Often times in a trilogy of games, the last entry ends up falling short. With Lightning Returns being the last entry to the Final Fantasy XIII series that started several years ago, it’s sad to say that it’s the game that fails to conclude the series with a bang. For fans who have been highly anticipating this game since it was announced, it would be better to tone down the expectations to prevent a huge disappointment.
Compared to the past two Final Fantasy XIII titles, Lightning Returns offers the most weakest, and probably the most dumbest story ever created in the series. Five hundred years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning has become the Savior that was sent by God to save humankind from the doomsday caused by Chaos. She literally only has thirteen days to save the souls of people and to do that, she must do all sorts of requests from people. In the two weeks given to Lightning, different things will start happening with the plot becoming cheesy and predictable along the way. In the hours that I’ve spent in the game, I find the story to be generic and unable to offer anything new to the table that revolutionizes the story in the RPG genre.
While the story may seem disappointing, the game shines in the combat system aspect. Gamers who enjoyed the Paradigm Shift combat system introduced in past games, they will be pleased to know that it’s back in Lightning Returns with vast improvements. Taking the “Dress Sphere” idea from Final Fantasy X-2, Lightning now has the ability to change outfits and abilities by pressing the shoulder buttons. Depending on the situation in battle, players can switch up to three preset outfits called “Schema” where some will give her advantages if she uses magics or melee attacks. What’s good in Lightning Returns compared to Final Fantasy X-2 is that Lightning can wear outfits that past Final Fantasy characters wore. She can wear outfits of Cloud from Final Fantasy VIII or Yuna from Final Fantasy X/X-2. Please note that when changing outfits, your stats change too.
Throughout the game, players will be forced in using Schema. As bosses get tougher, even random encounters, players will be spending time customizing Lightning’s Schema. While each Schema has a preset of abilities equipped, players are free to alter it and change it to their liking. If you are used to easy battles before, prepare to die a lot on this one since even random encounters will give you a hard time if players don’t know how to stagger enemies and mix their attacks.
When it comes to the gameplay, players will either love it or be turned off. In my case, It was a mixed reaction. The gameplay offered in Lightning Returns is totally different than the one we are accustomed to in a Final Fantasy game. We pretty much have thirteen days to do what must be done for Lightning to save the world. For the first half hour that you will be spending in the game, you will feel that pressured to rush through things that you must do everything as soon as possible. But as soon as you are nearing the end of the game, things will start to slow down and will realize that time isn’t really a factor. The shift is really annoying but if you have been doing quests and other things, you will be given the time you need.
There are a lot of side-quests in Lightning Returns. While that may seem like a good thing, players will be disappointed to know that majority of them are bland and boring. Most of the characters that requires Lightning’s help shows no personality at all and the requests that they ask are pretty stupid most of the time. Lightning will pretty much be asked to do simple things like finding someone, collecting a certain item or defeating an enemy – that’s how sidequests pretty much are in this game. Well, if you think that’s fine, wait until you hear that the areas that you will be going through will be limited so if you love doing quests. Not to mention some quests are done in the same areas over and over again.