Lightning Will Not Leave Me

“Thought unseen, that gift – it lies within us all. It is a constant turmoil of light and darkness, strength and frailty, beauty and unsightliness.

That gift is our spirit. It gives us the strength we need to persevere in hardships. But at times, it is nothing but a curse, straying beyond our control… causing us pain and sorrow.

Even so, it is something far too precious to lose. It is what allows me to hold hope for the future. In a world consumed by chaos, in a world where spirits are fading. I ask myself: have I the strength to embrace my gift?”

– Lightning Farron, my shero.

To say that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy has a special place in my heart would be an understatement. Not gonna lie, it was a struggle to write this article for the big Final Fantasy Crystal Compendium community project. I could go into the technical details of all three games, but I don’t want to. There are a ton of reviews from experts if you want to read that. I could get cranky and babble on about how much everyone seems to hate on these 3 games with passion, for various reasons, but I’m not. Everyone has their opinions, and that’s fine. Love them or hate them, Lightning, Sazh, Snow, Hope, Vanille, Fang, Serah, and Noel all mean the world to me. They were the family and friends I desperately needed during a difficult time when my own selfish misery had left me abandoned and lost in my own darkness.

EXCUSE YOU? WHAT did you just say about my shero’s games??? I’m kidding… mostly….

Video games have always been a way to escape my reality, and you know, just have fun, be inspired, and stuff. I had FUN playing all three Final Fantasy XIII games and I love them. That’s all that matters. All this negativity about everything online irks me beyond words. No game is perfect. If you don’t like it, don’t play it, and please just respect the people who don’t share your views. Is that so much to ask? Apparently, it is. So rage trolls, if you hated Final Fantasy XIII so much, why did you force yourself to play it? Square Enix doesn’t owe you anything. Don’t like their new games? Don’t buy them! I’m sorry the iconic Final Fantasy series took a direction you don’t like. But to me, it’s the best direction ever, and one that probably saved my life.

2009 - Final Fantasy XIII

Whoa, wait… I said I wasn’t gonna get cranky about the haters, didn’t I? Oops! Let’s try this article again, shall we? Ahem. Um, let’s start with a brief logical-like overview of the games, and then go from there, eh? Okay…

Final Fantasy XIII


Former Guardian Corps soldier Lightning Farron and her, um, friends(?) have been branded L’Cie by an “evil” god-like being, that happens to be the enemy of the “good” god-like beings in control of Cocoon society. When you’re a L’Cie you get cool magical powers, but you also have an annoying Focus thing to complete (and of course the god-like being doesn’t clearly explain it to you). If you don’t complete your Focus in time, you get turned into a horrible monster called a Cie’th. If you DO complete it, you get turned into crystal for an eternity of bliss, so they say.

The overall mission? Lightning and her friends need to figure out what they have to do before they all turn into horrible monsters, while running from an entire army out to kill them, and while also trying to find a way to save Lightning’s sister Serah (who gets turned into a crystal near the beginning of the game). Talk about multitasking! The emotional story delivery is excellent. Jumping seamlessly between past and present, while giving all the intriguing characters their screen time, and slowly revealing just how connected these hapless L’Cie are. Yes, there are a lot of cutscenes, but I personally loved watching the pretty cutscenes. To each their own? Sigh. You can skip them if you want…

Fun drinking game: Take a shot every time someone says Serah.

Focus is key here, people. Big open worlds with multiple branching story paths are fun and all that, but sometimes it’s nice to just be shown an inspiring dystopian story while bashing monsters on the head in stunning environments. I realize this approach isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoy XIII’s straightforward style (To be honest, I was kind of upset when the world opened up near the end). The game eases you into the controls with simple tutorial-style explanations that slowly happen as you go, so you don’t get assaulted with information or ever feel lost.

The combat system keeps you on your toes with a 2-3 party Paradigm Shift mechanic, letting you switch roles on the fly in the heat of battle. You can easily get through the main story bosses by mashing the auto-battle option and using the right Paradigms. If you want more of a challenge, go down the last optional Cie’th Stone boss and tell me how easy that was. My biggest gripe is with the poorly designed weapon upgrade system. Breaking down items and guessing how to use finite components is just tedious and wasteful. My advice is to save, experiment, and reload when you screw up. Or just read a guide online.

