Saturday, March 18, 2017

30 games for 30 years

The games I enjoyed the most at each year of my life (so far!)

1986  As a baby I can't remember playing any games so nothing here
nor here
 Nor here
 Nor here

1990  I received a hand-me-down from an uncle of an old pong-clone with about 6 different sports variations on pong.
 I got a NES, loved Super Mario Bros
 Wizard and Warriors
Metal Gear
 Zelda 2

1995 got a Mega Drive. Golden Axe
Super Kick off 2
Super Street Figher 2
Got a PS1 and got a PC, loved Premier Manager
Final Fantasy VII

2000 Final Fantasy VIII
Chrono Trigger (Rom)
Half Life for PC
RPG Maker for PC
Chrono Cross

2005 Got a pocket PC-  played Age of Empires on it
 Pocket PC replaying Final Fantasy IV
Was doing my university finals, not sure I did much gaming this year!
Seminary in Spain- no computer, no video gaming.
Zelda II

2010 got a PS2, played FFX
Suikoden 1
Wild Arms

2015 Castlevania Symphony of the Night
Metal Gear Solid
I am Setsuna

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Priest as Sacrifice. Inspired by I am Setsuna/ FFX.

The world is soaked in sin, and sin is adding to sin, evil upon evil, every day. The peoples of our world are seduced by the evil one, and he gains more slaves every day. Gripped in the slavery to the evil one many souls are falling into hell like snowflakes in winter, like the leaves in autumn.

See the people living lives of despair! Under fear of the unknown, fear from the meaninglessness of their existence, and fear of death, the great enemy of humanity.

Is there an escape from this misery? Is there a pathway from the great plague of our time?

It is said that many ages ago a perfect sacrifice was offered, a sacrifice to do away with sin, an oblation to release souls from the grip of the evil one, an immaculate offering that compensated for all the outrages of our peoples.

This holy sacrifice, this wondrous oblation has been taken into eternity, into another dimension, into a perfect domain, here is the answer to humanity's woes! Here is our hope! Here is the desire of the nations!

The Almighty wishes this perfect sacrifice to intersect with time, to touch each age of the world, to encounter the sins and peoples and needs of second day of history.

He calls forth men, chosen men, to enter domain of the perfect sacrifice, He sets men apart to pass through the veil into the fiery realm of the eternal perfect sacrifice,

These men are to encounter the Holy of Holies and to be the conduit for allowing that perfect Holiness to intersect with our daily realities- to dissipate sin, to snatch souls from the evil one, and to offer a glimpse of hope to the broken world.

O noble priest! O Catholic priest! You are that man set apart, that man summoned from a country village, from a city tower block, from an anonymous suburb- you are that man who perpetuates the sacred incarnation of the sacrifice, who allows us mean folk to meet the all holy God, and brings the absolution of the Most High to the dead and the damaged.

O God, how you whisper into ears of that young man, how you speak in the silences of his prayer, how you lure him with the scent of your beauty. You set before him a holy pilgrimage, a mountain of trials, a way of self denial, in order for him to become a man worthy of victimhood, worthy of entering the Holy Place and encountering the All Holy.

Know this young man, at the end of your journey lies death. You will die when you pass through that sacred veil, your pathway ends in complete oblation, the loss of all the things that you would desire in this life.

And yet your oblation is needed if the world is to find peace! To have any hope of salvation! Any respite from the evils of sin and the damnation which poison the great multitude of our race.

Hear His voice and follow Him.

Bring the calm that the nations yearn for,

allow your life to become His Life, to be the perpetuation of His Sacrifice, the perfect eternal sacrifice,

become Christ, bring Christ.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I am Setsuna review (total spoilers alert)

By accident when I was watching a video on the Nintendo Switch, I caught a brief description of the game I am Setsuna which the show promised would be coming to the Switch, I loved the sound of the brief synopsis of the game- the allusions to Chrono Trigger, the 16 bit style RPG genre, and above all the idea of escorting a sacrifice on a mission to save the world. I was overjoyed when I discovered I could already get the game, so I bought it on Steam and played through it within a few month. I had a few days away from the parish on a break in mid-January and that's when I knocked in a few hours tapping at my computer keyboard and conquering this epic RPG. 

