Ride, (the) Lightning

My (well, our) review of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is up. It looks like the score I gave it will be at the high end of the aggregate spectrum, which is fairly unusual for me, but to be honest I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the game. I expected to like it well enough based on demos, but for the first five hours or so I didn’t enjoy it very much. Somewhere along the way, though, it all kind of clicked for me. I ended up scoring it a full star higher than I was thinking would be the case a few hours into the game; in fact, you’ll be hear my ambivalence about the score in next week’s episode of Retronauts, which was recorded at around the 10-hour mark of my LR review session. I was still on the fence about it then, but now I can say I genuinely like the stupid game… while also being frank about the fact that, yes, it is pretty stupid.


On the other hand, how many games can you play as the savior of humanity while wearing a ball gown and decorative faerie wings?


Clearly I was meant to save the world in a pretty dress, since there’s a special sidesaddle chocobo-riding animation specifically for that one costume (out of the several dozen available in the game). Lightning Returns is super weird like that, but in the end that’s why I like it. I mean, I said as much in a preview, but honestly I was kind of just making conversation. Turns out I was more correct than I knew.

6 thoughts on “Ride, (the) Lightning

  1. After reading a few of the reviews, I feel I’m ready to take this game on its own terms. I thought XIII and XIII-2 were stupid, too, but knowing that going in, I’m guessing that I can temper my expectations a little better and just enjoy the ride

  2. Heck pretty much all the direct FF sequel games are unabashedly stupid in plot and tone, but most are fun games if you can just go with it. Looking forward to this, though I’m probably gonna put a lot more time into Bravely Default before I dig in.

  3. I’ve always wanted to get into the FFXIII series of games but general apathy has kept that from being a reality. I’ve seen almost nothing but bad press for LR, so I’m happy that someone’s not as dour about this entry.

  4. The general criticism that I’m reading is the story is a complete mess. Game play is servicable to good depending on who you read.

    What is weird to me is that story was a weak point with XIII, XIII-2 and now LR. When Square Enix decides to release a video explaining the story leading up to LR, I think that is indicative of a problem. Surely plot and story was a known concern going into LR development. And from what I’ve read little progress is made in story telling from XIII to LR. That is disappointing.

    I don’t think FF games in general have great story lines. But of the ones I’ve played I can give the broad story outlines to the games. FFXIII with its La’cie and Fa’cie lost me pretty early on.

    I played through XIII and XIII-2 and enjoyed them. I will pick up LR eventually. But I am disappointed that story telling at a basic level continues to be a problem with the series.

  5. Matsuno came to mind as I was reading you’re Lightning returns review because of the similarities you were able to pick up on between the game and FF XII. Unsung Story only has two days left to meet it’s goal guys!

  6. While I was turned off by the gameplay I tried in the XIII-2 demo* a while back and I’m not exactly in a rush to play the original XIII because it’s the polar opposite of the kind of RPGs I like, hearing that Lightning Returns has much more hands-on combat and is more a tri-Ace game than a Final Fantasy is all I really needed to know to be more willing to give it a chance. While tri-Ace games are pretty messy, more often than not they have much more interesting stuff going for the gameplay than other RPGs do.

    * I just felt so disconnected from XIII-2’s combat ‘cuz my primary role was babysitting which AI builds my characters used and it felt like the actual commands I selected didn’t really matter much.

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