Final Fantasy XIII-2


I like to call this game “Lightning is Missing!” The seemingly happy ending to the first game has been erased from time by an unknown force, and now it’s up to Serah Farron (the only one who remembers what really happened) to rescue her big sister for once. Lightning has essentially been wiped from the timeline, drafted by the the Goddess Etro, and left alone with her misery to fight an endless battle at the end of time. While my brave shero selflessly fights to protect a world that has forgotten her, you take control of Serah and the new guy Noel as they jump through time, battle paradoxes, and chase down a big bad named Caius Ballad (Or as I like to call him, purple-haired Sephiroth. He has his own badass Latin choir theme song too). The overall goal is to fix time and reach Lightning, but you’ll discover some neat things about Serah, Noel, and Caius along the way. That’s all I’ll say about this hella complex story.

Noel quite possibly has the most entertaining Final Fantasy ability ever: The Moogle Toss. Kupo!!

The gameplay from XIII seems to have been erased from the timeline as well, and Square Enix went in a whole new direction. The core of the Paradigm Shift combat system remains, but it’s now two party plus a monster you capture by looting crystals. I got a cool Behemoth shortly into the game and used him regularly for the whole journey. Each monster fills a different role and it’s kinda fun to collect them. Gone are the straightforward beautiful hallways, and that oddly out of place open world section. XIII-2 plays out in stages that you unlock and travel to via the Historia Crux overworld menu. There are also multiple “fake” (sometimes funny) endings to discover after you’ve beaten the main game. My biggest problem with this game? Lightning isn’t the protagonist. But it was nice to see Serah grow into someone stronger. Serah learns that she is quite capable of defending herself, and that she doesn’t need to hide under her big sister’s wing.

Lightning Returns


500 timeless years have passed since the catastrophic ending to XIII-2. Lightning has been awoken from her crystal stasis by the almighty god Bhunivelze. This world where time no longer flows and people don’t age is beyond salvation, about to end, and the hopeless populace is crying out for the legendary Savior of Souls. Indifferent Lightning is forced to fill that role and she becomes god’s puppet when he uses Serah’s soul as the strings. Guided by young Hope in god’s HQ, Lightning’s mission is to save as many souls as possible so they can move on to the new world. You save souls by helping many depressed people in the form of 66 optional side quests, in addition to the main objectives. The more people you help, the better the outcome (I won’t ruin the surprise). For the main quests, let’s just say that while Lightning slept soundly, her friends have not been having an easy 500 years. At the end of the game, Lightning discovers her true destiny, and she fights her final fate in one last epic battle that wraps up her entire story beautifully… sniffs. Uh, sorry.

Actually, Noel is cool, but NO ONE can toss a Moogle like Lightning can!

But yeah, let’s radically change the whole gameplay model, again! Here’s a big open world to explore, you can do things in any order you want, BUT there’s a 13 day time limit so you can’t really enjoy it. I felt rushed (I don’t like feeling rushed), especially since some bosses get stronger after a certain day, but it certainly added to the tension of the dying world. If you fail, you start over with all Lightning’s stats intact so it’s not really the end of the world, I guess. If I could remove that mechanic I totally would, but this is still my all-time favourite Final Fantasy game.

Who am I to question the savior’s fashion choices?

The mostly solo combat system is still all shifty, but instead of Paradigms it’s outfits for Lightning called Garbs. Each Garb has unique abilities and are all customizable. Yes, I have to complain about the aesthetic designs for some of them. Sorry, but putting Lightning in “sexy” costumes is so against her character I want to punch something. Whatever though! I also found the combat system had a steep learning curve (I of all people almost rage-quit the game at first), but it was very rewarding once I got the hang of it. You can also make all the random monsters extinct if you kill enough of them. That’s a cool mechanic I’ve never seen in a RPG before. I should also mention the soundtrack is one of the most culturally diverse OSTs I’ve ever heard in a game. You’ll hear everything from bagpipes to tribal drum beats. AMAZING!

O Lightning Farron

It’s all about the feelz with these games. Logically, these are great games despite their flaws (as I said, no game is perfect), and I get why many people don’t like them. It’s safe to assume my connection to Lightning is clouding (pun unintended) my judgment of the games too. Does it matter? No! Again, if we all just played what we liked and respected counter opinions the world would be a much happier place. Alas, reality isn’t like that. No matter what other people say about her, Lightning Farron will always be my savior.


