serah gets back to New Bodhum, where everyone she loves is waiting for her. Including Snow. And Lightning.

Serah knows that it's a dream, and gets asked, if she wants to stay. And she can. It is the first paradox ending, and is executed pretty well, I thought. Her world is great. A neverending, joyful live in New Bodhum, surrounded by her friends. With only the nagging feeling, that she forgot something (that something is Noel). An a mirror in her room, that shows of a different reality, that she is scared of.

The mood here is great. Despite us knowing that everything is just a dream, they really nailed the feeling of it being all great, until they introduce these little details, these things that feel like existential horrors. You live this nice live, thinking it is real, but there is something disturbing, something off. And it doesn't let go. It's always there.

A little detail here is, that she told Snow about the mirror, and he dismissed it, as her being silly. Which is a pretty big deal. He did fight for her, he stayed by her side as good as possible (well, figuratively, he certainly tried to help her). He, of all people, would believe her.

Also, I wonder, is this a Groundhog Day thing? Is this place stuck in time, separated from the rest of the world? Is every day this perfect day of joy and fun? I mean, bad things happen, kids grow up, people die. But this is her ideal live, so I guess nothing will ever change. And she will just be surrounded by fake people, who seem completely like the once they impersonate.

It's all really creepy to think about. Again, the game does a great job here.

If we don't accept to stay here, we get called by Vanille and Fang. They meet us, from their dream, in our dream. Fair enough. But it means that they are still sleeping in their pillar, never supposed to wake up. What does happen, when it is destroyed? Will they wake up then?

They help Serah, getting out of this place, and into Noels dream world. Which seems pretty awful, actually. I mean, it's clear that he wants to be back together with his Yuel and Caius, and he always lived in a broken world with nothing left. Again, great job, the houses especially reminded me of Fallout NV. There is nothing left, no nature, and only monsters.

At some point, Noel talks about how even the wind was gone. It's the world without working elements, the classical sign of FF for it to be the end. The wind would stop blowing, the earth would die and not be able to sustain plant life, fire would lose its warmth and water didn't exist here, anyway.

But still, it's all he knows. Being with Caius and his Yuel makes him happy. I get that. But it's the day, where this Yuel dies. How is this his perfect day, the one where he wants to be? Seems like a really bad choice.

Anyway, we make it out of this awful world, and get to Academia in 700AF, 300 years after its utopian phase we visited before. It's a final dungeon, with rotating platforms, which means a lot of waiting. At least it's not complicated, and relatively short.

At the end, before facing Caius, he sends a ton of monsters at us, which are taken down by an armada, lead by Hope. Very nice, not being on our own. I appreciate it, when games at least try to make clear how these big problems can't be solved by a small band of misfits.

Also, we finally meet Sazh, who brought Dajh with him, on this very dangerous mission. Sure, whatever, it was nice to see him, at least one time (was also nice to meet Fang and Vanille, back in dream world). And then, we have a boss rush of four bosses. That's a bit much, really. First, some form of Bahamut, and then two times against Caius. Whose constant healing is really annoying.

The last fight was pretty fun. It was against three Bahamuts, where the two on the sides had to be defeated, before we could hurt the one in the back. After some time, they would be resummoned, and had to be defeated again. Not too dangerous, considering these are three. The main problem was the super attacks of the main Bahamut. I died the first time, because I ignored the countdown, but with a team of Sentinels, it was survivable. And thankfully, there is always enough time to heal again, afterwards. I didn't have a Healer monster, but my Sentinel (Goblin Chief, something like that) has this special monster ability that gives the whole party a bunch of buffs at once. Very helpful. My Ravager is one of the flans, whose special ability is one where he does a ton of small hits, filling up the stagger bar.

It's really weird, how this game went back from having every monster only beatable, if they are staggered. Most can easily be beaten by three commandos, staggering was mostly neccessary for bosses. Here, it was essential, the Bahamuts especially only went down if staggered, but then very fast.

Without the need to stagger, it kinda felt more like a classical FF with ATB, with a lot of button mashing.

With this battle, the whole battle system worked really well. I had to turtle, whenever the two big attacks hit, and if there was one of the lesser Bahamuts were there, I had to take them out. Which meant that I had to take my time, attacking the main one, dishing out damage fast, when I had the chance. It was intense and fun, perfect difficulty, I thought. Perfectly doable, if I was careful, but having to take care the whole time.

So we won, and the world was saved. Caius was defeated, and the paradoxes stopped being a thing, everything turned back to normal.

And then, everything goes to hell. As mentioned, Yuels die when the future is changed. And seemingly, Serah is a Yuel, or at least has the gift from Ezro. With the changed future, she dies. The sky goes dark, and everything falls apart. The world dies. Caius did win.

It was amazing. I guess Lightning Returns will deal with this, and I have to look at this as the first part of a two-part game. It really caught me off-guard, and again, the presentation was top-notch. I thought I would have more to say here, but apparently not. It just really caught me, very cool.

The final shot is Lightning, sitting on a throne, seemingly frozen. Looking forward to Lightning Returns.

I'm at the moment working on getting everything. But more on that next time. Maybe it will be already the final post for this game, we'll see.


Well, that was a long break. Not from the game, I have beaten it long ago. But it nagged on me, that I never gave it a final post. Especially considering, that I really, really like this game. It might be one of my favourite FFs, structurally.

I probably mentioned it already, but the time periods have the, for me, perfect size. They are open world, but not so insanely big, as these worlds tend to be. Instead, you have roughly Mario 64 sized spaces, that you can cover in pretty short time.

Most at least. That city, whose name I have by now forgotten, is pretty big, and annoying to completely explore for things.

I wished there were better hints for the wild artifacts, I needed a guide for them. So maybe my other points are nonsense. But I do remember the worlds being great, so whatever.

The battle system is fun, as it was in XIII, but I still feel like I never really got the hang of it. But I got good enough, that I could defeat all the monsters, including the elite ones. So I guess I'm not that bad. It's a fun system, in any case. I do like the inclusion of monsters, maybe because they can break the game. Which isn't hard, you get overpowered pretty easily.

But more important than the gameplay stuff, I think, is the mood. Somewhere, I talked about how much I love Noels theme. Running through the wasteland, listening to these lyrics, is one of the moments of the game that sticks the most in my mind. That song itself never lost my head, I tend to just sing it to myself, again and again.

