Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a confusing experience. Those plucky enough to see through a first playthrough would have questions — thankfully, I have answers.
A collection of disparate influences, this JRPG is familiar and fresh, janky and obtuse. Director Hajime Tabata has explained that the “Type” series was a means of presenting Final Fantasy games too experimental to be numbered. This rings true upon seeing a Chocobo bleed to death in the opening minutes.
Before releasing as Type-0 this PSP action-RPG was originally titled Final Fantasy Agito XIII, proudly parading its ties to Final Fantasy XIII and the Fabula Nova Crystallis series. In spite of the name change the mythos of XIII makes a full return — principle characters are l’Cie, Eidolons are summoned to do battle, and the themes focus primarily on death and free will in a world of Gods.
When the Tigers Broke Free
We’re introduced to Class Zero amidst the invasion of the Dominion of Rubrum by the Militesi Empire. Our protagonists are able to salvage Rubrum’s position, although not without casualties.
The Kingdom of Concordia soon steps in to settle the conflict before being pulled into all-out war. Meanwhile, the Lorican Alliance is obliterated by an Ultima Bomb dropped by the Empire after its invasion forces are pushed out of Rubrum. Pretty vile, eh?
Why would the high commander of an Empire’s military perform a coup and initiate a war against all nations? This isn’t the type of JRPG where the antagonist is twirling an evil mustache.
Imperial Marshal Cid Aulstyne had discovered something BIG.
Orience, the land all nations in Type-0 call home, is actually a part of a large-scale experiment put on by the Gods. An experiment that has been repeated a number of times, actually. The conclusion of every previous test sees the land and all of its inhabitants annihilated. As such, Orience is caught in a continuous spiral of death that has seen the world destroyed and reborn 600,104,972 times.
Although much of the campaign portrays Cid as a heartless villain he is a liberator in some respects. Similar to Vayne Carudas Solidor in Final Fantasy XII.
Cid took action for the sake of freeing Orience and humanity as a whole from the slavery of the Gods and four Crystals. His methods are extreme and he has a lot of blood on his hands, but he isn’t bad for the sake of being bad.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door
Orience is at the will of three deities — Diva, Gala, and a third who follows the wills of Pulse and Lindzei. If you paid attention to any of the datalogs in the Final Fantasy XIII this will sound familiar.
Diva is an observer of events. Gala and the third deity, however, are manipulate world events and use different approaches to locate Etro’s Gate for Bhunivelze.
If you didn’t pay attention to the plots of the three Final Fantasy XIII games I’ll throw you a bone with a brief explaination. Bhunivelze killed his mother, Mwynn, in order to seize power over the realm of the living. At some point, he became troubled at the thought of her placing a curse on the realm so that it might one day end. To ensure this would never happen he sought entry into the Unseen Realm where the dead were said to go.
Unable to reach that realm without losing power over the mortal world he created the fal’Cie Pulse and gave him the task of finding the entrance to the land of the dead.
Etro was created not long after to assist Pulse but was stripped of her powers once Bhunivelze realized he had inadvertently made her in the same image as his mother. In a final act Bhunivelze created Lindzei to work with Pulse and then fell into a deep crystal sleep only to be awoken once the door to the Unseen Realm was found.
This door to the Unseen Realm would come to be known as Etro’s Gate after the former deity killed herself. She had become depressed and lonely as she lacked purpose without her power, however, in dying she accomplished two very important things: (1) from Etro’s spilled blood humanity was born and soon flourished and (2) it gave the Unseen Realm a new caretaker.
In the Unseen Realm Etro found Bhunivelze’s mother Mwynn being overtaken by the chaos that permeated the realm and tasked Etro with protecting the balance of the universe and maintaining the cycle of life and death. Pulse and Lindzie would use the world of Orience as a means to breaking into Etro’s Gate for their master.
Diva serves as Type-0’s female narrator. She appears during the game’s opening and exists as a neutral observer of the world’s history. She records events and has been instructed to never interfere with the events of Orience.
Lindzei, who is often vilified in the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos, is the master of Gala. Gala is introduced towards the end of the game as the Rursan Judge and looks somewhat similar to the masked dark knight villains of earlier Final Fantasy titles. His role is to arrive when Orience becomes imbalanced as the result of one nation dominating the other three. He uses his forces to slaughter everyone in Orience in order to create a flood of souls to force Etro’s Gate open. He has successfully killed all in the land of Orience 600,104,971 times without being able to force the gate open. Still, his role is pivotal to the events of Tempus Finis (or, the end times).