I was hoping that the game would offer a different better take on the whole "I must sacrifice myself to save the world" than FFX ended up producing, I was bitterly disappointed when FFX turned out to be an occasion to preach moral relativism, the sham of organised religion, and the ineptitude of sacrifice.... would the plot of I am Setsuna be more noble? I couldn't wait to discover. 

Like always my review is going to be focusing on to what extent the game endorses a Christian worldview/ philosophy... whether it can be a propaedeutic for the values of Christ, whether it inspires the gamer to seek the truth, and to live the moral life.

Character and identity

So, does the game present a clear acceptance of free will and the ability of good and bad uses of the will to alter and pervert character? Does the game have an understanding of vocation- of characters trying to become what they are called to be, of growing closer in approximation to whatever likeness of Christ they are called to reflect?

I know guys, we are talking about a videogame and not a novel, and not real life for that matter either, so our expectations won't be super high, but there should be something that supports a Christian anthropology. 

The characters in I am Setsuna are not overly developed, we get some back stories, especially in the optional side quests, but a lot of the characters are still a little unfleshed by the end of the game, that's ok, a lot of the modern FFs go crazy in trying to put every character in the psychiatrists chair, and they end up doing a really awful job. I am Setsuna is closer to a 16 bit game in the level of characterisation. Chrono had very little depth, Ayla hardly any, and even Marle and Lucca only really had their one special focused sidequest. I am Setsuna gives you enough on each character, and what it gives you, frankly, is pretty good.

Those who follow Setsuna are all wounded in some way, they are all broken, following a broken dream, with a broken past, or destined to be broken to pieces very soon.

A strong thrust of the game is the harm of hatred in corrupting a character, the message is repeated throughout the game that power and hatred and playing God all lead to personal disaster.  

The game faults in failing to present the corruption of evil as corrupting right down into the inner core of the person. Too often in the game it is revealed that the bad guy is a good guy deep down inside, underneath all the hatred and anger that he had worked up. The reality is though, evil reaches the core of the person and whilst, in one sense, everything that participates in being is ontologically 'good', mortal sin makes the very person evil. 

Setsuna, our deuteragonist (alongside a silent player-character called Endir on the lines of Chrono), has the annoying trait of always trying to see the good in everyone, now usually that is virtuous, but you get the sense that if she got thrown in a cage with an angry lion she would try and stroke it rather than shoot it with a gun. This is Setsuna's character, she is a one off, she is the sacrifice, she is the girl that has been chosen to give her life to hold back the monsters, much like Yuna was to give her life in order to bring a period of calm.

Setsuna embraces her call and has no doubts about it throughout the entire plot. Setsuna is resigned and she is resolved, she will be the one to bring life to others. I found it moving when some young guy tells her that he would like to have married her, to which she responds, "I guess you will have to experience this happiness for the both of us", there are some great lines and great moments of motivation for the Catholic Priest who is himself a living sacrifice, and who in celibacy renounces much in order to more effectively renew Christ's sacrifice for the benefit of the world.

None of the characters are escaping their vocation, no one is depicted as finding fulfillment through running away from the pathway that nature and providence has put before them. 

The main gripe I had with some of the characterisation was the role of women in the world of Setsuna. It is a poor cliche of RPGs that they insist on including a woman who is tougher and stronger than all of the men around, in this game there are 2 of them! God's design for women is not to be the bad ass leader of an army who inspires fear in her soldiers due to her strength- this is unnatural and frankly ridiculous, especially in a medieval RPG setting. Setsuna is fine, she is a essentially a white mage, but Julienne, who is the strongest character in the game is given far too many male qualities and the fact that she was female really added nothing to the story, it only made the thing seem ridiculous. The same can be said for the NPC Freyja. I would love to see an RPG which really presents a woman as aspiring towards motherhood, we never see that and yet Almighty God's design if for women to exhibit maternal, nurturing, empathetic virtues. Setsuna in some way fits this mold but it is unfortunate that aside for her there are no maternal icons within the game.

