Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII review

The Fabula Nova Crystallis project by Square Enix, as ambitious as it is confusing and a cause of rupture between fans and the saga, is enriched with a new title. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII looks like the final chapter of the Lightning saga. Difficult to recover after two chapters that presented intangible stories and failed at the base, not guaranteeing adequate immersion in the game world and a cinematic approach that made many turn up their noses. The (necessary) sequel to Final Fantasy XIII-2, is by admission of Square Enix itself an action-JRPG spin-off. The latest Lightning adventure, which we find renewed in "design", clothing and powers, presents the return of familiar faces and new faces in a finally winning narrative mix? The player's task will be to save the world that is slowly approaching - but not too much - at the end after falling into the hands of Chaos. With this chapter, will Square Enix be able to save the reputation of the world and of the characters that are the fruit of the minds of Toriyama, Nojima and Nomura?



500 years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning returns awakening from its crystal sleep. Called on what remains of the world by the god Bhunivelze who makes her the "savior". A world in which nothing and no one (or almost) is born or grows old anymore, but in which one can still die from illnesses and injuries. His task, as the name suggests, is to save as many souls as possible before the end of the world itself, by accumulating Eradia. The Eradia is in fact the fulcrum of Lightning's role, every time she saves a soul she gets this energy that makes her stronger and allows her to ward off the end of the world.. How did the god Bhunivelze manage to convince Lightning to help him? Simply with the promise to see her sister Serah again once the arduous task has been completed with the few days available and no one to help her, apart from some occasional supporting actors. To extend the life of the world from seven to thirteen days, the pink-haired heroine (or rather the player) will have to plan every move and discern which main and secondary missions to complete (and therefore which souls to save). The implementation of the day and night linked to the clock presents two possible situations for the locations of the game: during the day for most of the places you can get secondary missions, at night the presence of monsters increases and the NPCs responsible for the missions vanish . With this background scenario we find the system of main missions that can be faced freely and in any order. They will lead us to meet again old acquaintances to be saved, whose soul "weighs" more than others (and this is a contradiction to the rule that was given to us at the beginning of the game that quantity is better than quality). The freedom in the execution of the main missions allows you to tackle several at the same time, optimizing the time available (from personal experience, up to 3 can be completed in a single day). Unfortunately, here we see the second great contradiction of the game: in the face of missions with an important narrative impact, there will be no variations in the game experience, even in the most banal way possible, such as in the dialogues. As mentioned, time is a fundamental feature and a resource that cannot help but diminish, except on the Ark where Hope - acting as petulant assistant as Ocarina of Time's Navi, if not more - awaits us punctually every day at 6 o'clock. : 00.

Taking into consideration the characters that we are going to meet, we notice how they repeat the same behavioral patterns observed previously (including Lightning herself in large part). This makes the whole game a kind of immense "recap" on the events of the previous chapters before the conclusion. If you add to this an average flat and dull narrative plot (also due to new characters that do not emerge during the game) with few twists and for the most part predictable, it is evident how Lightning Returns only served to give a conclusion to the "good and best" to the odyssey of the crystals of Final Fantasy XIII.


As Square Enix has not struggled to point out over the months, in Lightning Returns a central role is played by the costumes, or rather the interchangeable “Assets” of Lightning battle. System halfway between equipment and development whose existence, with related reasons, is not linked to the game world. In particular, an Asset is composed of: Costume, Weapon, two accessories, Shield and 4 skills. From the costume you mainly get the amount of initial ATB and an increase in the maximum ATB, some also have characteristic self-abilities, which obviously makes some costumes useless and obsolete in a short time, especially if you consider the fact that all costumes can be bind any skill, weapon and shield at your disposal. The 4 skills, on the other hand, are linked to the buttons on the Joypad: they are largely customizable, except for some costumes that have pre-assigned spaces. Another small part of the development system passes through the skills: in fact, there are versions of the same that increase one or more parameters in a more or less significant way. Through Synthesis it will also be possible to enhance the various skills (pairing them with others of the same level and of the same level), up to a maximum limit that, once reached, will allow the expansion (i.e. the level-up) of the skill itself. Note that the expansion is not available from the beginning, but only after a certain day, the reason here too is not explained and sounds like nonsense. It should be noted that the absence of some healing spells (such as Energy) among the abilities weighs particularly during the game, especially if you face the greater difficulties, however compensated by the use of healing objects (whose supply is limited) and by the Energiga technique. .

What is not done by the skills is compensated by the Techniques of the "savior". They take advantage of the PE (energy points) and offer variants in battle such as Discronia (ability that allows you to attack quickly) or Energiga (heals all the HP) or the now inevitable - when it comes to Lightning - Furious Carousel. Or "services" like Regression (allows you to escape from battle, consuming hours of time at higher difficulties), Teleportation, and the all-important Chronostasis, which stops the clock but not the game world. Note that at higher difficulties the XP required to perform the techniques also increases. XP recharges when returning to the Ark or partially winning battles.

