So, I’ve finally beaten Final Fantasy XV. I know it’s taken me a while, and my end-game credits marked me at well over 40 hours when I got to the end. At some point or another, I decided I just needed to get to the end instead of doing all the Hunts and side-quests. While I did quite a few of those, I wanted to leave some surprises for New Game+, which is a thing that exists now! But where does it stack up on my list of Super Duper Awesome FF Games? What do I think about the second half of the game? What about the Final Boss, and his very visually appealing, but impossibly long battle? Well, maybe not impossibly, but I count Ifrit, and the entire city of Insomnia [fuck you, Insomnia, by the by], so it becomes a terrifyingly long battle as a result. So, let’s chat a bit. I love the story, but my major problem lies in that the second half of the story, the pacing goes right out of the window. I completed Chapters 9-13 in one sitting, and by one sitting.. maybe two hours? Tops? The rest of the story is almost over at that point, and the pace is just breakneck. You get so much story stuff at one point. You lose Prompto, chase Ardyn, lose the rest of the party, stealth around, get your Ring of Magical Macguffin, murder stuff, get the party back, almost get Ardyn, get the Crystal, ten years of stasis? Maybe? And now the world has fallen to darkness. So much goddamn stuff. I love what they did, but they made it too quick, I think, because perhaps they thought the game was already too long, and so much stuff had already been cut.
Ardyn; I love Ardyn as a character, and I know I’ll get some disagreement with that. Why do I like Ardyn? He’s related to Noct, he’s immortal, and impossibly, irredeemably evil. That should make him awful! He wanted to have the power of the crystal, and ascend the throne. However, he was not pure enough, good enough, and so he could not take the throne. This only fueled his evil desire, but I had a feeling he was already a Naraku-level evil deity [Inuyasha references, we got ’em!], and as a man who could do surprising things with Daemons, he waits. He doesn’t wait at home though, and winds up with the evil forces. Why? Because he’s waiting for the Chosen One to show up. He knows it will happen eventually, and he can take his revenge. He starts off helping Noctis, which might not make sense. But I love it. He wants Noctis to get to the absolute end, to get to the point where he can take the throne, and be powerful enough to be worth doing battle with. Because Ardyn is 100% convinced that his lifetimes of research and power will melt Noctis, and at last he’ll have redemption, revenge, and a world shrouded in darkness instead of light. He spends the entire story torturing, guiding, and making Prince Noct absolutely miserable. Everywhere, he’s waiting, watching, giving advice, letting him and his pals through the Empire, before really striking when the iron is hot. That’s what makes him so fascinating to me. He’s beyond redemption, truly evil, but you know what? He succeeded in most of his goals. He took over the world, shrouded it completely in darkness. He’s fascinating, flawed, much like the rest of the cast.
Also, I adore the ending. It’s not a storybook ending, though everyone does pretty much live “Happily Ever After”. . . Sorta. Ignis is still blind, but he’s making the most of it. Prompto has come to terms that he’s not normal, and his friends don’t judge him over it. Gladio’s still a badass, and Luna and Noctis do what they have to for the good of the world. I loved Final Fantasy XV. It’s a story well told, without too much ludicrous complication/overdoing it, there is significant character growth, plenty of challenge, to say the least. It actually makes its way into my top three, top four Final Fantasy titles. Yes, it’s basically tied with X. Maybe even better. I really have to think about that. But it won’t ever top IV or VI. That’s just life. Oh, and Old Noctis looks like Keanu Reaves.