Short Thought: Final Fantasy XVI’s Active Time Lore Is So Good
Have you ever had a friend who just can’t stop asking questions during a movie? “Who’s this character? Why are they angry at that person? Is this a flashback? Did they just kill the king? Wait… What? What happened?” — yeah, we’ve all had that friend. In fact, I’ve been that person, but it wasn’t during a movie; it was Final Fantasy XIII.
This isn’t another gripe about its storytelling; I actually loved the characters, environments, and narrative, but I do think the execution could have been tighter. If you’ve played it, you’ll know the game likes to throw you into an ocean of lore, leaving it up to you to learn how to swim in it, and as a result, you’ll likely have more than a few questions lingering after cutscenes. Final Fantasy XIII’s datalogs definitely help with the confusion, but have you ever wondered if there was a better way to bring players a complex world with deep lore? Perhaps a built-in feature that is more seamless than your traditional, self-updating journal that has too many entries to sift through? How about something that can answer your questions mid-cutscene? Look no further than Final Fantasy XVI's Active Time Lore (ATL)!
With Final Fantasy XVI’s release, you’d think I’d be raving about the combat, the Eikons, or the fact that it’s the darkest Final Fantasy title yet. Don’t get me wrong, all those elements are noteworthy, but the ATL is just so innovative in terms of storytelling that I can’t stop thinking about it. Without spoiling anything, Final Fantasy XVI drops you into the world of Valisthea, complete with complicated political conflicts, odd terminology, such as Bearers and Dominants, and various characters with sprawling backgrounds as well as their own underlying motives. Like Final Fantasy XIII, XVI’s dialogue doesn’t take time to break down all the information coming your way, but now you can have your questions answered in an instant by pressing down on the touchpad of your PlayStation 5 controller.
Using the ATL pauses the cutscene, bringing up a small tapestry of lore entries with relevant information about where you are, what characters or enemies are in the scene, and connections to past events. These entries are easily digestible, and I found them extremely helpful when I continuously mixed up Dominants and Eikons for the first hour of the game. If you want to read previous entries, you can always visit the lore-master character in the main hub, which ultimately feels much more immersive than pulling up a journal or datalog in your menu.
It’s nice to know that I can come back after not playing for a few days and not miss a beat. Active Time Lore is the perfect tool for managing Final Fantasy XVI’s epic storyline, but it’s also extremely practical in this era of games where players have a ton of new releases, responsibilities, and, of course, sleep to catch up on. It’s so easy to forget who’s who and what’s what, but the ATL has your back whenever you join Clive again. Simply put, I love it. Now put it in all lore-heavy RPGs, pronto!