Total Games Played
Played in 2023
Recently Played See More
Recently Reviewed See More
This review contains spoilers
like most video games, combat is your main way of interacting with the world. unlikely most Final Fantasy titles, in this one its without menus, but as an action game! fun note: I have never really properly played an action game before this. I’ve never touched a soulsborne, didn’t get on with monster hunter, and only got about 20% of the way into MGS: R, so this is my first real exposure to the genre. it was good! I didn’t feel like it was impossible to learn what to do or how to get used to my toolkit which was nice! there's enough customisation of eikon powers to feel like you could do different playthroughs of the game with different styles each time, and its satisfying finding the setup that works for you. quick sidenote, I think Torgal should always have been auto controlled, because trying to control him manually feels clunky and difficult. I'm sure it's probably better to manually control him but by God, I couldn't work it out and relinquishing him control of his own life made the game simpler. the game's reliance of dodging is great fun but reads more like FF14 fights than it does Bloodborne. it's less tells and more AOEs that you're avoiding, but there are still tells to deal with. the berserker’s ring made for great gameplay as it rewards a perfect dodge with extra, fast, hard-hitting damage. that and a perfectly timed mega flare with stammer and limit break? feels good. when you can make this game's combat work it feels so rewarding. seeing 179000 damage come up in a stagger window feels incredible.
the game's item economy is terrible. gil is practically worthless as you always have enough to buy your gear and craft stuff, and the actual materials for crafting are always either already in your inventory or specific boss drops you'll get from the MSQ, so just playing the game casually is basically enough. opening a treasure chest and getting bones or hides feels weird, and it’s the games way of leaning into the action elements as opposed to the RPG ones. I love classic JRPGs, so this was a bit of a bummer for the fact that exploring the world just isn’t worth it. there is Never anything to find that is worth it, just useless crafting materials that all blend in together.
the game will tell you there are party members, but they're more decoration than anything else and their effect on combat is hardly noticeable. they're fun to have around but if you're fighting alone or with others you'll hardly notice. furthermore the "world" is smaller too. you have these teleportation stones you can use to fast travel around the world which is appreciated. they make it feel like the world you’re exploring is just a part of the country you're in, but based on the obelisk locations you quickly gather that you are exploring the entire country, and it’s made up of two cities and four villages at most. it makes the world feel small which isn't a great thing.
that kind of brings me to discussing the story, which is the big one.
I believe it was Tim Rogers of ACTION BUTTON fame who once said that "every Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy VII has been a proto remake of Final Fantasy VII" or something along those lines. we are at a point where the FF7 remake now exists, but also, this game did begin its development before the remake came out, in 2015. it’s clear that FF16 did not necessarily fully know what the FF7 remake was going to look that, and that lofty philosophical nightmare inspired this title, as it probably will future entries. this game was also very clearly inspired by Game of Thrones, which was premiering its fourth season when development began. rumour has it that a Blu-ray of the show at that time was bought, and everyone in the development team was made to watch the whole show! now this game is not a rip off of Game of Thrones by any means, but its setting is massively influences 16. decisions like British VAs over American ones may be attributed to Game of Thrones even, and its emphasis on noble families and medieval warfare as opposed to the high fantasy/science fiction borderline that we've experience for the previous 9 titles. Structurally we can see how this game has been developed alongside FF14's expansions Stormblood, Shadowbringers, and Endwalker as well, with that game's director being this game's producer, Naoki Yoshida. if we understand that Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy XIV, and Game of Thrones were three key pieces of influential work for this game, we might begin to understand where the world that was produced came from, for better and for worse.
