Why Final Fantasy is a great series and the theme that underlies every game.
Around this time last year, Jonathan and I were discussing what we have been playing on The Reformed Gamers podcast. He would almost always bring up a game produced, or published, by Square Enix and it would somehow lead back to Final Fantasy. I always found myself shaking my head and wondering just what it was that made the series so great. The only one I had played up to that point was Final Fantasy XIII on the Xbox 360. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of the game except for that I was frustrated at one point and set the game down for good. I did not touch a Final Fantasy game since then, save for when we recorded our review of Type-0 HD.
This past Christmas, that all changed and I get it now.
With the money I received from family, I had enough to purchase a Playstation Vita again; I had to sell mine prior due to bills. While downloading all of my games back to the new device, there was one game that stood out: Final Fantasy IV. Watching the game download to my Vita (because I like to watch the progress of my game downloads, as weird as that sounds), I decided I would play through Final Fantasy IV to see what my friend, and co-host, was excited about.
Fast forward to today and I have just recently finished Final Fantasy X, the 5th Final Fantasy title I have completed since 2016 began. That’s right, I played 5 Final Fantasy games back-to-back since January. Am I crazy? Probably. But now, I get why people across the world have admiration for these games. From Cecil’s guilt over the events that take place during the intro to Final Fantasy IV, to the eclectic and well-developed cast of Final Fantasy VI, Cloud’s struggle with who he is in VII, the crazy time bending ending of VIII, and Tidus’ facing his father in X, these games deal with some heavy themes interwoven in rich story-telling.
But the one recurring theme I have seen in every Final Fantasy is hope. Despite all the darkness, despite all the trials, despite all the seemingly-endless hours of grinding, at the games’ core lies hope. Hope that good will prevail. Hope that will someday end evil’s reign. Hope that everything will be alright.
As a Christian, I can relate a lot with hope. One of the core tenants of Christianity is placing faith in Jesus Christ. This pushes me to rely on hope daily. Without it, I have nothing; I have no hope. These games remind me of my need for Jesus Christ when I play them but also, my need for Christian community. When you play a Final Fantasy game, you have a party of different characters with their own set of unique talents and abilities. Just like how the body of Christ has different talents and abilities that we all use to work in unison for God’s glory. When the character’s in Final Fantasy work together in harmony, they accomplish some monumental tasks. Perhaps Final Fantasy really means Final Hope: the one hope to rid the world of darkness. Or, it just means Fantasy because that’s the genre and chocobos scream, “FANTASY”.
It’s these rich stories with a vibrant cast of characters that feel real and authentic, an active and strategic battle system, and foreign worlds that keep me interested in the games. Now, having finished Final Fantasy X, I look forward to trying out Final Fantasy XIII again. And, if you’ve listened to the podcast, you know my constant talks on Persona 4 Golden and how amazing the game is. Well, folks, I’d place these games right up there alongside Persona 4 Golden. Yeah, it’s that good.
As usual when Final Fantasy is brought up, there is one question that is always asked: Which one is your favorite?
For me, I would say Final Fantasy VI is my favorite. Why? Because it’s a powerful picture of the Christian life. (spoiler alert if you’ve never played the game) There is a point where the bad guy wins. He successfully destroys the world. The character Celes wakes up a year after the world is destroyed, put into ruin, struggles with depression but then finds hope. That hope that carries us when we are at our lowest. Strength renewed, she sets out to gather her friends together to make one last attempt to fight this evil. The game places a heavy emphasis on friendship, unity, hope, and the idea that one day, good will ultimately win. It reminds me that, though temptation may win the day, in the end, Jesus Christ has already won the war. And there is a day coming that Jesus Christ will stomp out evil for good.
If you have never played a Final Fantasy game before, I would highly recommend you at least try one out. I would of course recommend Final Fantasy VI, simply for the story but also because I feel it’s been the most well-balanced of the 5 games I have played. You can also try Final Fantasy VII, which boasts a strong battle system and the famous ‘Materia’ system. Whichever one you play, keep in mind the life of the Christian and see what parallels you can draw from the game. I’m sure you’ll have your very own favorite Final Fantasy game very, very soon.
GG & Amen