The real highlight of Lightning returns is the development system, which interpenetrates well with what is the purpose of Lightning and ties in with the plot. As previously said, for each soul (more or less "important") saved our heroine as well as any costumes, weapons, accessories, ornaments and guil will get Eradia, the energy necessary to postpone the end of the world. This energy will also be accumulated in Lightning and this will make it stronger by enhancing to a lesser or greater extent the main parameters (all or only some): HP, physical Pot, magic, and more rarely ATB Max, PE or Healing Reserve. From this it is clear that in reality saving souls is not so much a charitable mission as a necessity to better face the battles. Unfortunately, most of the secondary missions are simple and undemanding.

The core of the combat gameplay is similar to that of the previous chapters: the Crisis. It will be necessary to send opponents into Crisis and then damage them considerably. The ways to send the enemy into crisis are more varied than in the predecessors. In addition to the use of spells and physical attacks at more or less opportune moments (for example when an enemy is about to attack or has just done so) some enemies are particularly weak at Blocking.
Through Blocking you can reduce the damage suffered by enemies and with a little timing stop the attacks completely (as well as with Dexterity you can dodge enemy attacks). The real-time combat system consumes the ATB when the skills are performed and it is possible to change the attitudes using the backbones, thus taking advantage of different abilities and the ATB load of the other assets. However, due to the possibility of using any skill with any set-up, on balance the change of the latter is mainly used to exploit a greater amount of ATB. The behavioral pattern during the battle will always remain the same.

The variety of monsters, considering the few locations present, is quite wide. Despite some enemies that will be repeated (such as Gremlins or Gnaws) in various places, in all other environments the monsters characterize the fauna well. Once you have eliminated all the monsters of a race (or rather, once you have eliminated a certain amount of equal enemies) since no more beings are born in this world, you will face "the last of the species" called "Omega enemy".

If you want to restart the game, you can use the “New Game +” option, applicable in three distinct ways: defeat, surrender and victory; it is obtained through defeat failing to expand the life of the world until the thirteenth day, through surrender instead using a particular hourglass that allows you to return to day 1. The first of these hourglasses is available in the final dungeon, whose peak of difficulty seems motivated by the fact of wanting to punish those who have not taken seriously the role of Lightning's savior. In these two ways in the new game you will be able to transfer parameters, objects, costumes and almost all weapons / shields. This could suggest a sort of “trial and error” approach considering also the time limit. If, on the other hand, the "New Game +" is obtained through victory (ie after defeating the final boss), the difficult mode will be unlocked, an object to break the damage limit and the possibility of upgrading weapons (similar to the predecessors) mentioned for this. last is not given a motivation for inclusion only in the "New Game +" castrating in fact the first gaming experience. By tackling the missions already performed again you will also get a reduced bonus but we will still be able to continue to enhance our heroine.


From the first glance, the technical realization of Lightning Returns had left us amazed, obviously in negative. In fact, if stylistically the settings can be suggestive and well designed, the final product gives the idea of ​​a game of the beginning of the generation (not to say of the old generation). The only polygonal model and the only textures that stand out for brilliance and realization are those of Lightning, which even more make evident the flatness and mediocrity of what surrounds them. The management of the AI ​​of the inhabitants of the cities is just as trivial and although sometimes the actions performed are appropriate to the context (even if the animations are nothing short of amateur) other times they seem to have been set randomly and are out of place. The soundtrack borders on sufficiency by not offering prominent pieces as the previous chapters had done, thus resulting uninspired (apart from the occasional tributes to other chapters of the saga). The well-sampled sound effects and the well-made dubbing (at least the English one) still save the audio sector.


As with other PS3 / 360 games, In Lightning Returns, online features connected to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have been implemented. Through applications it is possible to connect your PSN / Xbox Live account and share game images to be accompanied with a comment at the user's discretion. Instead, within the game itself, through the empyrean (to be activated or deactivated from the Options). In particular, we will meet the so-called "messengers" characterized by a blue icon and nickname. They can report a snapshot (which can be a clue / solution to a quest or a simple panoramic photo), a message or an object, called surprise and which will be purchasable by those who see and interact with the messenger.

Verdict 6.5 / 10 The worthy end of Lightning. Comment Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII closes the saga of Lightning and companions presenting itself as an immense recap. If the banal plot does not present noteworthy ideas and all the twists are predictable, the gameplay that abandons any turn-based J-RPG ambition shows itself as one of the best of all the spin-off action of the saga and the development one. it is certainly the best of those in the trilogy. The insufficient technical level could make someone turn up their noses, but it must be said that exploratory freedom is partly worth the candle. Despite its great gaps and nonsense, however, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the best of the trilogy, despite Hope. Pros and cons Solid gameplay ...
High replayability ...
Many dresses ...
"Interesting Online Component. x Gameplay that presents gaps and nonsense.
x Forced replayability.
x Mostly useless clothes.
x Inadequate technical level.
x Hope.

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