I finished this mess of a game almost a month ago, and I’d like to think the time since has given me a chance to get past my initial thoughts, which can mostly be summed up as: Fuck you, game.
Which it has, luckily. Now my thoughts can be summed up as: Fuck you, game. But with more coherence.
Initially, I was optimistic about the game. Parts of it sounded cool. The idea of open world roaming where you ran about completing sidequests put me in mind of Dragon Age: Inquisition, which I love. Said world seemed pretty cool, with it’s blend of tech and magic. Even if I was kinda bummed that the main party was just four dudes out being dudes doing dudely things in the wilderness, I was hopeful the small cast of characters meant plenty of chance for backstory and development.
Oh, how naive of me.
The open world? Random sidequests that served no purpose. At least in Dragon Age the side quests, while some inane, had some benefit. If nothing else, you might collect a piece of lore that would enhance the worldbuilding. In FFXV, you get experience or you get coin. If you’re lucky, both. But beyond that? Mostly a sense of confusion as to why the prince of the nation–a nation under attack, mind you–would agree to stomp about in the wilderness searching for a lost truck of tomatoes while his capital city is being looted and pillaged. And then having finished that quest, now agreeing to go find a truck of potatoes.
The characters? Aside from a few key personality tics and the occasional reference to the past, I still don’t really a sense of them and their motivations. When I think of them, this is what comes to mind. Prompto: Childhood friend. Likes the ladies. Has a camera. Along for the ride because friendship? Gladius: Bodyguard. But not really clear from what, considering Noctis is basically a walking armory, but hey. Sister-complex. Likes the woods because he is a Manly Man. Ignis: Noctis’ mom. Likes to cook. Designated driver. Idea of casual wear is a purple leopard print button up. Noctis: The most boring person to ever boring.
(I still, after some twenty five hours spent on this game, have no idea what motivates Noctis as a character other than the desire to sleep. He has all the charm of a wet sack of flour. Pretty sure their pimped out car has more personality than he does.)
And finally Luna. Oh Luna, Luna, Luna, aka Aerith 2.0, aka Yuna 2.0, aka my breaking point. Were you even really a character? Or were you just a checklist of things meant to appeal to men? Up until your final scenes all my issues with the game–the rambling plot, the wooden characters, the “open” world that was really the same handful of gas stations on repeat–were annoying but tolerable. I still harbored hope the game would turn things around. But you. You showed me the folly of that hope and helped shape it to rage.
Game, when the pivotal heroine character of your game shows up in person for only a handful of scenes, and you spend those scenes softcore brutalizing her before murdering her for the sake of manpain, we have a problem. A serious problem. A problem I will be following up on in a later post.
But for now, I move on from characters to plot. Which was honestly so incoherent that the only way I can get it across is to summarize it for you. So, to summarize:
You are a prince. Not a very good prince, but you appear to be an only child so your nation is kinda stuck with you. You and your buddies are on a roadtrip to get you hitched. Everyone seems pleased about this, likely because it means someone competent will now also be in line for the throne.
You get maybe three feet outside the city gates before it goes up in flames. The evil empire has attacked! They’ve stolen your family’s magic crystal and murdered your father! You are sad for like five minutes and then drive around the countryside getting up to hijinks. Despite your enemies having massive airships and you living out of a car inside a nation roughly the size of a small county in Texas, you never seem to be in any real danger. You kill time looking for lost trucks of tomatoes.
At some point your learn your fiancee is waking up the old gods to help you defeat said evil empire. This is never really explained. Many things are never explained. At some point Gladius leaves the party and returns with a new scar and you don’t ask him about it or seem to care about it, probably because you have the emotional depth of a dying goldfish.
Eventually you make it to the city where your fiancee lives. But the evil empire attacks! Your fiancee summons the water god! Water god uses water cannon! It’s super effective! City is destroyed. Fiancee’s dress is ripped but in a sexy way. Evil dude appears and evil monologues and evil backhands fiancee but in a sexy way. Fiancee dies but in a sexy way. You, on the other hand, mostly just get in the way.
After fiancee dies, you are sad. Ignis is blind. Gladius is pissed at you for being incompetent. Someone, finally, is pissed at you for being incompetent. This is the best moment in the game. Prompto is just around like usual.
From there you hop on a train to go to the evil empire headquarters to kill the bad guy, who is also apparently your ancient immortal ancestor. After the most terrible dungeon crawl ever, you recover your stolen magic crystal and in thanks it promptly eats you. For the next ten years, the god inside forces you to sit in the corner and think about all the ways you’ve sucked. When you emerge from your cocoon of shame, it’s night. It’s apparently been night for ten years. Somehow everyone hasn’t died of vitamin C deficiency. Also, you look like a sad Keanu Reeves and it’s really distracting.
Once you recollect your merry band of men, you return to your broken city to kill your crazy ancestor. You then let your other non-crazy ancestors take turns murdering you, so that your ghost can then kill the ghost of crazy-ancestor to make sure he’s really, really dead. The final credits role and dead you and dead Luna have finally gotten hitched in the afterlife.
You wait a few seconds longer to see if there’s a final secret end credits scene that’s just Square giving you the middle finger.
Ultimately, this was not a good game. It suffered from a lot, but most of all it suffered from wanting to do too much on too little. It wanted to be a fun open ended world to explore, but failed to make the world interesting enough to be worth exploring. It wanted to tell an epic story, but didn’t want to write the smaller, cozier scenes required to lend coherence to the larger, flashier scenes. It wanted to give you characters to love, but it gave you Noctis. Disappointment, all around.
Except you, Ignis’ purple leopard print button up. You were the true VIP of this game.