Final Fantasy X Part 16: Gotta Have Fayth

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 6, 2016

Filed under: Retrospectives 75 comments

At the top of Mt. Gagazet, the party encounters Seymour again. They killed him once and he returned as an unsent. Then they killed him again after escaping the execution maze in Bevelle, and he seemed to evaporate. But here he is again, looking much the same as ever.

Seymour, Round 3

Wait, how did Seymour get to THAT spot? Did he free-climb the cliff face?
Wait, how did Seymour get to THAT spot? Did he free-climb the cliff face?

Seymour appears alone, and apparently on foot. No escort. No minions. No vehicleAlthough he sort of turns into a flying machine for the boss fight, but we’re probably not supposed to ask about how THAT works..

Hm. This doesn’t really seem to fit with Seymour’s style.

He informs everyone that Kimahri is now the last of the Ronso, because Seymour killed them all on his way up the mountain.

Oh, okay. This is totally Seymour’s style.

Well, Seymour claims the Ronso are extinct, but there are still Ronso scattered around Spira. And if you hike back down the mountain, you’ll find a couple of Ronso shopkeepers standing all alone, still selling merchandise to nobody in particular. We never encounter any Ronso housing on the path. I think we’re supposed to assume they have houses nearby that we never see, and now we’re supposed to assume all those houses are empty. I’m willing to take the writer’s word for it, but this setup does take some of the punch out of Seymour’s killing spree. This would have more impact if the game actually showed us where the Ronso lived so we could see the devastation for ourselves. As it stands, he’s claiming to have killed, off-screen, a bunch of people that were never part of the visible gameworld to begin with.

Unlike the previous fights, Seymour means business this time around. This is where a lot of players see the GAME OVER screen for the first timeUnless you got ambushed by a Malboro in the Calm lands a couple of hours earlier. Man, screw those ambushes.. The game is finally starting to push back, and you’ll need to really know how to use the whole party if you want to beat this clown.

Trust me, that lumpy thing is Seymour. I think he's somewhere in the middle of it and what we're seeing is just his latest haircut.
Trust me, that lumpy thing is Seymour. I think he's somewhere in the middle of it and what we're seeing is just his latest haircut.

Part of the problem is that the power level of the party is now incredibly variable. Up until now, it seems like the game has been balanced under the assumption that the player is going to keep moving forward without making any special effort to grind. But now the player just went through the Calm Lands. After that there was a little side-path leading to the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth, one of the very few optional areas of the game. So one player hikes directly across the Calm Lands and skips the cavern, and another player explores all of the Calm Lands, finds the Monster Arena, spends some time rounding up monsters, and then does the optional cavern. All of that content is optional, yet rich in XP, so the power delta between these two hypothetical players is going to be enormous.

From the perspective of the game designer, this is the most variable the player’s power level has ever been. To me, it feels like the fight is balanced under the assumption that the player did most of the side content. This fight seems to be here to push back against players taking the lazy way through, although it’s certainly possible to beat him with an under-powered party if you’ve got a solid grasp of the mechanics and know what to expect. Like most boss fights, he’s based on patterns that the player can learn through observationOr read on the wiki, because they have better things to do than repeat this scene multiple times..

Seymour has a huge all-party attack, which is then followed by a quick single-person attack. You really do want to have your high HP characters in play to absorb that blow. Here my tanks Auron and Wakka are down and the only person still standing is fragile Lulu, which means I'm a stiff sneeze away from the Game Over screen.
Seymour has a huge all-party attack, which is then followed by a quick single-person attack. You really do want to have your high HP characters in play to absorb that blow. Here my tanks Auron and Wakka are down and the only person still standing is fragile Lulu, which means I'm a stiff sneeze away from the Game Over screen.

Seymour has a brisk health regeneration and a couple of attacks that deal huge damage to the whole party. In previous fights you could usually plow through by just healing and dealing steady damage. If you were clueless or under-leveled that fight might take a long time, but you’d still win eventually. But here it’s possible to get caught in a downward spiral where you spend all of your turns reviving and healing teammates instead of keeping up with Seymour’s health regen. Once that happens, it’s just a matter of time until he unloads his super-attack and wipes the party.

So OF COURSE the fight takes place after a four-minute unskippable cutscene. The difficulty of boss fights in this game are directly proportional to the amount of cutscene that precedes them. Fair warning: This is a problem they didn’t bother to address in the recent PC edition.

After the first Seymour fight we saw his dead body being dragged away. After the second, he seemed to dissolve. Now that we’ve pummeled him a third time, he’s been dispersed into a cloud of pyreflies.

Spoiler: We still gotta face this goof one more time.

Gotta Have Fayth

This is where things get REALLY strange.
This is where things get REALLY strange.

We come to a mass of people entombed in the cliff face. They look kind of like the Fayth that power the aeons in this world, only instead of being integrated into a tasteful display in a temple, they’re just shoved into the side of the mountain. Tidus touches them, and collapses. He finds himself back in Zanarkand. His Zanarkand.

A small ghost child – who is apparently the Fayth for one of Yuna’s Aeons – shows up and explains to Tidus that he (Tidus) is a dream.

A thousand years ago, Zanarkand and Bevelle had a war. It was the summoners of Zanarkand vs. the war machines of Bevelle. Zanarkand… didn’t win. So the survivors got together and became Fayth, and were used to summon the entire city and all of its people into some… dream dimension? If you read the Ultimania guide – which is extra-textual – you’ll learn that the writer thought that Dream Zanarkand occupied physical space here in Spira. It’s located near where Tidus dropped into this world. But that explanation never made it into the base game, which is a shame. Explaining that Dream Zanarkand exists in the real world, but isn’t located near ORIGINAL Zanarkand would have been nice, because it really helps us understand what’s going on and that’s not the kind of leap the player should be expected to make on their own.

