Home Forums Middle School Mathematics Education Outstanding narrative, personas, and worldbuilding deserve the right to depart.

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      Even with 16 mainline entries (20 if you count X-2, 13-2, Lightning Returns, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake) and a slew of spinoffs, there’s no Final Fantasy game quite like Final Fantasy 16. The newest in this renowned series is more an evolution of the character-driven adventure genre than the role-playing game core the series was built on. It merges fast reflexes with persona development RPG mechanics, but emphasizes far more on the former than ever before. It’s not a flawless mixture – while the combat is remarkable for an action RPG, it is admittedly a bit lacking when compared directly to the pinnacles of the action genre – but even an imprecise mix is strong enough when paired with the game’s epic, 50+ hour story. It’s filled with remarkable personas, exceptional worldbuilding, an amazing soundtrack, and astonishing moments of sheer spectacle the kind of which are infrequently seen in any game.

      FF16 picks up the ball that FF14 got rolling and continues to move the series back down the path of high fantasy, taking more than a little influence from Game of Thrones along the way. Its story spans decades’ worth of history in the realm of Valisthea, a land brimming with both beauty and death as an encroaching blight forces neighboring kingdoms to fight over untainted resources, including five colossal Mother Crystals that are the primary source of the realm’s magic.

      At the core of this tale is your character, Clive Rosfield, the oldest prince of the kingdom of Rosaria and defender of his brother Joshua, the dominating force of Phoenix (…let’s not get caught up in jargon for now, we’ll talk about Dominants a bit later). Clive is a fantastic, well-rounded protagonist, excellently brought to life by actor Ben Starr. He undergoes a lot of change and development over the course of the decades-long story, but always remains immensely likable, relatable, and an complete badass when the need arises, as it very frequently does.

      The rest of the cast is exceptional as well. Jill (played by the outstanding Susannah Fielding) is Clive’s childhood friend and acts as a fantastic companion who comprehends and empathizes with Clive on a deep and sentimental level, and the heartwarming scenes between them are always a standout as their bond grows. Cid is likely my new all-time favorite FF character. He’s virtually got a youthful Liam Neeson vibe going on, regardless of being portrayed flawlessly by Ralph Ineson (who’s having quite a 2023 in the world of video games, having also appeared in Diablo IV). Cid is a born leader, overflowing with charisma and charm, and without going into specifics, his cause is one that was very simple to rally behind and made me excited to follow him and his band of rebels.

      A Story that Sticks

      The greatest accomplishment of Final Fantasy 16’s story, though, is how it never leaves you to drown in its lore. This is a massive world complete with five kingdoms, each with their own forms of governance, rulers, religions, and ideals; a whole encyclopedia’s worth of realm-specific terms, like bearers, Eikons, and Dominants; and a grand history of the world that you’re expected to keep up with in order to get the most out of the big story moments. It would all be a little overwhelming if not for an brilliant quality-of-life feature that I truly hope becomes standard throughout all story-heavy video games: Active Time Lore.

      At any point during any cutscene or conversation, you can hold down the DualSense touchpad to bring up a series of contextual compendium entries that are relevant to what’s going on in that scene. So anytime a character mentioned a term, character, or location that I either didn’t know or needed a reminder about, I could bring up the Active Time Lore and a succinct entry would be right there to get me up to speed. These entries change with the events of the story too, updating with new information about the state of the world and Clive’s knowledge about it as it happens.

      Having this kind of feature was a blessing. Later on, big missions are also preceded with stylish history lessons by your crew’s scholar that fill you in on what you need to know blog about games the region you’re about to visit – who the rulers are, their ambitions, their allies, their enemies, and so on. I know that might sound like school, but it actually did a genuinely effective job of bringing me into, and keeping me invested in, the realm of Valisthea.

      One of the most interesting elements of the story – and one that also ends up being an outstanding addition to the already very good combat – is the existence of Eikons and Dominants. Eikons are extremely powerful beings that FF fans will recognize as the usual summons from previous games, and Dominants are the special humans who are able to tap into their power, even to the point of fully transforming into them. In the lore, Dominants are used nearly like nuclear deterrents; saved as a final option due to the potential mutually assured destruction that would be caused by their fights.

      Final Fantasy 16 will very likely be looked back upon as a game-changer for mainline FF games, taking its combat fully in the direction of an action game, but I hope that conversation doesn’t overshadow its dark and captivating tale, memorable characters, and the innovative ways in which it helps you keep track of it all. The Active Time Lore feature is incredible, and should be standard for all story-driven games going forward, and while the combat may not live up to the sky-high standards as some of the best games in the character category, among other action RPGs, it’s near the top of the heap. Pair all of that with one of the best soundtracks of the year, incredible performances from top to bottom, and drop-dead gorgeous visuals, and you’ve got a game worthy of an orchestral Final Fantasy victory fanfare.

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