I haven’t had a lot of time to game much because of several transitions in my personal life. I have been organizing my writing schedule, starting a new job, completing a video game recommendation guide for Christians, and looking for inspiration from new games to write about. I didn’t realize how many games I had played until I looked at my personal list. This time, Final Fantasy XIII caught my eye—even though it’s been a while since I played it, I knew I could draw some great points from it.
Not only does Final Fantasy XIII deal with eternal life, which is the highlight of submitting to Christ and His forgiveness of our sins, but also our purpose and what that all means. If you have not played this one, I will give you a brief synopsis of what’s going on and why the main character’s promise to her sister is so important. The game begins in the past, where we see a celebration unfolding until the city Bodhum comes into contact with the fal’Cie, creatures from another dimension. They carry a sort of disease that, if you get infected, eventually turns you into one of them. Not only that, but you receive a mark on your body that proves this to be true. Each person that this occurs to has a Focus, which is their new purpose for the remainder of their life. The main protagonists all get a Focus, which has to do with the same dream they all had of the end of the world as they know it.
Lightning is the main character of the story, and her sister Serah has been marked by the fal’Cie that entered their city. Serah’s fiancé, Snow, wants to save her, but eventually it becomes too late. Once someone completes their Focus, they are turned into crystal (if they don’t go through with their Focus, they turn into a hideous creature called Cie’th). The L’cie mark is given to those who have come in contact with fal’Cie and that’s when their life is changed forever. Serah is crystallized and considered to have died and gone on to eternity. What exactly eternity is in this game is not explained, but the afterlife and a person’s destiny are strongly connected in Final Fantasy XIII.
The personalities of Snow and Lightning are interesting to view since each are very stubborn, but love Serah in different ways. Snow’s feelings for her cloud his judgement at times—Serah was almost killed because of him once. Lightning, on the other hand, can be cold and harsh with her teammates. Her mission is what drives her, not so much the unfolding plots of those surrounding her. Even though she’s part of a team, she will not hesitate to leave them in an instant to complete her Focus and save her sister. Lightning wanted her sister to have a long and happy life, but seeing it cut short without her being able to stop it led her on a journey to save her.
The group’s goals are to figure out how to complete their Focuses, to avoid getting turned into crystals, and to free Serah, amongst others. Their focus on securing life for themselves and Serah remind me of the words of Jesus Christ when He spoke about works not saving you, but only the gift from God Himself giving us eternal life. That gift is such an easy one to accept, since it’s already been paid for by the Son of God’s sacrifice and resurrection (1 Peter 2:24, John 11:25-26). In the game, you must complete your focus or eternal life is out of your grasp, unlike God’s invitation. Christ gave us eternal life for free and we don’t have to work for it. Imagine an item in a game that is given to any player that wants it—all you have to do is go get it. God made the path to Heaven the same way, and on top of it He blesses us with peace, mercy and love.
Eternity is a long time to think about, and it’s a very serious topic to discuss. Though many do not believe in an afterlife, if they are wrong, then they will not enjoy where they end up. God never meant for any soul to go to hell, as it’s His will for all to know salvation (2 Peter 3:9). But salvation can’t be forced upon anyone, because that would remove free will from the equation. A loving parent wouldn’t make their child love them; it should come naturally instead. Souls in Final Fantasy XIII are left crystallized, forever frozen in time. They can be awoken, as we see happen in some situations throughout the game, but does time stop for them? I wonder what the person is feeling, thinking, or going through in that state.
I would not want to be turned into a crystal if I couldn’t complete my destiny, nor be turned into a horrendous creature. Final Fantasy XIII has its flaws as an entry in the JRPG scene, from its confusing plot to minimal character development (and let’s not talk about the battle system), but I did come away with an important lesson: human beings long to find eternal life and its meaning. Asking God for guidance is the best and sure-fire way to do this, as it’s a desire inside us all.
Every Final Fantasy game is an adventure in a different world with different circumstances. Just like the life of every individual in history and those that are to come, we are all living our present time on Earth. Eternity will find us one day—there’s no escaping it (check out in the meantime, Christians’ main “Focuses” are knowing our Father, believing in the forgiveness of our sins through Christ, and living a life that is pleasing to Him). It can be difficult to see because we live here in the physical realm with life happening every day. Reflecting on what is to come every now and then can be a good practice, as it allows us to see His goodness in our lives, and prompts us to long for that time when we will be in His presence forever. Though I love my life here, I look forward to what is to come.