Anyway.

These Fayth are dreaming Zanarkand. Which means they're the ones who came up with the idea of having Tidus wear THAT outfit. Taking that into account, I have a hard time feeling sorry for them.
These Fayth are dreaming Zanarkand. Which means they're the ones who came up with the idea of having Tidus wear THAT outfit. Taking that into account, I have a hard time feeling sorry for them.

After a thousand years, the Fayth are tired of dreaming and they hope that Jecht and Tidus – who are bits of the dream escaped into the real world – can end the dream by killing Yu Yevon.

Broadly speaking, there are four phases to experiencing a Final Fantasy story:

Phase 1: Wow. This is so new and different! So full of interesting ideas!
Phase 2: Some of these ideas are really out there.
Phase 3: This is so crazy I can’t even form an opinion on it. This is so strange I don’t have a frame of reference.
Phase 4: Are you sure this is translated properly? I don’t know what the story is saying and my head hurts now.

Welcome to Phase 4

SOME KID DIED.
SOME KID DIED.

I suppose this means that the Zanarkand where Tidus is from is… an Aeon? It’s not nearly as straightforward as I present it above, and they leave out the important detail that explains that the guy summoning Dream Zanarkand is also the guy summoning Sin – Yu Yevon.

This really does make Yu Yevon the King of All Assholes. He’s tormenting the people of Spira by attacking them as Sin, and he’s tormenting the people of Old Zanarkand by forcing them to dream this copy of Zanarkand into existence. Basically everyone in the world needs this guy dead.

There are lots of questions the story never bothers to explore. How did Jecht escape the dream world to begin with? If Tidus is a dream that they create, why do they continue to dream him as a know-nothing teenager instead of simply changing the dream so that he knows all the stuff and is an unstoppable juggernaut? If it’s their dream, why don’t they have any power over it? How did Auron get in and out of the dreamworldHe says he “rode Sin”, which is about as useful as saying he flapped his arms and flew there.? Have the people of Dream Zanarkand been living the same dream over and over, like watching a movie on repeat, or is Dream Zanarkand an ever-changing improv?

If these people want to stop dreaming so bad, why don’t they just have Yuna send the lot of them? She could make Dream Zanarkand vanish in a little dance. They wouldn’t even need to tell her that. Just have Tidus ask Yuna for a quick send.

They summoned all the buildings, all the people, and all of their stupid, stupid outfits.
They summoned all the buildings, all the people, and all of their stupid, stupid outfits.

Normally Sin is powered by the soul of the fayth used to create it. If you made Lulu into the Final Summoning then you’d summon her as some crazy aeon of belt buckles and cleavage. Assuming she and her summoner had a solid emotional bond, Lulu-aeon would defeat Sin and bring the next calm. But then Yu Yevon would abandon his old Sin, grab Lulu’s aeon, and get to work turning her into the next-gen Sin. That’s strange and a little confusing, but okay.

But The current iteration of Sin is powered by Jecht, who is already a summoned creature. This is like plugging one power strip into another. Unplug the first one, and they both go dead. So it seems like shutting down Dream Zanarkand would solve all of Spira’s problems right here, right now, without anyone needing to fight anything. Tidus would vanish in the process, which is just a nice side-bonus for everyone involved.

Actually, it’s even more convoluted than this. All of these fayth are being used to summon a single dream city full of people. Then one of those people gets loose into the real world and becomes a fayth. Then that fayth is used to power an aeon. Then that aeon becomes Sin. This is a power strip, plugged into a power strip, plugged into a power strip, plugged into a battery that’s been running for 1,000 years.

I can’t really call any of these plot holes. The whole thing is dense yet vague, filled with strange unexplained notions. If you want to know more you’ll probably need to read the Ultimania guide. And even once you read that, you’re still going to need to make up some details yourself. This is not a world of hard rules. This is a world of crazy ideas designed first and foremost to make stuff that will look impressive in expensively-produced CGI cutscenes, secondly to make for strong emotional cues. Having stuff that makes sense and follows explained rules comes in at a distant third.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Although he sort of turns into a flying machine for the boss fight, but we’re probably not supposed to ask about how THAT works.

[2] Unless you got ambushed by a Malboro in the Calm lands a couple of hours earlier. Man, screw those ambushes.

[3] Or read on the wiki, because they have better things to do than repeat this scene multiple times.

[4] He says he “rode Sin”, which is about as useful as saying he flapped his arms and flew there.



From The Archives:
 

75 thoughts on “Final Fantasy X Part 16: Gotta Have Fayth

  1. Artyom says:

    I actually forgot more than half of the names Shamus mentioned.

    1. Coming_Second says:

      It’s like certain sections of the Bible.

      “Then Yu Yevon beget Jecht, who beget Sin, who beget Bilbo Baggins, who beget Tidus who knew Calamari, the last of the Whacky Side Tribamites. And he did travel to Made Up Zanarkand where he beget Yuna, and she went to Mount Gagazet where Seymour (Retreads, verses iii-xi) in the garbs of Lovecraft spake to her… “

      1. Henson says:

        I knew a kid whose parents made him read that verse as part of church service once, in front of the whole congregation. Best way to show your child who’s boss.

      2. Grudgeal says:

        And yet the Bible still has little on the Icelandic Sagas, most of whom spend the first third of the entire tale explaining the protagonist’s dead forebears and their otherwise completely irrelevant lives. This is so that, when blood inevitably gets spilled near the end of the tale and everyone ends up killing each other, we can understand the historical context of why all these random people suddenly get dragged into the narrative on one side or another and kill each other.

        1. 4th Dimension says:

          And probably more importantly which proud clan/tribe/village/family they represent. So when the bloodletting starts everyone knows which family has beef/vendeta against another family and the reasons for it.

