2023 was the Year of the Remake. They remade everything, including things they shouldn’t have. I was tempted to make this list Top Ten Remakes of 2023 but then the bastards out there in game development had to go and make shit that I can’t cheekily refer to as a remake. Basically I can go fuck myself for having a weird premise. Anyways I played a ton of things, including a bunch of older games for the very first time that I don’t really have space to talk about here like Alan Wake and PT. Pretty cool games!

I also played a larger number of Final Fantasy games than is reasonable for most humans. At this point, I plan on playing pretty much every Final Fantasy game I can get my hands on. As of this writing, I am currently in the middle of not only Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, but also Final Fantasy 8 Remastered, as well as Final Fantasy 3 (3D Remake), with full intentions of moving onto Final Fantasy 9 with one of those sick texture rework mods. So, as a fun little detour, I plan on giving an up-to-date ranking of where every Final Fantasy game I have played ranks on a definitive list.

All of this, though, is a total sham. Since #1 on this list is going to be Baldur’s Gate 3. Practically all other information written on this page is just padding to distract from the fact that, once you scroll to the bottom of this page, you’re going to be greeted with a picture of, God, I don’t know, I haven’t looked through my screenshots yet, but more likely than not, a screenshot of Astarion saying something catty before I proclaim how “It couldn’t have been any other game than Baldur’s Gate 3 this year.” I would like you go into this list knowing that it is predestined, that Baldur’s Gate 3 is going to be nestled all the way at the bottom, likely with several paragraphs explaining why it’s such a landmark game for 2023, and maybe even a joke about how in the Year of the Remake, they really did nail this remake of Divinity: Original Sin. Maybe, I’m not sure yet. Seems a little too hackneyed.

The Spiral Of Shame AKA Scott’s Bottom 5 Games Of 2023

5. Lord Of The Rings: Gollum

It pains me to put Gollum in the spiral. It’s also, technically, by virtue of being rank #5, the highest ranked entry in the spiral, which makes it the best out of the Bottom 5. This may come as a surprise to you, the discerning reader, who may have seen some gameplay of Lord Of The Rings: Gollum and all of the absolute horrible nightmare shit that came out of it, and think “surely, there must be nothing redeeming about this game, and thus I have no clue why it is #5 of the Bottom 5 of the ‘The Spiral’ and not #1, as there are, most certainly, not 4 worse games than Lord Of The Rings: Gollum in 2023!” That, my dear stupid reader, is where you are wrong, and where I, the writer, am enlightened.

You see, Lord Of The Rings: Gollum actually has a story that fucking goes. It is, legitimately, a great character study of Gollum, how he interacts with the world around him, how obsession and greed leads him to shattering what little strands of hope he has in his pathetic little life. Gollum is a menace, the game is keenly aware of that, and it plays into those expectations in order to make you feel genuine heartbreak as you try to see him navigate through life, unable to break his obsessions. Yes, obsessions. As in more than one!!! Hobbit-heads out there will know why this is remarkable!!!

You may read my musings on this and tell yourself “oh, I might give this game a try then” which is something I cannot recommend, as it plays like dogshit. You may also want to watch a playthrough by your favorite Livestreamer or Youtube personality, and that, too, I simply cannot recommend, as they will too often be incoherently screaming at how poorly the game controls and how assbackwards the puzzles are to give the game any sort of fair shake. Instead, I recommend watching a no commentary playthrough, in order to get the most out of the story while washing yourself of the temptation to actually play it. I know I got that out of my system quite quickly. 

4. Exoprimal

They made a competitive multiplayer game about fighting time traveling dinosaurs really boring somehow and that’s a greater sin than anything Lord Of The Rings: Gollum does.

3. AEW: Fight Forever

I was right. Everyone got mad at me when my review came out and I was really mean about it but turns out, I was right. Like a week after the shine of a new non-WWE wrestling game came out, pretty much every person I saw enjoying the game started seeing what I saw in it and got really bored and disappointed with it. It’s very important for me to bring this up because I am a petty creature and I thrive on the knowledge that I was, in fact, right all along and not a single person can tell me otherwise anymore, except for maybe Rappin’ Ian Riccobani who, on commentary during Ring Of Honor on Honor Club every Thursday night, insists that it’s “a lot of fun” and that him and his kids still play it all the time. Frankly, I’m afraid to challenge Rappin’ Ian on this, and not just because he listens to The Mountain Goats, but also because I don’t want to end up like the last guy who challenged him.