This series has never before shown me how the endstate would look in that clear sense. By having everything dead. I never really got, that a dead earth would mean that nothing would grow anymore. I mean, it is probably mentioned in the early games. But learning that Noel and the other last people need to kill and eat monsters (not even regular animals, who probably don't exist anymore) made a new, powerful impression on me. No fire and no warmth, I guess, and there are no birds (there are probably monsters who can fly, but they are monsters, so whatever). And no animals in the water, either. Would probably even more powerful, if the water would be digusting, or something.

They could have gone further, but it is a damn striking place anyway.

But it's not the only place, where the game goes horribly dark. There simply are no happy endings in this game. I was blown away, when the game ended, and suddenly, everything fell apart. And Caius wins. Or maybe not.

There is a weird thing with the characters here. I really like Noels and Caius' type, the ideas behind them. But in execution, I felt they suffered. Caius felt annoying, and Noel never showed vulnerability. I get it, Noel is a shonen-type hero, always ready, never giving up. But I still wished there was a scene where he broke down, showing some weakness.

Still, the ideas behind them are great. I love how Noel is the final, last human being. How he comes out of this insanely depressing, grim future, where there is no hope. The song immediately comes back to my mind. About him thinking, as a child, of how things could be better. Of how there is a way to change the end of humanity, and the world.

I didn't get the lyrics, when just listening to them (my english isn't quite good enough for catching lyrics, if they aren't very clear), and thought it was about how he hoped for a chance to change the future. How he heard stories about changing the future, but learning, that there was no hope. The actual song is, despite feeling very grim, hopeful. Noel will never give up. Hearing about how change isn't possible, just makes him more determined.

I can get behind that.

When I learned Caius full name, Caius Ballad, it sounded dumb. Until I learned, that his last name was given to him, as there were so many songs that sang of his heroistic deeds. The full name is "Caius of the Ballads", which is immediately more badass.

Reading about it, it's kinda different. Whatever, I'll stick with my version.

More important is his role, as the guardian of all the Yuels. Yuels are basically Chosen Ones, by the Goddess Etro, who gain the ability and curse to see all of time. They know everything, But the visions shorten their lifespans, leaving them to die very young. And get reincarnated, again and again.

They feel like tools. Etro is kinda the worst, and reminds me of the Fal-Cie, completely detached from the ones she wants to help and protect. She gives out a gift that is actually a horrible curse, resulting in each Yuel dying long before their time.

It's, of course, a theme of the series, and reminds me immediately of Doga and Unei from FF III. About how Chosen Ones have a bad life. About how special gifts always have horrible prices.

And Caius sees this. Again and again, Yuel dies, and a new one is born, looking like the one before. Except for the little differences. About how one enjoyed music. Or how one loved flowers.

He knows them. He learns, how the Yuels are all unique, and not just copies of each others. And he loves them, but is forced to see them die. Each one. How old do they get? They look like 14, max. Maybe he has to see one die every ten years, with no way to avoid it. No wonder, that he wanted it to stop.

So, if I remember correctly, he wants to kill Etro, to stop time forever, making it so that Yuel doesn't have to die anymore.

I'm not going to act like Caius is good guy. But I do feel for him a bit. And I repeat, Etro is a jerk. Lightning ends up as her guardian, in this horrible world where time doesn't exist. Why again? Was this another of Etros gifts? Oh, Lightning got eternal life, without asking for it, and it still is awful. Sure, the problem here is Caius (I think, look, the story is a bit of a mess), but just taking her, just when she could be happy, having her sister back? Does Etro even understand, in any way, how many people she hurt with this? Everyone splits up, due to this, trying to find Lightning in their own way. Leaving Serah alone.

Gods are the worst, is my takeaway here, I think.

So, Caius creates paradoxes, so that a ton of people at the same time die, opening some gate so much, that Etro can't deal with it, and she will die. Leaving only a place like Valhalla, where he and Yuel can live forever. Well, "live". Because that, of course, isn't live.

What happens to each Yuel isn't fair. At all. But it's still better then the eternal nothingness that Caius wants to create. A dead world. Again, this is theme in the series. No matter how horrible life is, there is always hope, there is always something beautiful, there are ups and downs. You need the Darkness, and the Light, both. We learned this already in FF III.

As mentioned, I found him annoying, when meeting him. But there is a lot of interesting stuff hidden there, along with Etro and Yuel.

And it all works out. He "wins", gets everything destroyed, and creates an eternal Valhalla.

Getting this ending was powerful. It's also really insane, just ending it with such a cliffhanger. Had I not the next part already here, I would be at least annoyed. It would make everything different, and maybe the artistic vision demanded two games here. Who knows? Still, as much as I liked it, I tend to think of cliffhanger endings as generally bad. At least when it's not clear from the get-go, that you will have a cliffhanger ending.

So, the main ending is a big downer. But so are all the other ones. The first I got was the one, where Serah accepted to stay in her dreamworld, where everyone was. Including Lightning. Just not really, but it felt real. Except for the edges. I am just watching Twilight Zone, and that place, New Bodhum in that space, felt like it was positioned in there.

She has a mirror in her room. She is scared of it. As she knows, that it shows the truth. She remembers someone, Noel, at the edge of her mind, but can't remember. It's a typical TZ setup, where she would spend time in this world, only to slowly realize, that it was fake, and the truth would be horrible. It was a delightfully creepy ending.

My favourite might be the one, where Noel and Serah fall to the power of the new Adam, becoming his slaves. His elite soldiers, who will throw down every uprising, which is just incredibly cruel. Especially with them seemingly having a bit of their mind left. They sometimes remembered bits of what they were trying to do. But in the end, they were completely under Adams control.

There are more, but these stuck out the most, to me. Point is, this game is incredibly grim, and with knowing that all the endings are horrible, the lyrics of Noels theme sound like a cruel joke. That you can change the timeline, the present - only to make it awful in a different way.

The future refused to change.

Until Lightning Returns. Which I'm looking forward to. I'm trying myself at Alundra again, at the moment, but after that, I'll finally play the last FF of the project.

In summary, I really enjoyed my time here. Gameplaywise, lore, story, setting, I had a lot of fun with this game. And I expect to enjoy LR too, from what I have heard about it.
I know you're ahead of the game by this point but I wanted to pop in here and say I loved the write ups for FF8, it's likely my favorite game of all time and I was reading your posts a lot during the lockout period where I could only lurk.


Gods are the worst, is my takeaway here, I think.
While there are almost always "good" gods somewhere in these games, I do feel like "the gods are messing things up and aren't as all-powerful as you'd think" is something that comes up a lot. Or "the gods did [something dumb] years ago and now every 500 years people have to fix it". Always interesting to see the different tone of the games.


