The benefits of hindsight

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Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
697
805
#1
Has anyone else gone back and watched some of XV's critical story cutscenes after having seen the ending? Because, man, Noct's behavior in the second half (and, to an extent, his friends' behavior towards him) reads totally differently once you know his destiny is to sacrifice himself.

Like, it wasn't really clear the first time around why Noct couldn't bring himself to wear the Ring. I'd kind of thought that he was having trouble because it reminded him of Luna's death, but considering the circumstances of his failed attempts to put it on, that doesn't actually make a whole lot of sense.

In light of the ending, though...

Noct's uncontrollable shaking and loss of nerve hits so much harder when you realize that he must have known putting on the Ring meant accepting a death sentence. He even directly compares himself to Luna at one point -- "It's so hard. Guess it must have been hard for you too." And when Bahamut tells him his life will be demanded of him, he skips right past at least three of the standard stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining) because he's already gone through them and expresses only sorrowful acceptance.

Gladio and Ignis must have known, too, given their own reactions when he admits that he's going to die (and a rather ominous line from Brotherhood where Gladio said Noct would never become king). Both of them mentioned seeing things through to the end in ways that make more sense when there is a set end. And Gladio's attitude in Chapter 10 takes on a whole new meaning once you realize that the duty he's calling Noct a coward for shirking will inevitably demand Noct's life -- he's not being insensitive towards Noct's mourning of Luna because he doesn't get the way Noct feels, but because he's already made up his mind about how he "should" act when Noct's time comes and wants the figurative band-aid pulled off already. (This is shown more clearly in the mid-credits campfire scene.)

Heck, even Ardyn's willingness to help Noct fulfill all but the last step of his destiny makes more sense once you realize that, even if Noct succeeds, it will cost his life and the full power of the Crystal will be spent. Killing Noct as the True King would obviously be more of a success for Ardyn, but even in failure, he managed to wipe out the line of Lucis and seemed pretty satisfied.

It's all really messed up in a way that can't be fully appreciated the first time through. =(
 

Storm

Warrior of Light
Oct 26, 2013
2,600
4,014
26
#2
man, i thought exactly about this today!

if you watched brotherhood u can understand why noctis was hesitant to put the ring, why was such a burden to him, he saw his father getting older and weaker; but i literally forgot about this during the game, the bit about the ring sucking the life of the wearer is not even mentioned, the lack of exposition harms the narrative here and in many other cases.

i think the burden noctis carried wasn't properly depicted, he lost his mother, father, bride... there's a lot of dramatic potential and i think they should have made more clear why is so hard for him.
 

Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
697
805
#3
So I've gone back and reviewed the earlier cutscenes more closely, and... a few of them read completely differently once you know the true nature of Noct's calling.

Let's start with the conversation between Noct and Cor in the first royal tomb:

Cor: At last, Your Highness.
Noct: Yeah, wanna tell me what I'm here for?
Cor: The power of kings, passed from the old to the new through the bonding of souls. One such soul lies before you. To claim your forebears' power is your birthright and duty as king.
Noct: My duty as king of what?
Cor: Now is not the time to question your calling. A king is sworn to protect his people.
Noct: And yet he chose to protect only one prince. Was that his calling? Forsake the masses to spare his own son?
Cor: How long will you remain the protected? The king entrusted the role of protector to you.
Noct: "Entrusted" it to me? Then why didn't he tell me that? Why did he stand there smiling as I left? Why-- Why did he lie to me?
Cor: That day, he didn't want you to remember him as the king. In what time you had left, he wanted to be your father. He always had faith in you, that when the time came, you would ascend for the sake of your people.
Noct: Guess he left me no choice.
Cor: The power of kings goes with you, Your Majesty.
Of particular interest is Noct asking, "My duty as king of what?" and Cor responding, "Now is not the time to question your calling."

The first time around, Noct's line seemed like a sarcastic reference to the fact that there wasn't a kingdom for him to rule anymore after the fall of Insomnia. But that interpretation is sort of at odds with the fact that every other time a "calling" is mentioned, it's in reference to a cosmic duty rather than an earthly one. As such, Noct's line can be interpreted as him basically calling out Cor for pressuring him into doing King of Light stuff instead of just King of Lucis stuff.

