After years of waiting, fans have finally gotten their hands on Final Fantasy XV. And while not everyone might be enjoying it as much as they hoped, the general response has been fairly positive. The central four characters shine, and the game succeeds because of it. But even with that strong main cast of Noctis, Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto, there is no denying that the overarching narrative, and the characters involved in it, struggle.

Many of Final Fantasy XV’s side characters just don’t receive enough attention for players to grow attached to them. Though each of the quest givers, like Cid and Dino, seem to have an intense personality out of the gate, they come off as more exaggerated than necessary. We never have enough context for them to flesh out as full characters.

One of the most troublesome side characters is Noctis’s bride-to-be, Lunafreya. Even though she features as one of the leads in the Kingsglaive film and clearly has more to her character, almost none of that comes through in the game. The argument can be made that Luna receives less of a focus because the game is meant to center on Noctis and his bodyguards. But by shortchanging Luna, Square Enix missed a valuable opportunity, and ended up shortchanging Noctis and the rest of the game at the same time.

Spoilers follow for up to the end of Chapter 9 – “Callings” (Altissia) of Final Fantasy XV

Ever since Square Enix rebranded Final Fantasy XV and revealed it to the world in its new, road trip centered form, there have been concerns about sexism. Even though the franchise traditionally has featured both male and female main characters, Final Fantasy XV focuses solely on a group of men. Add in that the only female character we saw early on was booty short-sporting Cindy, and the concerns had a real basis.

Final Fantasy XV

Now that the game is out, it’s possible to have a more frank conversation about the role the secondary characters play, both men and women. Cindy is just as intolerable and ridiculous now as she was in the Episode Duscae demo, but we also have characters like the no-nonsense mercenary Aranea Highwind, and the stern Altissian stateswoman Camelia Claustria. With that in mind, it would be unfair to discount Final Fantasy XV as simply being sexist. The game is meant to focus on a small group of male friends, and all the secondary characters, regardless of gender, come across as underdeveloped.

That said, Lunafreya isn’t just any other secondary character. And her treatment throughout the game leaves quite a bit to be desired. First off is the rather hard to ignore trope of her death. In 1999, comics writer Gail Simone coined the phrase ‘women in refrigerators’ when talking about female characters included in a narrative, and killed off, as a device for moving a male protagonist’s story forward. The term is in reference to a Green Lantern comic in which the hero returns home to find a villain has killed his girlfriend and stuffed her in the refrigerator. No matter how you look at it, Luna’s death does fall into the same trappings.

The role female characters play in games at large is worth talking about. But specifically here, Luna’s death and limited role in Final Fantasy XV is of direct harm to the game. There are two main elements to the title’s narrative, the gods and daemons storyline, and the personal, character-driven storyline of Noctis’s relationships with Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto. Luna was positioned perfectly to better both.

Final Fantasy XV

The weaker half of the story, Final Fantasy XV has a hard time explaining the ins and outs of the astrals, the lucii, the daemons, the crystal, and everything else attached the more magical side of Eos. With so much of it left vague, the story admittedly fizzles out in the end and sputters along instead of building into gigantic fireworks-finale. As the Oracle, the person in the fiction meant to be the ambassador between the gods and humans, Luna was ideally placed to better introduce those elements into the game. Had we seen more of her mission to contact each of the gods ahead of Noctis, let alone if she had played a more central role in the plot as a whole, it would have gone a long way to establishing what was actually going on.

On the other side, exploring Luna’s character would have been a unique way for players to learn more about Noctis. As it is, Noctis is positioned as somewhat of a loner, someone who mainly keeps to himself due to his station. All we see of Noctis is how he interacts with people who are, whether friends of not, still subordinates. The only time he interacts with anyone that could be called his equal, its Camelia Claustria during the summit in Altissia. But in that case, it is left up to player choice for how to handle the situation. In short, while Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto radiate with personality, Noctis himself remains restrained, far from a standout character.

Final Fantasy XV

Seeing Noctis and Luna together, not just as children and not just in a dream, could have served as excellent characterization for them both. We are defined by the relationships we keep. And though there is plenty of implication that the betrothed pair do share a relationship, even if it is just messages they have written back and forth over the years, it is impossible for players to fully grasp either character without actually seeing it. Even after fifty hours in Noctis’s shoes, I still feel I know almost nothing about him as a person, or the woman he seemed to legitimately love.