          1. Studoku says:

            Just like Game of Thrones

        2. Joe Informatico says:

          Hey, just like The Iliad!

          1. Grudgeal says:

            At least in The Iliad the principal players are kings and heroes and not random farmers called Egil. All I’m saying is that an epic about a war that kills thousands may warrant a slightly longer ancestral tree than the tale of eight people who get in a brawl over something someone’s grandfather once said to the other’s great uncle.

            1. Munkki says:

              There were not a lot of people living in Iceland at the time the sagas were composed (Heck, there are still not a lot of people living in Iceland). Having everyone’s extensive family history explored in detail actually kind of makes sense – it’d be something Icelanders could relate to as a driving force in people’s lives, probably.

        3. Burning says:

          “Erik Njorl, son of Frothgar, leaves his home to seek Hangar the Elder at the home of Thorvald Nlodvisson, the son of Gudleif, half brother of Thorgier, the priest of Ljosa water, who took to wife Thurunn, the mother of Thorkel Braggart, the slayer of Cudround the powerful, who knew Howal, son of Geernon, son of Erik from Valdalesc, son of Arval Gristlebeard, son of Harken, who killed Bjortguaard in Sochnadale in Norway over Cudreed, daughter of Thorkel Long, the son of Kettle-Trout, the half son of Harviyoun Half-troll, father of Ingbare the Brave, who with Isenbert of Gottenberg the daughter of Hangbard the Fierce … “

          1. tmtvl says:

            That would be easier to read if there were some semicolons.

            …Damn, programming has ruined me.

      3. Confanity says:

        Just a silly note that the past tense of “beget” is “begat.”

    2. Tizzy says:

      The names are all familiar for me. It’s the countless boss fights that were mercifully wiped from my memory. I looked at the screenshot of machine-Seymour and went: “nope. Doesn’t ring a bell at all. “

  2. Hal says:

    I definitely got stuck at this Seymour fight. As I recall, I had to grind Yuna until she had Holy at her disposal in order to make this feasible.

    I think the idea is supposed to be that Sin can act like a bridge between Zanarkand and Spira because they’re all made of pyreflies/dream stuff. Does that mean Sin could come destroy Zanarkand? We see it attack in the start of the game, so I guess the answer is yes. Why doesn’t it ? I’m not sure. I feel like there is never a clear answer to why Sin attacks anything. Is it a mindless creature? Is it entirely piloted by Yu Yevon? How much control does the Guardian/Final Aeon maintain?

    The answer is, “Stop asking questions, you’re ruining the moment.”

    1. GloatingSwine says:

      The other way is to learn the tell for his big attack and summon an aeon to tank it. He’ll then splat the aeon with a special aeon splatting move, but it tanked his big hit and you just use the next one.

      1. tmtvl says:

        This fight is were NSGNSNCNONENNENBB runs tend to die (I’ve only ever once seen a video were a guy apparently made it, though I’ve yet to verify his strategy for myself).

        Anyway, in a normal run it’s perfectly doable if you’re willing to spend some items on it. Even without summons.

        1. Galad says:

          what’s this abomination of an abbreviation?

          1. pdk1359 says:

            Does it just mean facerolling or is it actually an acronym?

          2. Arctem says:

            Based on this post it seems to mean No Sphere Grid, No Summoning, No Customizing, No Overdrives, No Escapes, No No Encounters, No BlitzBall.

            1. tmtvl says:

              Also known as “no anything”.

    2. Zekiel says:

      Interesting. I think I had understood that Sin turning up in Zanarkand at the beginning of the game was the Fayth dreaming of an event that had happened long ago in real life. Obviously that’s not the case. Was Sin even around at the time of old Zanarkand?

      1. Jakale says:

        Sin was not around then, no. Basically, when Zanarkand’s life as a city-state/country stop because it lost the war, Sin’s life as a world wrecker starts, because Sin is the armor for the summoner who is summoning the Aeon Zanarkand.
        The beginning is basically Jecht, partly able to control himself as Sin, swimming/flying over to the physical location where the Aeon of Zanarkand is to pick up Tidus and get this ball rolling.

    3. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      Sin does go and destroy Dream Zanarkand every now and then, but it’s a summon, so it gets restored pretty quickly.

      Also, Sin has a set of orders (protect the secret of DZ’s location, protect Yu Yevon), and most of the time is left to its own devices.

  3. GloatingSwine says:

    When Auron says he “rode Sin” in and out of the summoned Zanarkand he’s being literal. Jecht still has a limited amount of free will as Sin (which will decline over time), and can physically carry people there (which is where the thing about it actually being a physical place makes sense).

    Most of the point of Sin is to keep stomping the rest of Spiran civilisation and outlawing machina is so they don’t ever develop anything that might find Zanarkand.

    Sin itself is in on the plan to defeat Sin.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Why is it important that people don’t find Zanarkand?

      1. Bropocalypse says:

        I guess because Yu Yevon is a xenophobe with nostalgia for a dead era, and doesn’t want those foreign-type youngsters with their fancy new machina messing everything up again.

      2. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        Because Yu Yevon doesn’t want a repeat of the last war, I suppose. Keep in mind he still sees the rest of the world as enemies.

  4. Joshua says:

    I thought that Final Fantasy VI was actually pretty straight-forward on level-appropriate challenges. As long as you weren’t running away from fights, just going straight towards your objectives was usually enough to get you XP to where you were supposed to be.

    For the first half of the game, that is. Once you enter the World of Ruin, get prepared to do some grinding, not only for XP, but for Esper magic and stat-boosts.

    Turns out the first half of the game not requiring grinding is probably intentional design, as the mechanics of the Esper system would act as a *penalty* if you over-leveled yourself before getting to the World of Ruin and discovering new Espers.

