Final Fantasy XV had a lot of DLC planned, to expand on the game’s story by providing additional plot details during the big time skip before the game’s final act, expanding on the game’s backstory, and even providing an alternate ending. We got… some of it. We got the backstory expansion. We got some elaboration on what characters were doing when they were off-camera at certain parts of the game. However, we didn’t get the whole story – we didn’t get the expansion discussing the time skip, and we didn’t get the alternate ending. However, the game’s writers wanted to make sure that story was told, leading to The Dawn of the Future – which adapts one released episode, and the plots of a bunch of unreleased ones, to give an alternate ending.
The Dawn of the Future adapts not only Episode Ardyn, which was released – but also Episode Aranea, Episode Lunafreya, and Episode Noctis – which were not. Episode Aranea runs parallel to the events right before (and leading into) the time skip, while the rest are set after the time skip. They set up an alternative ending involving Lunafreya returning from the dead with the same curse related to the Starscourge that Ardyn had, ultimately leading to Ardyn, Lunafreya, and Noctis (and The Boys) choosing to rebel against Bahamut.
That’s right – Dawn of the Future shifts gears on the ending to one where you attack and dethrone God.
The prose is fine – we get the most elaboration on the characters of Aranea and her two sidekicks, Biggs & Wedge (in grand Final Fantasy tradition – one which has lasted for almost 30 years without Lucasfilm or Disney saying boo), along with Lunafreya in her episode. The latter portion desperately makes me wish we’d gotten some form of a novelization of the rest of the game, because Luna got so little characterization in the main game, getting so much from her now is almost a breath of fresh air. I say almost because we have nothing to necessarily contrast it with, because we don’t know what she thought about the events of the main game.
That said, on the one hand, while getting this narrative arc spelled out is somewhat satisfying, it also does have the problem that – this is a story that was written to be interactive and played, with a spectacle that was meant to be visual as much (if not more) than spelled out on the page. Not being able to play it or see it misses a lot. The parts that are character-to-character interactions, or get into the characters’ interiority work really well. I like getting into Ardyn’s head. I like seeing Lunafreya react to the World of Darkness she has returned into. I like the dialog between Noctis & Ardyn as they come to realize that they have a greater enemy than each other, and even if they don’t like each other – Ardyn because of Noctis’ family lineage, and Noctis because Ardyn killed his fiancee (even if she got better).
And this all is without getting into the Adamantoise in the room of – this book doesn’t make any goddamn sense if you haven’t played and beaten Final Fantasy XV. That’s nothing to sneeze at – it took me about 50-60 hours to beat the game (admittedly I did do a lot of the side-quests). It’s not an impossible ask (enough people beat Bloodborne to make spinoff comics viable) – but it’s still a big one. I’m glad I read this book, but I can’t recommend it without a very large asterisk.
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