Everyone remembers their first experience with Final Fantasy. I don’t know how true it is, but anecdotally it seems like the first game you play is most likely to be your favorite. And for me, Final Fantasy X is that first game. It just came out on Steam last week, and after spending an unwise number of hours with it I was reminded of just how much I loved the game despite the batshit insane plot.
One of the big draws of the series is just how fresh it is to western sensibilities. Over here we have our established genre conventions, story tropes, and stock characters: Tolkienesque medieval fantasy with dragons and wizards. Space Opera. Cyberpunk. Cowboy westerns. Gothic vampire fantasy. Swords and sandals epic. If an author really wants to shake things up, maybe they’ll put a steam engine in their medieval fantasy, or add some space magic to their Trek riff. Or maybe they’ll put a werewolf in their gunslinger adventure. These are fun, but they still feel like a remix of existing ideas.
In contrast, Final Fantasy feels like the product of some radically different alien culture that can’t even tell the difference between our clothing and sporting goods. Sure, a few western tropes have been woven into the DNA of the series, but seeing bits of western culture in this game is like seeing a Coke machine in a back alley in Shanghai. It doesn’t make the place feel like home, it just makes the unfamiliar elements stand out more.
He sure is a pretty man.
I want to talk about the controversial main character, but to do that I’m going to have to spoil large parts of the game. It turns fifteen this year, so I imagine by this point you’ve either played it, read the spoilers, or you don’t care. In any case, spoiling parts of the main story is actually less of a big deal than it might seem at first. Even once I reveal the big plot twists, you probably still won’t have a clear idea of where the story is going or how things will be resolved. After reading this, the game will have lots of mysteries and surprises left for you. These spoilers might even make the game a little more comprehensible for first-time players. I know I struggled to keep up during my first brush with the game.
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