    1. Hal says:

      I think most of the early (i.e. Before FF7) Final Fantasy games were good about not requiring grinding, at least not until late in the game. (Let’s not talk about FF2; that wasn’t released in America until later, so I don’t count it.) You could always find an excuse to grind, or an advantage to doing so at certain points, but it wasn’t generally necessary in those cases.

      In the case of FF6, technically, you don’t even have to consciously seek out the esper stat boosts; you’re most likely getting enough of those as you play just by trying to learn the magic anyhow. Personally, I never cared for the stat boosts, because I think it makes leveling characters overly fiddly if you pay too much attention to it. Plus, it always lent to the feeling of same-ness between the characters; everyone can already learn every magic spell in the game, making it possible to max out everyone’s magic stat just adds to the phenomenon.

      The grinding in the World of Ruin was always sort of mixed, as I recall. Generally speaking, I didn’t finish the World of Balance until everyone had learned all of the spells available at that point in the game, so you were usually fairly powerful by the time you pushed into the World of Ruin. At that point, gear and available magic were the limiting factors; for me, that meant using the same crew of people who have been picking up new spells as we went along, and only worrying about grinding up other characters once we had pretty much everything.

      1. Joshua says:

        I seem to recall Final Fantasy I requiring level grinding. Of course, there are people who have done challenge modes to see the lowest level they can beat the game at.

        Maybe IV didn’t require grinding, but I thought III and V did due to the whole Job training thing?

        As far as sameness between characters, I thought VII was worse. The only thing significant thing that I remember being different between characters was their individual Limit Breaks and whether or not they had a Ranged weapon, which came into play in at least one fight. There certainly weren’t White Mage, Black Mage, Fighter, etc. characters. Of course, my memory of that one is hazy because I never beat it once I got distracted racing chocobos. Maybe I’ll play it again if they do remake it for the PC.

        1. Joshua says:

          “But here it's possible to get caught in a downward spiral where you spend all of your turns reviving and healing teammates instead of keeping up with Seymour's health regen. Once that happens, it's just a matter of time until he unloads his super-attack and wipes the party. ”

          Of course, I remember having this happen a lot with FF IV and VI as well in a few fights, especially when you’re having to use Phoenix Down instead of Life 2. Much, much cursing at having guys killed right after they were raised, and then having my healers uselessly casting a heal/using a potion on the body.

        2. Hal says:

          FF1 required some grinding. The first place this happens is during the trip into the Marsh Cave to get the crown. You need to be roughly level 10 to tackle the Marsh Cave, and you’re only level 3 when you get the pirate ship.

          After that, any grinding is more about being able to afford the magic spells than anything else; they’re dang expensive. You don’t necessarily have to grind, but you most likely need to so that you don’t fall behind on having spells available. You might also grind at the end of the game, before going after Chaos, because the slog of that dungeon can be pretty brutal if you’re underleveled.

          FF4 doesn’t necessarily require any grinding in the early game (although I found it to be beneficial before going after the Earth Crystal.) It definitely becomes necessary when preparing to tackle the Moon Core; if you play straight through, by the time you get to this point in the game, neither Rosa nor Rydia will have learned their best magic, and the monsters/bosses in the dungeon are just way too powerful to tackle underleveled.

          1. Joshua says:

            I just got finished playing Dragon Warrior on my retro system a month or so ago. That game is ALL grinding.

    2. mechaninja says:

      Dino Forest 99/999/9999 for life yo.

      1. Joshua says:

        And Economizer hunting? LOL

  5. Grudgeal says:

    “In this game, you play the ghost of a dream of a memory of a cyborg warrior blitzball player trying to find his dead wife dad inside a poem.”

    Final Fantasy X: A plot so convoluted even The Stanley Parable can’t do worse than accurately describe it.

  6. Henson says:

    Having been spoiled on the story beforehand, I was really expecting more from the ‘Titus is a dream’ revelation. Instead, the prevailing reaction I had was “Is that it?”. The writer plops this piece of story into our laps and then runs off. We don’t really explore this new aspect of our protagonist, and Titus himself doesn’t seem to much care either. I think we really needed to have Titus struggling with the nature of who he is, whether he’s even ‘real’, etc. It seems the writers wanted Yuna at the end of the game to have to learn to live for herself, and hence Titus couldn’t stick around, but they couldn’t figure out how to make this happen.

    And if Titus is a dream, then how the hell did he see his mother in the Farplane?

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Somehow I don’t think Tidus going Pinnochio for six hours would improve the story…

    2. Hector says:

      So, here we get into the big misconception that people have about this game’s plot.

      Just because Tidu’s Zanarkand is basically composed of dreams, does not mean that it isn’t real. Tidus, Jecht, and so forth are basically composed of pyreflies instead of matter, but apart from that they’re. The only real difference between Tidus and, say, Auron, is that Tidus doesn’t have to keel over dead to coalesce a body of pyreflies to house his spirit – because somebody already did that form him.

      This also answer’s Shamus’ confusion about Jecht. Jecht was never alive in the strictly biological sense, but he was still alive. This is even coherent within the gameworld – creating an Aeon supercharges the spirit and discards the body, which is why the summoner’s companion dies in the process. There’s no reason this couldn’t work on Jecht, and it did.

      Edit: Also, you can’t Send the Fayth, because they themselves basically are an Aeon.

      1. Henson says:

        The problem I’m addressing isn’t actually about whether or not Titus is real, it’s about the story not giving itself room to explore the weight of this revelation, both emotionally and practically. Titus learns that he’s a dream, a fundamental change in existence, and it doesn’t seem to weigh on his mind at all. He doesn’t seem to care that the fayth want to end the dream, hence ending his life. It would be so easy to explore his feelings via internal monologue, but it doesn’t happen. So we’re left with a plot point that kinda fizzles. It’s necessary in order to keep Dream Zanarkand separate from Real Zanarkand, but that’s about it.

