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Patience pays out: How revisiting Final Fantasy XII 13 years later made me go from “this is ok” to “this is phenomenal”

Content of the article: "Patience pays out: How revisiting Final Fantasy XII 13 years later made me go from “this is ok” to “this is phenomenal”"

I was fully into the hype cycle back in 2006. I used to buy everything that came my way and would throw away anything that wouldn't grab my attention immediately. I considered them like kids toys despite being already well in my teens (with disposable part-time job money) and many games did not survive my consumerist mindset.

Final Fantasy XII was one of those casualties. It was this Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones video game with everyone speaking with a Shakespearean flair telling me that so and so kingdom had fallen and this was enough for me to tune out, especially when I already had Oblivion on my plate that would just ask me to whack bears with a sword.

I am now in my thirties, I grew up a fair bit since then (I hope) and I now have a wife and kids to look after. I pay more attention to my spending, but most of all I pay a lot more attention to the quality of my time. I am less someone who seek a quick, fun experience and more someone who seek an engrossing experience that will fill me up as a person. Something I can finish, put the controller, and say it was fulfilling.

I was in the video game store (that was just before COVID) to buy a 2DS for my kids when I saw Final Fantasy XII on PS4 in the used basket. It was a remastered version of the game and it was going for only 12 bucks (one of the perks of patience). Looking at it made me a little bit nostalgic of that time and it hit me that I should maybe give another shot. I am not in the business of replaying games I have already played at all, I usually don't see the point. But FFXII was different because it was a game that I rejected on the basis of something being too complex and not immediately gratifying, and therefore unfun for my teenage mind.

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I sat down to play it during my evening time sessions, and it felt like a revelation. I was puzzled. "Was this the game I remembered being bad?" I told myself. I was transfixed right from the beginning. The Shakespearean-style voice acting that was too boring for me in 2006 was now incredible to me in 2020. The quality of the voice acting, the way they spoke was just something I wasn't even seeing in more recent RPGs. There is a quote from a character that stuck with me that said "The hour of my return is already over late. The people may hate me, but that does not free me of my charge.". This is probably the first time I remembered a quote from a video game, but the line was so good, so well-said, and so impactful that it just burrowed into my mind. Needless to say, the setting of fallen kingdoms and empires and wars I used to hate was now super fascinating to 35-year old me.

Everything that I despised in this game as an air-headed teenager became something that I loved as a (I hope) responsible adult.

My one-hour evening sessions slowly extended day after day, and with the quarantine making me work from home, I was basically eating my sleep hours away playing for four or even five hours at a time and I wouldn't even realize it! This game has such a meditative flow to it that allows you to just wind down perfectly on top of it. The game plays like you would expect a RPG but it has a system on top of it called the Gambit System, making you in the shoes of a programmer. You have the ability to create a script telling every character how to act in specific situations. For example, you can tell a teammate to automatically use a healing item when your health reaches below 20%. Instead of being bogged down by the minutiae, you decide what is the perfect middle-ground between what you want to control and what you want to let the computer control. It's very easy to set up too.

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This meant I would just sit down after my work is done, put headphones on and let my little murder machines do the grunt work while only taking care of the important decisions. Sometimes I felt like having more control and being more involved so I would just take out some conditions and control a character completely manually. It was the perfect game to decide when to relax and when I wanted to get involved.

I know it's a remaster of a PS2 game, but I felt transported in this world in a way I wasn't to be from many games released this generation. It felt like I was part of the world, rather than the world turning around me and it felt so much more immersive this way. A lot of it has to do with the music too. The peaceful, relaxing music really helped a lot having a fictional world to lose myself into when you are bombarded with bad news every day lately.

All of this to say, there are games that exist that you don't realize are special until you are in an entirely different part of your life. I wanted something more special, unique and fulfilling, and I got it with Final Fantasy XII. Something I didn't get when I was a teenager. And I guess I felt happy realizing that I am in a better situation enjoying games for what they are rather than consuming it machine-gun time for constant entertainment. I cared more games when I cared more about myself.

I read a lot of this sub since I found it even though I never had an account until now, and I received a lot of great suggestions (whoever advised to get the new Deus Ex games wasn't kidding, they are really fun!), so I wanted to share my experience of someone who used to not be patient at all 13 years ago, who, fortunately, is a little bit more patient now. And I think it was entirely for the better! Thank you!

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