Love is a prevailing element in the Final Fantasy franchise, and it’s not hard to understand why. It helps make the characters more relatable and seem more human – the same way showcasing a character’s flaws would. It also tends to promise some level of player commitment to the story.
Some of the more notable Final Fantasy love stories include the famously debated love triangle between Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith in FFVII, Rinoa and Squall in FFVIII, Garnet and Zidane in FFIX, and of course, Tidus and Yuna in FFX. Despite the death of Aerith in VII ( which honestly just puts everyone with whom they belong – Cloud with Tifa, Zach with Aerith), there hadn’t been any truly sad love stories in the franchise until X came along. As a stand alone game, and minus the after-credits cut scene, this game would have had the greatest love story in the Final Fantasy franchise.
Final Fantasy X opens with you playing a young man, Tidus, who has some prevailing daddy issues. You watch him slowly grow over the course of the game, and you watch him slowly fall in love with Yuna, a love that seems cursed from the outset with a slow reveal that, in defeating Sin (the boss of the game and something that Yuna has sworn to defeat), Yuna will die. Yuna plays the heroine beautifully, providing much needed hope to all of Spira and being willing to sacrifice herself for its people. Over time it seems that her willingness to put everyone before herself rubs off on Tidus, and by the end of the game it’s discovered that Tidus can successfully put an end to Sin without Yuna dying. In exchange, Tidus will cease to exist. The ending is truly saddening after watching these two characters develop feelings for each other and then having to watch Tidus go to the Farplane and leave Yuna behind. Not to mention watching Yuna preform her final sending and then watching her heart break while Tidus holds her after she tells him ‘I love you.’
As the credits roll you hope for a small cut scene, like the one in FFIX, where Tidus rushes out of the farplane and finds Yuna after a small amount of time has passed. To be fair, there is an after credits scene where Tidus is swimming upwards in some water, setting the tone for Final Fantasy X-2, but lets suppose the game doesn’t have that scene. With that not being considered, it really brings home the love story of this game, making it all the more poignant.
There are so many games, books, and media in general these days, that are afraid of the unhappy ending. Happy endings are everywhere and honestly they’re getting a bit trite. That’s why looking at this game as a completely stand alone, end at the credits, kind of game makes it so much better. Final Fantasy X had the potential of being remembered for its appealing story line and original ending.
Of course, Final Fantasy X-2 has since brought Yuna and Tidus back together, in what seems to be another case of a gaming company hoping to make money off of a sequel that was unnecessary. The love story in Final Fantasy X is tragic, but well played out. It could have, and would have, stood up on it’s own with the tragic loss of Tidus. When considering Final Fantasy X without X-2, this Final Fantasy game offers one of the best love stories in the franchise.