2. Redfall

Here at Gamesline, we are well documented in trying to give Redfall a fair shake. It’s an Arkane game, which are usually very good games! The characters were worked on by friend-of-the-site, narrative designer behind Hazel Montforton’s Death Of The Outsider, Hazel Montforton. It’s trying something relatively unique with vampires and it’s set in a New England hamlet, and as someone who has spent most of his life in Connecticut, made me very nostalgic for home! Unfortunately the game is really boring. Even on the highest difficulty, it’s far too easy. None of the powers are interesting or play well together in unique ways. Nothing you do in the game feels like it matters. It’s just a mess, top to bottom. I couldn’t get into any of the writing (sorry Hazel), and it just left me sad each time I tried to play it. That’s on top of overwhelmingly bad performance issues that seemed to get worse the longer the game was out. It’s just sad, and it seems like the team at Arkane who worked on it also didn’t have a very fun time making it either.

1. Fire Emblem Engage

This game sucks! Fuck you! “Eugh the characters aren’t as interesting as other games but the gameplay is still fun!” FUCK YOU!!! You’re wrong. “Actually the characters are quite good and deep, you just clearly didn’t play their supports.” I saw LITERALLY EVERY SUPPORT. FUCK YOU!!! “You clearly just didn’t give the time of day.” I have spent 300 hours on this game CONFIRMED. The writing is trite, the characters are all paper thin, most of them are comedy characters and the comedy is simply godawful. The gameplay isn’t nearly as interesting as Three Houses, its closest analogue and a game I played 4 times to completion. It’s a second rate Fire Emblem. It’s a game so bad that the DLC, that offers a story that is actually halfway interesting, is by far the best part of the game and a good chunk of people who, frankly, shouldn’t even be playing this game, aren’t even going to experience it. When I was done, I was relieved to be finished. Good riddance. Alear sucks, terrible protagonist, kiss my nuts.

Scott’s Top 10 Games of 2023 parts 10-2

10. Remnant 2

The bastards who made Remnant had to go ahead and do it again. Just generally, I don’t think I like Remnant 2 as much as the first game since, despite being a procedurally generated game with bosses that can have weird modifiers, Remnant still felt like an incredibly tight third person shooter. Remnant 2 loses that feeling marginally with boss fights that feel like real clunkers and with modifiers (that you can run into your first time fighting those bosses) that make them sometimes borderline unplayable. Plus, Remnant felt like a tight experience you could play through solo on top of with friends, while it feels like, at times, Remnant 2 is leaning far more into a Destiny-inspired MMO approach where boss fights become like raids that focus way more on coordination. That’s fine on its own if the game was centrally about that, but it does mean fighting some bosses solo can be a huge slog. 

That’s quite a lot of criticism for a game that’s #10 on my top ten games list, you may be thinking. Well, where Remnant 2 thrives is in the sheer amount of weird, obtuse and sometimes incredibly absurd secrets you can find. Every secret, too, usually comes with a good piece of loot. They’re not just things like secret walls or strange quests, but the kind of retro secret that involves unexplained video game logic to figure out. For example, there’s one specific tile piece that shows up very rarely in a sewer level. If you manage to find that sewer piece, you then need to shoot a slime enemy that’s clogging a pipe, and then wait 90 minutes real time in a single session for the water to reach a point where the platforms being floated up can finally be jumped on. Once you cross them, you get an extremely good grenade launcher for your pistol slot. There are grates that, if you walk up to them, an enemy will appear and try to grab you. There’s plenty of time to avoid them and would likely lead to instant death (which in a game like Remnant that has a permadeath option, is a bad thing). If you let them grab you, they actually do kill you, but you respawn in an area where you can unlock a brand new class. The most absurd puzzle in the game requires an extremely specific set of gear that has no discernable cohesion to it, and was only solved by someone datamining the exact gearset. That leads to an area that is literally just The Backrooms where you find the final unlockable class in the game. This may just be me here, but I miss when more games took weird, bizarre swings with secrets and unlockables, especially in an age where battlepasses and lootboxes are the norm, and Remnant 2 brings that feeling back big time.

