It seems that Final Fantasy XV isn’t finished yet. This year has seen a steady drip-feed of additional content that has added to the main game’s story: the DLC Episode Gladiolus and Episode Prompto, the Comrades multiplayer expansion, and standalone virtual reality game Monster of the Deep. Recently the development team at Square Enix’s Business Division 2 announced that 2018 would bring more story content to the game, including an episode based on its enigmatic villain Ardyn.
It’s good that more is coming, because Episode Ignis — the latest DLC and last for 2017 — may answer one big question, but leaves much more to chew on the table.
Episode Ignis takes place during Final Fantasy XV‘s Chapter 9. Lunafreya has awoken the Astral Leviathan, an ancient serpent-goddess living beneath the waters of the Venetia-like city of Altissia. Leviathan engaged Noctis in battle, and during the commotion the city is destroyed and Luna is murdered by Ardyn. During this fiasco Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto are all desperately searching for Noctis, praying he’s still alive.
In Episode Ignis we see Ignis separated from his companions. He immediately tries to beeline for where he thinks Noctis may be. The way Ignis moves across Altissia is already wildly different from the main game. Ignis obtains a hookshot that allows him to scale buildings and run along rooftops. He can also jump into the waters and swim freely throughout the city. This freedom of movement is refreshing, as in the main game some small barricades still could not be climbed.
Along the way Ignis teams up with Ravus, who up until this point has been an enemy to Noctis and his friends. Here is where the episode gets interesting: Ravus reveals that he only cares about the fate of his sister, Luna. And as the two fight together — you can even execute attacks in tandem — it’s hard not to feel like this secondary villain has been redeemed a little.
But when Ignis and Ravus find Luna and Noctis, the entire tone changes. What begins as an entertaining romp through the city towards the answer to a question — How did Ignis go blind? — turns into a gut-wrenching “what if” scenario that won’t fail to move even the most stoic of Final Fantasy XV fans.
Episode Ignis has multiple endings. Technically, there’s three. The first ending shows how Ignis went blind, a question fans have wanted answered since Final Fantasy XV launched last year. The trailers even hinted at it: wearing the Ring of the Lucii, shown to be a powerful weapon in the film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, requires a sacrifice. And for Ignis, it’s his eyesight.
I won’t spoil the incredible boss battles that happen during the latter half of this DLC, and the excellent way the game handles its portrayal of grief and love. But the “best” ending you can get in Episode Ignis doesn’t just change Ignis’ fate: it changes the ending of Final Fantasy XV altogether.
It’s a bold choice coming from a developer that has been so firm in its desire to tell an emotional story with a bittersweet ending. In Final Fantasy XV, the curtain closes and nobody really wins. Noctis gives his life to save the world, which has already been thoroughly destroyed and must be rebuilt. His father and his bride-to-be are gone, and it’s ambiguous as to whether or not his friends are dead, too. But Episode Ignis asks: what if Ignis made different choices ? How would these choices affect Noctis?
Just how much did the world really have to lose?
As the second branch of the story takes you through another set of gut-wrenching decisions, it tricks you into thinking you had any choice at all. And in the process, a major piece of backstory is dropped for another major character, something only vaguely hinted at in the main game.
So with Episode Ignis behind us, Final Fantasy XV is still dangling carrots in front of its fans. So many “what ifs” and “could bes” later, the world of Final Fantasy XV still has the power to move us.