Just over 2 years ago, I listed 7 of my favourite moments from the Final Fantasy series (you can read that very old post here). However, that was entirely based on how much I adored those scenes and not specifically the effect or reaction that they created.
So, I wanted to do an updated post of a similar idea, but this time, looking at the scenes in the Final Fantasy series that either blew me away or made me say “oh my god”.
Warning: this post contains spoilers for Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy XIV!
4. Tietra’s Dramatic Scene – Final Fantasy Tactics
I actually mentioned this scene in my previous article, but it deserves a second mention here. The fact that it had a bigger impact on me than that Aerith scene says a lot in terms of Final Fantasy.
The struggle to get to her was far more drawn out than simply travelling to a specific place and then watching the scene. The battles you had to push through to get there, at least for me, made you far more emotionally invested in saving her.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I really liked Aerith and there was certainly a lot of depth and character development for her. However, the build up and “pay off” just didn’t have the same effect for me.
Fighting through a really tough, end of chapter battle in Final Fantasy Tactics, only to see Tietra get shot with a crossbow, was heartbreaking. The fact that it was your supposed ally who does it makes it even worse. Then, you have to fight and kill your ally, but that’s still not the end of it. Delita (Tietra’s brother and your best friend) runs to Tietra only for the building they are standing in front of to explode, consuming them.
It was such a memorable scene because you also played an active role in it. It’s one thing to watch as a character is taken from you… It’s something else entirely to actively try to save them and fail.
3. Kuja’s Trance – Final Fantasy IX
Next up, we have a scene that doesn’t get talked about enough, even though it is from one of the most popular Final Fantasy games. Through Final Fantasy IX you find yourself chasing down Kuja, the main antagonist of the game.
His intelligence proves to be his greatest strength from Disc 1 to 3, manipulating everything around him, from politics to war. Kuja outsmarts you on almost every occasion.
However, after travelling to the planet Terra and learning the truth behind main character Zidane’s origins, you also learn about Kuja’s history. In fact, so does he. Having found out that he was created to serve a single purpose and has a limited lifespan, the fear of death consumes him.
On a side note, Kuja’s fear of death is in direct opposition to Vivi’s acceptance of it and will to make the most of life. I’ll definitely cover that in more detail in a future post!
Unable to accept that the world (or worlds, in this case) could exist without him, Kuja experiences a rush of emotion, gaining the Trance ability that you have been using throughout the game. This transforms him into a far more powerful version of himself, with the ability to cast Ultima, which he immediately does.
What follows is a cutscene of Ultima tearing the world of Terra to pieces, destroying ever tree, building and area of the planet. In a few short seconds, Kuja effectively commits genocide out of his inability to accept that the world would live on after he dies.
At the time, I was just a young teenager when I first saw this scene. It shocked me greatly, but the real impact didn’t hit me until I replayed the game a few years later. Seeing Kuja’s fear-induced rage lead to him destroying to his home planet and wiping out the majority of his own race really does blow your mind!
2. The End – Final Fantasy Tactics
There’s a reason why I call Final Fantasy Tactics the Game of Thrones of the Final Fantasy series. It features some of the most shocking moments I have seen in the franchise. That’s also why it appears on this list twice.
Typically, the ending of a Final Fantasy game (or 99% of games in general) makes you feel happy. The final scenes fill you with a sense of victory and reward. Final Fantasy Tactics does the opposite and that’s part of the reason why I love it so much!
As you finally force your way to victory in a grudge match against the final boss, the battle ends with the boss exploding, consuming the entire battlefield and all of your characters.
From there, we cut to a scene with the princess (who you have spent so long protecting) and her husband (Delita, having survived the previously mentioned scene). They talk about life and then the princess (Ovelia) raises the fact that Delita has been using her. In a fit of rage, she stabs him. In retaliation, he kills her before succumbing to his wound.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, the history of your character (Ramza) is altered by the Church. You are marked as a heretic and the records of your deeds in saving the world are banished away. The person to have made those records, who is also a good friend of yours, is then burnt alive by the Church.
Final Fantasy Tactics breaks the chain in terms of endings by having you succeed in saving the world, but at the cost of every character you have come to care about, and your own legacy.
1. Estinien’s Fall From Grace – Final Fantasy XIV
I really didn’t think that an MMORPG could have one of the most memorable moments in Final Fantasy, especially one that made me sit back and say “oh my god”. Yet, that was exactly what Final Fantasy XIV’s expansion, Heavensward, managed to do.
Estinien, also known as the Azure Dragoon, is one of the main characters of the story outside of your own playable character. He is a huge part of the journey that you go on through the expansion, with a massive amount of character development. He is a character of honour, although largely blinded by it at the beginning.
However, over the course of the storyline, he grows and becomes a truly central part in trying to end the Dragonsong War. Then, as it looks like you are finally making headway in the war, having gained both of Nidhogg’s eyes, he gets consumed by Nidhogg and loses complete control of himself.
I had fully expected him to die, as that is basically the go-to thing for bringing up emotions. However, having someone who had become a trusted ally and friend to you suddenly be consumed and controlled by the enemy shocked me. Sure, it’s not the most surprising or new plot device… But for Final Fantasy to do it and in such an incredible manner took me by complete surprise.
And That’s All Folks
Those were 4 specific scenes from the Final Fantasy franchise that blew my mind. To this day, when I think of them, I get the same feeling of utter disbelief. That is the sign of great storytelling, something the series is known for but that these scenes really showcase.
What were your most shocking Final Fantasy moments? Let me know in the comments below!