Uh, no. It fixed everything that didn't quite work for me in XIII. I loved the characters in XIII, but their world didn't engage me save for the fact that I'm a sucker for glorious rendered graphics and surreal landscapes. I enjoyed exploring Cocoon, but in the end, I only cared about the characters. The dungeons were all linear until far too late in the game, and lack of sidequests and exploration did pall after a while.
Now we've got time travel forward and back and sideways and it means something. There's enough NPCs and glimmers of worldbuilding that I actually care about the world I'm supposed to be saving. So much character angst. And I love how they've split different characters into different timelines, so that while our party is bumbling around doing its thing, we know that other friends (and enemies) are each off in other timelines trying to achieve, or thwart, our goals in parallel. And it's all character-driven, and saving the world is about saving one's friends and family.
Plus mindfuckery WTF TIME TRAVEL PARADOXES that I'm going to have to play again three times over because it's complex enough I need a flowchart -- heck, I need a frickin' tesseract -- to keep track of how things we do in the future are impacting the past and vice versa. And alternate timelines. And being able to return to a time we've lived before and try again with different choices. None of this "Time travel story, yet the plot is linear" B.S.
Plus random gratuitous bits of Norse mythology, with Valhalla and Fenrir and BEST VALKYRIE EVER WITH BIGASS SWORD.
POV is interesting. I've played the whole way through with female-lead. Once or twice I've swapped over, and I realize you might get a different perspective with male-lead, since he has his own story and inner demons. (And, for once, they're a team, not romantic couple at all.)
Downsides: Battle system isn't the greatest (XII beats all the rest with gambits and the ability to seize control of any character), but I'm more interested in story, character, worldbuilding and glorious graphics (in that order) so I don't care. Also, motion-capture people are more Gumby-like than ever, with disconcertingly better-rendered faces (I'm lookin' at you, Mr. Director), but I just pretend they're like the low-poly people in X who had personalities and a little backstory (Isaaru, Maechen) even if they didn't get the full monty render. YMMV.
I was going to say, in the early bits, that it reminded me of the parts focusing on Bran and Will in The Grey King and Silver on the Tree. Similar kinds of tests, puzzles, obstacles. Also By Balloon to the Sahara with WTF world-jumping. But it's becoming unmistakably FF over-the-top epic and character angst now.
Finally. Oerba. Oh, Oerba, when you first arrive there. I think that ranks right up there with MYST island as one of my favorite surreal game-landscapes ever.
I've heard the ending is disappointing. I hope I don't eat my words, but right now? I don't care. It's given me much, much more than I expected. I don't care if it crashes and burns in a steaming pile of fail, because I appreciate that this game attempted to present an old trope, time travel, in a new way. You couldn't do it with a book, or a movie (although Time Traveler's Wife tried to do so), or even a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, because settings and bits of the different timelines are changing and interacting with each other. I've played other time travel games, but they were still basically linear stories.* This feels truly four-dimensional.
*All right, I realize that Kingdom Hearts II was structured in a somewhat similar fashion, but the different worlds were mostly unrelated, apart from the protagonists and villains hopping between them. This is much more complex, with greater causality and linkage between the different worldbits.
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