I’ve been a pretty busy guy lately, but I’ve been making my way through “Final Fantasy XIII” a little bit each night. I’m midway through Chapter 8, finally almost to the part where my party leaves the linear world of Cocoon behind for the wide-open adventures of Gran Pulse.
While I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve played so far, “Final Fantasy XIII” does what I’ve referred to in the past as circling a zit. Simply put, circling a pimple is when a game highlights or otherwise draws needless attention to something some players might consider a flaw.
In Chapter 5, Lightning and Hope travel through a land called the Gapra Whitewood, in their attempt to reach Hope’s hometown of Palumpolum. The in-game datalog describes the Gapra Whitewood thusly:
The Gapra Whitewood is the border zone that separates the wilderness of the Vile Peaks from the civilization of Palumpolum. Under the jurisdiction of the Sanctum military, the Whitewood serves as an experimental facility for conducting research into bioweapons
The security of the classified area is built into its design — the paths winding through the trees are deliberately confusing, causing intruders to become hopelessly lost.
Now just about anyone who’s followed or considered playing “Final Fantasy XIII” knows that the first eight chapters are extremely linear, a series of trips down what are essentially long hallways filled with things to kill. While it takes some getting used to, gameplay such as learning the game’s complex battle system and using the Crystarium to level your characters offers you some branching paths that the first half of the story doesn’t.
That said, the Gapra Whitewood is just as linear as the game’s other chapters I’ve played. Why go through the charade of portraying the level as this dangerous place where I could easily get lost when Lightning and Hope are never in any danger of getting lost? I suppose it’s possible something was lost in the translation from the game’s native Japanese, but given the excellent translation found elsewhere in the game, I’m guessing this is just a head-scratching writing decision.