where to even really start with the writing? perhaps with the inciting incident, which was also the demo. I love this game's opening; I love the way you can see Ned Stark is Elwin Rosfield, and Clive Rosfield is clearly Jon Snow. he's also Cloud Strife, but we'll get to that. we establish some of our main cast and move to the tragedy. tonally we're in for a darker, more graphic game with a world that is harsher than previous entries. the first use of "fuck" in a Final Fantasy game, gore and decapitations. it fucks, and the music absolutely owns. perfectly paced with things that are set up that we, the engaged audience, are hopeful will pay off later. the game changes tracks 13 years later and Clive is a slave soldier being used for his magic for the imperials who murdered his father. this is an important backstory event for Clive! or rather, it should be. the problem comes from the fact that 13 years of Clive's life have been spent fighting in proxy wars and killing people he didn’t know for another, all as a slave. Clive's intimate knowledge of the Empire and its systems never come up. he has no opinions on the secret bearer squad of assassins, nor does he have any feelings about Prince Dion or the Emperor. Even the bearer assassin squad never gets mentioned again, which is shocking because those bearers are super interesting characters! highly competent bearer warriors who wield magic, essentially willingly, for their slave masters! and it doesn't come up at all. Clive's trauma as a teenager does come up which is good, but his treatment as a slave hardly matters. the fact that he's been a slave for well over a decade doesn’t even seem to impact his decision to try to free the slaves - he doesn't really care about the plight of bearers at that time (despite being shown to be sympathetic to their cause) because he just wants vengeance. it's not until Cid properly convinces him why he's fighting that Clive dons the mantle. but we do get there, we get that Clive is fighting to essentially emancipate all bearers across the world, as well as humanity in general. a pretty unambiguously morally good stance to take I think slavery is bad and humans should have a right to live how they want. this arc of Clive's come to a head when you fight Ultima for the first time, in Stonehyrr, near the end of the game. Clive is trapped in a vision of Ultima's making where facsimiles of his companions try to convince Clive to give up as it's too late for him to atone for his crimes. His crimes of... what, exactly? killing people when he was a slave? from murdering slave masters and establishing systemic change across a continent so that slaves can have their own lives? what, exactly, is Clive atoning for? Clive Rosfield is not a morally ambiguous character. he's not even depicted as one. Clive is a pleasant, happy man with good intentions and an unwavering determination to do good and change the world with revolutionary tactics. he essentially gets forced into having this one scene that just doesn’t make sense, and it’s seen as a culmination of sorts of his story, but it’s totally unearned. a lot of the writing in this game is unearned. The moment with Clive and Jill on the beach where they first confess their love for one another is also problematic in this respect. Jill gives Clive the eikon of Shiva and has to help convince Clive that he’s not a “monster” which he identifies with. But again, his stance on freeing all slaves and wiping out slavery is not a morally complex one. Compare this to Barret Wallace’s arc in FF7, about being an eco-terrorist. Yes, Barret’s goal of saving the planet from an energy company is a good one, but as a terrorist whose actions leave multiple civilians dead or people in poverty or the slums, his arc is one about learning the method by which to change the world. Secondly, the scene where Tifa and Cloud are in the life stream mirrors Clive and Jill on the beach. In both cases, the magic pixie dream girl helps our big sword wielding C-named protagonist with their identity problems. Cloud’s story works because we’ve seen how his perspective and narrative don’t fit the truth and make him fall apart. Clive is lacking any of this complex feeling. The history is there to make him interesting but not the reason. Clive is just a nice, good guy, who knows what he’s about, and tells you that he has an identity problem. But it’s not believable and these scenes feel unearned.
Jill Warrick is another character whose entire storyline is unearned. Its not that the events that transpire in it aren’t interesting, but nothing actually happens with them! We see Jill a normal girl as a child, but really, its Game of Thrones influence in place, she is actually a ward of the Rosfields. She is Theon to the Starks, or Sansa to the Lannisters. Where Theon’s treatment under the Starks was kind, the novels and show still understand that despite their kindness, Theon is still a hostage. This complexity never comes up with Jill. It is mentioned, once? Maybe twice? It has no bearing on how Jill feels about Clive, Joshua, Elwin, or even Annabella. Jill never talks about this time or her feelings on it. She never really talks about anything other than to advance the plot. Her character and personality are never made clear. She never has casual dialogue that shows us what she is like! She never jokes or quips or reacts. She’s just there. When Jill joins us for the first time, she tells Clive that she has to go to Phoenix Gate with him to “get answers”. But nothing at Phoenix Gate directly has an impact on her personality or perspective. It’s not an event she was present for. The answers that Clive gets don’t make a lick of difference to Jill or her feelings on the situation. She says to Clive afterwards that she has her own motive now, and that’s to kill the high priest of her slaves. That’s because Jill was also made a slave soldier! But she is a Dominant, meaning they used her like a walking nuclear bomb. She would’ve committed huge war crimes for many years as a Dominant, and while powerful enough to escape, other hostages meant she stayed. This is a HUGE and very compelling story that explains why someone would stay and commit evil acts. If Jill had considered herself a monster, I might have understood it more, seeing as the devastating power of Shiva would have meant she took far more lives than Clive ever did. But Jill never speaks about this time beyond the story mandated reason to go and get the mothercrystal and take this vengeance. Her desire for vengeance has never once been explored or displayed. She simply tells us one day that she wants it, then she gets her vengeance, and never mentions it again. She continues to live on the fringes of writing, just saying things to be a person. I love her design and her VA does a good job, but Jill Warrick is unfortunately a husk of a character. While the same cannot be said for the other main women of the game, there are unfortunately few female characters even worth talking about.
