Sunday, February 23, 2014

Good in spite of itself

Lightning Returns, at first blush, takes chances with its combat. Only having one character and having to swap the traditional roles in the middle of combat certainly sounds interesting. With greater enemy variety it might have been but in practice most encounters play out the same way. Lead outfit debuffs, second outfit stuns (hopefully) and third does damage. Repeat until dead. This would be easier to stomach if there was any sort of character or ability progressing, but there isn't.

New abilities are dropped by enemies and they are dropped often but most of them are useless. Unless the spell or attack has a passive ability it is not worth equipping and those are few and far between. I have been using the same attack on my melee Lightning for most of the game and there has been no reason to change it. I almost wish that, twenty some hours of gameplay ago, I didn't start over on easy but started over on Normal instead, though I know that the final boss fight will be all sorts of nonsense. This is still a Final Fantasy game, after all.

Outside of the so so combat I have been enjoying the game. I am a sucker for goodbyes and this game is full of them. Old characters are trotted out, Lightning comes to some sort of epiphany with them after saving their soul and there is either a plot explanation that I do not understand or a twist that I do no understand, either. Lightning herself has yet to go through any development; she started out as a female Solid Snake with a big sword and armor that was missing key pieces and will probably finish the game that way. That's okay, it works for her. One old friend that I will not name actually pokes fun at her for this, saying that if Lightning would have jumped into her arms when they were reunited she wouldn't have believed that it was her.

She is the center of the story, right in the center of the middling combat, ridiculous plot, fetch quests and unwelcome time mechanic, and she manages to hold it all together. Without Lightning this would be an average RPG at best. With her it is proof that the character is sound and that she deserves a better game for her send off.

An action game not by Square. Like Bayonetta, just without Bayonetta. Now we are on to something.


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