Reality of Objective Moral laws.
Are the actions of characters that are wrong depicted as breaking some moral law, of pricking the conscience, or of harming themselves in some way?

There is clearly a sense that harming another is wrong, that definitely comes across, but, as I mentioned above, sometimes to attack an agressor is virtue, and sometimes evils need to be opposed vigorously. Whilst I am Setsuna clearly presents the abuse of power, and the use of others against their freedom as terrible evils, there is a tendency to justify the evils that people commit by some explaining factor in their past. The monsters are only bad because they keep being given a hard time, the ultimate evil boss in the game had his generosity abused and became the subject of experimentation thus beginning the evil within him,  and so on. A proper Christian worldview should accept that people are characters chose to become depraved by repeated choices of evil- they change.

Occasionally the main character gets a dialogue choice, I think unfortunately sometimes the two options are both immoral, perhaps one is a lie and the other is rude. If there are going to be dialogues and the main character is meant to be the player, the player should be able to make moral choices in his speech, anything else is to trivialise virtue.

Chrono Trigger style dual techs are fun and numerous

Interior Struggle to pursue the good.
We see a couple of instances of this in I am Setsuna. Kir goes through a little bit of a struggle in order to make a choice of self sacrifice, and we are allowed to hear a little bit of his thinking. Again, with Nidr perhaps there is a struggle to overcome his past ghosts and the mistakes he made and to now put things right. Ultimately however Setsuna, who could have had some struggles in her vocation as sacrifice, doesn't really voice them.... the good for her is easy, or so it seems, which is great for her, but not much in the way of encouragement for the gamer's own life struggles

Divine Providence working through free will.
Fate certainly gets a mention throughout I am Setsuna, and there is a sense at the very end of the game that the main character- Endir is somehow a providential and fated individual who has entered into the cycle of sacrifice offerings and will now be able to break that cycle for the good of the world. Setsuna sees this from the very beginning of the game, she has dreamt of Endir, she knows that he is essential to completing her mission, and she knows that she must complete this mission.

Perhaps in Julienne's side quest there is a sense that her recovery of her kingdom is a fulfillment of prophecy and that, nonetheless, she is co-operating to bring it about.

Self Sacrifice for others
Here obviously is the big one for this game. Setsuna sets out selflessly to go to the Last Lands on a pilgrimage to offer herself in sacrifice to somehow keep the monsters at bay for a period of time. Unlike in FFX this is not revealed to be a sham invented by a corrupt religion- the sacrifices do actually work! The only problem is they are less effective than they used to be and so the decision is made that the party will try and kill the source of all the evil rather than keep him at bay by sacrifice of Setsuna. Ultimately however, after they defeat the evil he manages to flee back in time, Setsuna and Endir follow him, Endir manages to destroy his mortal frame, but his spirit seems to be out there seeking another host or something... Setsuna steps in the breech and embraces his spirit, she consoles him, she seems to allow it to enter within her and then, as she has him in her grasp calls on Endir to sacrifice her, in hope that it will also do away with this spirit, will bring him to the next world, and to peace. That's how I interpret the end of the game anyway and I think that is a legitimate reading of it. So Setsuna becomes the last sacrifice who does away with the source of the evil. But ultimately the evil originated in the lust of power, the abuse of magic, through human experimentation
 and through the accumulation of anger and hatred in an individual. The real roots of evil remain, but the present danger and the source of the monsters is now eliminated through this sacrificial offering.

Alongside Setsuna, Kir is another beautiful example of sacrifice, he allows his lifespan to be drastically shortened, essentially, he catches a deadly disease of magic poisoning in order to help our Setsuna on her pilgrimage and restore her to health.

