In the second part of my critic about Final Fantasy XV I want to talk about the game’s story. Obviously, there will be spoiler, even though I won’t go into much details about every aspect of it. Since the story is the part I have more problems with, I will divide this into two different parts.
In interviews during the development, Tabata was always saying, he wanted the player to feel like being on a road-trip with his best friends. In the trailers I always had the feeling that they wanted to express that. You could tell that the friendship of the group and the personal development on that travel was one of the main points. At the beginning of the game it actually worked quiet well. You were traveling with the car, learned about the characters a bit and started the story. As usual for a Final Fantasy game, the story developed a bit slowly at the beginning. That way you could learn about the fighting-system, about the world and about the characters. The camping enhanced the feeling of getting to know everyone more and about having a road-trip. During the first nine chapters of the game, the story-composition was filled with normal dramaturgical elements. The conflicts between the characters were build up properly, emotions shown and the purpose of the journey made it clear for the player.
After the fight against the Hydra (which had some dramaturgical camera-problems) the game got completely linear. That fact itself isn’t a problem yet. Final fantasy XIII was mostly like that and it didn’t bother me at all. The same was with Final Fantasy X and worked perfectly, in my opinion. In this game, it is also very logical because the group is being pursued, injured and they want the journey to be finished as soon as possible. But, again, this isn’t the problem, the issue at hand is more the trainride itself. Here the characters almost completely stopped talking to each other and the development of the characters broke up. Also the story came to an abrupt halt.
The empire, which was supposed to be the main villain appeared again at this point and disappears completely afterwards. In the thirteenth chapter the big cliffhanger happened. The empire has been destroyed by a virus and nobody survived. A few details are scattered in some documents that can be found by the player and that was it, nothing else. During the story there was no building up to this point. Nothing that could have led to that enormous change, in the end it doesn’t matter for the story after this point. Unfortunately, it seems that after chapter twelve, the writer stopped caring about the story or lost inspiration. The building up of the empire, and the main villain was nicely done during the first nine chapters, even though there were barely any characters to build up emotions with. But at a certain point it completely disappears and left me with the feeling of disappointment.
Another problem is that the characters got more useless and irrelevant. During the conference of the empire, after the invasion, you first see the higher-ups and wonder when you’ll see them again as an enemy or when they’ll get relevant for the story. Sadly, the answer is: NEVER! Except by Ravus and Highwind, the others never appeared again during the whole game. This is making the story rather dull and unexciting. At the end I didn’t even cared what happened to the world or the characters.
The relationship between the characters is also poorly shown. I didn’t know much about the companions or any other sided-character. The relationship between Noctis and his father was shown shortly at the beginning but it was dropped pretty quickly afterwards. Similar bad was the development between Noctis and his companions Gladio, Ignis and Prompto. There was often a conflict between Noctis and Gladio but it wasn’t really resolved properly in my opinion. Also the secret about Prompto was revealed in seconds and it didn’t even matter to the characters at all. The whole conflict was “build up” and resolved in a matter of minutes. One single sequence was enough to create and end the problem. In the end, it didn’t made any difference and it didn’t create emotions. Except that all three of them were characters without much change during the story. The only relationship that was shown in a good way was between Noctis and Lunafreya. Her death was tragic, the memory sequences showed what they felt for each other. Sadly, her death reminded me too much of the Aerith’s death in Final Fantasy VII, it came too suddenly.