Yep. Lightning is far from the perfect shero. I’ll be the first to say she is seriously flawed, and that’s why I love her so much; I have the same flaws. It was a true blessing to discover someone struggling with the same issues as me (even if that someone is a writing team at Square Enix). Lightning’s greatest enemy isn’t lesser Fal’Cie gods, Caius Ballad, or demented deities, it’s herself. Pushing the people you care about away, and hiding your pain behind a bitchy mask leaves you hollow, broken, and alone. Trust me. I know that trip all too well. I can see the big vulnerable heart that Lightning is trying so hard to hide from the world. It honestly broke my own heart to see how she acted during that infamous “worst birthday ever” scene in the first game. It’s also why I almost cried during the last scenes in Lightning Returns.


During a time when my own thoughts were my greatest frailty, I found the inspiring pink-haired protagonist fighting her way of the fate train in the first FFXIII game. That cranky 21-year-old ex-soldier grew into a powerful 527ish-year-old (give or take a time paradox) demigoddess over the course of 3 games. By the time the credits in Lightning Returns rolled, it really felt like I grew with her character, giving me the big sister this only child always wanted. Lightning’s story taught me about myself, the person I know the least about, and that’s a precious gift I never thought a series of video games could give me.


Since I first played the trilogy, Lightning has become my symbol of strength in this crazy world of ours. Lightning always sparks a hope that eradicates my dark despair whenever it reappears. The truth is that no matter what I do with my life, I’m going to die someday. The future is an uncertain path that leads to death, and nothing can ever change that. It’s not a terrible fate, it’s the natural fact of existence. I can let that fact drag me into the depths of despair, blissfully choose to ignore it, or draw upon an incredible strength from accepting it. The terrible fate is giving up the fight along the journey of life, not what awaits me when the journey is ended.


In a way, Lightning punched the miserable monster I was in the face, and dragged her over to life’s Continue screen when the game seemed like it was over for me. Lightning taught me that fate, any fate, can always be challenged. NEVER give up, and don’t ever let that fight defeat you. You are more than worth every battle, no matter how hopeless things seem. Lightning is someone I still cling too whenever my miserable thoughts return, and she is at least someone (not real but someone) who understands how I feel. No matter what happens to me in this lifetime, Lightning’s fierce spirit will never leave me.


In conclusion, I say that anyone on the fence about trying these games should just go for it, and ignore all the opinions floating around out there (even mine). You might be surprised to find something special hiding in the center of all this controversy, or be incredibly disappointed. Either way, that’s your opinion, it’s valid, and it matters the most to you alone. By all means, share it with the world if you want to, but don’t try to force your views on anyone else. To all the trolls who insist on telling me how wrong I am about these “awful” games, I’m not listening so please don’t waste your precious time on this earth. I recommend you go play a game you do enjoy instead. Thanks! 🙂


33 thoughts on “Lightning Will Not Leave Me

  1. This was a beautiful write up. I’m one of those people that dislike the FF13 trilogy with a passion, but I have never forced my opinion on anyone because that’s not a nice thing to do. You talking about Final Fantasy 13 trilogy sounds like me talking about the Mass Effect Trilogy :). I have been thinking about trying FF13 out again because it’s been years since I last played them. I’m a different person now and I like different things now. FF13 released when I had given up on JRPGs and went into them with a very negative attitude. Great job with this :).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, dude! I’m glad you liked this. I get why many people don’t like these games, and I certainly respect your viewpoint, even if I don’t agree, haha. I’m just sick of all the troll haters on the internet who like to hate on these games with no real reason. We all like different games and that’s great. I also can’t wait to play the Mass Effect Trilogy! I hope you enjoy FF13 more if you ever do give it another chance 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. After I complete Dynasty Warriors 9 and Agents of Mayhem I’m jumping into Final Fantasy 15 (finally!) and then I’ll finally be able to start going through my backlog. The FF13 trilogy is right at the top with Assassin’s Creed Origins. I want to give them another chance :).

        And it does no one any good to spread hate. What kind of person would I be if I disrespected you because you liked something that I did not? I treat everyone the way I want to be treated and if anyone has ever disrespected you because you like FF13 they’re not worth wasting your time on.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I still haven’t played 15 yet (it’s on my massive backlog list, haha). Yay! I really hope you enjoy the games when you give them another chance. I can understand if the games just aren’t for you, too.