Thanks, HalequinPanic, I'm always glad when people enjoy my thoughts. Good to know, that you had fun reading it.


I finally started Lightning Returns. And, as I would expect by now, I'm very confused, just thrown into some mess. I played until I got to the Arc, so basically through the tutorial mission.

So, the world ended in XIII-2. Except not how I expected, with everything falling apart immediately. There is some city, lead by Snow, where everyone is just feasting, waiting for the end of times. Snow seems to have lost all his motivation, and he is angry at Lightning, when she shows up. I tried to get to him, but had to fall back.

Lightning seemingly has slept for a few hundred years, after XIII-2. I guess that city is all that's left, now? Did Bhulivelze keep it there, so Lightning has a chance to save people, when the time is right? Don't answer yet, I hope the game will explain things as time goes on.

Lightning was chosen as the Savior. Bhulivelze, who seems to be the supergod of this world, decided that, promising her to give her back Serah, who also died. If Lightning does her job, saving people. Bhulivelze will create a new world, for everyone to live in, but they have to be saved, and I guess the allmighty(?) god isn't quite allmighty enough for that. So, once again, we are a clear plaything for the gods. Fal'Cie, Etro, and now it's Bhulivelze. It's always a level higher, but the gods don't seem to change.

I heard once, that this was supposed to be a Valkyrie Chronicles game, which makes me even more ready to distrust whatever this supergod has to say. And it's not like that's just sub-text. Lightning doesn't like, how she is pressured into being a savoir. Which brings me to my next reason for distrusting Bhunivelze - he took away her emotions. She knows that she should be angry, but isn't.

Hope, looking like he did in XIII, is on the arc, and guides her during missions. I don't trust him. When Lightning talked about how she was awoken, she felt the great presence of Bhunivelze. She explicitely mentions, how it felt good. And whenever Hope talks about this god, he seems to respect him. Like he argues, that it is impossible for us to understand this god, implying that this is just beyond us. Yeah, like with how the reasons of the Fal'Cie were beyond us.

It's possible, that Hope says the truth, and that he, like Lightning, just lost his emotions. But I feel like this isn't really hope. Or maybe a shell. We'll see.

I know, I repeat myself, but these gods are the worst. They leave the world, letting humans and Fal'Cie deal with everything on their own, without making sure that the Fal'Cie understand their position. They left the humans helpless against their more powerful siblings. What a surprise, that this power would be abused.

Then we get Etro. To be honest, I have already forgotten a lot of the details, but remember thinking that she also started things that she doesn't understand. She gives gifts, that turn out horrible and bring pain to the bearers. She had no idea, what she was actually doing.

And now, that the world fell apart, supergod finally decided to step in, and just starts anew. Which, considering how these gods seem to not understand humans and Fal'Cie, their creation, at all, it's probably for the best.

The battle system is a bit confusing, and I feel like I have to look for a lot, including these waves, which aren't visible enough for my taste. Also for posture of enemies, so I can defend in time, and not only one enemy, but multiple. It feels like a lot. The tutorial boss also was staggered, and I could have used a superattack. But I didn't find the button - the controls are really weirdly mapped onto the controller, and when I pressed the Q button, nothing happened. I guess I was too late?

Forgot how the customization system was called, but it seems nice. I got a ton of extra costumes and equipment, which feels like overload, but I just got all the costumes and left the weapons and shields. Maybe later, when I get more of a handle on how things work, and what I actually need. But it's nice to give Lightning some armor that actually covers her body. Or just let her dress like Cloud. I really like, how you can mix and match clothes, weapons and shields. Playing dressup is fun.

Anyway, it seems fun, and i'm looking forward to learning more about this world. And, maybe, giving everyone their deserved happy end. I'm not counting on that, this game seems to insist on making everyones live as miserable as possible, but I can hope.


The Goggles Do Nothing
In retrospect, it seems like Lightning Returns' battle system was a weird halfway point between the battle system of Paradigm Shifts, and the action-based systems we would see in FF15, 16, and 7-R. As such it is really weird. And I'm not saying that as a bad thing! I thought FF13-2 had the best version and usages of its system, so it is a good thing they tried something new for Lightning Returns rather than recycling old fights. But everything about LR's battles feels clunky and vaguely half-baked. It's not terrible! Just I have never had... what is the expression I am looking for here... I have never reached that kind of RPG Nirvana where you are just perfectly in sync with the system like I have experienced in other games (like 13-2). There is always some kind of jank in there that makes me think "Oh they should have changed this".

Anyway, other than that caveat, from toe to tip, Lightning Returns is one of my favorite Final Fantasy games, and maybe my absolute favorite Final Fantasy Mainline Adjacent title. Enjoy!


There are essentially four places in the world of Lightning Returns, where you can be. I have visited Yusnaan and the Wildlands, not yet the fourth place. And I have beaten the main quest in Luxerion. Beating Noel seems like a decent point to reflect.

Some questions I had last time were immediately answered. I just had to talk to Hope. When Noel kinda destroyed the world, leaving the doors to the afterlife open, and letting Chaos consume all, a bit of the world kept surviving. But slowly, the Chaos approaches, and when the last few days are over (which can be a bit extended, if Lightning offers energy she connects from helping people), the rest will be lost, too. Bhunivelze will create a new world, but only the ones Lightning helps to get rid of regrets can move on - everyone else will be left behind, and vanish.

I'm not quite sure if I got all the details right, but it will do. Feel free to correct me, though.

Time has stopped, at least for humans. Plants and animals seem to still get born and grow, but humans have stopped aging. Children stay children forever. I met a girl, who lost her doll. I met a boy, whose older brother died when fighting a monsters. While they seem to get a bit more adult, as would likely happen if they are hundreds of years old, they are essentially still children. In body and mind. This seems horrible. Not just for the kids, also for the parents. The kids never gaining independence, parents never experiencing the proud moments where children finish a school, or whatever milestones this world offers. Maybe always being stuck with an abusive parent, without a chance to get away.

People can get ill and die. People still need food and shelter. It feels like a monkeys paws version of eternal live. You don't age, but...

Thinking about it more, though, it might not be so bad? I assume, aside from illness, your body will not decay as it does with age. So if you are in the prime of your live, you stay that way for hundreds of years. And with all the time, illnesses might get cured.