9. Final Fantasy XVI

I’ve never been a huge DMC guy, but I think FF16 will probably be my entryway into it. I have my reservations with 16’s narrative, but there has not been a game, to my knowledge, that has managed to scientifically break down the exact formula for extremely hype shit in video games. There’s a lab somewhere where they have a scientific formula written on a whiteboard titled by the word Pog with multiple underlines. The Titan boss fight alone, I believe, manages to clear its way into the pantheon of the greatest boss fights in the history of gaming. The saddest thing about finishing the Bahamut boss fight is knowing there will only be a few Kaiju battles left in the game, and the Odin bossfight is primarily fought out of Kaiju form. This game is pure fun, it went so hard that it made my carpal tunnel flare up (complementary).

8. Resident Evil 4 Remake

I was not super positive when talking about RE4 Remake on the podcast, and I still have the same reservations I had, but even I gotta give it up for this game. My problems with it are primarily that it’s a remake of RE4, one of the best games ever made. Unlike godawful remakes like Demon’s Souls that completely invalidate the original and serve to make it less accessible, RE4 is still one of the most readily available games there is. RE4 Remake attempts to do its own things with RE4 as a base and, honestly? It kinda goes. It slaps. It’s fun. I don’t like what it changes about RE4 but they added a knife parry and knife parries are cool as hell. I think it’s very impressive that your new take on one of the tightest playing action games ever is a completely different, but also extremely tight playing game. You gotta respect it.

7. Super Mario RPG Remake

In the year of the remake, Super Mario RPG Remake exemplifies how, sometimes, the source material is so good that it’s hard to ruin it with unnecessary changes. While I think most of the mechanical changes do undercut the game (the new team buffs and meter that charges up for super attacks really invalidates the difficulty), it does add the absolutely amazingly good change of allowing you to swap your party members mid-battle. This one change turns Mallow from an otherwise useless sideline character, to an extremely useful caster. If anything, the mid-battle swap mechanic now pushes Peach, a borderline essential character for your main party, to the bench until she can be tagged in to do essential healing. It’s an excellent change. I wish it was the only change mechanically, or that they made the game more difficult in order to account for all the ways your team gets unbelievably buffed. Thankfully, though, they did add a really nice handful of super bosses that are a joy to fight. Plus, they recomposed the entire soundtrack. It’s so joyful. I love to listen to it.

6. The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom

Well guess what, gamers. They went and remade Breath of the damn Wild! I know a lot of people who really tried to 100% BotW when I personally played it up until I was satisfied and no further than that, and I think that’s extremely valid. By comparison, in TotK, I unlocked 100% of the map on both the upper and lower levels and did most, if not all of the shrines. I’m sure there’s plenty of things I didn’t 100% in this game, but I really just wanted to consume that bad boy. Where TotK thrives, though, is in how it encourages ingenuity and unique puzzle solving. It’s a game that wants you to make weird flying contraptions and little inventions from all the bespoke pieces it leaves in the world for you to play the game your own way. You can also choose to ignore all of that for the most part, of course, but a huge part of the fun of TotK was just slapping two different things together with a plan in mind of what it’s supposed to accomplish, and either a) it inexplicably does exactly what you need it to do and you feel like a genius, or b) it fails in hilarious fashion and you get to go back to the drawing board and try again. It’s a freeform set of mechanics for personal expression that most games can’t begin to touch without being bug-ridden and janky messes.

5. Shadows of Doubt

I can’t talk up enough how cool it is to come up with a theory about a mystery, draw a red line from one piece to another, and then go and investigate any loose ends you have only to blow the entire case wide open. Shadows of Doubt is a full life simulator by way of crime noir. It’s a voxel based game that simulates the entire lives and daily routines of an entire procedurally generated town full of people, and then places you in the middle of it, asking you to solve some murders. Shadows of Doubt is an absurd game in its sense of scope. It feels like a madman made it, starting from a place of “well how would you procedurally generate a series of murders for a detective protagonist to solve?” The logical end result of that being, of course, building an entire town from scratch as soon as you hit New Game. The chaotic nature of all these different emergent strands all coming together like one big tapestry leads to some of the most amazing Coen Brothers style predicaments I’ve ever encountered in a game, with none of them being explicitly plotted out content that I am intended to see.

