If I have anything good to say about it, it’s that Square Enix finally produced a rather good port of their in-house made game. Other than that, you will like this game only in case you: a) like Lightning as a model (not as a character) b) like what they done to the combat c) like fetch quests in MMOs.
If not, this game is an incredible disappointment and probably the worst part of the XIII trilogy. The premise and ideas are absolutely fantastic – the world is ending, events of XIII and XIII-2 just postponed/lessened the impact of what the main antagonists were trying to do, but they essentially got what they wanted. People lived for 500 years stuck at the age they were when the ending of XIII-2 happened, no new people are being born. All that is left is that Lightning, as a Savior, saves the chosen souls to be reborn in the new world, where people can live, die and be born again. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Sadly, the actual events to follow up on this are just horribly dumb.
Instead of a brilliant dark but hopeful ending to the trilogy we get stupidly boring retread on the previously done stories. Story has flashes of brilliance in terms of ideas, but never seems to understand what to do with them. Cutscenes are horribly and sometimes amateurishly directed, dialogues (often monologues) are boring and often pointless. mini-stories in side-quests are sometimes interesting, but tied to most boring fetch quests you can imagine with most intriguing and involved quests in the entire game being the very first one you get. Things often just happen, get dropped, kinda picked up by the end, but there’s no unifying feel to any of it. Everything is just there.
Same goes for the combat/RPG systems. Yes it is more involved and action-y than other XIII games, but it’s still boring and often pointless. It’s no Vagrant Story of Parasite Eve II. In terms of the soul saving, time restricted mechanics it’s no Valkyrie Profile either, despite Tri-Ace working on the game. Also some features that could make first playthrough fights at least a bit less pointless are locked away until NG+ and some stay locked unless NG+ is played on Hard. Because reasons.
It’s a game with a great premise that fails in delivering on it. That has features and mechanics that have been used in much better and more fun games. That has an unsatisfying story, that could bring an interesting end to the trilogy, but instead goes for a “Lightning wet-fantasy fanfic” feel, that often reminds of Metroid: Other M in terms of how boring, self-indulgent, repetitive and stupid it is. Such a shame.