Few games have frustrated me like Final Fantasy XIII. I mean, I’ve been a die-hard Final Fantasy fan since FF4 (and even still have my SNES cartridge where it’s called “Final Fantasy 2”), and I’ve even been open to changes to the series’ tried-and-true formula like the junction system in FF8. What makes 13 sting so badly is that it had so much promise; despite the complaints about it being totally linear and sporting real-time combat, I loved the first 20 or so hours of the game. Sure, the male characters—Hope in particular—were annoying at times, but there was more than enough good to outweigh the bad. Then the unthinkable happened: everything changed. The linear corridors opened up and the world was suddenly filled with enemies who could one-shot my characters. The brutal difficulty spike didn’t ruin my enjoyment anywhere near as much as the fluff, though. It seemed like every five minutes a character began to doubt themselves in a cutscene, only to have other characters give them an emotional talk about hope and wishes and magic while sappy music played in the background. Rinse and repeat, because apparently the characters in FF13 have short-term memory loss. Even that was nothing compared to the ending, though, it being a mishmash of random events that seem to happen for no reason because the actual reasons behind the end occurrences aren’t actually explained until the later games in the series. It’s just wrong that you aren’t given enough information to understand the final hour or so of the game beyond a lot of convenient stuff suddenly happening for no reason.
This is lazy writing. This is poor game design. This is maddening when the first twenty or so hours of the game were so promising. It’s like binge-eating a delicious cake and having the frosting give way to a writhing mound of worms hidden deep within, ruining the entire thing. Final Fantasy XIII is appallingly stitched together into a Frankenstein’s monster of half-baked lore and “rules of the world” that are left shrouded in mystery, allowing the strangest things to happen at the strangest times and creating so many plot holes as a result that one could be forgiven for thinking that this game’s overarching plot was scrawled out in five minutes by an intern.