When Noct asks, "Was that his calling? Forsake the masses to spare his own son?" it's similarly interesting. If "calling" is taken to refer to Regis' cosmic duty, this is basically Noct asking, "Did the gods demand that my father sacrifice an entire city to save me?"

And then there's Cor's doozy of a line, "He always had faith in you, that when the time came, you would ascend for the sake of your people." This is a clear reference to Noct's ascension as King of Light as opposed to a simple coronation, IMO (which is why Noct's response is so negative). It's not clear who apart from Regis and Luna understood that Noct would have to die, but Cor at least seemed to know that Noct would be required to undergo an ascension of some sort.

Moving on, there's a conversation with Cid that takes new import in light of the ending:

Cid: Ain't nothin' nobody could've done to stop what happened.
Noct: Yeah, I realize that.
Cid: But you need to realize just what you mean to the boys by your side.
Noct: I do.
Cid: Even if they can't solve your problems, you can't hide what's goin' on from 'em. It hurts like hell. Remember -- those ain't your bodyguards, they're your brothers. Trust in 'em. Always.
In this case, it's less clear whether Cid is talking about Noct specifically or just offering Noct a lesson based on his own experience with Regis, but "[Y]ou need to realize just what you mean to the boys by your side" and "Even if they can't solve your problems, you can't hide what's goin' on from 'em" basically prefigure the camp scene at the end of the game, where (unlike Regis) Noct does confide in his friends what's going to happen to him, even though there's nothing they can do to stop it.

I do sort of suspect that Cid was talking about Noct specifically, though, if only because Noct had already been ambivalent about his duties in ways his friends didn't seem to understand.

Switching over to the villains, there's Ravus' almost impenetrable interaction with Noct that makes quite a bit more sense in retrospect:

Ravus: You received the Storm's blessing. And yet, you know nothing of the consequences.
Gladio: Watch it.
Ravus: Be still. All of you.
Prompto: Not good...
Ravus: Heir to a crown befitting no other... Witness his splendor and glory. All hail the Chosen King.
Noct: Awful high and mighty for an imperial rat, serving the enemy to hunt down Luna!
Ravus: I do not serve. I command!
Ravus: The king's sworn shield.
Gladio: You better believe it.
Ravus: A weak shield protects naught.
Noct: Hey! Wanna go? Let's do it.
Ravus: Should the Chosen fall, that too is fate.
Ravus knows that what Luna is doing for Noct in seeking the blessings of the Astrals will kill her. He likely knows that Noct is fated to die as well. And he's very bitter that this "weak," ignorant kid is critically important to the fate of the world.

It also seems implied that Ravus is willing to condemn the world in order to remove Luna's need to make further Covenants, both here ("Should the Chosen fall, that too is fate") and in Ardyn's conversation with him in Altissia:

Ardyn: The wedding day arrives, but alas, without the bride. Of course, we've come for the Hydraean, and you've gone to such lengths to prepare.
Ravus: Merely my duty.
Ardyn: Ah, but for an outsider to lead the imperial army must be a battle in and of itself. You've spoken to Lady Lunafreya?
Ravus: No.
Ardyn: That obstinate secretary, standing in the way, while you rush off to slay the Hydraean for your poor sister's sake. I know the price of the covenant.
Ardyn's lines reflect both his own knowledge that Luna will die from forging the Covenant with Leviathan and his suspicion that Ravus is trying to kill Leviathan before that happens to save his sister. Of course, we know from later flashbacks that his motivations changed before he could attempt anything like that and he ended up providing support to Luna in her plan to save the world instead of risking the world to save her, but I think we're intended to believe that that would have been true at some point. Depending on when said flashback happens, Ravus might also be lying to Ardyn about not having spoken to Luna; if the flashback happened afterwards, seeing that it was already too late to save Luna and how much she'd given up already might have been the trigger for his change.

(On a different note, Ardyn also hints at his own nature, which is really obvious in retrospect -- "Ah, but for an outsider to lead the imperial army must be a battle in and of itself.")

