During my time with Final Fantasy XVI, I kept thinking about Final Fantasy VIII, not just because it’s probably my favorite Final Fantasy, but because there were some genuine synergies between these two FF games. Maybe a lot of that had to do with the fact that the main battle theme of FFXVI literally sounds like FFVIII’s fight music.
Or maybe it had to do with FFXVI’s cosmic plot focusing on the slow unraveling of a cosmic big bad whose motivations are somewhat mysterious and unclear. That wasn’t all. Everywhere I looked, I felt like I was seeing FFVIII. The central role that FFXVI’s summons (the Eikons) play in the narrative reminded me a lot of FVIII’s Guardian Forces, narratively and (to a certain degree) mechanically.
There’s a spellbinding fusion of fantasy and sci-fi in Final Fantasy VIII, and it’s executed in a way that feels incredibly natural, setting the stage for a mind-bending story that’ll stick with you.
I played Final Fantasy VIII back in 1998, and I still really don’t understand everything in its story. I don’t mean that it’s confusing in a negative sense,, but that it has a rich, almost dreamlike ambiguity, weaving the kind of mysterious, fantastical tale you can find all sorts of meanings in. I don’t think I’ll say the same about FFXVI 20-plus years from now. FFVIII keeps its cards very close to its chest in the narrative department and continues to bend and twist its story in interesting, unexpected ways over the course of its 4-disc adventure. As a classic FF, it features turn-based combat and strict RPG mechanics (which you can break the hell out of, by the way). If you’re not opposed to some ‘90s gaming vibes, FFVIII makes for an excellent follow up to FFXVI.
You may want to give some consideration to how you play this game, however. 2019’s remaster of the 1998 RPG features new character models and improved audio. But if I’m being honest, the lack of true analog movement and the jagged juxtaposition of the newer, fancier models with the old pre-rendered environments and lower-poly NPC models isn’t great. If you can, get yourself the PSX version and either a PSX, PS2, or PS3 to experience this 1990’s gem.
But if you’re only on PC and don’t have a legally obtained backup of the ISO and an emulator, go with the remastered version. The original PC release (which is still, somehow, on Steam) butchers the audio and soundtrack to an inexcusable degree.
Buy Final Fantasy VIII: Amazon | GameStop