The first three hours of Final Fantasy XVI made me feel emotionally involved in the eventful life of protagonist Clive. In the beginning of the game, the player experiences Clive’s past through a lengthy playable flashback. Clive’s younger brother Joshua, a girl named Jill, and wolf puppy named Torgal each make appearances during this early part of the game.
As previous trailers have shown, during this period in the young Clive’s life, Joshua is killed in front of his eyes, prompting Clive to devote the rest of his life to revenge. He is also separated from Jill and Torgal.
What happens to Clive after the death of Joshua and how he reunites with Jill and Torgal are best experienced when you play the game for yourself, so I won’t go into further detail, but let’s just say that it all reminded me of classic RPG Dragon Quest V.
Regarded as one of the best RPGs of all time – especially in Japan – Dragon Quest V is remembered for its emotional scenario. You start the game as a 6-year-old boy who is introduced to his childhood friend Bianca, and they save a Saber cat together. Then, the protagonist loses someone very dear to him and is separated from Bianca and the Saber cat, only to reunite with them seven years later.
I asked the development team about this similarity during an exclusive interview at Square Enix’s Tokyo office.
“Yes, I think I may have been influenced by it in some way,” Creative Director and Scenario Writer Kazutoyo Maehiro admits with a chuckle.
“In Dragon Quest V, you start out as a kid and travel with your father Pankraz and reunite with Bianca,” explains Maehiro. “You’re turned to stone at some point and eventually even have kids. In how it depicts the entire life of its protagonist, I think that Dragon Quest V’s scenario and game design are a complete package. Of course I’m a fan myself, so I think I’ve been influenced by it.”
That doesn’t mean that Final Fantasy XVI is a direct reinterpretation of Dragon Quest V. The world is darker, and Clive’s journey seems to tackle more adult themes. Experiencing childhood tragedies and dealing with them later in life is a universal theme, and obviously not something that originated with Dragon Quest V.
“Upon depicting Clive’s journey through life, we needed to know his goals and motives,” says Producer Naoki Yoshida. “He is not the type who originally wants to save the world. That’s how I think we naturally came to this story.”
Depicting the growth of a character from youth to adulthood is something commonly seen in novels and movies, but rare for a game. In that sense, Final Fantasy XVI should be on the radar for any player who holds fond memories of Dragon Quest V’s engaging story.
Final Fantasy XVI releases on June 22 for PlayStation 5. For more on Final Fantasy XVI, check out how the development team were inspired by FromSoftware’s games, why Chocobos are referred to as horses in the Japanese version, and the reason the development team chose not to include mini-games.
Esra Krabbe is an editor at IGN Japan. Together with Skies of Arcadia and Suikoden II, Dragon Quest V is his favorite RPG.
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Author: Taylor Lyles