Shadows of Doubt is a game that has vents, but the vents aren’t designed like a convenient escape route, they’re actual fucking vents that can pop out into any number of different rooms. Usually, rooms with people in them. One time, when escaping some security forces coming to check out a crime scene I was investigating without their knowledge, I ended up going into a couple’s apartment. The couple were having an argument about their marriage. They were clearly unhappy together and fighting over small, trivial things. I snuck into the living room next to the doorway, my escape route, where they were both standing. The same doorway also had, on the opposite side, the doorway into their bedroom. The wife started moving into the kitchen connected to the living room. I ducked behind the sofa, hoping she didn’t see me. The husband, still in the bedroom, comes out and follows her as they continue arguing. I head into the bedroom with the lights off, and try to go towards the front door. They come back down that hallway and come into the dark bedroom I was hiding in. I go back out the other door, and they notice the door squeaked. At that point, they realize someone else is in the house. I sneak to the front door, I begin to lockpick it. As soon as I’m finished breaking the lock from the inside, the wife runs up and hits me with a frying pan. In a panic, I punch her in the face, and then run out of their apartment, and bolt down the stairs. When I was trying to escape that building, that was one of maybe two dozen different rooms I could have escaped into. I never needed to punch that lady. That’s why Shadows of Doubt whips ass.

4. Lies of P

In this remake of Bloodborne, you play as P, a stand-in for Pinocchio, a mischievous little boy who can’t seem to keep his story straight. You’re trying to find your dad, Geppetto, so that you can link the first flame. Lies of P manages to accomplish something that every other non-Fromsoft souls-like fails to accomplish: it actually feels like Dark Souls. It takes bits and pieces from every part of the series and manages to combine them into a satisfying set of mechanics that still feels true to its inspiration, while still having its own clearly defined mechanical identity. 

One of the biggest things that makes Souls games so fun to play is that every weapon you find becomes a possible step in the equation that is your playstyle. Most every weapon you find is viable one way or another, and all have really rewarding movesets and personal quirks to learn. Lies of P allows you to combine different aspects of different weapons in order to make your own custom weapon that you then have the pleasure of learning to master. That level of control is astonishing and makes the experience of finding a new weapon into an opportunity of experimenting with a brand new handle and blade.

Aside from how cool the weapon mechanics are and how fun it is to play, Lies of P is also deeply charming in how earnestly it takes that tale of Pinocchio and tries to turn it into a melancholy, overly emotional drama about what it means to be human. It would be so easy to make an ironic version of Lies of P that’s winking and nodding about how silly it is for Pinocchio to have a greatsword. But it doesn’t do that. There’s comedy in Lies of P, for sure. And it does recognize how silly its premise is on principle. But it doesn’t ever undercut it for some snarky winking and nodding. It wants you to feel invested in the characters and the struggles they’re going through, and I find that way more charming than any self-referential joke about Pinocchio doing parry ripostes with his extra huge nose could ever accomplish.

3. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

Armored Core 6 is fucking tight, bro. It’s so fun. It’s so good. You gotta just play this shit.

Ok, seriously though, it is sick as hell, but also it does manage to tell a really touching tale about the human condition and what it means to connect with other people all without ever seeing a single human face or body once in the entire game. There is a huge cast of characters and you only ever see them as symbols, piloting their mechs, or in the case of your AI companion Ayre, as a red glow covering your screen. And that, well… It’s just brilliant, man! Also the mechs are so tight and so fast and you shoot a million guns and there’s laser swords and ooooooooh dude Armored Core 6. Armored Core SIX!!!

