The fluctuating parable that followed the events of this trilogy, perhaps a little improvised, of the thirteenth chapter of the Final Fantasy saga finally reaches its last act (?) And we, just like all of you, are curious to find out what actually is hides behind this concluding chapter.
SQUARE ENIX TRY IT AGAIN …
Let’s start by saying that Final Fantasy XIII had been a good title, despite the skepticism of long-time fans, the title was not bad at all even if the story perhaps a little too linear had made those who turn up their noses, from a Final Fantasy, much more was expected. With the second chapter Square Enix he had tried to put things right, with, despite the good efforts and good ideas present in the game, results far from those desired; even if, to be honest, such an appreciated antagonist had not been seen for some time.
Now, with Lightning Returns, we can say that, sequel-spinoff or whatever you want it to be, the title clearly deviates from the now defunct brand that was the “pure” Final Fantasy. It must be said that if you have not played the two previous chapters of this trilogy your gaming experience will be significantly compromised, by virtue of a bizarre plot and continuous references to the previous chapters.
But don’t rush… Despite the horrid premise we just shared with you, Lightning Returns has its, albeit skimpy, why.
It is obvious that if you play a game and enter the acronym “Final Fantasy” in the name of that game, people expect certain things and if those things do not arrive then you attract the ire and hatred of the fans, but, despite this, and despite the low expectations that this title had generated in the vast majority of fans, it must be admitted that… we expected worse!
The goal of this final chapter, whose plot often struggles to connect and relate to previous chapters, is to save humanity from total destruction, and who better than our beautiful Lightning, awakened for the occasion by the god of light Bhunivelze, can it do it in just 13 days? Our task will be to save the souls of the population to ferry them to a new world about to be created. The passage of time has stopped in what for us gamers was the final bitterness of Final Fantasy XIII-2, and since then no one has aged anymore (and 500 years have passed!), People live in this pseudo paradise with conflicting emotions and sensations, with which we will have the opportunity to confront ourselves during the secondary quests necessary to enhance our heroine.
Once the game has started, among the various classic options such as new game and options there will be the menus related to the news and updates of the title and the direct link to download the exclusive contents of the title, in addition there will also be the possibility to install all the data of game. The installation can be done completely or partially at the “cost” of 4837 MB for the first and more than 3500 MB for the second; they will serve to reduce the loading times of the title more or less sensitively.
After a short movie, not too clarifying, which explains the events prior to the start of the game, we will be immediately launched into battle with a sort of mini tutorial (necessary to better understand the utilities of the “Assets”) that will also develop in minutes later while we will be in desperate pursuit of an old acquaintance of ours. Unfortunately, already from the tutorial you will realize how much useless chatter there is in this chapter and how banal the clashes with minor monsters are. At the end of this short introduction, finally another video will clarify our ideas in the best possible way on the events of this new chapter of the FFXIII trilogy.
HOW LONG DO I REMAIN…?
As we mentioned at the beginning of the review, the title moves away from the purism of Final Fantasy, mainly because, although perhaps there was an initial intention, the game does not easily lend itself to long phases of exploration and discovery of the surrounding environments. , despite their vastness, given that we will be constantly accompanied by a timer deliberately placed there to hurry us and by a real ticking of a clock that could easily make us nervous, especially if we are old gen “finalfantasians”.
Lighning will have, at the beginning of his adventure, a limited amount of time equal to seven days, time that will be increased, in order to reach the necessary 13 days, completing (in addition to the various secondary quests) the main quests in the 4 explorable areas; areas that Square Enix, to meet the pressing request of fans, has made extremely large (we would dare to say open world), even at the risk of wasting precious time exploring them, thus going against the need to optimize times dictated by the ticking clock, faithful companion of our adventure (the annoyance of constantly seeing the timer on the screen is second only to Hope’s endless chatter in the background, you’ll learn to hate him quickly!). However, time will stop at 6 am EVERY single day when you will MANDATORY be called back to the “Ark”, Your headquarters, without you understanding the real motivation until the most advanced stages of the game; it can also be stopped for a few minutes using the protagonist’s special special powers, as well as it will be stopped during dialogues and battles.
