The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 11

I don't expect it to last, but it'll be nice while it does.

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

One of the things I’m enjoying about the plot of this game is that unlike its predecessors, it’s giving me something that the series has lacked. The characters here don’t just have reasons for their actions, they have motivations.

Reasons are what drive the plots of the previous four games, which is most notably to the detriment of the “story-driven” Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy IV.  You have a clear picture of what the characters need to do in those games, sure.  What you don’t get, ever, is a reason why.  Yes, Kain is there helping you take down Golbez, but why he’s doing so is never discussed beyond a vague handwaving of “well, Golbez did control him a couple of times.”

Sure, the world is in danger, but that’s not motive, that’s a reason.

By contrast, the crew in Final Fantasy V has a motivation.  Sure, there are many occasions – such as now – when the primary motivator for the group is “guilt,” since they sort of exacerbated the injuries of the drake that they’re now trying to save.  But guilt is at least a motivator, and it indicates characters trying to fix mistakes.  So that’s a good thing all around.

Where was I?  Oh, right, we need to go chat with some werewolves.  Where wolf? There wolf, just north of where the group already was.  Entering the town leaves us with a locked gate to the north and a number of locked buildings; entering the one unlocked building introduces us to Kelger, the leader of the werewolves who immediately concludes based on intensely shaky evidence that Bartz is a minion of Exdeath and needs to be put down.

Well, he is a werewolf.

I think you just like fighting people, dude.

A brief cutscene tussle ensues, and Bartz manages to knock Kelger down, which prompts a few apologies all around.  Galuf and Kelger then realize that Bartz’s father was one of the four Dawn Warriors that sealed Exdeath, which is followed by a cutscene recounting the events of thirty years ago.  Dorgann, Bartz’s father, is the only one reluctant to seal away evil on another world without taking responsibility for it; Galuf, meanwhile, clearly feels a lot of guilt for not standing with Dorgann.  It’s a nice look at all of the various character interplays, really establishing the network of relations between these groups of seemingly unrelated individuals.

With all of that storyline stuff out of the way, Kelger unlocks the gate to Drakenvale.  It’s seriously in his backyard.  Up on Melancholy Hill Drakenvale there are a fair number of zombie dragons running around, which is rather interesting to note when you consider that all of the drakes are supposedly dead.  There are also lots of other enemies and a whole lot of ABP to earn through regular battles, but I thought the minor thematic nod was kind of nifty.

Above and beyond what you’d normally run into when you have a theme dungeon, I mean.

Freelance necromancers, maybe.

This does raise the question of who the hell is raising all of these draconic zombies in the first place, but no one’s asking.

At the top of the hill which is named like it should be a valley, the group finds some Dragon Grass, only to discover that it apparently has undergone some sort of mutation and now hungers for human flesh.  Or dragon flesh.  Galuf immediately states that this must be why all the drakes died, but I’m honestly fairly sure that food sources do not evolve to eat their main predators and equally sure that drakes could handle some uppity plants pretty well.  I mean, they deal with adventurers just fine.

The fight is fairly annoying, though, a throwback to the old standby of the status effect fight.  Essentially, the central plant summons little adds who are functionally immune to magic, while the little plants do status attacks.  As it includes Paralyze and Confuse, it gets obnoxious.  If you have a Monk, you can Kick your way through, otherwise you have to be a bit more flexible.  I managed all right.

You can just teleport out when you’re done, but I opted to walk out for more money and ABP.  This is a dungeon wherein most battles earn you between 2-3 ABP rather than the standard 1 before now; it’s worth the minor effort to advance a bit further.

Anyhow, time to go back to Castle Bal, where you may remember the guards were told to not let anyone in again. Anyone at all.  Including Galuf.  So of course, we stroll up to the front gate and they don’t let the group in.

On the one hand, this is a nice nod to the fact that not everyone in this world is a plot-reliant idiot.  On the other hand, it means that Galuf is not smart enough to think this plan through and no one in the party was smart enough to point out to him that his big plan ended in just as many dead wind drakes as if the group had just sat around in the castle sipping mojitos.  Galuf, meanwhile, decides to just jump into the moat and wade around.

Yes, there’s convenient moat access to the rest of the castle.  Great plan, guys.  So your castle defenses rely upon Exdeath’s forces being unable to swim or whatever.  Or maybe Galuf just knows that there’s no way into the moat outside of cutscene jumping, who knows.

Which is a good thing when the game's methods of long-range communication all hurt like hell, apparently.

Everyone knows that bed rest fixes everything. Even tumors, probably.

Once inside the castle, Krile is suffering from severe head pain due to the call of the sage Ghido.  Galuf quickly explains who in the hell that is and that he might know of some way to defeat Exdeath, and thankfully they can heal up the wind drake with the dragon grass.  There’s a nice scene with Lenna eating a bit of the grass to prove to the drake that it’s all right, showing once again how much she cares for the big scaly dorks, and Krile rushes to revive her while everyone yells at Lenna for being selfless in the dumbest way possible.

Bartz is the one who finally notices that everyone in this game is going overboard to be the most self-sacrificing, which is on point.  But now we have our wind drake, which means it’s time to go see a sage and hopefully get the plot moving forward instead of just fixing the group’s various mistakes.

About expostninja

I've been playing video games and MMOs for years, I read a great deal of design articles, and I work for a news site. This, of course, means that I want to spend more time talking about them. I am not a ninja.

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