Finally there is Aeterna who is a projection of the Time Judge who is keeping the great evil at bay, once the great evil is defeated, the Time Judge will finally be able to go to her eternal reward and so Aeterna will disappear- a little bit like Tidus being the dream of the Faith. Aeterna has no probs with this fate, but nonetheless it is still very noble of her.

Basic Christian Theodicy- Monotheism, Goodness of creation, understanding of eternal reward/punishment based on moral behaviour.

This is where the game has a couple of unusual Japanesy dodgy bits. There is clearly "a next world" but it seems like a kid of spirit world- we see Setsuna enering this domain at the end of the game. At the same time it seems possible for a character' spirit to inhabit a magic stone and so to remain with the character, watching over them in someway- this is very Japanese, the Kami of Shintoism which are spirits that inhabit inanimate objects. How far this is from the truth! Once we experience death we are immediately judged by Almighty God and go to heaven, hell or purgatory based on the state of our immortal soul. There is no sense in IAS that evil characters go to hell because basically, deep down, everyone is good- that is dodgy and has to be rejected totally- it sounds like some dodgy Redemptorist who has long abandoned the writings of St. Alphonsus, and thinks everyone is going to heaven now.

So whilst we have that unfortunate view of the next life, the positive theodicy is the acceptance of the importance of prayer- that comes across, many characters tell the sacrifice that they will be prayer for her. My memory doesn't serve me on whether there was any mention of God in this game, there certainly wasn't any public religious cult which was unfortunate, so whilst there was prayer, it didn't necessarily make any sense- prayer is directed to a person, or it isn't more than human esteem and empty hope.

There is also a certain reverence towards the sacrifice as a consecrated person, I liked this- sacred things and people should be respected. 


Overall, I really enjoyed this title, I felt that it made up for some of the mistakes of FFX, Yuna finally got sacrificed and in doing so she really did bring calm to the world, the longed for calm. The game isn't a big budget title, it would have been great to see this story and this world on a scale of one of the FFs- that will never happen though. 

There is something a little unfinished or unpolished about the game which stops it reaching the heights of Chrono Trigger, if there had perhaps been another 10 hours of gameplay, a few more side quests and a little bit more narrative, the game would have been a masterpiece. 

The battle system is good, but again, the enhancement of the spritnite with extra qualities didn't come out great in execution. Dual techs were good, as were triple techs. The game has the battle system that Chrono Cross should have had, a slightly tweaked version of CT with a little more depth. 

The soundtrack is enjoyable and keeps the mood of the game, although at times the tracks play for far too short a time- a track will play to catch the mood of about 5 dialogue boxes, them we will get another track!

There is a lot of good in this game and a lot of fine examples of heroism and self sacrifice, the big downer is that evil is not appreciated for how hideous it really is. We are in a battle and we have real enemies who want to drag our souls to hell, I am Setsuna gives the impression that if only our enemies sat in with a bit of talking therapy they would come round to being nice and we could all live in peace- unfortunately that isn't the case, evil can't be trivilialised, sometimes it must be conquered by force.

Gaming update

I am in a new parish since I last posted, I completed my first year in parish in Croydon, England, now I have been moved out onto the Kent coast. Offering Holy Mass is my joy and consolation in hac lacrimarum vale.

Since I last posted I have been plodding along with my 30mins a day.

 I finished Metal Gear Solid, I really loved it! I can see why it is rated as in the top 5 on the psx by most people, I would probably put it second only after my first love which was FF7. I had been starting to lose the idea that you could really love a game once you passed the age of 18, but I have been proved wrong. Of course, you can never really cult after a game once you have a proper life and an adult vocation, you can't go around defeating every monster or collecting every possible item in some RPG, that kind of thing is only for kids with way too much time on their hands.

After Metal Gear Solid I played through Beyond Oasis.

I nearly gave up at this point in the Volcano where you have to jump across platforms while there are nasty sorcerers firing at you, in fact I did give up, but I gave it a week's break or so, then I conquered it. I thought it was a decent game. Not quite Secret of Mana, bit of a crappy soundtrack, but a lot of fun.

