The thirteenth entry in the ubiquitous series is hands-down the most divisive. Unquestionably the Xenosaga fan’s Final Fantasy, XIII buoys its story on the back of an insane amount of cutscenes. For the majority of the game, movement is contained in gloriously rendered, yet painfully linear areas, between said cutscenes. The focus, in the beginning, is on moving the story forward and teaching you the intricacies of the highly kinetic battle system. The story does take a long time to get moving, and the potential of the battle system cannot be witnessed until late in the game when you finally get access to the entire party and everyone can start learning all 6 roles, as opposed to their native 3.
If you have a great deal of patience and can appreciate that the confusion inherent to much of the story is intentional--in service of the overarching metaphor--then you should be able to enjoy yourself until the game opens up in the eleventh chapter (of, you guessed it, thirteen). At this time, you can take advantage of a good percentage of the optional hunts presented to you, if you prepare accordingly. The more challenging hunts can only be taken on successfully after a final set of upgrades is presented post-game. XIII rewards fans of its battle system both before and after the credits roll.
One should be aware that the story begins in media res and characters do not always relay all important information outloud. It pays off greatly to read the voluminous datalog that is provided, as well as the vignettes presented with each hunt, which provide further insight into the denizens of the game.
Focusing on what happens when you are suddenly and violently excluded from society, your home, family, and friends and enslaved by a fate you seem completely unable to change, XIII embodies a premise that transcends its literal presentation and has the potential to speak to so many players.
With one of the smallest and most well realized casts in the series’ history, XIII delivers a simplified jrpg experience for those willing to take the time to appreciate it. If you want high degrees of freedom, go play the Fallout or Elder Scrolls series. This game should not be criticized for what it isn’t (and people in the West have become accustomed to), but celebrated for what it is.
Available on the PS3 and Xbox 360. It’s unfairly cheap, these days.
5 Unclear Focuses out of 5
Nutted by NEG