        1. Jakale says:

          Yeah, this scene and a good chunk of stuff related to it is where the game flings itself off into a world of confusion.
          For starters, it uses the word “dream” so much that it all muddles together into feeling like this is an imaginary world not rooted in the Spira we’ve been exploring and so is never really clear. I think it would be way better to use the actual Aeon terminology the game has pushed this entire time rather than this dream thing.

          The fact that the game is drama first and therefore isn’t interested in explaining how Aeons precisely interact with the world , how the whole history of Sin happened in simple terms, and how Tidus and Jecht were somehow altered from mere aeons to some sort of aeon/true physical being hybrid doesn’t help either. Especially here, since Zanarkand is the biggest, most complex, and longest running Aeon in the world, there’s all sorts of questions about if all the people in Aeon Zanarkand have free will and lives and death and can have new kids that never existed in the past or if this is some constant loop or what.

          And yeah, there’s the issue where this is treated as more a plot dump to keep secret and provide background character tension than a chance for Tidus’ introspection, even though he’s been plenty ready to speak his mind about how he feels before now. He doesn’t talk much about it with Auron or the Fayth representative.

    3. Guile says:

      ‘Hey kid, turns out you’re not real’ said the hallucination.

      That seems exactly like the sort of revelation that Tidus would completely deny, mentally. All they’d need to do is have Tidus get a few lines over the next couple hours going, ‘Psh, what? That’s stupid.’ ‘… No way that’s right. Stupid ghost kid, YOU’RE not real.’ ‘… Doesn’t even make sense. What does that even MEAN, anyway.’

      Just so we could get the sense that he’s trying to work through it like a dog through a gristly bone.

  7. Corsair says:

    In light of what happens at the end of the game, I have a question – what would have happened if one of these Dream Zanarkand people had a child with one of the real people from Spira? When the Dream ends would that entire family line vanish too?

    1. Hal says:

      The answer is probably going to be the same as the answer to the ending of FF6.

      Terra is the daughter of a human and an esper, a magical creature from another world. When they defeat the final villain of the game, all magic in the world ceases to exist, and the espers disappear. Terra remains, now fully human, because she embraced her humanity and found a reason to love and cherish the world.

      1. potatoejenkins says:

        Depends on the writer. Final Fantasy was never shy of gut-punches.

        In/after the finale of FFX Yuna is forced to kill her own Aeons and Tidus disappears. Though there is one of those “maybe not?” sequel-hooks after the credits.

        1. Hal says:

          According to the Wiki He comes back at the end of FF-X2, and that story continues in some other content I don’t recognize. It seems like they don’t really explain it all too much.

  8. Decius says:

    Why would the Aeon created from Jecht disappear even if Jecht did? It’s not like Aeons are made of stuff in the way that shoupuff are made out of stuff, and the shouluff stayed wounded.

    Plus it’s Yu Yevon himself that is summoning Zanarkand. He too, is in on the plan to kill him.

  9. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    How did Jecht leave Dream Zanarkand? He went far enough at sea that he left the city limits. Literally. There’s nothing that keeps them there, Tidus could have left without Auron.

    They also can’t be sent as long as they’re being used to summon DZ, which is why they want the party to kill Yu Yevon, to make him stop summoning.

    1. Shamus says:

      “Explaining that Dream Zanarkand exists in the real world, but isn't located near ORIGINAL Zanarkand would have been nice, because it really helps us understand what's going on and that's not the kind of leap the player should be expected to make on their own.”

      “I can't really call any of these plot holes. The whole thing is dense yet vague, filled with strange unexplained notions. If you want to know more you'll probably need to read the Ultimania guide. And even once you read that, you're still going to need to make up some details yourself. This is not a world of hard rules.”

    2. MrGuy says:

      They also can't be sent as long as they're being used to summon DZ, which is why they want the party to kill Yu Yevon, to make him stop summoning.

      This is one of those massively frustrating things that in theory you have to live with in “drama first” storytelling, but bugs the crap out of some people (spoiler – “some people” includes me).

      They’ve set up this world where there are rules for sending, and being unsent, and what that means. They have this cool idea that this group of unsent Fayth are the ones creating a major piece of this world, including Sin, who’s the big problem we’re trying to solve.

      It would occur to many that, if the Fayth stopped summoning, then Sin would vanish. And since they’re Fayth, they can be sent. Sending isn’t a punishment or even a bad thing, so it’s not like we’re really “hurting” the Fayth by sending them. Why can’t we have a win-win-win?

      Because you can’t! You can’t send the Fayth while they’re summoning. There’s no real setup for that arbitrary rule. There’s no real explanation (other than the ad-hoc “you can’t!”) WHY they can’t be sent while they’re summoning. There’s nowhere else I can recall where there’s a way to RESIST being sent.

      But no. The reason you can’t do that is because I wrote the story such that you have to resolve the main quest a different way. The railroading GM said so.

  10. 4th Dimension says:

    This fight with the Asshole also marks the place where I basically quit my playthrough. I got as far as the hidden aeon (did not have the cast to hire him though) and only learned about monster arena but did not fight in it (since I was not able to collect all the animals on the plains). I also did do some grinding on the calm lands. Still Seymour wiped the floor with me with his stupid, annoying Zombie/Life combo.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      There’s a shop directly before the fight that sells holy waters for you to zombie proof all your cloths.

      1. PhoenixUltima says:

        Except if you do that, you’ll likely try using that armor against an upcoming boss who also likes to do zombie shenanigans. And if you do, she punishes you for it with a party-wide death spell that never misses.

        This is basically the “fuck you” section of the game, in other words.

        1. Zekiel says:

          That fight is hilarious. As I recall you HAVE to let some of your party get zombified so that they survive the instakill death spell (which doesn’t affect you if you’re zombified).

