Quite a mob of characters here, like FFIV, although unlike FFIV I feel like we're spreading around our time with them and so getting to know them a little better. I'm not getting them yanked in and out of the party at the game's whim, which is something that bugged me about FFIV.
Characters: I mostly like them all, so far, although I'd like some more development on Terra and Gau. As expected, I like Celes quite a lot. Also Edgar, and Cyan -- what a nice, tragic backstory we got on him; is an Auron vibe an appropriate thing to have? From the character descriptions and preliminary scenes, I had expected Locke to be the temperamental, excitable, a little-bit-dim guy, but so far it appears that Sabin fills that role, and I kind of enjoy seeing that trope go to the monk rather than the thief. Not sure what to make of Gau, "wild boy who speaks broken English"; I shudder to think what a voice actor would do with that role. Although I must admit that his introduction was fun. Also a little disturbing to me, to my surprise, is Locke himself, what with the whole "women are for saving!" thing he has going, not to mention keeping his dead girlfriend in the basement. Shadow is a bit of a cypher, I imagine intentionally. As for Setzer, we just met him, and I'm not generally disposed to get a good first impression of kidnappers. I usually prefer my womanizing rakes to be more in the Edgar mold: flirtatious but generally honorable. But he also seems like he could be fun. So we'll see.
As for other characters, and the story as a whole, I like the contrast between General Leo (a good man who just happens to work for the wrong side) and Kefka (mad villain with delusions of grandeur and no moral compass whatsoever). The rest of the Empire is a bit faceless so far, and the leader of the Returners didn't even leave enough of an impression for me to remember his name, but "scrappy rebels go up against an evil establishment" will almost always be a storyline that appeals to me, so I'm content to see where it goes. The Opera sequence was cute and unlike most FF puzzles. Even if I did have to play it five times before I got it right (and then lost to Ultros). It's always fun to finally see these things in game that I've heard talked about in fandom for years.
Gameplay... well, it's an old-school Final Fantasy game, with all the good and bad that entails. Mostly good, since I enjoy the standard FF gameplay more often than not. I could do without having to deal with pincher attacks, though -- I'm really glad the later games pretty much got rid of those. I also wish the special abilities -- Bushido, Saban's monk attacks -- weren't quite so opaque. But these are minor quibbles, really. The lack of voice acting is a little jarring to me -- the last time I played a game without any voices was 2004, when I went through all the PS1-era games.
No real pairings yet, although I see the seeds of Celes/Locke being planted. Maybe Edgar/Terra, or Sabin/Terra, or even Locke/Terra, although again with the dead girlfriend in the basement. The boy has issues, is all I'm saying.
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