Anyway, speaking of Luna, her final conversation with Noct takes on some rather different implications in light of Noct's own fate:

Luna: Noctis.
Noct: Luna?
Luna: So, you found your way here.
Noct: And you found me.
Luna: A chance to see you once more... Who would have thought?
Noct: What do you mean? Why wouldn't you see me?
Luna: Because my prayers have been answered. My calling fulfilled.
Noct: But... that doesn't have to come between us.
Luna: You are the One, Noctis. The Stars shine for you now. That which is yours by right shall be restored to you. Do you remember the flowers of Tenebrae? It seems so long ago. You'll find they await you still, blooming from hill to vale.
Noct: Will you be there?
Luna: Would that I could join you... but this moment will have to be enough.
Noct: It's not right. All I... All I wanted... was to save you.
Luna: When the world falls down around you, and hope is lost, when you find yourself alone, amid a lightless place, look to the distance. Know that I am there, and that I watch over you always. Farewell, dear Noctis.
Of particular interest is that Luna's response to Noct asking, "Why wouldn't you see me?" is "Because my prayers have been answered. My calling fulfilled," and her redirection to Noct's own calling when he replies, "But... that doesn't have to come between us." She doesn't specifically say that the fulfillment of a calling is tantamount to death, but the implication is there, especially since it's pretty clear that she isn't referring to the lands of Lucis when she says, "That which is yours by right shall be restored to you."

There's a line of Noct's here that's interesting in light of his fate, too -- "It's not right. All I... All I wanted... was to save you." While it's unclear how much he knew about what would inevitably be expected of him, there are many indications that he knew that the consequences of being King weren't going to be pleasant. And in light of that, this line seems like he's saying, "I know there's nothing I can do about my fate, but I really wanted to spare you from it." =(

Another interesting line of Luna's came shortly before this:

Luna: When the prophecy is fulfilled, all in thrall to darkness shall know peace.
There's some question about what happens to people like Ravus -- who were turned into daemons -- in the afterlife, but I think this line can be taken as assurance that they're not just left to suffer.

Anyway, after Luna's death, Noct's duty becomes a much bigger focus:

Gladio: How's that ring fit ya? You'd rather carry it around then wear it? She gave her life so you could do your duty, not so you could sit around feeling sorry for yourself.
Noct: You don't think I know that?
Gladio: You don't! Ignis took one for you too, and for what?!
Ignis: Enough, Gladio.
Gladio: You think you're a king, but you're a coward.
Noct: Shut up!
Prompto: Don't do this--!
Noct: I get it, alright?! I get it!
Of particular note is Gladio saying, "You think you're a king, but you're a coward," because that can't just be Gladio accusing Noct of being too sentimental about the lives lost for the sake of the ring. He's saying Noct is scared of his duty and that he's feeling sorry for himself because of his own fate. And, while I don't think we're meant to agree that Noct is a coward for not being ready to die, I do think Gladio's supposed to be right about the real reason why Noct refuses to put on the ring.

The second conversation with Gladio on this subject includes another example of Noct calling people out for talking about Chosen One stuff without being explicit about it:

Gladio: Hold up. You sure you're ready for this? You got what it takes?
Noct: To do what?
Gladio: To face your ancestors and convince them to lend you their strength. Got a long road ahead. Can you see this through? To the end?
Noct: Can and will. Whether I like it or not, I've got a duty to fulfill -- as king.
Gladio: You're damn right you do. Then that means you'd better start taking this seriously.
Gladio starts by talking about the immediate task at hand, but then shifts over to talking about seeing things through "to the end." And Ignis mirrors this way of conceptualizing the party's shared duty later in Chapter 10:

Ignis: I would remain with you all. Til the very end.
And, by the time Noct sees the vision of Luna, he seems to have all but accepted that his duty will inevitably claim his life:

Noct: Luna... It's so hard... Guess it was hard for you, too. I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you.
So I think the way we're meant to take Noct's relationship with his duty is that he's always kind of avoided thinking about it because he knows it's going to be awful for him (there's some possibly-optional dialogue outside the throne room where he mentions how sad his dad always looked when he saw the paintings of the prophecy =( ), but Luna's death and the presence of the Ring forced him to confront it more directly. And then when he sees Bahamut, it's less a total shock and more a confirmation of the details of something he's always known was coming (which is probably why he doesn't even attempt to fight it and just looks like he's about to cry instead =( ).
 