          I really appreciate it! 🙂 The internet would be so much nicer if everyone just respected each other. I’m glad I found this awesome blogging community! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for you! Love what you love, I say 😀 And for me personally, I don’t need a game to be perfect in order to love it. My love for the games isn’t based on “are you worthy of my love?” It’s something that comes from how I feel playing it, rather than analysing it. Long may you enjoy FF13 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was on the fence, but the fence broken and I fell off as I am a stupidly tall man bloke. Thusly, back in 1998, I gave FFVII a whirl on the PC. Snot looked back since. One of da best games series ever. Even da first ‘un.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not a big fan of physical contact but I really wanna high-five you right now! I love your write up, and I think it’s really brave to write something so personal. As you may have picked up on, I’m a big fan of the xiii series so reading about how someone else connects to it is a real treat 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so glad you were able to do this, because no FF Collab would be complete without your experts take on FFXIII. You convinced a grumpy bandwagonner like me to, you know, TRY IT MYSELF instead of buying into the negative hype. It’s interesting that both are games have been considered a negative turning point by some (FFXIII more than FFVII for really unfair reasons), but it’s these deviations that have such an impact.

    I only read the beginning to avoid spoilers but I feel this on an emotional level because I, too, had a game that saved my life ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It was a real struggle writing something but it happened, haha. Honestly, I’ve been really down on the whole writing thing lately, but I’m glad this got finished. I don’t think I’m an expert. Just an obsessed fan of Lightning 🙂 I hope you do a FFXIII/FFVII comparative essay when you play FFXIII (trust me. one needs to happen, haha). I would love to read that!

      Thank you for stopping by and reading what you did! I appreciate it, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll probably be taking wild notes as I play! I think you’re an expert, but then again I’m critical of myself as an FFVII expert, and I’m SO embarrassed when I forget something or don’t know something. I like to say I’m a symbolism expert of the game, and I know a lot about little minute parts, but there’s still plenty I have to learn.

        One day I’ll be able to read all of your FFXIII stuff once I finish the trilogy.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I forget stuff about FFXIII all the time… thank goodness for the Final Fantasy Wiki site, haha. I think you are a leading expert in Final Fantasy in general, to be honest 🙂

          I really appreciate that! I always like seeing your opinion on the stuff I write 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh thank goodness I’m not the only one lol. I remember the important stuff like most things having to do with Sephiroth lol, but I don’t remember which Weapon you fight first (though I do recall you SEE the Emerald Weapon long before you fight it in a super creepy sighting underground).

            Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a fantastic piece I enjoyed it a lot.
    I do think the hate for FFXIII does go overboard. It’s good game (one I enjoyed a lot) but not a great Final Fantasy.
    I will say though it did take me a while to get adjusted to Lightning. By the second disc I was won over by the character.

    In my opinion I think SE chose the wrong person to push as the main character. I think Sazh would have been a better choice. I know Lightning wanted to rescue her sister but Sazh wanted to rescue his child. I think if they pushed the whole “how far would a parent go to save their child” angle as the main narrative, I think the story would have been stronger. But hey that’s my opinion 🙂

    I’m glad that the XIII trilogy has helped you out through some tough times. There several video games that have helped me too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never understand when any game gets so much hate! It just seems so silly.

      I’m new to the series, so I’m interested in knowing your definition of a good *Final Fantasy* game, versus just a “good game”?

      Lightning can definitely be hard to snuggle up to at first, that’s for sure! Why do you think Sazh would have been a better choice for the main character? They… both sort of have that “how far would you go?” thing going on.

      The main difference is that Sazh is just sort of swept up in the moment while Lightning is a driving force, so I’m not sure how one avatar would make the plot stronger over another. Additionally, from a thematic standpoint, Lightning’s characteristic of fighting an inevitable fate is not only slightly more dramatic, but also appropriate considering the Norse mythology that the trilogy pulls heavily from. A Sazh-centric story arc would make the game a completely different experience from the one we saw. Not good or bad, just different.

      It’s possible I misunderstood what you were trying to say, but I think my main question is to ask how you both like FF13 and yet want the core elements of the story to be different than they were?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Some games deserve hate (Alone in the Dark for X360) FFXIII whilst it does have many flaws the hate for it seems somewhat irrational.