        2. galacticplumber says:

          So only wear the anit-zombie armor on two guys for that fight. Alternatively finish the second phase with an aeon because she doesn’t have banish.

  11. Darren says:

    There’s a lot to unpack here. My understanding is that Yu Yevon isn’t “tormenting” the Fayth, but rather originally viewed Dream Zanarkand as the preservation of his nation. Basically, it cost all the souls of Zanarkand to summon Sin, who could now wipe out Bevelle (so I guess the people of Spira are all descendants of the survivors of Bevelle’s catastrophe, with the Al Bhed remaining faithful to their pro-science ways and everyone else desperately switching over to Zanarkand’s magical ways to try to heal the split that presumably caused the war in the first place). But as Fayth, the people of Zanarkand could also collectively power a massive, Matrix-like world to inhabit. They died, but they don’t have to face whatever comes after.

    But of course, in fiction staving off death perpetually is always a Bad Thing, and the Fayth grew tired of this. But by this point, Yu Yevon had lost himself, becoming little more than an AI routine powering Sin’s basic functions, and with Sin acting as a kind of anchorpoint they can’t dispel Dream Zanarkand. Perhaps with Yunalesca’s help–is she Unsent? Immortal?–the Fayth convinced some of the Bevelle descendants to carve out a few Fayth and establish a cult to defeat Sin. Unfortunately for the Fayth, Yunalesca just wants a system that will keep her husband alive perpetually: the Fayth provide Aeons that enable summoners and their guardians to grow strong, Yunalesca Fayth-ifies the summoner to transform the guardian into an Aeon that gets consumed by Yu Yevon, who gets stronger with each cycle. That he grows ever more mindless is irrelevant to her desires.

    The core of this is the Aeons, and since we don’t really know how they work we can’t really apply logic to them. You assume that it makes little sense because there must be a finite amount of energy involved, but given the metaphysical, spiritual nature of the powers in play they may actually be functionally infinite so long as they are maintained by an anchor (in this case, Yu Yevon). It’s a bit like fiction involving selling one’s soul to the Devil. Why does the Devil want souls? Since there is no objective, real-world thing called a soul, the rules of souls are whatever the writer wants them to be, laws of physics be damned. Same thing here.

    On the point of the Ronso, Final Fantasy X-2–which I get the impression you dislike–makes them seem battered but alive. Coupled with the peculiar conflict you pick up on here, I wonder if maybe there was some misunderstanding during localization; there’s no evidence besides what Seymour says–not even the party’s reaction, honestly–to suggest that the Ronso are extinct. And while it has flaws, it’s not really like Final Fantasy X to overlook what should be a big emotional moment like that.

    Finally, while they don’t draw attention to it, the Fayth that guides Tidus and seems to be the representative of the collective is the Fayth that powers Bahamut. Again, the relationship between the Aeons and the Fayth is unclear, but I don’t think he is Bahamut.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Small nitpick: Yu Yevon isn’t Yunalesca’s husband; that was Lord Zaon, who became the first Final Aeon, and thence the first Sin, and thence hasn’t existed in a very, very long time.

      Although, I think Yu Yevon is Yunalesca’s father? I could be misremembering that. At any rate, I don’t think Yunalesca cares about Yu Yevon, either; she, like the Yevon church, just earnestly believes that Sin can never be defeated for realsies but that the Pilgrimages need to keep going under that belief so that everyone doesn’t just lose all hope.

  12. So the people of Dream Zamwhatever never had a ton of nightmares as kids, so never learned to recognize and control their dreams? Also, no one in their society ever figured out/encountered anything about lucid dreaming?
    I can kinda buy that. So, I have a theory (I know, you’re all dying of shock :) )
    The kid Tidus is talking to is an avatar of the collective subconscious of these Dream people. While they may be tired of dreaming, the fear of ending/death/change is overwhelming enough to cripple their attempts to do anything, hence sending out Tidus and not asking for a Sending or anything like that.
    That said, bad writing to need a theory to make sense of this stuff in the first place!

    1. Cannongerbil says:

      It’s called a dream but it’s not literally a dream. It’s just the term they use for what’s essentially a cross between the matrix and a hidden elf village. The people within are powering it but they don’t have the admin rights to make changes willy nilly.

  13. This really does make Yu Yevon the King of All Assholes

    The Ur-Asshole.

    The Ur-nal Cavity, if you will.

  14. The Rocketeer says:

    I don’t want to keep litigating this idea forever, but sometime after I floated my opinion that Auron was an asshole, a common counterargument was that, whatever his methods, the red dead guy wasn’t really the one behind his plan, anyway; he’s just following the lead of the fayth, who are all overtaxed after a millennium of dreaming and see an opportunity in the advent of Jecht/Auron/Tidus. A weak and rather diversionary counterargument; it doesn’t actually make any difference to Auron’s character, which is the important part. He’s still omnisciently exploiting everyone’s emotional and spiritual agony, using their ignorance to entrap them into throwing their lives away on a plan they aren’t entitled to know about. At that point, it matters very little to his characterization who originated his scheme. Which is why I hesitate to reopen that discussion; I’ve long let that difference of interpretation drop, and don’t intend to argue it further, nor again.

    On the other hand, I don’t think the basic assumption of that particular counterargument holds up factually, either, and the question of who is really pulling the strings of the narrative is an interesting question- one that I think remains very open, even after collecting the scanty facts. Here at the Gagazet fayth, we start getting evidence to build a case. Auron says (at Bevelle, maybe? I can’t remember exactly) something like, “Yevon doesn’t grant the aeons; the fayth do.” The bigger point at the time is that Yuna et al being excommunicated doesn’t actually affect our Pilgrimage, so she shouldn’t hesitate to receive the new Aeon.