They are primarily Benedikta Harmenn, Annabella Rosfield, and Mid Telamon. the first is the first dominant we fight and defeat. A fun femme fatale who has chemistry with Cid, Hugo Kupka, and Barnabas Tharmr, whose death before we even have Clive’s main outfit robs the narrative of a potentially fun rival whose complex relationships could’ve been further explored on screen. It’s made clear she is using Hugo for Waloed’s purposes and possibly also Cid, but there is such a short time with her, and her death ends up being more of an important moment for Hugo than for herself. Benedikta is fun, and then quickly forgotten.
The other character is Annabella Rosfield, Clive and Joshua’s mother. She is, of course, Cersei Lannister. Her role in the story is less on screen and more that she, like Rebecca de Winter, haunts the narrative by being the powerful, cunning and manipulative figure that caused our downfall, and whose wit knows no end. Her death is satisfying and gruesome when it occurs, but she seemed to lack much of a plan for actually what was going on. As a villain she is compelling and fun, but probably should’ve been in the narrative more presently, perhaps actively attempting to thwart Clive, Dion, and Joshua more.
Mid is Cid’s adopted daughter, a silly joke referencing Mid, the grandson of Cid from Final Fantasy V. Much like her father she is an inventor who is witty and sarcastic but very well meaning. She has little to no arc beyond being the person to invent things that advance the plot. There is a brief mention of her thinking that airships shouldn’t be invented for the possibility they have on modern warfare, but it feels unearned as none of her creations have been used that way before. Otherwise, quite forgettable
There is a slurry of other important characters who are worth talking about. I particularly like Cid, Gav, Byron, and Dion. This game’s Cid is probably the best one that we have. Ralph Inneson’s performance is amazing, and the character is witty, interesting, and believable. He immediately strikes us a hero whose death will come too early. From his coughing a bit too much and the evidence petrification he is undergoing due to his magic, we know Cid is not long for the world. His death is necessary for the purpose of Clive’s autonomy as leader of the outlaws. The problem is when, I think, and how. Cid dies in a duel saving Clive’s life against a large, otherworldly monster, and then bleeds out. Why foreshadow his weakened state if he’s going to die from a grievous wound? I would have, instead, had him survive this encounter, but slowly die of the next story events. Having several more scenes of him infirm in bed, helping Clive take agency. It would’ve been sadder and more tragic, and much more hammered home the fact that overusing one’s magic abilities as Dominant, or bearer has terrible consequences for the wielder. I think possibly up to the defeat of Hugo Kupka could Cid have survived, wasting away slowly in bed until he was no more. I would’ve also deleted the five-year time skip year for this reason, as it feels otherwise totally pointless.
Gav and Byron both are side characters who are fun, large comedy characters who have a surprising amount of pathos. Both characters are lacking in magic but are clearly competent and well loved. Their charm may have something to do with the fact that both have great performances behind them. Neither has a particularly exciting arc, but they fit into the story in such a way that they don’t need them. They’re just good, fun honest boy, and I am happy that they both get to survive.
Dion is a more complicated matter. He is a character who is mentioned and discussed throughout many of the events of the game. We essentially watch his storyline happening in cutscenes from the side with literally no involvement ourselves. Clive doesn’t actually meet and speak to Dion until very shortly before the final events of the game. Never does Dion actually join us as a party member, which feels sorely missed (although we do get one quick time cinematic clash as Bahumat in the final battle) as he has been in the narrative for so long. But even his arc is unearned. He feels guilt about the destruction that Bahumat caused in the dominion, but Ultima had literally controlled him at that time, so his actions were not his own. This massive point completely undermines Dion’s guilt, and makes his death feel pointless. Which is a shame, because as he is our first explicitly gay Final Fantasy main character, if anyone deserved a happy ending, it was him.
Surprisingly I don’t have too much to say about Joshua, other than that I like him, and the writers were clearly trying to make G’raha Tia from FF14 your brother instead of your boyfriend. And you know what? It works! I am of the theory that Joshua does survive the events of the game because of Clive’s actions.