        Concerning good FF and a good game. – A good Final Fantasy imo has to have combat that is fun, a world that is open for you to explore, interesting characters, interesting lore, a story that is gripping yet overdramatic (FFX), a good villain and ear pleasing music.
        I know that’s a long list but when it comes to Final Fantasy everyone has differing tastes. 🙂

        FFXIII is a good game but it lacks the Final Fantasy charm that previous FF games have. However this is just my opinion.

        I like FFXIII but I just think the story would have been stronger with Sazh than Lightning. The man had lost his child wheras Lightning has lost her sister. Yes they both lost people they loved but Sazh lost his child and no parent shold ever lose their child.
        All that said though, if SE did choose Sazh as the main character they could have only done one game. Lightning had more going on for her in terms of lore than Sazh hence why they did a trilogy.

        But hey that’s my opinion and according to FFVII fanboys my opinion doesn’t matter because my favourite Final Fantasy is 8.

        Whilst I’m here, play World of Final Fantasy when you can. It’s effectively FF meets Pokemon. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Gotcha. With a list like that I can see how FFXIII doesn’t tick all the boxes. I can’t say the word that came to mind was “charming” when I played it! And honestly I’ve only ever played a few games with turn-based combat, so I guess I never took that into account with any Final Fantasy game, especially this one, until it was pointed out. I just assume I’m terrible at mastering the system haha

          I get what you’re saying. I enjoyed the Norse lore and I can’t see how that could have been done with any of the other characters leading the story, as it were, but I would definitely play a game that explored a parent/child relationship because you’re right – I think one of the most hearbreaking things that can occur is for a parent to lose their child. That could be a game with a very big impact.

          Hey, my opinion doesn’t matter either because I’ve never played VII and the internet tells me its the “best game everr” so no worries! haha

          I’m always on the lookout for video game recommendations! Thank you!! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

    2. Thank you! I’ve only played IV, VII, VIII, X, XII, and the FFXIII trilogy. To me, they all have that epic Final Fantasy feeling, but that’s just my opinion 🙂 Lightning does take some time to show her true heart, and that’s why most people have a bad first impression of her. I behave the same way (something I’m trying to change) and that’s why her character really spoke to me. For once, someone seemed to understand me.

      Interesting point! I do disagree though. I love Lightning as the main character. The love stuff and major drama happens around her. She’s not needed to save Cocoon, but she’s wanted by her friends and it was heartwarming when she finally admits she loves them. The story is about Lightning overcoming herself and protecting the world she cares about. There aren’t many female character leads like this, so I really loved it. It’s so unique to me. I do respect your opinion and agree that Sazh and Dajh would be a very interesting focus for the story,

      Thanks forreading and sharing your thoughts! I’m glad you have found games that helped you too. Yay for special video games! 🎮

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So that’s what FFXIII looks like through your eyes. I doubt my views on it are going to change any time soon, but I do appreciate that it’s very special to you.

    I also appreciate how raw you were with this one. That takes something to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great write up. Is it weird that I like Lightning, but wasn’t a fan of the first and third games? From the trilogy I like XIII-2 the most. I just checked my review of the game and noticed that I have it full marks. The other day I was thinking of hooking up my PS3 to complete some unfinished games. Perhaps I will give XIII-3 another chance (it’s the only game from the trilogy that I didn’t complete.) Like you though, I don’t like being rushed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! XIII-2 was really fun and it was nice to see Serah grow, but my biggest complaint is that Lightning wasn’t the protagonist, haha.

      Yeah. I wish that timer wasn’t there, but I learned to deal with it, and the game stands as my favourite Final Fantasy title despite it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll always be a big fan of the FFXIII series, but my dark secret is that I never ended up buying the third game. The 500 year timeskip seems a little odd, but the gameplay and story still look as hype as ever. I’ll try to at least check out the cutscenes at some point in case I don’t buy it for a while. Lightning is definitely still one of the best FF leads, I’d probably put her 2nd only to Cloud. She even goes up against Sephiroth in the new Dissidia game which was cool. She’s got to be one of the strongest at this point since she practically became a deity or at least is high ranking enough in the army to have power comparable to one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the 500 years later thing was totally weird to me at first, but I think that overall, they did a great job with the story (especially the ending). Lightning vs Sephiroth would be interesting, haha. She took out the almighty gods of her universe. I’d say that makes her pretty strong and above god level 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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