Seriously, this is entirely spoiler-ridden. Don’t read it if you care in any way about the FFXIII sequence. All you need to know is that I really didn’t like the way this game ended.
First, a little backstory:
I clocked in well over 100 hours on FFXIII to earn 100% of the achievements. I’ve criticized it plenty, but overall I was satisfied with the way it ended. I was surprised to see a sequel being made, because it ended with such great closure, but I looked forward to a game which might be more fun to play (I didn’t care much for how easy the battle system was in XIII, since in the main story you didn’t need to rely on paradigm shifts often and could complete almost the entire game pressing only the “A” button during fights).
After almost 60 hours (including grinding to max level) I have just completed XIII-2’s story. I’m about to play the Requiem of the Goddess DLC but I already know that neither that nor the “secret” paradox ending of the game actually changes the way XIII-2 ends.
Anyhow, I’m kind of pissed off. And I know that’s neither original nor news to anyone who has finished the game and discussed it, but I needed to vent somewhere.
I hate that Serah died but I accept that it was actually inevitable based on the Eyes of Etro thing. Had the game concluded with Serah being dead, perhaps a funeral or something, I could have even called it a good ending.
Instead, we get something remarkably terrible: an ending which not only renders every action you’ve taken in the entire game meaningless, resulting in utter and complete failure of the goals you as the player have been chasing for, again, dozens of hours, but which entirely destroys the good, cathartic ending of the first game in such a way as to make anyone who actually liked that game wish that no sequel had ever been made.
And to add insult to injury, you are asked to buy another full game if you want a chance at getting back any of the good feeling or emotional closure which the first game gave you and this game stole away.
Lightning Returns had better be freaking amazing. All the characters I’d come to care about were alive, happy, and victorious at the end of XIII. If I don’t get that restored to me by the end of the third game, then these two sequels were beyond uncalled for. For now, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a textbook argument for why you shouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken.
It’s funny because I actually really enjoyed the game. It was vastly more playable than the first. But that ending ruined the entire experience for me, and stripped any desire I may have had to go back and invest more time in further, equally unsatisfying paradox endings. Just last night I was recommending this game to a friend. Now I wish I had never played the game at all.