After Beyond Oasis I started Shining Force 2, and and mid way through it, only to start Kingdom Hearts, which again I am about mid way through, I will go back to these games next I think. I got sidetracked by I am Setsuna which I found out about by accident. I am going to write about that game in another post.

Metal Gear Solid affirms personhood of unborn child

Liquid affirms the personhood of his (and Solid's) unborn brothers, their brothers were aborted, they weren't clumps of cells, they were already persons, their brothers while they developed together.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Still alive still playing video games

As a priest trying to live a holy life, I don't have a television. I do still play video games but only a little bit, a maximum of 30 mins a day while I eat breakfast and listen to some kind of Catholic Sermon like those by Sensus Fidelium on YouTube.

I use the Easycap to play a PS3 through my laptop using software called Honestech TVR 2.5.

I have now been ordained to the Sacred Priesthood for a year, and I have also just turned 30 years old, so I am now both a priest gamer and an "old gamer"!

It is amazing being a priest and offering Holy Mass each day.

In the last year since my ordination I have managed to play through Legend of Dragoon for the ps1. Maybe at somepoint I will write a review for it. Ultimately it felt like a major FFVII clone but with a few novel gameplay elements, sadly the game turned anti-God like the ff games it clones.

I have now moved on to Metal Gear Solid, I am nearly finished I think and have really enjoyed it!

What else?... On the side I have tales of Phantasia and also Phantasy star 4, I have basically been dissapointed with phantasy star 4, I was hoping for something with the same kind of life about it as FFVI an CT for the SNES but from about 10 hours playtime it seems very much town-dungeon-town-dungeon in a rather boring fashion. I don't think it even touches FFIV.

Keep the faith guys.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Final Fantasy XIII- Catholic review and analysis

As generally a retro gamer, it has taken me a long time to get around to playing FFXIII, and I just completed it earlier this week. My younger brother finished this game back when it was first released and from conversations with him, as well as with other Catholics, I could see that the game had a lot in its plot and underlying philosophy that was worth thinking about in the light of Catholic truth.

I've got to say I wasn't wild about a lot of the aspects of this game's gameplay- I lamented the loss of towns, NPCs, puzzles, and, overall, the presence of gameplay elements beyond fighting or watching cut-scenes! The game is clearly more ordered to a world that is dominated by FPS games and a lot of people enjoyed the movement of the series into new avenues. I thought the battle system was well crafted and whilst the crystarium system was a bit tedious to constantly update, it allowed for serious gamers to craft out clever strategies and characters with interesting stats. The upgrading of weapons and accessories worked fairly well, but it unfortunately made gil (money) farming through repeated battles a major necessity if you wanted to fully upgrade everything.

30 hours in the game and you can finally explore!

Anyway, my reviews aren't really on that kind of thing and I've probably written too much on those aspects of the game! What I really want to talk about is, can we see Christ in this game? Can we learn of Almighty God in a parable form? Do we find a worldview expounded by the characters that resembles a Christian philosophy? Does playing the game make me want to strive towards virtue and sacrifice? Do I fear hell and offending Almighty God, do I desire to pursue His will above all things? Let's have a look via the usual categories.

Character and identity

So, here we are considering, does the game acknowledge the way in which character is formed by acts of the will, making him, as a result, either good or evil. We are also considering whether the game supports a worldview of 'vocation'- that each one of us has a certain 'telos' or end written into our souls an end we need to reach in order to fully flourish in this life and to reach the beatitude of heaven. For Christians we understand that this telos or vocation is a reflection of a particular attribute of Almighty God, which we are called to embody. Bound up in embodying this attribute of God will mean 'becoming who I was born to be'.

Final Fantasy XIII features a set of demi-gods who give characters a "focus". a mission they need to fulfill, in order to achieve eternal rest and, which if they fail, leads them to transform into a zombie-like creature.