Pulse, also known as Hallowed Pulse or “the Maker,” is the master of the third and final deity. Pulse instructed her to select twelve individuals in each experiment cycle and see if the quality of their souls was strong enough to become Agito, allowing them to interact and pass between the realms. To augment the experiment, she introduced the crystals of the four nations and would impart the ability to absorb Phantoma to her chosen Agito cadets. The idea behind this approach was to find Etro’s Gate with the least amount of human casualties necessary.
Mother Knows Best
The third diety is none other than Arecia Al-Rashia, the arch-sorceress in the Dominion of Rubrum, the head of the Sorcery Division at Akademeia, a member of the Consortium of Eight, and the one who each member of Class Zero refers to as “Mother.” While very few people know of her true role as a deity of Orience, those who do recognize her interest in human potential. Unlike other deities serving Bhunivelze, Arecia seeks a world that has a future for humanity. Blame it on the number of times this experiment has taken place, but she has come to have a genuine fondness for her Agito cadets.
Gala wears a full suit of armor and has no care for human life. He seeks only to obliterate as many lives as possible to force Etro’s Gate open. His true form is rarely witnessed and he comes to possess Imperial Marshal Cid Aulstyne of the Militesi Empire to achieve his goals.
When Cid arrives in Pandaemonium (the testing grounds of Tempus Finis) with the intention of becoming Agito and freeing humanity from the cycle of death and destruction Gala tells the Imperial Marshall that it is his fate to become the Arbiter of Tempus Finis. Cid then kills himself in an attempt to prevent his body from being possessed and used to destroy humanity. It was ultimately in vain as Gala takes the body anyway. If the Agito cadets are able to best him (even though none have before) he falls into a deep slumber.
Agito is a term that refers to the messiah prophesied in ancient mythology to appear at the time of the apocalypse, or so citizens of Orience have been led to believe.
It’s apparent that Agito are able to find and open the gateway between the mortal world and the Unseen Realm. While Arecia Al-Rashia is largely responsible for the creation of Agito, the term is championed and used as a tool to inspire the troops of the Empire by Imperial Marshall Cid.
Arecia Al-Rashia’s Agito cadets previously failed in part because they chose to become l’Cie during prior experiments. The events of Type-0 introduce a few new variables that play into the Nameless Tome — a document written by Diva as the world’s observer.
According to the Nameless Tome sixteen constellations were found at the same time. It is said that the sixteen will arrive in the world at a certain moment in the form of human beings to see if they have the strength to prevent Tempus Finis from occurring and open Etro’s Gate.
The first twelve represent different internal powers:
- Ace – Trust
- Deuce – Gentleness
- Trey – Knowledge
- Cater – Bravery
- Cinque – Innocence
- Sice – Persistence
- Seven – Understanding
- Eight – Calm
- Nine – Action
- Jack – Ignorance
- Queen – Intelligence
- King – Resolve
The four variables present in this new experiment represent internal fears:
- Machina Kunagiri – Fear
- Rem Tokimiya – Love
- Joker (00) – Pain
- Tiz (10) – Decrepitude
The Joker and the Thief
You wouldn’t have seen much of Joker and Tiz unless you played through the campaign more than once. They are both technically Agito cadets and Joker even refers to Aracia as Mother, but they have since been removed from the experiment.
Joker and Tiz oversee the events in Orience’s history as in-world agents. Their backstories are fleshed out in the F2P mobile game Final Fantasy Agito and we don’t see much of them in Type-0.
They appear to have observed numerous cycles of Orience’s destruction and have somehow retained their memories.
Without the influence of Joker and Tiz, it may have been impossible to break the repeating cycle Orience has been caught in.
Phantoma the Opera
Phantoma is what sets Class Zero apart from the rest Rubrum’s cadets.
When the Militesi Empire invades Rubrum their l’Cie uses a Crystal Jammer to cut the connection between Rubrum’s Vermilion Bird Crystal and its military forces, resulting in massive casualties. This Jammer didn’t affect the Agito cadets due to the cadet’s ability to absorb Phantoma.
The best way to describe Phantoma is life force or a soul. It comes in a variety of colours and Phantoma can be used to restore members of Class Zero to life.