It's not like there is nothing to do. You still have to work, you still can learn, science can still be a thing. I think just the thought of being forever caught in the body and mind of a small child seems terrifying to me. But maybe that doesn't have to be so bad, either? Being old, though, with problems that your body just develops with age, sounds horrible, though.

Luxerion is essentially a regular city. As regular as it can be, in this world, but you have shops, probably jobs, you have some sort of a church, and even a train to move around. It's not the luxurious part of the city - that would be Yusnaan. But you can live here.

Slums indicate that it can be a pretty harsh live. Again, you still have to work to survive, and if you are unlucky, you might lose, or not even get, a chance. I can't quite shake of the idea of comparing this with a form of afterlife, where you are just stuck, forever and ever. Needing no food, just existing, with nothing but eternity. I think of what I remember of the Ancient Greek Elysian Fields. Maybe my memory is wrong, but I think people can end up there, in a world without pain or happiness. Just an empty, neverending existence. Maybe I remember wrong, though.

Point is, this isn't that. You can die. You likely can also experience joy. You just stopped aging. And you know, that the end of the world will come, at some point in the future.

I get reminded of Spira. You have to work, you live your live, but always have the thought in your mind, that Sin, Chaos, whatever can strike any day. There is no security. Peace could end any time. It seems a bit like what people talked about, who lived through the Cold War? Just from what I heared, how you always had this existential fear in your mind, about everything maybe ending, suddenly, without much of a warning.

Lightnings job is essentially to help people, to connect with them. And this can be anything. From collecting flowers for a loved one, to regaining the mentioned puppet of a girl, finding a missing person or making the city save from a monster. Many quests do involve fighting in some form, but often enough, it could be replaced with something else. I feel like it is there, because this is an RPG.

Like, the essential part is not killing stuff. It is helping people. It is making them happy, or eat least to ease their pain. This is what speaks to me. Every time I see a monster, it's just something I maybe should do, but it feels disconnected from the main point of the game.

An exception are the boss battles. Battles that mean more than "here is a monster, maybe deal with it, or not". Noel has a reason (a dumb one, I think, but still). Lightnings death is, so he thinks, coupled to his happiness. And Lightning has to win, so she can be finally reunited with Serah. A fight is not inevitable, but it doesn't just seem to be just there, because.

I don't have much to say about the battle system, by the way. It's too hard for my taste, and I don't feel bad about abusing Clouds and Yunas garments, to destroy everything I can. I'm a bit shocked, about how bad I am at doing timed blocks. I think it's partly due to being 3D. It's way easier in Paper Mario. Or maybe that game is just more lenient.

I enjoy dressing Lightning up a lot, though. I might take some pics later on. But after changing the colors of both garbs, I added a little heart to Clouds garb, and a cowboy hat to Yunas. She looks great.

So, with time, a religion/cult established itself in Luxerion. It gave people, waiting for the end, hope. Waiting for the end, in hope of salvation through almighty Bhunivelze.

A second cult also appeared, some weirdos focused on Etro. Who know her as the goddess of death, and they think, that the only salvation for humans lies in exactly that, death. That no one will come to save them.

A myth about a woman with rose-colored hair developed over time, who would be the savior, the agent of Bhunivelze. And one of the first things that happens, surprisingly horrible, is that we see a puppet with rope around her neck being thrown of a roof, dangling like a dead person. Even if it's a puppet, it's still disturbing imagery, and I feel like that honest tone carries through the game. It is not a nice world, and horrible things happen.

Ezros cult thinks, that Noel is their leader/savior/something like that. They waited for him. But when he didn't appear, they took things into their own hands, and started killing women who looked like the savior was supposed to. Every night. And Lightning has to stop them, it's the first big quest. She gets aid by Noel, who tells these assholes that they are the worst. And then, Noel wants her to die. He saw a prophecy, about being reunited with Yuel, if he kills Lightning.

As mentioned in the other thread, I was completely helpless here. But even after doing some sidequests and using Clouds and Yunas garbs, it wasn't a trivial fight. Pretty easy, but I still needed a potion.

But even in-universe, it seems fair that Lightning is super powerful. Noel even mentions it before. She is sent by almighty God, so why shouldn't she be? Aside from this being a game? The least he could do is to give her some serious power. Which he doesn't really, you have to earn everything. Gods are the worst.

And sure, why not give her the powers of strong people of alternative universes? Bhunivelze is a god, who can create other gods, surely that is within his power, right?

I mentioned that Noels reason is kinda dumb, and I stay by that. Sure, he sees this vision in that machine, but I don't get why he trusts it so perfectly. This is a weird, magical world, nearing its end. He knows that magic exists. And he should fight exactly against the savior? Come on, you are better than that.

But fair enough, he, too, waited for centuries. Generally, he had such a crappy life, it's crazy. He is the very last survivor of the human race, in a world where the elements lost their power, and nothing was left. He enjoyed his time with Yuel and Caius, but still. And he probably liked spending time with Serah, but it was still with him carrying the weight of the world. And then, when he finishes his quest, the world ends, and Serah dies. It's surprising, that he isn't more bitter.

And with that, he spends centuries. Super powerful, but seemingly alone. I know, many people in these games have been dealt a crappy hand, but I spent time with him. There is so much obvious pain there. And with Caius. And the Yuels. And the party of the original XIII. What a crappy universe.

I was really surprised, when I met him, and his theme started playing - XIII-2 really touched me. I stay with what I said, running through the broken time Noel comes from, listening to that song, is one of the most impectful moments of the series, for me. And the whole game has, not just because of that, a special place in my heart. I had not expected it to hit me so hard.

There is also Vanille. She and Fang woke up, out of their crystal stasis. But Fang left. Centuries ago. She is on a quest, looking for something. At first, I was glad that they had no fight. But then, Vanille mentioned how Fang had been gone for so, so long. And that she had never visited, not once. The pain in Vanille is extremely clear, and it hurts. She feels horribly alone. But she can't go - people who die have nowhere to go. So they are stuck in this cathedral, where she can listen to them. I think that gives them a bit of peace. She certainly keeps that power in check, as otherwise, it would destroy everything.

Again, this universe is the worst. Vanille and Fang lost their home, sleeping forever and feeling horribly guilty. And before they can find any peace of mind, they have to sacrifice themselves for the rest of the world. Which might have been a peaceful moment for them, as they stayed together. In their mind maybe forever. But then, they wake up, and are waiting for the world to end. And then, they even lose each other. And she is stuck in this cathedral. I need to find Fang.

