Final Fantasy X is an amazing game, not only in its presentation and world, but also its story, characters, and overall message about the importance of life. Everything about it (possibly besides its voice acting coming off somewhat awkward) just shows how much passion and thought went into every part of the game. But I digress, let me explain the story first.
The story starts with Tidus, the star player and very famous Blitzball player for his home team, the Zanarkand Abes. Tidus is the son of Jecht, who was known as the greatest player in the sport to ever live, and even Tidus’s skill is nothing compared to him. While Tidus thinks about his issues with his father that are explained later, his thoughts are interrupted when the game begins and he heads off to play.
Blitzball is essentially underwater rugby, but being played in a sphere of water that is upheld by “Machina,” which is essentially modern technology. Zanarkand is somewhat futuristic, but for the most part, they rely on this Machina to sustain their daily needs. Suddenly, Tidus’s game is interrupted when a large alien monster appears and destroys all of Zanarkand. In the chaos, Tidus manages to find Auron, an introverted old samurai that seems to have a history with.
Following Auron to what he assumes is safety, they are forced to fight through monsters that seem to spawn from the creature attacking. This creature is apparently called “Sin”, and is basically a wandering agent of destruction and chaos. Sin then begins to create a black-hole type vortex, and Auron suspiciously lifts Tidus into it, leaving him with a cryptic message: “This is your story.” Tidus then wakes up in a foreign land, 1000 years in the future, with no clue what happened, or where he is. The story then expands from there.
Eventually, Tidus becomes a Guardians alongside existing Guardians Wakka, the Blitzball coach, Lulu, who seems to have ties to Wakka, Khimari, a member of the Ronso (which are big horned panthers pretty much), Rikku, an Al Bhed (scrutinized people who use Machina in the new world Tidus finds himself in), and eventually Auron even joins. Their job is to protect Yuna, the daughter of Lord Brasca, who was a renowned summoner. Auron was Guardian for Lord Brasca, and sees it as a debt to help Yuna as well since he is still alive. She wants to become a Summoner like her father, and wishes to help the people of Spira by becoming a Summoner and defeating Sin. Summoners are religious leaders that worship their god, Yevon. Through this god’s blessings, the Summoner acquires Aeons, magical beasts to help defeat Sin as they travel on a pilgrimage across the world to gain the power that they need to defeat Sin, and bring a period of peace, known as The Calm.
The gameplay itself is much more strategic, as for this game you have a clearly defined turn order rather than waiting for a gauge to fill or waiting for your turn. The turn order is defined by each characters stats, and through this, fights can be manipulated greatly. Characters do not immediately get major increases in stats when leveling up, but rather gain points to use to progress through the Sphere Grid, which is the main source of advancement. Characters can learn abilities, get increases in their different stat values, or learn magic. The way the sphere grid is designed is for any character to be played the way the individual player wants to play them. Armor grants bonuses based in what it is, and can even be enhanced later on. You are also able to freely swap party members on any given turn, allowing for more customization and variety overall. It’s very easy to understand (maybe not the Sphere Grid though) and makes combat very strategic.
The main themes of this game are very heavy-handed. While it does handle the standard life lessons of previous entries, this one delves into something much more human than I thought it would be. It delves into relationships, the grim realization of mortality, religious prejudice, and even subjects of emotional abuse. For a game so wacky in its premise, it really surprised me with its oddly relatable issues between the characters. Tidus himself is also a very big discussion point in the game as well. Tidus is a very emotional person, for better or for worse. He lets his emotions get the better of him, and this causes him to make mistakes, say the wrong thing, or read the situation immaturely. This is, at least in my opinion… surprisingly real.
People let their emotions get the better if them all of the time in reality, and it certainly helps these emotions be conveyed through the soundtrack as well (I hope that was a decent segue). I really enjoy the music in this game that convey sadness, rage, hate, happiness, relaxation, and every emotion present in the game. Combining multiple different instruments, it really creates a special kind of sound not heard before. Particularly one song that stuck out was “Assault,” which plays probably during my favorite moment of the game. The music really sells this game in my opinion, and I just as strongly believe that this is definitely a game that is best experienced without knowing as much as possible. I don’t want to say too much, but I highly encourage anyone who can to try this absolute gem of an RPG.
Well, that is pretty much what I have to say in this Final Fantasy X. I want to be light on details as even though this is a retrospective, I still want these games to have more recognition than just being “the series with Cloud Strife in it.” If you can, please try this game. I promise it’s an experience worth having. It’s available for pretty cheap, and can be emulated on PC.
As always, thank you for reading, and stay tuned for when I cover the follow-up to a Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2.
Also, here’s “Assault” if you want to listen: https://youtu.be/8ZkAZVc2FuQ