Now, this whole focus business could have been a really interesting Christian parallel, a bit like being given a vocation by Almighty God. However, the game makes it clear that having a focus, a definite mission given by these demi-gods is a cruel form of slavery and that the paradise of completing the focus is really just being frozen in a crystalised stasis.
Of course, Crystalised Serah is completely naked
(even though she had clothes on when she was changed into a crystal.)
The game therefore takes up as its main refrain "we are free, we have choice, we will not be bound by destiny or by a mission given to us by a higher power". Of course, in the case of XIII, the higher power is, in fact, in some way malevolent, but the refrain is seriously anti-Catholic in its tone. Certainly, we are uniquely endowed with freewill, but for humans free will only leads to flourishing when we use freedom in a way that accords with our fixed human nature and the fixed ultimate telos that God has given to each of us. 

But perhaps underneath the focus that the demi-gods give the characters, they recognise a more fundamental vocation? In some sense that is true, they decide among themselves that they must save Cocoon, the world they inhabit, and rescue certain friends of theirs that have been 'enslaved' in the eternal rest of crystalisation, and in particular, a girl called Serah. But the problem is their mission to save Cocoon is depicted throughout as their choice, their defiance against destiny, the triumph of their free will over a quasi-divine order (even though in this case the divine order is malevolent). Hope Estheim seems to be the main voice of the game's philosophy throughout and it is he that cries out to the demi-god "We'll decide our own destiny".

Fang- anti feminine. 
In terms of battle system, there are some positive elements for characterisation insofar as there are characters which are clearly ordered to one fighting style over another (basically like the job system in earlier ffs). However, it seemed to me slightly odd that two of the young female characters are physically the strongest, this contradicts the God given order of femininity. In RPGs female characters should ideally be most suited towards a healer/white mage/summoner role rather than the knight or sentinel. In some sense the game promotes therefore an anti-women ideology that opposes true femininity. The female lead character of Lightning is particularly cold and unfeeling, she is a little like a female Squall but without a Rinoa to soften her edges. In many ways she is an anti-woman, and another party member, Fang, is also very masculine in personality. Female characters are also generally depicted as dressed immodestly, so they are basically male personalities with immodestly revealing clothing and long hair. This situation isn't completely true as Vanille certainly has more feminine personality qualities, but then again we have a bizarre situation with Hope's parents where his mother has taken the role as a gun-wielding rebel while his dad seems to be 'mr. sensitive stay at home dad'. So, in sum, a lot of the characters present a distorted image of gender roles in a way which doesn't reflect the general reality of the created order established by Almighty God.

Reality of Objective Moral laws.
Does the game ultimately accept that there is a moral order and that if a character violates it he or she damages himself in some way? That's hard to say. The characters are certainly driven by the desire to do good, but what is the good for them? Hope says at one point "There's no way of knowing what's right. All we can do believe on ourselves.... I might not make all the right choices. But as long as I'm the one who decided what to do, there's nothing regret." That seems to be the message of the game regarding moral laws- so long as you are the one who decides for yourself and you do so with the right intention, that's all that matters. Ultimately, we are dealing with a very shaky grounds for a morality here that brings everything back to a fuzy feeling and the sacrosanct nature of individual autonomy. 

Snow the determined hero
The best lived out lesson in morality is in the part of the story when Hope attempts to kill Snow. In this section we see the silencing of Hope's conscience in a way that is clearly irrational and disordered, this is presented well for the audience and they are made to see how revenge is not the route to human flourishing and that hatred perverts an individual's character. Snow throughout wishes to protect Hope and even after Hope has tried to kill him remains a model of forgiveness and of being faithful to a vow he has made to keep him from harm. 