I feel like this game does a really, really good job of connecting me with the people in this world. With their pain and suffering, and makes me want to help them. These are well developed NPCs, and I want to make them feel better. That's partly me, but not just. I think they just did a really good job here.

It's a bit like I help them lay down their burden, before they die. And, considering the world is ending, I bet this is intentional. Everyone is dying, and Lightning is the Angel of Death (which some do see her), who is their guide to the next life. And people misunderstand it, and think she is actually at fault. Or rather, if the sign (the Savior) doesn't appear, then the prophecy can't happen, and the world can't end.

So, in case you can't tell, I really like this game. I love the structure, I love how the main thing is that I just help people get over some sort of pain, I love the work they did with the NPCs. This isn't unlike Majoras Mask, which surely is a surprise to no one. But again, people are faced with the near end, and you do your best to help them with small things, that mean so much to them. Helping Anju and Kafei marry is still one of the nicest things a game let me do.

I can already tell that, like XIII-2, Lightning Returns will have a special place in my heart, when I'm done. The XIII series is really great.


After making it to the end of the main quest in the big, grassy area, and being obliterated by Caius (dear god, that dude is indeed a jerk), I decided to do Yusnaan first. I had already started there, but stopped, for whatever reason.

I'm not sure if Yusnaan is placed higher than Luxerion, but it would fit right in with how the series tends to work. While Luxerion is a regular city, Yusnaan is a place for the rich, the ones who just want to enjoy themselves. They spend time with special events, partying, watching fireworks, stuff like that.

There is the order in Luxerion, who seem to be trying to bring justice, but here, we have clearly visible police forces. Soldiers together with slime monsters, which hunt you, because Lightning, as the savior, is illegal here.

We have to get inside the palace, which means that we have to get an ID card. It's pretty weird how that works, as instead of an ID card, I think we try to get into the palace another way, through the industrial area. For that, I buy a ticket for a "tour". I guess this is something more people like to do.

On that way, we are surprised by Lumina. I never mentioned her, but she looks like gothic Serah, is super-powerful and seems to play with everyone and everything. More words on her, when I understand who she actually is.

In any case, she summons a giant monster, that I have to defeat. Afterwards, it destroys the ground. Where I find skeletons (which, wow, really, huh?), and one of them has an ID card.

Inside the part we still aren't in the palace. But there is a daily show, and with some weird plan, we can destroy the foundation of a giant statue. With Lightning taking on the part of the actress, we can stand in place to use the then-lying down statue to get into the palace.

Doing these quests was fun. The director, responsible for the event, is bored by it, and decides to play along with Lightning. We also have to get the right dress, which we only get from the woman who leads the coloseum. It's a fancy, cool dress, and it gets an epee with it. Looks really badass.

The event is a show, where Lightning plays herself, the Chosen One, the Savior. She talks with the statue, which is Bhunivelze, I guess, who demands that she gives up her live for the sake of the new world. Her role demands, that Lightning gives everything for the people.

Which is kinda true, but not really. Lightning doesn't do this for the people. She does it for her sister, explicitely. And even aside from that, there is no real fire inside her, that motivates her to do go ahead. She is emotionless. And even if the game doesn't really do a good job with this, I think (I can't give an example, but it seems clear that she still has emotions), taking this for granted, it is not this free offering of herself.

As always in the series, being the Chosen One, with all the power it entails, is a curse, first and foremost. In some way, Terra is also a Chosen One. But chosen by the disgusting Gestahl, to bring fascism over the world, with her special powers. Without her having any choice, just following her destiny, until she meets Locke and the moogles.

Not too much of a surprise, as it is just a play, but it is a big lie. And, instead of wearing something sensible, like a type of armor, Lightning wears a fancy dress, without any defensive capabilities.

There is a part, where she puts the sword on fire, holds it at one candle so that starts burning, and then the other ones surrounding it immediately start burning too, without being touched. I did wonder, for a second, if clothes in this world really give you special powers. Not just Lightning, but everyone. How else would the regular actress do stuff like this. Like, at all. A normal person wouldn't have access to fire at all.

The god wants her to let herself be consumed by the flames. But Lightning tells him basically, that it will be him who will burn. It's pretty clear, what Lightning thinks of the "allmighty god", especially when she splits his head with the sword.

"When that god lies to me, then he dies." I don't buy, that this is unemotional. But it doesn't matter, I'm just glad that she intends to pay everything back to Bhunivelze, and that she doesn't care about his blessing. I love Lightning.

There are a lot of sidequests in this city. The most memorable might be the one, where a guy tries to make people try his delicious food. But he is really bad at marketing. So Lightning the leading food critic, who asks her to taste food from all the stalls. Which makes her a better food critic herself. After that, and when she brought him some ingreidents, he gives her a recipy. The guy who asked her for the quest gets it, and makes it. It's delicious. He still wants the food critic to taste it. When we bring the portion to him, the other dude shows that he followed us. And it turns out, that he is the father of the food critic. They had a falling out, the father not respecting the competence of his son, and now the son was too ashamed to go back.

It was a really neat sidequest. The game does them really well.

There is also one, where a boy asks you to collect some music. One where an alchemist asks us to try out her concoctions. One where an artist wants us to find her boyfriend. A group of weirdos who tell us they know the future. And so on. Really nice stuff, and imho, the heart and soul of this game. I'll probably repeat that again, sorry.

Inside the palace is when the game starts to annoy me. Mostly, you can get by with only fighting if you want to. But the end of a main quest, like with the giant temple where Caius is hiding, there is some sort of dungeon. With relatively narrow hallways, where dodging the enemies isn't always easy, which then makes you lose time or HP. I really don't like it, as you suddenly are forced to fight way more often than before. In Luxerion, it was just running behind Noel. There were fights, but you could easily avoid them. Here and with Caius, it isn't that easy. Very annoying, to me.

Snow, like Vanille, is making sure that the souls that are gathering here, the energy, doesn't get too strong. He became a l'Cie, ones more. During one time, it is mentioned that there is a Fal'Cie, Pandemonia, who supplies food. Which some don't want, because it's artificial, or something. It was basically two lines, and not really developed. And really convenient, that it gives Snow a way to get stronger for a fight.

He wants to die. He was waiting for Lightning, to find and kill him. He never got over Serahs death, and all he has left is to keep the people here save. Whatever he, Noel and Hope tried to do didn't work out. I do think, that part of it is also that no one can keep his hopes up, during so many centuries. It has to be very crushing.

He tried to help the people, to keep them fed, to give them every luxury. Making the time until the end of the world as nice as possible. But he probably is the best sign, that this isn't all. Life is pointless, without something to fight for.