2. MyHouse.wad

If you come to me trying to debate that this isn’t a game, it’s just a mod for GZDoom, I’m going to annihilate you not only on the field of logic and reason but also physically with a sword. You are nothing to me. MyHouse.wad is a game that centrally focuses on its own meta-narrative about a person discovering old floppies of his deceased friend’s custom Doom maps. He gets one of the maps working again and finds that it’s a full recreation of the house that his friend grew up in. What unfolds is House of Leaves style meta-fiction meets an Inception-esque descent into layers and layers of different iterations of the house, and where this person’s friend’s life went before he tragically passed away. It manages to portray grief, loss, the melancholy of growing older with the malaise of knowing nothing will ever be the same again, and the feeling that the blood on your hands will never wash away. 

It does all of this without once taking away the Doom shotgun that’s floating in front of your face the entire time. It’s excellent, you need to play this wad. Actually don’t play the wad itself, it’s not the complete version of it, you wanna play the full package. Also you gotta make sure you own a copy of Doom 2 which is like 5 bucks on Steam forever. It’s worth it, I promise.

Scott’s WIP Definitive Ranking of Every Final Fantasy Game

Some small rules for this list:

1) I am not including any Mobile games on this list, even ones that I have a well noted history of spending lots of time with.
2) I am not including any spin-offs that are not fully fleshed out RPGs on this list.
3) I am not including the MMOs, not because I don’t consider them Final Fantasy games, but because I simply don’t have a ton of interest in them and probably will not ever play them. Probably. Maybe. We’ll see.
4) There are a bunch of Final Fantasy games that I either have not played or have not played in so long that I don’t have a fully formed opinion on them, and thus don’t feel comfortable ranking them. That’s why this list is a WIP, in case I play more of these games and need to slot them.

Please note that a low ranking entry on this list does not mean it’s a bad game. There’s not a single Final Fantasy game that I don’t like to some degree, even if there are things I majorly dislike about them. Feel free to message me about any of these and why I ranked them where I ranked them! Or don’t. Don’t ever message me. Here is the list.

1. Final Fantasy Tactics
2. Final Fantasy IX
3. Final Fantasy VII
4. Final Fantasy VI
5. Final Fantasy VII Remake
6. Final Fantasy X
7. Final Fantasy IV
8. Final Fantasy XV
9. Final Fantasy XVI
10. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
11. Final Fantasy II
12. Final Fantasy XII
13. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
14. Final Fantasy V
15. Final Fantasy
16. Final Fantasy VIII
17. Final Fantasy XIII
18. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII

Scott’s #1 Game of 2023

1. Baldur’s Gate 3

Well, here we are. #1. The best game of the year. It’s Baldur’s Gate 3. You knew it, I knew it. We both knew that this was going to happen. It couldn’t have been any other game than Baldur’s Gate 3 this year. Please don’t pretend to be shocked by this like I was going to do some sort of weird meta drop out from under your legs and mention a different game instead like Alan Wake 2 or something. It wasn’t going to happen, because the #1 game of 2023 is Baldur’s Gate 3. There’s no denying this either, because Geoff Keighley agrees with me. Why in the world would the #1 game of 2023 be Alan Wake 2 instead of Baldur’s Gate 3? That’s insane. Nobody would ever believe that.

Well, I have a small confession. When I brought up Alan Wake at the beginning of this list, I did it because I had an intention of what I wanted to play at the end of the year. I wanted to play Alan Wake 2. I wanted to play it very badly. But I didn’t want to go in without context. So, I booted up Alan Wake on my Steam Deck and played it docked out in my living room on the big TV (since I was dealing with a really bad back injury at the time that made it difficult to sit at my desk), and I played through it! I had a lot of fun! It’s a really fun game that manages to recontexualize the style of quick free-aim combat that Max Payne had while managing to maintain the sense of a spooky horror thriller. I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about Alan Wake in this piece, but unfortunately, it’s really important for me to do this, so that you understand where I’m coming from putting Baldur’s Gate 3 as the #1 game of 2023.