Are you alarmed by this title to play by calculating the tight time? Dear readers, you are alarmed for nothing, given that as the game progresses it is clear that even the developers of Mom Square Enix did not have a very clear idea of how to manage the situation dictated by the timer. And if your intention was to throw yourself headlong into each mission in the first hours of the game to finish everything as quickly as possible in order to make you enough time that you thought to be little, know that already on the seventh day or so , you will find yourself having completed the main quests and most of the secondary ones; at this point you will be desperate for something to do to pass the wait for the fateful hour.
Also, with regard to the “time consumed” speech, know that you can exchange part of the points obtained from saving souls with extra time to complete the various quests; proof and counter-proof that the same makers of LRFFXIII didn’t have the slightest idea where to direct the title, a “time trial game” or a “pseudo open-world”? Who knows, maybe one day mom Square Enix will delight us with a plausible answer.
A NEW BATTLE SYSTEM… AGAIN !?
The first impact with the battles could leave you dumbfounded, the fights in the game are very frequent and precisely because of this, you will soon be able to master the new mechanics of this title. In the long run you will know how to move at your best between each “Trim”(Combination of suit, weapon and shield and related skills). With the new control system, thanks to the press of a single button, you can quickly change the structure of Lightning and with it the set of skills associated with it.
In battle we will have three different costumes that can be equipped and interchangeable, each of which exploiting different abilities that can be used through a ATB bar dedicated, which will download with every move and will recharge quickly if we equip another costume. The ability to parry and dodge enemy attacks makes the battle phases more “action”, but we will always have to pay attention to our strategy and the opponent’s weak points; this innovative combination at first glance could alarm and / or frustrate, but in the long run it will be fully appreciated with the evolution of the battles. However, just being able to master the “assets” of Lightining could compromise your enjoyment as the frequent clashes with minor monsters can become mere and monotonous formality. Furthermore, when you manage to set each set-up (pardon the pun) in the best possible way you will be able to defeat most of the enemies without even sending it into status “Crisis”, Making everything extremely simple.
TECHNICAL ANALYSIS AND EVALUATIONS
The most disastrous consequence on a graphic level for this title was the choice of creating a pseudo open-world that forced the developers to lower the graphic detail of the title. The graphics engine in fact pays the price of the extended maps by often presenting low quality textures compared to what has been seen to date and rather thin and disappointing three-dimensional models.
Fortunately, the sound quality remains of the highest level, despite the reuse of some of the main melodies of the saga already heard in the races of two previous chapters. The longevity of the title, despite the questionable problems related to the contents and their organization within the game itself, is good and guarantees something like about 30 hours of play.
We would have sincerely been pleased to conclude this review by being able to exclaim “Final Fantasy is back“, But, alas, we find ourselves having to candidly admit that if this title in the plans of Square Enix was to revive the fortunes of”Fabula Nova Crystallis”… Well, those plans have failed miserably. The game is full of excellent ideas and good ideas which, for heaven’s sake, sometimes also materialize into something nice enough; but in the vast majority of the time you will find yourself with the unpleasant feeling that something great could be done and hasn’t been done.
The new battle system and the combination of action elements with pure JRPG elements, clashes hard with an implausible narrative and too often irritating dialogues, if you add to this the lowering of the graphic detail and an uninviting plot, what you will get is a sound, ENNESIMA, disappointment for all lovers of the Final Fantasy brand. If, on the other hand, you try to play the title forgetting, forever, that this is a Final Fantasy, well, in that case the game could also become sufficiently enjoyable.
Are you a lover of the long-standing Final Fantasy saga? Lightning Returns will be yet another disappointment for you.
Are you new to this style of games? You might also like Lightning Returns, as long as you know the plot of the previous two chapters. Unfortunately, the analysis of this game is resolved in these two lapidary conclusions. The title expected by all as the “resurrection” of the Fabula Nova Crystallis is far from being what we all hoped for. A game that, as happened to the others before him, perhaps would have had a greater impact on the public if in the name it did not have that “Final Fantasy” that the souls of gamers have been heating up for 27 years and that brings with it a load of expectations which Square Enix can no longer cope with.