The four crystals share a few properties, but feature unique benefits to their nations.
Each crystal has its own l’Cie, whom are bound to follow the will of their respective crystal. These warriors can exist for hundreds of years, but the great power granted to them also forces gradual memory loss – to the point where a l’Cie will lose sight of who they are. In a similar fashion, the citizens of Orience cannot remember the people in their lives who have died.
In terms of how they differ, we should examine each nation and its crystal:
Dominion of Rubrum: Rubrum controls the Vermilion Bird Crystal, which grants the citizens of Rubrum the power of magic (a feat restricted to l’Cie in other nations). This includes the ability to summon Eidolons at the cost of the summoner’s life.
Militesi Empire: Militesi controls the White Tiger Crystal, which holds the power of advanced weaponry and technology. The crystal has been used by Cid as a weapon of war.
Lorican Alliance: Lorica controls the Black Tortoise Crystal, which contains the power of the shield and grants its citizens a much larger size. Lorica is a nation to be reckoned with in terms of brute force.
Kingdom of Concordia: Concordia controls the Azure Dragon Crystal, and holds the power of the dragon. The ruler of the nation is able to communicate with the Dragon Queen and the crystal allows its citizens to control a fleet of wyverns.
The nations follow the will of these crystals, unknowingly participating in Aracia’s experiment.
Good to l’Cie You
Instead of following a focus given to them by their fal’Cie, the l’Cie of Type-0 bend to the will of their Crystal. It doesn’t matter what the military or political powers of their land expect — they will not comply with anything other than the the Crystal’s will. There are even times where it seems as though these l’Cie lose control of their bodies completely to their crystal.
l’Cie are now also categorized; Primus l’Cie are combat oriented and Secundus l’Cie possess special abilities. They aren’t seen as having a curse and have regal titles such as Lord Zhuyu and Lady Celestia. Serving the crystal in such a way is seen by many as a blessing.
This power also can be passed from one l’Cie to another, though it is said that this transferring is also the will of the crystals.
Not all has changed though. Orience l’Cie will enter a crystal stasis when the crystal deems his or her purpose fulfilled. Unlike other citizens of Orience they can still be remembered once crystallized.
In each of the 600,104,971 prior experiments Class Zero were given the opportunity to become l’Cie and took it. In the 600,104,972nd attempt Machina and Rem became l’Cie for the White Tiger and Vermillion Bird crystals, respectively.
Class Zero may have been weaker by not accepting the gift of l’Cie from the Crystals, but the Agito cadets could drain the Phantoma of the Rursan Arbiter — the final boss and ultimate decider of Orience’s fate. Stopping the Arbiter stalled the end of the world, but it left every member of Class Zero on the brink of death.
It was at this point Joker and Tiz (who had been observing these events) called Arecia to inform her of Class Zero’s final moments. Joker and Tiz tell her to speak with Machina and Rem — the two who “took their place.”
Machnia and Rem, having been made l’Cie to competing crystals over the course of Type-0’s story, fought each other not far from Class Zero’s final battle. In dying together during this combat, the childhood friends crystallized together. Arecia asked them of Class Zero’s efforts against Gala before releasing both from their crystal stasis and deciding to end these experiments.
Arecia allows all of Orience to remember the dead and abandons her search for Etro’s Gate. She leaves Orience and the cycle is finally broken as Gala, her opposing force, is left in a state of eternal slumber. Machina and Rem return to Rubrum to find the bodies of Class Zero.
The game ends with the death of Class Zero, but this break in the cycle means that there is a new timeline where Rem and Machina live on (there’s also an alternate ending in which Ace is best bros with Machina and they’re still attending Rubrum’s Akademy).
9 and 9 meets 9
The real question is “what the hell does ‘9 and 9 meets 9’ mean?”
According to Hiroki Chiba, the game’s scenario writer, the number nine is the last single-digit number so it also symbolizes the end. This phrase is a unique abstract expression which means the end of three (nations) signifies the end of the world. It’s all a fancy way of saying that one nation gaining control over all of Orience will initiate the end of the world. That’s it.
With that, I hope you have a more comprehensive understanding of this zany ass story. There is plenty we didn’t touch on such as dragon-eating zombies, Lorica’s Gilgamesh, and the Final Fantasy Type-Next hidden trailer but I figured we’d save that for another day.