Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 Review: Lightning Strike-Out

On the visual side of things, Lightning Returns is a mixed bag. As you would expect from a Final Fantasy game, the character models of Lightning and the rest of the main cast are all gorgeous. Careful attention to detail has obviously been paid to all of Lightning’s costumes. The environments, on the other hand, are a different story. Muddy textures, boring architecture, and an inconsistent framerate leave an ugly blemish on Lightning Returns’ visual presentation.

Thankfully, the audio holds up much better, with some memorable returning tunes from FF13, fantastic remixes of some classics like the “Chocobo Theme,” and another strong performance from Ali Hillis as Lightning.

If the fact that there are only five main quests and four regions makes you concerned about the game’s length, don’t be. It took me about 45 hours to get through the game on normal, even bypassing many of the hardest sidequests. Once you finish the story, a new game plus mode opens up along with a harder difficulty and even more costumes and weapons to unlock that weren’t available in the first playthrough. Needless to say, if you enjoy Lightning Returns, there will be enough content to keep you playing for a long, long time.

There’s a great game buried in the code of Lightning Returns, and if you’re the sort that’s willing to dig through a seemingly endless amount of mind numbing sidequests, then you might be able to find it. For me though, Lightning Returns was a draining gauntlet of fetch quests and gathering missions that occasionally allowed me to have fun with its deep combat and customization options. Unfortunately, occasional fun is not something I can recommend for a game that lasts upwards of 40 hours, especially when the rest of time spent playing feels like running errands.

Pros:

  • Deep battle system that rewards both skillful play and careful planning
  • Customizing schemata by mixing and matching various garbs, weapons, shields and accessories is fantastic and allows you to play your way
  • Completely non-linear structure allows players the freedom to go wherever they want pretty much right from the start
  • While the various costumes that Lightning can wear are silly within the context of the story, they’re all very well designed and fun to experiment with in your schematas

Cons:

  • Awful sidequests, which is especially frustrating when 80 percent of the time you play, there’s nothing to do other than complete sidequests
  • A lack of waypoints leads to a lot of aimless wandering, hoping that you eventually find a person you need to talk to or item you need for a quest
  • Extravagant spell effects can obscure the view of battle
  • Rewards from defeating monsters could have been balanced better to make tough battles against standard enemies feel more satisfying
  • Time locked gates are a huge frustration and seem to only be placed to waste your time

Final Score: 65/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.

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6 Comments on Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 Review: Lightning Strike-Out

Michael

On February 11, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Alright I will say this only once. Square Enix RPGs are getting worse and worse. They are never going to pull off a successful RPG’s the likes that have been done in the 90′s. They just keep damaging a product that’s already been damage once too many times. This is by far one of the worst Final Fantasy games ever made. Why would they keep adding content to this horrible game? They had to redo FF14 which was a waste of time, money and resources. They are releasing FFX and X2 HD soon which in fact will probably sell better than all there recent games put together. What they need to do is go back to the old formula of RPG’s. They really need to play and understand what made those games awesome and what makes there games garbage. Then and only then will they start releasing great RPGs.

SupremeAllah

On February 11, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Hey Mike, if you want a good SquareEnix RPG, look towards Bravely Default. Just came out last week on 3DS, and is basically a traditional Final Fantasy game. It is very good.

chase

On March 3, 2014 at 9:57 am

so tired of haters. the game is not that bad, the story is not that bad. I don’t understand where the hate comes from. Time moves on, not every game can be final fantasy 6 or 7. Many people like more action oriented gameplay. IMO final fantasy 15 looks to be the BEST GAME THEY HAVE EVER RELEASED. from the story, graphics, and gameplay I have seen to me it looks like it could beat every final fantasy ever in terms of quality. So that would make their games getting better, not worse. Final fantasy 13 was the first final fantasy in the current age of gaming, consider it a test if you will, for the absolute MASTERPIECE that final fantasy 15 will be. All three final fantasy 13′s are worth playing while you wait on that GEM of a game to come out ;)

Hyren

On March 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

@chase – I hope you’re right, because FF13 was awful. Completely linear and unintuitive gameplay, nonsensical story with no relateable or sympathetic characters etc. It’s not just a case of liking the older games better, it was a shallow and tedious experience even ignoring the history of the franchise.

Sephiroth

On March 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I think that this game is ok, 3.5/5 maybe. The best thing about the game is the battle system, Ive only seen this in FFX-2, but not nearly as customizable as LRFF13. The clock is your worst enemy in this game, but once you beat the game the first time, you start a New Game+, and as long as you have somewhat of a decent memory its much easier. I ended up getting almost all of the side quests done within the first 8 days, the other 5 I had were used to explore and collect Canvas of Prayers objects. I agree with most that it could have been much better of a game, but it could also be a lot worse.

wolfe

On April 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

@Chase, you’re a totally a moron… We know back in the days how Final Fantasy game was, do research.