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Final Fantasy XVI
This review contains spoilers
At the very end of the final boss, Clive says "The only Fantasy here is yours. And we shall be its Final witness".
I think about the fact that the people who wrote this game are going to move on to work on another game. And that we will get other Jills. Other completely off the mark attempts at depicting political topics. Other side quests trying to convince us that we should be friends with would be dictators who wanted to rebuild a military state because we showed them that people trust us and we're totally cool now.
This fucking sucks.
Biggest disappointment of the year. An AI sequel but you play as an older Mizuki should be one of the easiest home-run game pitches but it's just so fixated on being clever that it forgets to stick the landing on plot, characters, or puzzle design.
ryuki route is GOATED but the game starts to fall apart in the latter half as it drops some very poorly thought-out twists and retcons, and you start to realize that almost every character and plot element is solely designed to service these twists without having much substance in their own right.
the charm from the first game still carries over though and it's a very fun ride, the big picture writing just isn't up to par for uchikoshi standards
Sigh... This kind of sucks to have to give this game a score like this. I LOVED the first AITSF. And I was so excited to finally play an actual sequel. There was so much room for this to be even greater than the original but... sadly it's not here.
For what it’s worth, this game starts off on a great note. This game is separated in two halves. The first half you play as Ryuki and his AI companion Tama, new original characters in this title. In the latter, you play as Mizuki and Aiba who are from the original. The first half is excellent. It feels like more of what made the first game great, but now from a vastly different, and perhaps even more complex, type of protag than Date. Just as likable as well. Tama is also a fun companion that has some goofy and sweet moments with him. They feel like a good duo who offer different values to the case. Then the second half happens…
Despite Mizuki being the big mascot protag of this sequel, she is AMAZINGLY a step down as a protagonist. I never found her all that compelling. She was great as a supporting member of the cast in the original, but having her lead the story here just never felt as good as Date, or Ryuki. To make it worse, Aiba is BORING AS HELL. Strangely enough, Aiba feels more robotic and two-dimensional here than she does in the original. Uchikoshi basically completed her whole character arc in the first and now she’s just… here. She has minimal chemistry with Mizuki, and it never felt like she had an importance in things beyond just literally being a vessel for the Somnia stuff or assisting Mizuki with her AI capabilities.
Because of all that missing in the second half, it really starts to make you see all the abundant flaws with this game. It’s repetitive as all hell and filled with almost pointless filler to eat up the game’s runtime to I guess… make it feel like Mizuki is making more massive revelations in the mystery? Like, there’s literally a massive serial murder case going on but then the game is like, “wait we have to psync with these people because they’re upset about their love relationship.” Like, are you fucking serious? This game will have you talking to people and randomly examining things for like a good hour or two just so you can FINALLY get something worthwhile out of it. The game just has severe pacing issues. And don’t even get me started on all the pointlessly stupid and unneeded action sequences where you do QTEs fighting a hundred enemies.
The somnia gameplay stuff is an improvement for sure. There’s a little more variety in stuff you do in them. That being said, I feel that the game relies far too much on the somnia stuff in its plot. To the point that it just gets annoying that so much of solving the mystery relies on it. I wouldn’t have minded a few of the somnia levels in this being cut in favor of writing something with a little more effort. Weirdly enough, the last somnia level throws in this evidence mechanic and it just made me scratch my head in confusion. Idk why they didn’t bother to utilize that mechanic throughout all of the game. It would have made Somnia stuff a lot more interesting, while also actually making it feel like you’re solving this stuff and deciphering it. Not just observing.
I don’t have too much to say about the cast. It’s okay. Probably better than the original all things considered, but that’s not saying much. As for returning characters, they’re all far more uninteresting than they used to be and mostly unimportant except Date who is still a total lovable chad. The new characters are all a bit more complex so I guess that’s nice. I still didn’t care much for any of them though to be honest.
For Uchikoshi, this feels like a really messy mystery. There’s one twist in here that I thought was super clever. The rest is kind of mediocre if, albeit, still very wacky and creative. The villains just don’t have enough intrigue and ultimately, when it all becomes clear to the player, you’ll still feel underwhelmed by the culprit since they’re so boringly written and without much depth to their motives. It felt like Uchikoshi started off with a neat premise, but it just falls through and never leaves the same level of awe as the original AITSF. In some ways, Nirvana Initiative exceeds the original game. But it’s mostly just a disappointing dud.
I feel like I got trolled for 60 hours straight, extremely boring, repetitive gameplay that just dulls the experience of an otherwise decent story (but not particularly good by any extent). I kept playing hoping the game would improve but every ending after the first is playing through the same boring dungeons and bosses for a couple minutes of extra cutscenes that don't even add too much to what was already established in the first playthrough
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