While it’s actually possible to log back in to Final Fantasy XIV now — and The Returner will be making a grand re-entrance soon, on that note — I’ve been enjoying my time with Final Fantasy’s Pixel Remaster enough to want to continue. So continue we shall!
This time around, our work as Warriors of Light is really getting underway, as we tackle the first big challenge in the game’s “main quest” of re-lighting the four elemental Crystals. Yes, it’s time to tackle the Earth Cave, which thankfully is a lot less hassle than the bloody Marsh Cave.
There’s a fair bit of work to do for our long-suffering party of adventurers, though, so let’s get right to it!
While we’ve already tackled the aforementioned Marsh Cave as a major dungeon in Final Fantasy, the Earth Cave marks a major story moment. It marks the moment where the Warriors of Light truly go from being simple adventurers — albeit talented ones — to being indisputably the warriors of legend.
Things start well as they fight their way down through the Earth Cave and discover a vampire who has been causing mischief, but — plot twist! — the vampire isn’t the one who has been really causing the mayhem. After all, is one simple vampire really enough to suck all the life out of the land? Of course he isn’t. So there’s a greater threat in play, but said threat is well-guarded, meaning it’s not just a case of continuing deeper into the cave in order to take it down.
Nope, we’ve got a quick detour to make — firstly to feed a shiny gem to a big rock monster and then to go see a weird old man who lives in the middle of nowhere and conveniently has exactly what we need in order to progress.
Interestingly, although this sequence of events is strictly linear, the very structure of Final Fantasy means that it doesn’t feel like you’re being overly railroaded; you’re simply given the things you need and the odd NPC mentions that you might want to go and check something out somewhere. It’s up to you to figure out exactly what you’re supposed to do next — no big cutscenes where the conclusion is everyone saying “Right, we should obviously go to [next objective] now!”
This is something that both Final Fantasy specifically and RPGs in general gradually started to move away from as time went on — but it’s quite refreshing to go back to a game with such a (relative) feeling of freedom these days.
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