I’d like to talk about villains and evil intentions now, because I feel the Game of Thrones influence and previous Final Fantasy influences get their wires crossed. Clearly there is love for Game of Thrones and its interesting, complex characters. Annabella would not exist without Cersei, and Clive as the jaded son who does years of hard labour would not exist without Jon Snow. But what of Ultima? Where does that leave the ultimate villain? And Barnabas? Game of Thrones’ villains are interesting because they are explicitly human beings with motives that are derived from their experiences in life, and the people they have loved and lived with. Ultima is an otherworldly creature, he's more Night King than Ramsay Bolton. As such, his perspective is unknowable to us. We cannot empathise or understand or even rationalise with Ultima’s motives because they come from a place that human beings cannot go to. This is fine, I don’t care for it but it’s how a lot of world ending monsters are perceived. The problem here grows from the fact that Ultima doesn’t stop fucking talking! (Side note, I wish they hadn’t called him Ultima. Feels like he should have had a unique name, because Ultima is a series staple and now its delegated as the villain of this game. I don’t know, I find it hard to find the words to describe exactly what my issue is here, but every Final Fantasy needs a villain, so to name the one we know we’re going to encounter something like this, feels like it takes away from their identity? I just don’t like it). Ultima has so many scenes where he just goes on about how the greatest sin humanity ever made was waking up. First of all, you have failed in your comparison to Paradise Lost, because the first sin was using free will to disobey God, and then they became aware of their nakedness. Simply having free will was not a sin in the Bible, it was how they used it. Secondly, the obvious hypocrisy that Joshua and Clive themselves mentions makes Ultima so easy to discredit. He doesn’t need a tragic backstory to be interesting, but his motive should come from a place we can reckon with for it to feel weighty. But he’s just a big evil monster who hates humans because he thinks they’re lesser. It’s so boring, it’s the same old crap that we’ve seen time and time again. Ultima goes on about Clive’s will being his weakness and breaking it, and teaching us the meaning of suffering, but it’s just villainous buzzwords to fill the silence. Ultima ends up having no flavour whatsoever. He’s an alien, make him feel more like one instead of his anime-ass boring nonsense. You’d think the mysterious dark knight Barnabas would be more compelling, but when it’s revealed that Barnabas is just a servant of Ultima we run into more problems. For one, the world already feels small because of the limited maps we explore. But if Barnabas, a villain we know is actually just working for Ultima, then suddenly the complexity is gone. If we have myriad villains throughout the game with different motives and feelings from each other, then every action Clive and co. make makes the world that bit more complex and interesting. The world feels huge and alive. Welcome to Game of Thrones! Barnabas being a pawn of Ultima from the get-go slices off any interest dynamic that could’ve been there. Barnabas gives out lofty villain monologues about accepting your destiny and humans losing their free-will, and its just philosophical nonsense that is so incredibly easy to dismiss. The perspectives that Barnabas is coming from is one that no real humans believe in, so what’s the point in letting him talk? The audience will hardly understand where he’s coming from and Clive will just dismiss it, which is correctly done! It just makes Barnabas fall so flat at the end of the day and made him feel disappointing. I would’ve liked him more if he was different to Annabella, and different to Ultima. And that if he and Sleipnir had fucked nasty, which they should’ve done. At least Kupka was kind of his own unique villain.
The game’s FF14 DNA can be seen in its alliant quests, little miniature storylines that we do throughout side quests through the world. They are cookie cutter stories about working together, and the goodliness of acceptance. They have no real weight to them, and their characters are as bland as their messaging. They are entirely forgettable and far too frequent. Some of FF14’s worst stuff is when you have storylines that are saccharine that they make you want to feel sick. You spend enough time in the world of Eorzea and that’s what you get, storylines that conclude with everyone hugging each other and kissing each other on the cheek. The alliant quests are like that too and they are not good, they are just boring and bad.
