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Thread: Diverse Villains, Same Old Actions

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    Default Diverse Villains, Same Old Actions

    It occurs to me as I reflect on Seymour's weaknesses as a character that FF only knows how to write one way of a villain acting, despite their myriad personal differences and varying levels of sympathy. It first struck me with Seymour because, while he is supposed to be insane, he's also supposed to be well-intentioned in a warped way. I like to contrast him to Dagoth Ur from Morrowind. When I played Morrowind, me and other players discussed his charisma but somebody else said it wasn't charisma so much as "it's refreshing to not have a villain rant about having to break a few eggs to make an omelette." Dagoth Ur is crazy but he also seems genuinely kind and benevolent in his own twisted way. He is genuinely doing what he thinks is good for everyone. Seymour talks a lot about easing Spira's suffering, and we're clearly supposed to believe that is his goal, but all he does is laugh about murdering folks and that rather undermines his messianic delusions.

    And that sort of MWAHAHAHAHA evil is present in every FF main villain with the exception of Vayne. From Sephiroth on they are pretty much all supposed to be tragic and pitiable but every single one of them, from Sephiroth to Ardyn, indulges in sadistic cackling. It's kind of hard to believe there is anything but pure malevolence here when they keep relishing in the violence they perpetrate upon others. Lotta people don't wanna forgive Kuja and it probably be much easier to see his perfectly human struggles if he didn't keep laughing at everyone's misery.

    Wait, I was forgetting somebody, Caius in XIII-2. He's angry and full of spite but never once has a long evil laugh about hurting people while also claiming he's helping. Caius continues to be the best FF villain.

  2. #2
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    FF is best about making flat villains. Yeah they have some interesting lore or backstory, but they're all card carrying evil assholes at the end of the day.

    The Xeno and Ivalice teams sort of destroyed my ability to appreciate villains from mainline FF.

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    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Agreed. The series was at its best with this trope with Kefka because he was so unapologetic and straightforward about it.

    FTR, I'm fairly sure everything Seymour says about easing suffering is a rationalization that I doubt he himself even believes. Beyond the mask of a Yevon Maester he hates Spira and just wants it to die in a fire. Still I don't think he's pulled off well by the game at all, since all he actually is in the story is "that asshole that gets in the way of our love story".

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Yeah, honestly, Seymour's motive doesn't make much sense and changes too often to feel like a real plan. The game makes it obvious from the beginning he's meant to be a hate sink and the only thing he cares about is power.

    Caius gets points for sticking to his woobie characterization, but he suffers from Bleach syndrome in terms of being so horribly overpowered and strategically invincible that he lacks any catharsis factor as a villain. That's not to say every villain needs this catharsis factor, but XIII-2 is a Shaggy Dog story and makes it infuriating to watch because of it and its largely because Caius ultimately achieves everything and his powers make it impossible for him not to. LR tries to make it more of a pyrrhic victory for the player, but even then I felt like he gets off way too easily. Its the problem of making a villain too sympathetic, especially for a soft-hearted developer like SE that doesn't like going dark very often.

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    Feel the Bern Administrator Del Murder's Avatar
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    FFXII and FFT definitely had the most complex villains. Kefka was also great just because of how much he owned it, but definitely not that complex. I think the 'MUAHAHAHA' villain is an issue with RPGs and fantasy stories in general. I do appreciate a villain that is not just out to destroy or conquer everything but just make it better for their side or their ideals, and the player just happens to be on the other side of it.

    I also appreciate Lavos as a villain. Definitely a 'destroy everything' type but not evil or malicious. Just a parasite doing what is in its nature. There is something interesting about that group going up against something with no feelings or wishes, just instinct.

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