Honestly, the people should show the signs of this more. The ones in the city seem to enjoy life. I would think that they have become sort-of living dead, people who just hang around, being without any motivation, because there is just nothing to do, or at least no need to do it. With a focus on it being over soon. No spark, no joy, just endless tedium.

Maybe I'm wrong, and people would keep on going. If you have every basic need met, you can follow what you want to do. Like the people who sell food. The people who lead a colosseum (maybe they just want to see cool fights). Artists. So maybe this, if you don't crave the harsher life of the plains, is a dream for you, offering you the ideal life.

I'm surprised that this isn't the first thing that came to my mind. Personally, I think specifically the second idea is true, that everyone could lead a fulfilling live, if you don't have to work jobs you don't like, and just can follow your dreams. You only need a structure that helps you find your ideal live. Not that this town offers this structure, but due to Pandemonia, no one has to work for food, and I guess they all get housing, maybe? There are certainly no slums here.

Still haven't explored much of the desert. Looking forward to that. And I'm looking forward to write about my favourite ways of how chocobos are integrated in FF games. Aside from FF IX, but Lightning Returns has a really fun way, I think.


The main quests are done.

The desert was the weakest part. It consists a lot of dungeons, and only has few people with nice quests. Not none, but the least of what I like about the game. The main dungeon was also kind of a mess. Too labyrinthine for my taste, and the doors that would open and close on their own, for an hour, were annoying. It was thankfully only one time, where I had to wait for three in-game hours for three different doors to open. I wished there was an ability that let you skip time. I know, there are inns, but for them I would have to leave the dungeon, which doesn't work. Wasn't too bad, but the least enjoyable part of a very fun game.

What I loved about the desert was to meet Fang again. God, Fang is so great. It's still mean, not to visit Vanille a single time in forever, but she had to make sure that the church wouldn't get the treasure. In any case, she is a second party member you don't control, but who also can't die. And it's Fang, so that in itself is a plus.

A nice thing about the dungeon is, that we learn some lore. Bhunivelze, the God of Light, made three Gods: Etro, Pulse and Lindzey. Etro had no real power, while Pulse and Lindzei got immense powers. Huh, reminds me a bit of FF III. It differs in the details: Etro was so lonely, that she retreated into the world of the dead, Valhalla. There, she kept the balance between the living and the dead.

And then she died.

I don't remember XIII-2s story in that detail, but if it isn't canon in there, it fits very well. Etro got nothing, just death and sorrow. So she wanted to die. Or at least, she wouldn't mind.

Broken as she was, her gift was more of a curse. I already talked about the Yuels and their suffering. And how horrible a gift it is, to see the future, but be unable to change it.

If we do the analogy, Etro is the equivalent of Xande, who thought to live forever, who became a monster and a villain in trying to do so. Xande was hurt by getting the worst present, at least what felt to him like the worst (it is really debatable, if it is a gift of a curse to live forever).

Etro didn't try to live forever, she already did. Except that she didn't, not really, being bound to the world of the dead. Because the real live was not bearable for her.

I feel like there is something there, but I can't grasp it. Or it is just random chance, that there is a bit of a parallel to FF IIIs situation.

Maybe we can just go to: Almighty God of Light and all that is good is a dumbass, who doesn't even get his own kids, and gave them powers that either spoiled them, or letting them wanting to die, because they felt lonely and rejected. At least this, feeling lonely, is no wonder. When your siblings create worlds that are antagonistic to each other (which means that all three couldn't stand each other, well done, dad), and your powers leave you too weak to play this awful game, having no one else, you feel bad.

I think the game argues that humans are creatures of chaos, and the world of the Dead is surrounded by said chaos. I guess Etro wanted to give some order, by giving Yuel her ability. Did she want to find someone, anyone, in her loneliness? It seems like all this awfulness, all the pain, results from Bhunivelze being a bad father.

But generally, it seems to me like the whole series argues that gods are just bad. There is some sympathy shown towards Etro, both in XIII-2 (the yuels never complain about their situation, I really feel like Etro is mainly someone who at least tries) as well as here (where she is the one left out from her stupid, waring siblings). But the Fal'Cie are awful, and Bhunivelze doesn't seem much better. Pulse and Lindzey are also jerks, considering that they just left their Fal'Cie to their own devices and left them.

But also, the corresponding theme is that humanity shouldn't trust in gods. They are either jerks, or just don't know what they are doing. And that we can overcome our gods. As Lightning and her friends did in the first game. And as she does now. We simply don't need the gods, we can do things on our own.

Reading this a bit further, we shouldn't trust into leaders who act like the Powerful Man. The screaming demagog, who promises salvation by killing all that is different. Or other stupid, simplistic answer to complex questions. We are capable of thinking for ourselves, and we also have to. Or we will give ourselves over to destruction.

I also think now of FF VII, where humanity gave itself over to Shinra. Completely indepted to their useful technology. And dying in the process.

I enjoy a good bit of lore. After three games, I really like the world of FF XIII.

Back to the desert: Fang is here, because Bhunivelzes church, whose name I forgot, wants to use the treasure to kill all the souls in the cathedral, the one Vanille tries to keep calm. But it will kill Vanille. So Fang has to get it first.

As expected, we fail. I guess we will get back to Fang and Vanille, so more on them, and Vanilles crippeling guilt, later on.

As an aside, I love that Fang is badass enough to become the leader of a thief gang. I love you, Fang.


There is, of course, also the last part of the world - the Wildlands. I love grassfields, and being able to explore them. There is just something, about fields of grass, with a few trees, with you able to see the horizon, because nothing is in the way. Add a river, and it's a favorite type of place for me to walk around in.

It also has my favourite main quest, just because I love chocobos. It's neat, saving it from a monster, and then raising it back onto its feet. With it getting stronger and stronger - after some time, you can ride it. Then you can glide a bit, and then you can glide longer. I wished you could fly with it, this being a White Chocobo, and a beast of legend, but it's still great to have a chocobo friend with you, who even aids you in battle. Also, the chocobo design in the XIII series is great. They are adorable and pretty. And you are basically always running.

Some quests even give you special stuff, that you can feed the chocobo to get healthy faster. It's all not particularly deep, but I had a lot of fun, nontheless. And I'm always happy to revisit my Chocobo buddy, and travel around with it.

Later on, we learn that it is Odin, which makes it even cooler. Another old friend of Lightning, another one she has to help, but who is then always on her side. Well, in one area at least.