That’s it, I think. I’m sure I’ll have more to say later, but that’s it. I didn’t spend much time praising the game’s writing, so I will say that the period wherein Hugo Kupka is the main villain up to the Bahumat fight is probably the best the game ever gets. Its exciting, there are multiple perspectives and strange things. The fight with Hugo is great and cutting his hands off is a genuine shock surprise. It’s nice to not have Jill around because she’s so boring, and we get to hang out with Byron and get some environment changes too. Then, there’ the eikon fight against Titan. With amazing music, it leans in on humour and spectacle and oh boy does it deliver. There aren’t many eikon fights in the game but this one is so, so, so good. I was cheering during it, and Hugo’s death at the end felt like this long-awaited rival who has been causing us problems is finally gone. The victory felt earned and the fight itself was amazing fun. If the rest of the game had this killer pacing and fun character balances, then this game could’ve been truly incredible. Unfortunately, its mired down by disappointing villains, arcs and storylines that simply make sense, and a pacing that doesn’t suit its unfortunately tiny world. I really did have fun with Final Fantasy XVI, I just think it needed to be tighter in its writing. I’m very excited to see if this game gets any DLC at all because I’ll definitely play it, and I’m looking forward to replaying it on PC with mods when it one day comes out. But for now, I think I’ll leave it at that.
This review contains spoilers
phenomenal, still holds up on all grounds.
its simplitic art style is charming, colourful, and fun. the animations for attacks are great, and its unique character sprites stand out as imposing an interesting. a good example of a game whose sprites inspire your imagination. joy mutants look silly but the dark, thick lines of their twisted skin inspires fear and caution.
the music is goofy and weird, often looping badly or ruining its own songs with unnecessary changes or interruptions. its so perfectly LISA that a song like Summer Love can be as relaxing as it is but have those big drums in them. that a song like the Beehive can be so mysterious and then so beautiful, or a theme like Die Die Die! can be so slimey and then so intense. its tunes are memorable and strange and funny, and totally heartbreaking
its gameplay is fire. exploring the world is fun and punishing, the upgrade from walking to cycling feels so earned and smooth, and the world is clearly expertly designed around that. the humour that comes from traversing to a new screen and falling off a cliff to your death or massive damage is brilliant. the battles too are fantastic, almost every enemy being unique, with quirky names and abilities. SP and TP mirror each other delightful and the characters having button inputs like a fighting game works so well. the vast number of party members allows for a huge amount of replayability, although i'll always use terry
the humour in this game is so dark, so silly! from accidentally pouring gasoline on children to Timmy Carrots and Percy Peas saying goodbye to each other, this game made me laugh out loud constantly. it juxtaposes true silliness with heartrending drama , being able to ramp up your emotions with humour to strike it all with drama. we love to see what olathe has to throw at us next because its always stupid. its stupid, silly little sprites with their dumb soundeffects, dumb music, and bright pink nipples. I dont think there's a joke in this game that didnt land for me
but all of that aside we talk about LISA because we talk about its story and its world. olathe is fucking horrible and so is this game. it covers themes like abuse, rape, suicide, trauma, drug addiction, and complicity. where does all of it start and where does it end? the apocalypse in this game is secondary to the story that is interesting; which is brad's journey to find and capture buddy. brad is neither hero nor villain, he is simply a selfish man doing what he thinks is right... or what he wants to be right. brad proves time and again he is capable of selfless heroism, sacrificing his limbs for his comrades and defeating gangs or bandits. he also proves they are secondary to his own desires, throwing them to the wolves if need be. he is so interesting, one of the best examples of a character whose history is so storied it cannot be fully comprehended by the individual living that life. all of brad's life is wordlessly mushed into his spirit and they make the broken man we see at the end of the game. we love brad, we root for him. we hate brad, we know he is a selfish murderer. we know he must be beaten, but we don't want him to. his companions feel the same.
for a long time, i felt complicated about the fact that his companions betray him to save buddy at the end, but the definitive edition made me like it more, specifically because of the campfire scene with Terry Hintz and Mad Dog. brad is not a stupid man, he is aware that he is in the wrong but he cannot act otherwise. furthermore, his sense of guilt urges him to reach out to Terry for comfort. and Terry does comfort him, reassures him that Brad is a good man for the way he makes him feel! Terry, in his ignorance, does not know brad truly. he says to Brad "Promise me one thing. That you won't become a monster like the rest." It's Mad Dog who recognises what Brad is really, sees the violence for what it is.
in a dog
in a dog
in a dog."
in a dog
in a dog
in a dog."
When Terry turns on Brad with the gang to defeat him, it's because Brad failed in his promise. He became a monster. he couldn't get away from it
all for nothing
tried at the recommendation of a friend. unfortunately i dont like card games! cant get my head around it and am just not enjoying it. the voice acting is good and the art style is lovely. im sure the story is good although i didnt get very far in at all. some tedious aspects about navigating the world and being able to click through some dialogue but not all of it? oh well