After finishing Alan Wake, I needed to play the next game in the series: Control. I skipped Quantum Break but I intended on reading a plot synopsis or something once I was finished with Control. I already owned a PS4 copy of Control and since I couldn’t sit at my desk, I opted to put my PS5 out in the living room so I could start my journey. I booted the game up, got through the opening sequence, and the game was running at a remarkable 24 frames per second. That’s because, despite playing this on my PS5, this was the PS4 version of the game. No matter, I thought, there must be a PS5 version I can upgrade to in order to get some smoother 60fps performance. And there was… for people who owned the Control Ultimate Edition for PS4. My copy of Control was not the Ultimate edition. So, I walked into my local game store, and asked if they had a copy of Control Ultimate Edition for either the PS4 or the PS5. They did not. At this point, I could have just bought a new copy off the Playstation store. This would have cost 40 entire dollars at a time when I was living off of short term disability money.

Thankfully, since it was around Christmas time, my lovely aunty and uncle had sent me a $25 dollar Amazon gift card with which I procured a copy of Control Ultimate Edition for the Playstation 5 for a grand total of $1.19. I booted up Control and it was perfect. Silky smooth. It controlled like a dream. I was having so much fun playing through Control. And then I stopped. I stopped and I haven’t played it since. That was because I started playing Final Fantasy 4.

You see, during this time of short term disability, I had more time to game than I ever had before. Plus, my main gaming system at the moment with my PC being relatively unusable in my back-broken state was my Steam Deck. In my life, I have been a big Final Fantasy fan. While I’ve avoided the MMOs for no particularly good reason other than I’m not very interested in playing an MMO, I have played and grown up with the Final Fantasy games. I played them in my formative years, and tried to play every one I could get my hands on. But there was always a glowing omission from Final Fantasy knowledge: the SNES trilogy of games. 4, 5, and 6. 4 and 5 being games that I understand are formative for Final Fantasy in general, while 6 is the landmark entry that everyone loves. I had never played them. Not once. Now was the time. There would never be a better time.

I added some mods that would include character portraits and a better font to the Pixel Remaster versions of each game. By the time I finished 4, I made the mistake of talking about it on our Discord channel, where I mentioned that I hadn’t played these games. I also made the mistake of mentioning that while I had tried FF2 in the past, I never got very far with it, which is when fellow Gamesline contributor Rose said FF2 was “peak.” That was the nail in the coffin for me. After I finished 4, I booted up Final Fantasy 2.

I was stunned, I can’t believe this game existed for so long and, more importantly, it was like that. It was a decently fun Final Fantasy, but it was remarkable to me that it had a stat system that made practically no sense and was best optimized by wasting a bunch of time leveling up every different weapon instead of just focusing on one. I got through that game with Final Fantasy 5 on the horizon. 5 was another decently fine game but it was very interesting over the course of 2, 4, and 5 seeing all the different parts where the series grew and where the seeds of what Final Fantasy would become were taking root. Also, the important driving factor of Final Fantasy 5 to me was that I had the succulent fruit waiting for me. Final Fantasy 6. The game everyone called The Best Final Fantasy. I had suffered through awkward, possibly poorly translated dialogue and two dimensional characters for these last three games and only a handful of interesting moments. My expectations were set for another one of those. I was dead wrong.

Final Fantasy 6 is an excellent game, top to bottom. It, like Baldur’s Gate 3, represents a platonic ideal of what a sort of game of its genre can be. Final Fantasy 6 gives you a massive party of characters to choose from, 14 in total with several silly characters thrown in for flavor, and then splits you off into bespoke parties through most of its campaign. You don’t simply mess with the handful of characters you like or have the best stats and abilities, you are given tons of time with each character individually to find out where they fit in a party and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Each character has a defined character arc that feels extremely well fleshed out, especially compared to the paper thin characters of the other SNES Final Fantasy games. (I’m sorry Cecil, I’m sorry Kain. You could have both been so much better…) 

On top of that, there are secret character interactions you can only find by having certain characters in your party with you at the moments when your party is still together. You can pick whoever you want from your huge pool of characters but you’re still incentivized to switch them around to find more character moments. The cast, too, feels like a genuine ensemble cast. There’s a part in FF7 where Cloud isn’t in the party anymore and you take control of Tifa for a while in order to help him. It’s a really great part, but they also do that in FF6 in a way more interesting way! Terra is the de facto leader of the group being a mysteriously powerful girl that is later revealed to be half-esper. She’s also the character that goes literally Super Saiyan. She’s one of the strongest characters and, narratively, she’s the glue holding everyone together. Then, in the second half of the game, after you have already had a bunch of substories where different characters take the lead as main while Terra is busy elsewhere, you awake on an island as Celes, in a world that is remarkably post-apocalyptic.

