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THE ENDGAME: Final Dungeons of the Final Fantasy Series Part XIII

by November 13, 2010 2 comments

Final Fantasy XIII: Orphan’s Cradle

After you fled Cocoon and your Focus, Barthandelus tracked you down, saying he had another plan to destroy Cocoon. Knowing that this IN NO WAY COULD BE A TRAP, your valiant party returned to Cocoon in spectacular fashion, even showing up the aerial assault on Sin in FFX. After storming through Eden in an intense, least-subtle-as-possible attack run, you arrive at the heart of Eden where Barthandelus has manipulated the Cavalry into going after Orphan, what he originally had in mind for you. So now you must head deep into the source of Cocoon’s power stop them, and kill Barthandelus.

Or at least cut his nails.

Heading to where Orphan resides is referred to for the better part of the game as the object of your Focus. The specific area was not built up, but despite the l’Cie’s best efforts, you have felt it creeping nearer and nearer. This is a rare occasion where the party is actually seeking not to head to the final dungeon for most of the game, at least until they fall into the obvious trap decide to go after the enemy.

One thing that is unquestionably unique about this dungeon is that just about the entire thing takes place in one room. A bizarre, trippy room for sure, but it is just a single area. But that isn’t quite as terrible as it sounds. As with many final areas you do appear to be teetering on the edge of existence, and this one does especially so with platforms zooming past you; sometimes the party hitches rides on the moving ones.

Its most interesting feature is that the Tesseracts, as the area is called, constantly rearranges itself to change where you go and how you get there. For example, here are two orientations:

A tesseract, incidently, is the four-dimensional version of a cube. Appropriate.

It makes for a pretty cool effect, and recreates that “lost” feeling you get in the Rift. Turn around and what was there isn’t any longer. Angelic fal’cie move you around through teleportation or reconfiguring the area. It is rather hard to say how you know that you are making progress, it feels like the room could just rearrange itself forever and you could never get anywhere which is unsettling.

Of course, Barthandelus wants you to get through so you’re welcome to take solace in that, I suppose. That doesn’t mean he’s going to prevent you from being harassed by enemies though. The Cavalry that served to lure you here (*SHOCKED*) have been turned into a new variety of Cie’th which shamble throughout the moving platforms. Final Fantasy XIII can be reasonably difficult and Orphan’s Cradle contains some of the most punishing combinations of enemies in the game. And since you are only able to level up so far before beating the final boss, they will always present a challenge. There is also a boss gauntlet consisting of three bosses all of which are very high powered and require a different strategy to conquer.

After forcing your way through you arrive at the Narthex before heading into the final battle. The graphics are of course very vivid and pretty the whole way through and the dramatic shift in scenery from the utterly chaotic Tesseracts to the jarringly serene Narthex can really enthrall you despite that there are only two areas. Unfortunately, the music will not. After peaking with Judgment Day, the series has descended to very ambient endgame tracks and it is not the better for it, in my opinion. It is ominous, I have decided while listening to the track on its own, but I honestly would not have been able to tell you that from playing the game, it is just white noise.

One thing I have learned writing this series is that final dungeons have a way of amplifying a game’s strengths and weaknesses. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Final Fantasy XIII. With the exception of the music (in an otherwise above average soundtrack), everything that people love and hate about XIII is on full display in Orphan’s Cradle. The graphics are very pretty, but there is minimal variety in the dungeon: only the bosses take place in different, cathedral-esque areas. At the same time, this endgame really capitalizes on the strategic nature of the game’s battle system and you must exhibit mastery to come out alive.

Go on and defy your fate. Accomplish what everyone thought impossible.

“Come on man, just let me feel one.”

Next up, the passages of time take us to our next dungeon in the world of Pulse, 500 years into the future.

2 comments

  1. Wostvely
    #1 Wostvely 13 November, 2010, 01:37

    Good job. Too bad I don’t hava a PS3 🙁

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  2. Sephiroth_Owa13
    #2 Sephiroth_Owa13 13 November, 2010, 10:02

    Aw, not going to touch on FFXI? Well, I’m sure it would be kind of hard since there’s no real end to XI. Just end game areas.

    But I personally didn’t like XIII’s end game. I felt like I was trapped and wanted to get out of there asap. And you’re right … I really don’t remember the music … I remember VII, VIII, IX and even X’s, but I can’t remember XIII’s.

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