    But Auron’s very right. The fayth are all souls from around the original Zanarkand. It’s not clear whether they were fayth before or during the war with Bevelle, or whether they came afterward, as part of the budding Pilgrimage tradition. Whatever. But either way, they all predate the church as it’s come to be over the past thousand years, they all know the full truth of Sin, Yu Yevon, and Zanarkand, they’re all tired of dreaming as fayth and want to die, and they’re all capable of communicating directly with summoners. The game mainly uses Bahamut Kid for the exposition role, but you also speak directly to Seymour’s Anima mommy, negotiate with the Yojimbo samurai, and… can you speak to the various (obsolete) fayth after revisiting the temples late game? Shoot, I don’t even know anymore. I thought that was a thing. But I’m taking it as an article of faith that just having a normal conversation with a summoner is easy-peasy for fayth.

    So what the hell have they been doing for the last thousand years, callowly going along with the church’s fraudulent dogma and keeping everything under wraps for them? Seriously, what would the church do if the very first thing every summoner heard from their very first fayth was the entire truth of Spiran history, Yu/Yevon, Sin, Yunalesca, and the Final Aeon? Why did the fayth ever go along with the deception in the first place? The fayth could blow the lid off at any time, could have done so any time in the last millennium, have every reason to do so and nothing stopping them… but they keep in line, because that’s how this story needs to function.

    The farther you get into the endgame and the more knowledgeable the player becomes of the truth, the more unlikely and all-encompassing the church’s campaign of secrecy becomes. It requires an ever heavier, ever more perfect suppression of the discovery and spread of knowledge and an ever greater complicity by anyone in a position to threaten it. The revelation that the fayth themselves are more than ready to end everything pushes my reception of this conceit of secrecy over the edge from a construct of the world and setting to a construct of pure author fiat. There is no “but what if…” for any detail of Yevon’s supremacy; the truth needs to be a secret, so it is.

    How much longer would the fayth have kept summoning Dream Zanarkand if Auron, Jecht, Tidus, etc. hadn’t come along? Forever, I guess. I mean, I suppose you can eisegete whatever motivation you want onto the fayth, and say that, like Yunalesca, they just never believed Sin could be ultimately defeated, and kept up with the church out of despair up until they saw enough of Yuna’s potential to relent and throw their hat into the ring later on in the game. That still leaves Auron with all the impetus of the plot. But the very first (eventually) important character Tidus talks to in the Zanarkand prologue is Bahamut Kid, who already knows that Tidus is being brought to Spira (“You can’t tonight.”). So the fayth have been in on it since the beginning. Meaning they intended to use Tidus to subvert the Pilgrimage all along, but, like Auron, said nothing to him, nor to Yuna, that would actually let them in on Auron & co.’s plan, since keeping them in the dark is part of that plan.

    My read of the game’s characterizations wholly discounts that the fayth recruited Auron into their plan, rather than the reverse. I think Auron hiked up Gagazet to the fayth orgy, knocked real loud three times, and taped a note on someone’s petrified buttocks that read, “Tired of this Sin shit, going to Zanarkand, brb. Don’t fuck this up for me.” But that’s a matter of interpretation, not purely of fact. Ultimately, too little is known of the events before the game to say with certainty, “This is who talked to whom, who knew what when, and decided x, y, and z.” It remains an open question. But as the old saying goes, “Circumstantial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk.” The fayth’s characterization as more or less passive stooges, coupled with Auron’s characterization as the ultimate implacable perpetrator of a vendetta, overwhelmingly influence my perception of who likely did all the heavy lifting. Which is orthogonal to the idea that Auron is totally banking on Omniscient Morality License to excuse his methods. But there it is, anyway.

    1. Decius says:

      The faith that are in the temples don’t know the entire truth. The religious order selected them for power and ignorance and kept them in places where it was taboo for any to enter or speak of what they had heard there, and made sure that only the most faithful who were willing to die for their pilgrimage ever went in.

      The wall of fayth past Gagazet are far enough along the pilgrimage that nothing they say gets back to the world except by dead guardians like Auron.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Would you mind backing that up?

        1. Decius says:

          The taboo about guardians entering the chambers of the Fayth is established; everything else is speculation.

    2. Darren says:

      Maybe the Fayth aren’t in agreement on how to resolve the issue and, like the Geth in Mass Effect, have been trying to come to consensus. Remember, the issue isn’t that they are dreaming, it’s that they are tired of dreaming. Presumably, at some point, this all seemed like an OK idea. Heck, maybe it was like the Matrix and they weren’t even aware it was a dream for a long while.

      I’d assume that the church kills anyone who stumbles upon the truth, and the Pilgrimage is, among other things, a convenient excuse to eliminate any summoner who gets too close. The Fayth are buried within the temples, where they can be monitored (and remember, Bahamut’s Fayth is buried in what seems to be a secret area full of forbidden machina; Yevon isn’t about to let them talk to summoners however they please).

      My interpretation is that Jecht was “summoned” out of Dream Zanarkand to see if someone from outside the cycle could break it; Yevon couldn’t control that, they just needed to pick a dream construct with some combat potential and a core of human decency (we’ll just assume that, this being a dream, the Fayth can’t consciously construct a perfect savior). This fails, but Auron knows they are onto the right idea and, much like the government in Ender’s Game, he realizes that the imperfect father might have produced a better candidate in his son, and so takes over the scheme and becomes Tidus’ champion/puppetmaster.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Sure, makes sense to me. Well, except for one part: Yevon isn’t about to let a fayth talk to summoners how they please? Or… what, exactly? Who puts Bahamut Kid in time-out? How? I find it risible that the church could meaningfully coerce compliance from an Aeon, any Aeon, if one suddenly developed a stubborn, talkative streak. Much less multiple aeons, or all of the aeons after becoming collectively fed up with the status quo.

        And you bring up Bevelle’s temple. How does that work for summoners who start in Bevelle, like Braska? Was Bevelle’s the very first temple the notorious BJA saw? How’s that trip usually go?