It did not take long for Luna to be called a ‘rip-off Yuna,’ or a ‘wannabe Aeris.’ And sadly, both comparisons make a lot of sense, her connection to the gods and her ability to heal being two of the only things the game shows us about her. By leaving Luna on the sidelines, and killing her for what seems to be the main purpose of making Noctis sad, Square Enix made a mistake. Not only did the developer fall into a common cliché, but the narrative lost a valuable character that could have made Final Fantasy XV all that much better.

  • Jack Omally

    “Cindy is just as intolerable and ridiculous now as she was in the Episode Duscae demo”

    After seeing Cindy, this just comes off as whining and wanting to be mad at anything when it comes to that character. Shes not waving her breasts around or stripping. She fixes the car several times, helps keep it in shape, brings it back when you need it, and customizes and upgrades it for you. There’s even video showing all of her scenes. None of it is pornographic or sexist. In fact its very tame compared to what you people have built it up to. She’s not pressing her breasts up to the car as water hits them while her bra gets soaked, she cleans the damn car and fills it with gas.

    • Sean Timm

      The intolerable comment is more geared towards her ditzy, Daisy Duke stereotype personality. And her outfit sticks out quite a bit when compared to the common clothing of the other female characters in the game. I meant that she seemed out of place in the Demo originally, and she still comes off that way in the main game. Not whining, just a personal observation about the strength and complexity of her character. And you’re right, its nowhere near as bad as what some might have expected. But her character also isn’t any better than what the demo suggested.

      • Jack Omally

        I disagree, when saying her personality is ditsy or that she is not good. She is constantly doing things to help out with the car and she is shown to know what she is talking about when it comes to machines, the car and the parts needed to upgrade it or install components. Bubbly, sure. Outgoing, yeah. But I can’t say that she is a ditzy character. She’s a likable character because she is different and upbeat that way compared to the seriousness of most of the other female characters.

        • Andrea

          I agree with you about Cindy’s personality. However, about Cindy’s design, I don’t think the problem mainly, or always, lies in what she wears, depending on the person. I think the problem lies in the camera angles and her poses when working on the regalia.

          • Jack Omally

            But the problem is that none of them are going clevage deep or are in any way provacative. Like I said to the guy who writes this there are several videos that show all of her scenes. And none of them are bad

            • Andrea

              I thought the same way when I first played the game, except I didn’t watch any videos. When I played it a second time, though, it got worse. The first time it showed side views of her. The second time it showed a frontal view from inside the car while she was bending over to clean it and a back view while she was repairing it, bending over.

              • Jack Omally

                Again They are not really Bad. Watching the videos it’s not as provocative or as “sexualized” as any of these “journalists” and you are trying to sell it as. I’ve seen those exact scenes you are talking about and it’s not even close to provacative or sexual.

  • Noctis

    I loved Luna and that’s off of the tiny bits of footage we got of her. I would love to see her with her own game because she did have to go off and fight these giant powerful guardians. She’s also cool as hell like when she pushes a soldiers gun out of her face and negotiates with an angry Leviathan like it’s nothing.

    Cindy’s design only annoys me because I’m worried for her working around hot oil. Otherwise, Gladio and Cindy are the hottest characters and both strut around in revealing outfits so that’s pretty fair. We just get to see Gladio humanized more by learning about him and we only really learn about Cindy from Cid, rather than Cindy herself.

    You could really tell from the dialogue that the creators kind of view attractive women as “other” and not people. All the lead women kind of share the same cool beauty trope with the exception of Iris, which is telling since she’s the cute little sister and is allowed to express more of a range of emotions.

    • Sean Timm

      Couldn’t have put it better myself. Also, “I’m worried for her working around hot oil.” I hadn’t even thought of that! Ha.

  • MMQ

    Women in the refrigerator indeed. I agree with this article. I like Lunafreya–she’s brilliant, but she was done a total disservice in this game. Given it was a relatively short game, the ways you point out in which she could have been used could and probably should have been used in the game.

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