Final Fantasy XVI marks the first M-rated Final Fantasy game. Plenty of video games have told dark and bleak stories through a lighter tone and colorful visual identity, but I think there’s something to be said for game developers choosing to go all the way with telling a mature and adult storyline with the appropriate gravitas.
Final Fantasy XVI takes full advantage of its Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings influences, leaving behind the common trappings of clunky, unnatural dialogue typical of JRPGs in favor of something more nuanced and intriguing. It overjoys me when the characters speak naturally and avoid cliché clunkers like “be that as it may” or “setting that aside.” The dialogue is organic and meaningful, commanding the player’s attention in every conversation.
The game also takes full advantage of the intense violence and vulnerable intimacy it can portray to explore its deeply flawed and realistic characters, often pushing them to the brink in ways previous games couldn’t do. Final Fantasy XVI is smart about its depiction of violence or intimacy, though; it’s not gratuitous, and it doesn’t exist just for shock value. The presence of violence and intimacy adds to the story and worldbuilding while contributing to the characters and their arcs.
The story is complex, yet compelling and engaging. Even more impressive, the writing is sharp and truly excellent, and it does not pander to the player. The Active Time Lore is a very nice gameplay feature, but it’s designed for the player to refer to on their own time. The game doesn’t waste the player’s time with lengthy exposition. Characters convey important information through sparse, back-and-forth exchanges. At every turn, Final Fantasy XVI is not afraid to take incredibly dark and uncomfortable turns to tell the story it wants to tell, and it’s striking.
It reminds me of Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions. Both of these game’s storylines feature political intrigue, tentative alliances, and assassinations and betrayals. It’s great stuff. But Final Fantasy XII suffers from Vaan being positioned as the main protagonist as opposed to Ashe or Basch, and War of the Lions is a lesser known spinoff that often doesn’t get the love it deserves.
Final Fantasy XVI is a natural evolution of both of these games, and its sophisticated and thought-provoking approach to its storytelling and character development helps it stand out against its predecessors. For me, Final Fantasy XVI absolutely earns its spot as the first M-rated Final Fantasy game.
Do you think Final Fantasy XVI earns its M-rating? Let us know in the comments, or join us at the Boss Rush Discord!
Featured Image: Square Enix
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