Lightning Returns ends the adventure of a pink-haired heroine
On Feb. 11, Square Enix released Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the video game developer and publishing house’s fourth release from their Fabula Nova Crystallis project and their final entry to the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.
The game picks up 500 years from where Final Fantasy XIII-2 left off, in which after one of the heroes of the game unintentionally killed the goddess Etro, the non-sentient, space-time altering matter known as Chaos was released onto the world of Gran Pulse.
The result was a severely ravaged and diminished land, now called Nova Chrysalia, which is composed simply of four small continents that are slowly sinking into the sea.
It’s a world where people do not age, but new life cannot be born; because with the rampant abundance of Chaos, the passage of time does not exist.
Although people cannot die of old age, they are still susceptible to death by disease and injury. However, those who stay healthy and avoid injury will eventually live for centuries, slowly losing their emotions, feelings and motivation for anything in what some would call a fate worse than death.
The Chaos has become so intense that it’s beyond the control of the remaining god Bhunivelze, who has ordained that there be only 13 days until the end of the world.
After the end of the world, Bhunivelze plans to create a new one. The only thing Bhunivelze lacks is the ability to create the humans that were originally created by the goddess Etro. This is where the trilogy’s heroine Lightning comes in.
Lightning is given the ability to remove souls from individuals to save as many souls as she can so they can be brought over into the new world. Lightning, however, is virtually given the task to save the world in a place where it seems like all the world is against her, including former allies throughout the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.
The game itself may be difficult for some, as the main theme of the game is time management.
The player only has 13 days until the end and will be on the clock (not real world time, of course) as they traverse Nova Chrysalia.
Regardless of her task and her abilities, Lightning is required to return to The Ark, which is her home base where she will be be forcibly teleported back to have her progress reviewed.
The game does away most of the old “Paradigm Shift,” battle system and interface. Also, unlike the previous games, Lightning is now the only controllable character.
The abilities Lightning can use are based on her weapons and armor that the player can customize into set outfits from which Lightning can change between during battle with the press of a button. This makes combat significantly faster and more reflex-based than the battle systems of the game’s predecessors.
The storyline seeks to resolve all conflict between Lightning and the other main characters from throughout the trilogy, and it is in the resolution of their conflict that their souls will be saved as well. Lightning will also team up with former allies, and through the main storyline, any remaining questions including that of the mythology behind the series will be explored and explained.
With Lightning Returns being a time-based game, it boasts a unique soundtrack with background music that is to change with and is suited to each of the times of day in-game: morning, noon, afternoon and night. The songs are also suited to the environments of each continent. From the majestic and soothing melodies of the Wildlands, to the upbeat, dance-worthy music of the city of Yusnaan.
On that note, it’s interesting to mention that each of the four continents in-game are based on real life cities.
There’s Luxerion, city of light, with its elegant design based on the city of Paris, France. There’s the Dead Dunes, with its sandy expanse and hidden tombs based on Cairo, Egypt. There’s the lush and natural Wildlands based on the equally natural and lush Costa Rica. Lastly, the glittering Sin City of Yusnaan is based on Las Vegas.
Still, Las Vegas resident or not, one would advise that Lightning Returns isn’t for everyone.
If players haven’t played the previous two games: Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, players likely won’t understand the storyline and won’t connect to the characters much.
Even if one did play the previous two games, the new battle system may be a bit of a challenge to master. It’s advised that only true Lightning fans pick up this game.
First she was a defier of fate, then the knight of the goddess, and now, the heroine of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy returns as the savior of humanity in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.