Oh, right, we do that quest to reach a certain castle. According to the game, that castle, the whole field, is where the chaos spread out of. Which means it is Academia? I wished the game commited a bit more, but nothing. There is even a quest, where we collect things to decifer some old texts, and it says nothing about it.

Anyway, inside this temple, we meet Caius Ballad. Who didn't die, despite still wanting to.

This battle was the worst. God, what a jerk. Still as obnoxious as in XIII-2. I abused Army of One, even used an Ether for three in a row, to finish him. Go away.

The story itself here feels like a big retcon. According to this game, the chaos that spread came from all the Yuels, all their souls or something. There is no reason for this, the idea of the realm of the dead and the living merging, and having time stopping that way is...still absurd nonsense, but it felt ok, I guess?

If I remember correctly, Caius would have loved spending time with Yuel. And yet, he wishes for his death. Can he actually spend time with them here? Or are they still more ghost than anything else?

In any case, Caius wants to die, but can't. Some Yuels want to fulfill his wish, but some want him to stay, not to lose him. And so he is stuck in a limbo. And we, Lightning, do him the favor of finally giving him peace. After a long, long time of suffering.

He also rejected salvation. Stabbing himself, ending his suffering.

Like with Noel, I really have a soft spot for the XIII-2 characters. Caius is a jerk, but he also is so full of tragedy. Seeing so many yuels die, unable to help, unable to change anything, broke his heart, and his sanity. No, it's not an excuse for destroying the world, but I can feel sympathy for him. And wanting the torment of the yuels put to rest.

And now, with no new yuels, he is trapped and suffers himself, has for a long time. If I can give him peace this way, than that's what I will do. Because Lightning brings salvation, and sometimes, that means helping people to die.

Thinking about it, XIII-2 was a game where, no matter what we tried, we failed. Every possible ending showed a horrible future, and if we finish the game, we end the world as we know it. What we did was bring destruction. We created horrible weapons of war. We created a new Fal'Cie, which took control again.

Here, we do the opposite. Instead of saving the world (I know, we finally will, I guess), we are saving souls, one by one. By doing little things, solving small problems, that are big for the person who has them. Listening to their grieve and pain.

Structurally, I see a bit of a relation to FF VI. We have a broken world, that is drawn to it's destruction, which is reached when Kefka becomes a "god". But when it is destroyed, when it lies in ruins, the broken structures are gone too. Which, finally, leaves place open for hope. The analogy breaks easily, if you think too hard about it, but it's a nice idea.

With this done, there is still another quest here. In the corner of the map, we find Sazh, whose son Dajh is without a soul (or maybe dead?). Sazh was promised to give new live to his son, if he collects the five fragments of his soul. Which we do.

Not too much to say here, I think. This world just wants him to suffer, always losing his son, I guess. I like that he is a dad, but it also feels like he is reduced to this one bit. There is more to Sazh. At least the game addresses it a bit, by making it clear to him, that he is losing his good mood. Understandable, though, when the games are so mean to him.

And that's where I'm at. Well, not really, I did a ton of side-quests, most of them actually. I'm now trying to kill Last Ones, which is pretty relaxing, and I like making it so, that some monsters just stop appearing. It also feels very anti-Lightning Returns, in that we try to save souls, not killing entire species.

More probably when I'm done with the game, or at least closer to.


Time for the final post of the final game of this project. Let's see:

I love this game. Lightning Returns is a great game, in basically every game that is important to me.

The battle system is not really for me, but that's more on me than on the game. I couldn't really keep up with the attack, not reacting in time. Well, I did kill a few of the stronger Last Ones, making it necessary that I kill a lot of the regular monsters of that type. And there, I learned to deal with those monsters. Like the cyclops, or the dragon from the graveyard. Then it got actually fun. But part of it is, that you have to prepare garbs, and that just isn't too interesting for me.

I loved the dressing up. A bit more on this later.

The battle system can be a lot of fun, a rush, if you get to a point were you aren't just bad at it. But it's not for me. I do like, how they developed this system further from XIII and XIII-2, making it more adjustable. Switching between three jobs at will is amazing, I have to say. Really fun, and it can be really thrilling. Even if I could work better with the battle system in the first two games, I feel the way staggering and breaking here works is a generally better system.

It's a fun version of a job system. Extremely customizable, and the costumes look so great (most of them, there were some really icky ones in there). Badass armor, a purple suit, accessorys of all kinds. This is probably my favorite part of a job system, all the different costumes. It's great in FF V, it's great in X-2, and it's so fun here. I hope whoever did all the garbs had a lot of fun, the amount of choice is amazing.

So, considering that this is the part of the game that worked the least for me, you can probably guess how I think about it. This game rules.

The basic concept alone is a lot of fun. The world ends, but not completely. The encroaching chaos takes it's time, and small parts of the world survive. But no one ages. People can still get ill, get hurt, die. And we see how people deal with it.

We see traces of FF X here, with an evil church. But also, we kill gods in the XIII trilogy, again and again. So having one here, with a somewhat eternal city makes sense. Of course, structures come up, and one of this will be a religion.

XIII-2 was different, as we had a scientist, who is also apparently a super-genius, taking the reigns. So the main structure went all in with science. This isn't the case here. Science doesn't even matter. People are waiting for the end. There is no hope, just getting by. Trying to find structure, something that makes them forget that the world will end soon. I get how religion is what might feel like the most helpful.

And now, all that's left is waiting for Bhunivelze to save them all. For the Savior to appear. Or getting obsessed with death. Celebrating it, as what is supposed to be happening. I guess if this seems like an unavoidable future, you might think it's the right thing. With nothing else to hope for, you might want to find salvation in death.

But that's only small groups. On the whole, you have a lot of people, just living their lives, dealing with said lives taking forever. And this is the point, isn't it? How do you deal with a live that has taken hundreds of years? How do you deal with the grieve, the pain, all the baggage you are carrying with you?

You get numb. Nothing to go for, nothing to hope, no change. Just waiting for the end to come, which you also have no control over. The world feels calm, at least in the city. Like people carry on, maybe have fun. But it feels like a bit of death is already there, with positive emotions largely gone. There is fun, there is excess. And there is suffering. And even that seems to need someone, helping them along.

I keep thinking of that girl, standing at a train station, selling her tears, crying for others. Because they couldn't do it anymore. Their emotions were too numb. But she couldn't cry for herself. Like all the others. Until Lightning comes, and saves her.