        It’s much to the game’s benefit that they never bother explaining how Yevon actually keeps anything secret; the sort of infallible awareness, enforcement, and complicity necessary to keep the charade going would necessitate a god on par with the theoretical Yevon. Nailing down any sort of specific about how the conspiracy is supposed to work- or more accurately, how it’s supposed to last- opens up a can of worms the game doesn’t have nearly the time or interest to excavate (especially given the extraordinary sloppiness of the contemporary church, if you don’t presume an egregious decadence not necessarily representative of its history). Even if it does make for a pretty unsatisfying mystery if you stop and examine it. Which you shouldn’t.

        1. Decius says:

          Braska was raised in Bevelle, and learned their flimsy justifications for their apparent contradictions natively. That those flimsy justifications don’t convince anyone else (the audience, Wakka) is TruthInTelevision meets RealityIsUnrealistic.

        2. Alexander The 1st says:

          So I haven’t gotten all the way to all the Aeons and past the giant monster of Mt. Gagazet after this post, but going off of the summoning someone outside of Dream Zanarkand to see if they could break the cycle…perhaps the Fayth *can’t* talk to people who aren’t Fayth, Aeons, or Unsent (To a degree, or maybe not at all for them – see the part about Tidus being a focus below)?

          Given that apparently you can talk to Anima later on, and maybe the others even later – it could be considered a possibility that Tidus, being the Aeon/Fayth deal, is able to act as a focus; specifically, a focus that has to understand that he’s a focus to be able to work as a focus.

          This would explain why Jecht is so happy-go-lucky at the beginning of the journey, but then gets much more depressed at Macalania – perhaps they already got to Mt. Gagazet, Jecht got his speech from Bahamut, and then went and made the spheres after knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to go back?

          Notable that just after that point would be a way for Sin/Jecht to be able to act as a focus for Auron to find Dream Zanarkand, and Bahamut, and all the related details that Auron is let in on.

    3. Ronixis says:

      You can revisit all the Chambers of the Fayth near the end with your party and talk to the Fayth inside (I think they even give you items). In the International version (which all of the non-PS2 releases are based on), at least one of those will lead you to a Dark Aeon fight, though.

  15. Nimrandir says:

    I suppose this means that the Zanarkand where Tidus is from is… an Aeon?

    That’s where Alexander went in this one.

  16. Phantos says:

    I think Square-Enix is under the mistaken impression that more complicated = better. Like they think if people don’t understand it, then it means the story they wrote is just too smart for them to comprehend.

    It ain’t a new problem either. Final Fantasy IV is about a knight working for a corrupt king as he battles with the guilt of his war-crimes… AND THEN YOU GO TO THE MOON!!! to fight your brother after getting help from the dwarves and a guy died but then he survived and you fight a giant robot *fart*

    1. Fred B-C says:

      IV doles out its exposition at a pretty reasonable rate, though. Zemus doesn’t need to control everyone in the world to accomplish his ends of wiping out the human race: he already has his means to do so in the Giant of Babel and he has a perfect pawn in Golbez, who we learn in the DS version was susceptible to Zemus’ influence because he couldn’t learn white magic and because his father was ultimately killed. Golbez’s grief and guilt as a child (or young teen) lets him be influenced by a powerful, sealed force. Golbez spends the subsequent years with all the power of a Lunarian, a superior race, building an army. He in turn is able to control Kain after Kain’s injuries from the Titan (and he knew that Kain and Cecil were sent to deal with the summoners of Mist, one of his few threats, and so it’s perfectly reasonable that with airships his minions could find Kain and Cecil in a short period of time). The world is already established with a strong status quo: Baron’s airships make it the hegemon but it seemed to be relatively peaceful under the rule of Odin, the dwarves are already underground, Fabul and the rest of the kingdoms seem to have trade but mostly keep to themselves and use traditional ships. The only new force disrupting all of that is Zemus, with his pawn Golbez and Golbez’s minions the Four Fiends and Kain. Zemus’ plan is successful for the majority of the game because the people of the Blue Planet have no idea of the true significance of the moon or the Tower of Babel. With a blitzkrieg strike and a few assassinations, starting with killing Odin and taking over the strongest country in the world with a false king, Zemus can eliminate all of his potential threats long enough to gather the Crystals and activate the Tower.

      The only thing you have to really keep track of in FFIV is the machinations of Zemus and whatever poorly-informed counter-moves the people of the Blue Planet have to do. There’s basically two factions: Zemus and everyone who’s anti-Zemus.

      Compare that to Dream Zanarkand/Auron/Jecht/Tidus, acting out some kind of plan with some kind of degree of knowledge that isn’t really that specified; Yu Yevon’s secret plan contrasted with the actions of their unwitting pawns; the Al Bhed, with their totally distinct plan that seems to border on lunacy except for when it doesn’t; Seymour, who’s a fruitcake and a nutjob rolled into one; and Sin/Yevon/Yunalesca themselves. You have multiple competing factions and motivations that aren’t perfectly explained and lots of overlapping secret information.

  17. Volatar says:

    I personally got stuck on all the Seymour fights except the fourth one. They all were points where I had to go back and grind for levels. The fourth might have been hard too if I hadn’t spent 100-odd hours after getting access to the airship just doing side content and grinding like crazy for no reason.

  18. John the Savage says:

    Shamus seems to be confusing “Fayth” with “Unsent” (which is hard to hold against him, honestly). I don’t believe there is any evidence to suggest that the sending ritual will affect the fayth.

  19. Xaos says:

    “SOME KID DIED”

    Oh no! I feel an immediate emotional connection!

    And if they show up again as a hologram, I will immediately nod my head and reflect on how deep and philosophical this whole thing is and nobody will ever be able to convince me of its many, many, many flaws and asspull logic!

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