Likes: Storm
Nov 8, 2014
65
28
26
#4
I agree Nocti's relationship to his duty was reluctant at first. Whenever Regis psychically shows up or verbally appears in dialogue from the other media materiel it counts towards reinforcing him to act upon this duty and take it serious. That's the only relationship presented, which is why in the opening hook between these two character's interaction there is tension from both of them. Noctis shows some resentment (dialogue/body language). Regis shows again reinforcement, but there's an emotion that I call concern. Kingsglaive shorthands the concern's justification because there's no possible way to play or watch how Regis feels within Final Fantasy XV. He leaves Noctis with a path larger than Noctis can ever imagine. But from your assignment I now come to the conclusion that his son never wanted to imagine it.

I believe A King's Tale, entailing Regi's adventure, while the platinum demo, entailing Nocti's childhood dreams, are more important than ever. Kings tale is a playful bed time story, but as in truth there is a dark cost to such an adventure as seen with Nocs. Meanwhile, Platinum is a reaction from his first daemon wound. He gets knocked out and retreats into a dream state where daemons, wild life, Astrals, and weapons are more light hearted and fun than reality. It also has stuff we never saw him grow up playing with based on his time with Iris. With these two cases he basically substituted the reality of his situation with a less confrontational approach. And that didn't really stop when we start his journey at the age of 20

... hnm comping mechanisms and behavior.
 
Last edited:

Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
697
805
#5
I agree Nocti's relationship to his duty was reluctant at first. Whenever Regis psychically shows up or verbally appears in dialogue from the other media materiel it counts towards reinforcing him to act upon this duty and take it serious. That's the only relationship presented, which is why in the opening hook between these two character's interaction there is tension from both of them. Noctis shows some resentment (dialogue/body language). Regis shows again reinforcement, but there's an emotion that I call concern. Kingsglaive shorthands the concern's justification because there's no possible way to play or watch how Regis feels within Final Fantasy XV. He leaves Noctis with a path larger than Noctis can ever imagine. But from your assignment I now come to the conclusion that his son never wanted to imagine it.

I believe A King's Tale, entailing Regi's adventure, while the platinum demo, entailing Nocti's childhood dreams, are more important than ever. Kings tale is a playful bed time story, but as in truth there is a dark cost to such an adventure as seen with Nocs. Meanwhile, Platinum is a reaction from his first daemon wound. He gets knocked out and retreats into a dream state where daemons, wild life, Astrals, and weapons are more light hearted and fun than reality. It also has stuff we never saw him grow up playing with based on his time with Iris. With these two cases he basically substituted the reality of his situation with a less confrontational approach. And that didn't really stop when we start his journey at the age of 20

... hnm comping mechanisms and behavior.
Well, I think there are suggestions that Noct's relationship with his father is more complicated than just Regis pushing Noct to act on his duty. That's what we see in the first scene of FFXV, of course, but Brotherhood shows Regis talking to Noct about normal kid stuff like how his day was at school as well as implying that Regis facilitated Noct's desire to avoid reminders of his duty by letting him attend public school and have his own apartment outside of the Citadel. Noct seemed to have been empowered to tell Gladio that training time was over, too. And, of course, there's the fact that Noct simply wasn't explicitly told that he would have to die.

In other words, Regis did everything he could to shield Noct from his destiny, but there was only so much he could do, and Noct couldn't help but associate Regis with the burden of the Crystal regardless.

As for Kingsglaive, I think it's more a demonstration of Regis' own burden than anything. Because while Noct's line about Regis forsaking the people to save him seems sarcastic, that's basically what Regis was forced to do. Regis knew he'd die, that the city would fall, and the casualties would be unimaginable, but Noct's survival was paramount (because he can't function as a sacrifice if he's already dead).

I can see what you mean about the Platinum Demo sort of reflecting Noct's escapism, but it's kind of important to remember that he's 8 there so making everything seem more lighthearted and fun than it really is is to be expected. I don't really know enough about A King's Tale to say much about that. ^^;