Bringing back a father and son. Helping a guy remember his painful past. Getting medicine for a girl, who can't afford it. Giving the ghosts of murdered women, murdered for looking like the Savior, rest.

Racing a boy. Looking for the doll of a girl.

You save a lot of people, giving them hope, giving them back their emotions. I already talked about it, but I love how this is what you do for most of the game. You save people, not necessarily by killing things, but by helping them bet their emotions back. By solving problems from their past. Some of them big, some of them small. Except that they are all big, essential, for the person who has them. The doll means a lot to that girl.

And yes, you do kill a lot of things for these quests. It's a video game. But it wouldn't be necessary. I honestly think that, maybe outside of the main battles of a chapter, this could be a great visual novel. And maybe even there, I would enjoy it more if they just talked it out. Giving peace to Noel and Snow.

I do like, that you can't save everyone. Caius is beyond saving, because he doesn't want to. He can't take it anymore. The burden is too great, and it's good to have this point, because it feels essential. No matter how hard you try.

This brings me to a weakness of the game. I feel like that you get so much time, that you can stop it, and do all the quests in one round, takes power away from this very idea. The game, God as Hope, even tells you that you can't save everyone. Except that you can.

I get why they didn't do this. The games should give people a way of doing it all, not making player make this hard choice. But it would make it clear, how hard Lightnings role is here.

Also, I feel like the people on the plains (sorry, forgot the name) were less numb about the situation. They feel more alive. Taking care of animals, growing vegetables, even learning things about the past. There is still life here, and less of a thought about the end. No church in sight. No structure, aside from small communities.

Maybe the game makes a point here. It would certainly be in line with the rest of the series, about how living with nature is a better live. How culture can create problems. Essentially, the cities are relics of a past, from the time where everything went to ruins. And how people hang on to it.

I enjoyed my time here. Having my own chocobo, helping it, riding around on its back. I love those birds, and it's nice to have no restrictions here (well, except that you can only ride it in one area). Favorite implementation of the chocobo since FF IX.

I already talked about how this trilogy is about killing gods. I guess you can take it even more general: They are about growing up. In XIII, the people of Cocoon are living under rule and care of the Fal'Cie. They are basically children, letting others make sure that they have energy, food, safety. Even at the start, though, it is clear that the Fal'Cie don't do a great job. NORA was taking care of monsters on the fringe of society. And then, we learn that the parents are just children themselves, yearning for their god, their parent, to come back. They were not ready to grow up. On the contrary, they were ready to destroy all they were responsible for, to kill their children, only so they could be children themselves again. Which is the reason, why the Fal'Cie fall, and humanity survives. Out of Eden, where they had to take care of themselves.

FF XIII works wonderfully as a standalone game. But XIII-2 and Lightning Returns are amazing additions, looking about what happens later, continuing with the theme. The parents, now one of the real gods, gave their children presents that they didn't think through, didn't explain, and left their kids alone with. Kids who are not ready to deal with them. And it breaks the world.

Maybe an interpretation would be, that these are young adults, in their early adult life, and just making mistake after mistake. In their arrogance, something we probably all know, doing dumb things that will result in problems for the rest of our lives. And maybe just ruining a first, big chance.

Lightning Returns can be interpreted as the young adult, trying to get out of the bad situation, asking the parents to help them out. And the parents offering them a chance, taking away the pain, the past, making them children again. Only to realize for the child, that this isn't how it works. That it's time to face the world alone.

These are toxic parents, who want to control their children, though. Which you might need to get free of. Parents who just don't want to listen, forcing their solution on the child. Better parents could have become friends, helping their kids. Bhunivelze is a bad parent, which is why the story ends with him killed. Well, kinda.

But also, this trilogy is at the core about something more simple. Two sisters, who love each other, and are ripped apart by forces beyond their control (which, still working, could be shitty parents). And who would do everything, just so they could reach each other again.

Lightning never really cares about society. She doesn't care for saving the world. She always, always just wants her sister back. It's that way in the first game, and it's the way in the third one. Sure, she does help the people. And she has empathy for them, understanding them, caring for them. But in the end, she doesn't do it because she is the perfect person. She only wants Serah back.

And it's the same in XIII-2, just reversed. Serah knows that Lightning is alive, and she puts herself in mortal danger, trying everything, just so they can save the world. Because it's the only way, she and Lightning can reach each other.

This is the essence. If you look at this game from the standpoint of the characters, all the other stuff doesn't matter. These are two sisters, infinitely determined to get to each other, no matter what. If they have to kill gods, so be it. All that matters, is that they will be together again.

I should end with this, as I find this to be my favourite topic of this trilogy. But Lightning Returns also offers an extra idea I want to talk about for a second. Chaos.

We have chaos since the beginning, as the main antagonist of the first game. And here, we have a new interpretation: Chaos is an essential part of humans. More specific, humans are created by Chaos. It's a fitting theme, with the Fal'Cie and then Bhunivelze trying to create structures that are without problems, without confusion, which doesn't work out. Chaos is inherent to humans, inherently important.

There is probably more there, but at this point, it's all I've got. I just found it interesting. Maybe we can take it in a similar way to FF IIIs theme, about how important balance is. If things get too chaotic, it creates problems. But without Chaos, humans stop being really human, not reaching their full potential.

And I think that's it with Lightning Returns, and the FF XIII trilogy on the whole. It's an excellent trilogy, with not only great gameplay, but also a ton of interesting themes to work with, plus strong characters (and weaker ones, of course, but on the whole, I love a lot of them).

I don't have the later games, and probably not a pc that can play them in a sensible capacity. So that's it. I want to write a final post about the whole series, but after that, I'm done. It's a shame that it took so long, because it's years since I played the earlier games. But I do want to talk about the series as a whole, and how this series became my favorite series, while playing through it. And maybe summarizing things that developed, and continuous themes.

For now, let me end this by saying that I very much like XIII, but XIII-2 and -3 are some of my favorite games of the series.
love to hear continued positive acclaim for 2/LR. Really excited to dive into them when I'm finally contented with Xenoblade 3 (could be anywhere from 30-1000000 more hours)


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Felix, I don't post often, but I wanted to say that I am really enjoying this thread as i slowly read through it. I was inspired earlier this year to play through the FFs myself. I've made it up through FF7. Finishing most all of them for the very first time. (I had only previously finished FF1 and FF5).
I find that I really agree with your summaries of each game so far (I've read up through FF4 so far). Like, I would like to post about my experiences, but honestly, I find I've nothing to add. So this is just me posting so say wow, nice job and i agree.