Friends at the End of the World
In a world based in fantasy, we find a reality we could admire. Final Fantasy XV has been released for several months now and I've had time to analyze an important theme the writers developed. The theme I'm referring to is the importance of friends in the time of loss. I feel a strong connection to Noctis’s story having lost my father at around the same age he does, but had friends that spent many hours with me wrestling through the painful change. In the paragraphs to follow, I hope to address some parallels that readers may ponder.
We Feel Free
My father lost his battle with liver cancer on January 9, 2013. For months prior he hid the fact that he was severely ill, telling us that he just had bad luck catching cold after cold until one day in mid November as we took a break from our living room remodel he collapsed from a sharp pain on his side. That was the last time he would be home. We rushed him to the county hospital and it took several doctors and tests to discover he had a rare form of cancer. Doctors tried removing the tumor from the portion of his liver most damaged, but it was already too late. A couple of weeks before his passing, we were told there wasn't going to be a second surgery.
Up until his hospitalization, I didn't really care much for socializing with family. All I cared about was enjoying the college life of drinking and meeting new people.
As with Noctis, I had a small sense of cockiness leaving the nest. I didn't pay much attention to the way I would speak to my Dad who in retrospect didn't ask for much other than having his life lessons acknowledged. I remember several instances being driven to school in my Dad’s car with my headphones on not making conversation while an awkward silence dominated the ride. If you've play Final Fantasy you can recall, King Regis tried to have a deep farewell with his son when leaving the kingdom to marry Luna, but Noctis brushed off the goodbye as any youngster would as if there would be another time. How different things would things have been if he had only known it would be his final chance.
In the beginning, Noctis (and perhaps the audience) see his companions as just bros off to a fun adventure. Little do they know the evolution their friendship will take once life hits them with haymakers. It's at these hard times that bonds are revealed. When my father passed, like Noctis, I got to see which friends were willing to “stand by me”.
Where We Go
One of the most heartfelt moments of FFXV comes early on when a shocked Ignis walks back into his companion's’ room, clutching a newspaper with the horrible news that the king was killed. Gladiolus and Prompto become upset, while Noctis experiences this new wave of emotion. His strongest pillar representing manhood and security has been demolished. Where do you go from here? How are you to take on the new responsibilities as a king?
No later than a few minutes after announcing my Dad’s passing on social media on the early morning in January, I had 20-30 relatives sending me messages asking me questions about what to do now.
My father had immigrated from Nicaragua in the early 80’s which at the time was in the middle of war against the Contras. My father was a Sandinista rebel in the 70’s, but decided to leave the country once he felt that the new government wasn't going to live up to their promises. He was going to America to find work so he could send money over to the entire Gonzalez family. This same family along with a couple of new generations to follow now looked to me as his replacement and in a sense, like Noctis, I found I had become a "king" to a group of people.
Like Noctis, I had to also turn to elders that were very similar to Cid and Cor who knew my father years before I was born. They served as advisers telling me how to best keep the family together now that others would be scrambling to see what as in his will. These advisers let me know who I could trust and how to maintain composure.
Having family in the third world is a lot different than having an uncle or aunt in Florida. In a poor country like Nicaragua, folks share vastly different values and you must be careful how your actions will be interpreted.
Although Noctis’s Insomnia isn't quite the same, he still needed guidance to secure his power. One cannot secure power over others without first securing power over oneself. It is here where I feel his friends all played a major role.
Keeping the Mind Easy
I had a thrill finding different areas to take pictures with Prompto, learning new recipes with Ignis, and exploring new tracks with Gladiolus. These side quests play a much bigger part to the story when looking at it under the lens of a young man coming into his own. These tasks open up fun dialogues that reveal there truly is life after death.
Ironically, in my real life experience, I went out a whole lot more with friends trying to keep my mind off the loss. I too took a lot more photos and barbecued quite often. I'm from the Bay Area so there are many nice sites nearby I never truly absorbed. I remember I went to San Bruno State Park and Sutro Bath House as well as San Juan Bautista Mission to take many beautiful pictures.
Unlike Noctis, sadly my friend’s cooking skill never improved. I still remember my friend Cedeno biting into a beef patty he “cooked” that was still a bit too rare for my taste. Years later, we still make fun of him about it. In his defense, I did make the Caribou Lou he was sipping a bit too strong.
In general, everything about the exploration of the FFXV world is an escape. The peaceful drives with melodic past themes make reflection all the more smooth. I'm a believer that whoever was at the helm of the story’s direction knew there was a reward in absorbing landscapes.
There is More
In summary, FFXV had a strong coming of age story that a lot of young men like myself can relate to. It gives us hope that friendship truly brings remedies to life’s troubles. It so effectively illustrates that fact that in life we will always have something to lose, but we cannot ignore the gains to follow.
Roberto was born in San Francisco, CA, but raised in Daly City, CA. He's been in love with video games ever since he was a toddler, watching his father play Cobra Triangle for hours on NES. As an adult, he prides himself for being a huge Mass Effect geek and staunch supporter of Raiden in MGS2. He's an SFSU alumni, having graduated with a degree in Philosophy.