Interior Struggle to pursue the good.
So, are the characters depicted as having to overcome evils within themselves and even to go against their own advantage in order to pursue what is fundamentally good for themselves and others? In one sense the characters are going through great difficulties in order to rescue Serah, this is most evident in Snow, who is perhaps the game's most traditionally heroic character. He clearly has a deep affection for his Fiance and when she is crystalised he is completely fixed on rescuing her, he protests to Lightning saying "Serah's my bride-to-be. I promised to be her's forever.I don't care how long I have to wait".(In an early cut-scene we watch Snow and Serah engaging in a mortal sin of a romantic kiss proper only to those who a married, so maybe that whole "don't care how long I have to wait" isn't completely literal, for Snow is already taking more than he has a right to under God's law.)

There is another instance which depicts the struggle to pursue the good even when it is not followed, this is in Vanille's continued struggle to reveal to Sazh how she was responsible in part for leading his son to be turned into a crystal. She doesn't own up but we catch a glimpse of the struggle. We see a triumph over the struggle when Sazh makes the choice not to take his own life in despair but to continue onwards to help others.

Divine Providence working through free will.
FFXIII is a game which seriously opposes providence, fate, vocation and destiny with free will. The game repeats a refrain that there is no such thing as purpose, and no grand design, only free choice. A Christian philosophy would always show how evil destroys itself by it's own disordered choices, we don't really get this coming across in XIII. The Christian philosophy acknowledges that Almighty God can and does include miracles as a part of His providential unfolding of His plan for the universe, FFXIII mocks the concept of miracles, we hear Vanille saying "Miracles are things we make for ourselves", and again " Wishes can come true, but not if you wait for miracles".

Self Sacrifice for others
As has already been mentioned, we get a glimpse in Snow of a character who is willing to sacrifice himself for others. The greatest point of self sacrifice is at the end of the game when Vanille and Fang allow themselves to complete their focus and begin to destory the world only so as to become crystal and preserve it from falling out of the sky and being utterly destroyed. Their self sacrifice however is lessened however given the fact that they aren't actually sacrificing their lives, they will be crystal for some time, but it is pretty obvious that in their case they will return to normal after some time. Even so, perhaps being held in crystal for a few hundred years isn't exactly fun!

Basic Christian Theodicy- Monotheism, Goodness of creation, understanding of eternal reward/punishment based on moral behaviour.

This is where the game really scores badly, while it doesn't necessarily come across in the game, the lore around the game tells us that the universe the game exists in has a multiplicity of gods, and gods of the manner of ancient pagan deities that are at war with each other, that give birth, and that can be destroyed by humans! It should be obvious that a harmonious and law governed universe such as that which the characters of FFXIII inhabit doesn't reflect or support a polytheistic universe which, far from being harmonious, would be driven this way and that by the caprice of these conflicting deities.
The Primarch= The Pope= Bad Guy
The main bad guy of the game is the equivalent of the pope, the leader of the worship of the gods. We don't actually see any places of worship in the game or anyone actually engaging in worship of the gods, so what he actually does on a day to day basis isn't clear, what is clear though is the message religious authority= secret evil controlling despot. We don't get any glimpses of eternal life or eternal punishment in hell, which is deeply lamentable and so there is no sense in which wicked acts have eternally damaging consequences for their actors. 


Final Fantasy XIII as an RPG is alright, the gameplay, for me, never reaches the battle and strategy heights of X, nor the side-quest and exploring heights of VII, nor the freedom of VI. The game seemed way too linear and the story, for all its philosophical flaws, was fundamentally dull and uninspiring. 

As an embodiment of the Christian worldview it fails even more dramatically. In many ways the refrain is similar to that of X. I'm not sure which is more harmful to the faith, X is poisonous in it's de-construction of a religious and objectively moral society into a complete farce, vindicating freedom above morality. XIII makes similar points but comes at them from a different angle, with XIII there is an absolute glorification of a false understanding of human freedom cut off from human nature- as if humans could find fulfillment and flourishing by asserting themselves over the divine order, as if human free-will was the true source of what men of the past considered miracles.

X is certainly a better game and its story is told in a much more engaging manner, I think that probably makes it more dangerous. XIII never grips the player in the way that X does and never really makes the player reflect too much on his own life and world. So it isn't a great game, but in fact, from our standpoint, that might in fact be its saving grace.