What does it mean to be free? What would you do with your newfound freedom? More importantly, what would you sacrifice to achieve that freedom? Final Fantasy XVI asks those questions as the cast does their best to fight for their dreams. The story digs down into the themes of repression, discrimination, and fighting for what you believe in. This game doesn’t hold back from the central themes, deconstructing topics and making you see the good and the bad. Seeing the pain that characters deal with and the impact it has pushes the story forward. You can’t help but want to know what happens next.
Final Fantasy XVI puts away the traditional Active Time Battle system for real-time combat. You aren’t just casting spells and taking damage. Instead, you are an active participant that moves around the battlefield. Utilize every advantage you have to defeat your enemies and choose a fighting style that works for you. If you ever hated taking attacks and wondering why you can’t just dodge, this Final Fantasy gives you exactly that. It’s a change you must adapt to, but it’s hard to think about going back to turn-based combat after the exhilarating boss fights you’ll find here. There are also plenty of choices when it comes to skills that let you fight as you want. Whether you like multi-target combat, dodge-based counters, precision attacks, flashy combos, or parrying, there’s something for everyone.
The game is gorgeous and the cutscenes are amazing. Seeing the Eikons in action is one of the best moments in the game, pushing the visual power of the PS5. You can also hear the emotion in every person you meet, which makes their intent clear. It also juxtaposes how destitute and hopeless the world is; Final Fantasy XVI provides a powerful contrast in the hope you can hear in these character’s voices. Final Fantasy XVI isn’t afraid to touch on darker areas which gives it great storytelling power, and it’s great to see the cast go along with it. Every emotion, every struggle, and every concern is real, and that’s what makes this game stand out from the rest.
Final Fantasy XVI is just one of GameLuster’s seven Game of the Year nominees for 2023. Make sure to check out our other nominations for this award and many more in the Lusties 2023!