13 feels like yesterday for many people, but for Louis it actually was.
More than anything in the world, Louis Tomlinson dreams of growing
up. Simply skipping over all of the awkward, embarrassing years of teenage existence
and getting on with life. Real life.
So when thirteen-year-old Louis wakes up in the body of his
thirty-year-old self, he expected everything in his adult life to be picture perfect.
And maybe it is. He has it all…or so it seems.
Except his favorite person and lifelong best mate, Harry Styles,
is totally missing from the equation and Louis doesn’t understand why. He has a
lot of catching up to do and as adult life turns out to be more than what he
bargained for, Louis can’t help wondering why a life that seemed so perfect,
feels so empty.
Or the 13 going on 30 au that should have been done years ago.
You spend nearly a month lying in the medical ward. Your wounds are slowly healing, and it doesn’t hurt that much to move, only a few stings here and there.
Lay—now you tend to call him Yixing—has been a great support. He always spends time to chat with you, taking your mind off any negative thoughts. He takes care of you like an older brother, and you’re more than grateful.
I know: it’s not a popular opinion. I’ve seen people complain about it bitterly.
But Chapter 13 did something no other section of no other game has ever done for me, through a simple gameplay choice, and frankly that impressed the hell out of me.
Let’s back up a little. After Altissia, on the train, the fight between Gladio and Noct and the following dungeon were both gutting. I’ve never reacted to a work of fiction with genuine anger - that knee-jerk, pull away, I-don’t-need-you-I-can-do-it-on-my-own flash of bitter hurt that I occasionally get when I fight with my own friends. But I found myself wanting to charge off into the dungeon on my own and leave my party behind. That was how deep that particular sequence got to me.
Cue Chapter 13. Everything’s gone neatly to hell. It’s been going neatly to hell, ever since things fell apart in Altissia. Narratively, this is the part of the story when Noct is at his absolute lowest, and the game did a great job setting it up.
Then they deliver the coup de grace.
Frankly, I was fairly overleveled for most of the game. I did just about every sidequest, and as a result, I was breezing through even the boss fights by this point.
Then along comes Chapter 13, and it strips you of absolutely everything. No magic. No friends. No weapons. Nothing but the thing Noct’s been avoiding using, desperately, because he knows damn well how it ruined his father.
Three fights in, Noct’s on the ground, and I’m going, “Oh, shit. I’m dying here.” Heal him up - he’s on the ground again, and I’m going, “Oh, shit. I need to start running.”
It is absolutely fascinating to me how completely this chapter succeeded in playing with my emotions. I went from cutting my way almost effortlessly through the regular fights to keenly feeling everything I didn’t have. Every step of the way, I knew damn well I didn’t have supplies or friends to back me up. I was rationing my healing items, peering carefully around corners, wishing for Prompto to lighten up particularly dark passages with his normal, flippant commentary.
When Noct stopped to rest in those god-awful rest areas - tiny closet of a room, no windows, all harsh lines, it hit hard. No friendly banter around a campfire. No one to make food - hell, no food at all. Just Noct slumped over, utterly drained. The set design for this area is so on point. The rest areas for this area are perfect.
Even the jump scares, which I’ve seen lambasted a hundred times, I have to applaud. It’s dark, it’s creepy, I’m barely scraping by, and suddenly here’s a threat of something that can wipe me out, when I really can’t afford to get into another close-range combat.
I was engaged during this chapter like at no other point of the game. That’s not to say I didn’t like the other chapters, because I did. I loved this game, despite places where it could have improved. But Chapter 13 was something else. Chapter 13 was playing straight through, hours on end, tense and careful, heart pounding. Chapter 13 was seeing Noct at the very end of his rope and being right there with him.
It was perfectly executed, frankly. It was taking everything the chapter was about - loneliness, and cruelty, and helplessness, and fear - and hammering those home in the gameplay, so that the person behind the controls gets just a little taste of what Noct’s going through.
I’ve heard that they plan to make Chapter 13 easier in a future update. I’m pretty disappointed to hear that, honestly. I think what they did with it is a fascinating use of game mechanics to invoke emotions, and it was incredibly successful at driving home the darkest part of the game.
I’m just grateful I got to play it in its original form, before the change, because I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.