Besides its breathtaking graphics and heart-wrenching storyline, Final Fantasy XV breaks ground in that it takes a friendlier stance toward religion than we’re used to seeing in the series. I was blown away by the enthralling gameplay, voice acting, and world building, but what shocked me the most was how many biblical ideas were at play.
In this latest installment of the franchise, you walk in the shoes of Prince Noctis as he journeys with three companions to save the world of Eos from everlasting darkness. To do this, Noctis must acquire the strength of the six gods also known as Astrals. Players participate in quests that involve slaying enemies, finding items, and helping other characters.
As you progress, you have the choice to be noble, ambivalent, or spiteful in how to respond to other characters. Ultimately, pursuing the more virtuous path allows you to accomplish more in the game. In one sequence, while negotiating with a government official, showing wisdom and compassion allows you to gain her trust, while being selfish and apathetic hinders your alliance.
I was also intrigued to discover that while Final Fantasy XV is polytheistic, there is one cut scene that hints at monotheistic theology. The Astrals are mighty and speak of mortals as if they’re beneath them. However, one of them, the god of war, mentions “a power even greater than that of the six…” This could possibly imply a higher power that made Eos, since its origins were never defined. It could even imply a One True God, suggesting the Astrals are simply powerful beings.
After noticing these elements, I began to look for other allusions to Christianity. Sure enough, Noctis is called the “True King” and the “King of Kings.” Ardyn, the game’s villain, is referenced as “the Usurper” and “the Accursed.” At one point it is mentioned that he has fallen from grace, much like Lucifer. Noctis and Ardyn’s final battle likens to Jesus’ defeat of Satan in Revelation 20. Noctis brought light to a nearly unredeemable world, much like Jesus brought light to the world with his crucifixion.
Past Final Fantasy games have been disrespectful to Christianity at best. In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII God is portrayed as a villain, even to the point of holding the protagonist’s sister hostage. Final Fantasy X portrays an organized religion that wants to keep technology from advancing and wipes out civilizations who try to do so. In Final Fantasy VI you even have to fight and kill a villain who takes on the imagery of Michelangelo’s Pietà, a sculpture that portrays Mary holding a crucified Jesus.
In contrast, one of the most touching scenes in Final Fantasy XV reminded me very much of the Last Supper, as Noctis tells his close friends Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto that although he has made his peace with death, it hurts to leave them. This also alludes to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, when he pleads to God and is frightened about what awaits him.
Though Noctis has Christ-like features, he isn’t meant to be perfect. His actions aren’t portrayed as being overly pious, but as a part of who he, someone others admire and respect. Ignus, Gladio, and Prompto encourage Noctis to be a kind, merciful, compassionate. Above all he’s portrayed as a role model for others.
I’m so happy to have played a game that echoes Christianity in these ways. I hope this leads more video games, especially in the Final Fantasy series, to do the same.