To say that Final Fantasy 6 has a good storyline is to severely undersell it, however outside of the arc that one particular jester enacts, most of it is told through the lens of its characters – your party members – as they’re whisked from one major event to another. Not all of these are created equal however, one of them is simply found in a cave after all, so we’re taking some time to rank four of our favourite arcs across the entirety of the game. Spoilers are a given here of course, but we’ll do our best to show rather than tell where possible.
You could argue that Cyan’s tale of loss is the most detailed in the entirety of Final Fantasy 6, because as the player you will essentially join him during every step of his journey. Others might have their feeling beats hinted at, but the player gets to experience the entirety of Cyan’s alongside him, paying witness to what must be one of the saddest timelines that can be found in gaming.
As a denizen and knight of Doma, his story will see him lose pretty much everything that means anything to him. The poisoning of said locale starts the ball rolling, forcing Cyan to pursue the mischievous Kefka, but from there things just get worse for the old man. He’ll be haunted by the ghosts of his lost family members, join the team in pursuit on the Floating Continent, hole himself up on a mountain in the World of Ruin and slip into a playable nightmare upon his return to Doma castle! Poor fella gets put through the ringer throughout FF6, yet he still finds time to argue with Gau and complain about technology. He is truly an old oak tree that the gods cannot cut down; no matter what the world might throw at him, he stays true to the team and to the cause, and it makes for a wonderful tale to follow.
One might be fooled into thinking that Terra is the main character of Final Fantasy 6. In truth there are no main characters here, but the actions and events of the World of Balance would likely agree with our original statement, because she’s pretty pivotal to almost everything that takes place. What begins as a fairly benign pursuit of an inexplicably magical girl soon turns into much, much more.
Much like Cyan, though we should add unlike our top two choices, her story is almost entirely experienced by the player. You’ll be watching her in the introduction sequence as she rides on a Magitek Armour towards Narche, and you’ll join her on a journey of self discovery throughout the World of Balance, all the way to its apex where we learn of her lineage as a half Esper. It’s thoroughly enjoyable to eventually discover who Terra is, and whilst we do enjoy finding her and helping the children in the World of Ruin, her story in the latter half is relatively mild, which unfortunately stops her from ranking higher here. Thankfully you can enjoy her massive magical powers at that point, so she’ll likely still play a part in your team regardless.
Where Terra’s story is writ large in front of the players face in its entirety, a good portion of Celes’ will take place away from the limelight. From the moment when the player first finds her cooped up in a prison cell, her allegiances, intentions and indeed history will be questioned. It’s the intrigue then, that builds Celes’ story, and we would forgive players for expecting some sort of sting in the tale after she’s taken into the party by Locke. Thankfully the writers didn’t back away from this, by making her actually turn her back on the team at one point in time. Little did we know at the time, that this was just the start of a wonderful character in FF6.
Celes manages to join your team, betray you, save you, become a love interest for another character, lose an adopted family member to disease, sing in an opera, and still somehow find the time to piece together a shattered and broken team in the World of Ruin! Here she becomes the glue that holds disparate members together, leading the charge to rebuild the party before eventually finding herself on the wrong end of a love triangle of sorts. It’s truly a rollercoaster ride for our spell absorbing lass, and save for one absolutely incredible piece of character work, it’s our favourite to follow throughout FF6.
For the vast majority of readers, this last choice is likely to come as a bit of a shock. For those that know however, you’ll no doubt understand exactly why we chose Shadow as our number one character story. We also know that some players may never get to experience his story, at least outside of the few points in which he occupies a spare slot in battle. Do yourself a favour; get Shadow in your team, learn to use Inns in place of Tents and enjoy the exposure. For those that opt not to do so, or indeed left him to die on the Floating Continent, read on.
When Shadow first joins the team he is depicted as a simple sellsword, ready to commit his life and weapon to the side that’ll pay his fee. From this point onward he’ll soon hop out of the team and without so much as a hint of story exposure, simply disappear. Thamasa however, will begin to peel away the layers of the onion, where both he and his dog Interceptor will start to act rather unusually around Relm. Again, the player is not offered a great deal of detail, outside of the fact that Shadow’s dog is somewhat fond of the girl. Following the house fire and his refusal to let you die, you are effectively dropped at the off ramp of his story. Alright so, if you’ve read this far then you’re ready for spoilers.
Save his life at the Floating Continent and recruit him in the World of Ruin Coliseum however, and you can experience his arc in full. Spending nights at an Inn with him in the party will reveal his past, where he formed part of a thieves duo, but in which he abandoned his partner to die, a fact that clearly haunts him to this day. It’s also revealed that he had a partner and daughter in Thamasa, which is heavily hinted at being Relm. This brings his earlier actions into a whole new light, and his ending scene, in which he bids farewell to Interceptor and accepts death, ends what has to be the best story for a single character in FF6. There’s not a lot of it, and he’s regularly unavailable to the team, but putting the extra effort in to see his scenes is absolutely worth it, and it’s the story that sticks out most when we think of this game.
Categories: Final Fantasy 6