You have a sequence where the only other person on this island, Cid, is slowly dying. You then need to collect fish for him. It’s a remarkably bleak scene where you have to run to the beach, grab some fish, and bring it back to him with zero explanation. The first time you play this scene, you’re likely grabbing every fish and feeding all of them to him. You keep doing this over and over again as his condition worsens. There’s nothing else you can do. You just keep trying to help until he finally passes away.

Celes, in a moment of grief, believing that the world is lost and that there’s nothing left for her, goes to the highest point of the mountain, and throws herself off the ledge. Celes lands on the shore where she collected fish, and realizes that she lived, barely hurt at all. That’s when she notices that one of the birds on the island is wearing a bandana. A bandana remarkably similar to fellow party member Locke with whom she has a will-they won’t-they romantic relationship. She realizes, in that moment, the world isn’t lost and that there must be something out there. Celes returns to the cabin to find that Cid, in his dying moments, left her a letter that tells her he had been secretly working on something even in his condition. You go downstairs, and you find a raft. Celes can now leave the island and continue on her journey.

It’s a beautiful, touching, and deeply emotional sequence that’s burned into my brain now. It touched me so deeply that, as a moment of personal character growth for Celes, I decided to go and grab a mod for her that changes her outfit into one much closer to her original Yoshitaka Amano design. I truly cannot forget about that moment. And it was all entirely optional.

If you know which fish are good fish, you can serve them to Cid instead! And he gets better! And he lives! And he goes “oh by the way, I’ve been working on something for you” and he shows you the raft! And then you go on your big adventure anyways! Celes, now deadset on seeing the world after it’s been Third Impact’d, sets out to bring together the old party so they can try and save the world one more time. After recovering a few buddies, Celes eventually finds Terra, the main character of the game. Terra refuses to go with you. She can’t seem to tap into her power anymore and now has a lot of responsibility trying to protect a city full of displaced children. When Celes leaves, the town is attacked by a big monster called Humbaba. Terra rushes out to stop it all on her own, but fails miserably. She can’t do what she used to. She can’t find that missing piece of herself. Celes and co. arrive just in time to help drive Humbaba away, and Terra, now dejected at her uselessness, doubles down on her inability to go with you. She would only slow you down, and you have important work to do.

You play a huge chunk of this game with Terra just out of your party completely, until finally you return to her again. The two oldest children, a pair of teens who are in love, are about to have a baby of their own. Terra knows she’s needed here more than ever. That’s when Humbaba returns. Celes and her team rush out to stop Humbaba once and for all, but get overwhelmed by its power. That’s when Terra arrives, emboldened by not only the passion to protect the children but also her friends as they’re on the brink of death. She goes Super Saiyan and utterly annihilates Humbaba, ending it for good. Terra returns to the children still in her Trance form, and they’re all scared of her. Then, they recognize her, and they start to swarm around her. In that moment, Terra realizes the part of herself that was missing. She grew up alone and isolated, only wanting to make a connection with other people and wanting to protect those she loved. Emboldened by the love of those around her, she regains her power and, with the threat to children gone, she rejoins the party. Just like how I modded in a new sprite for Celes, at this point in the game, I downloaded a mod that gives Terra a really sick looking cape.

Final Fantasy 6 lived up to all the hype and more, and playing all the other SNES era Final Fantasy games and one single NES game for good measure gave me a set of expectations that FF6 could utterly blow out of the water. I had such an amazing time with it and I’m so glad I finally played it after all these years. That’s why I couldn’t finish Control and that’s also why I never played Alan Wake 2 and that’s why Alan Wake 2 is not my #1 game of 2023.

Instead my #1 game is Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s great! I loved it, had a ton of fun, 10/10. Easily the best game of 2023 hands down. Would recommend. Ok bye!

About Scott

Scott B is a 28 year old proud sword owner and gamer of honor, desperately on the search for wife.

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