So, I was reading chapter 13 and I have some thoughts on it, especially on the last two panels
First things first: what kind of cop behaves so awkward and gets himself in such dangerous situations … I mean at least turn off the sound of your phone when you’ll do a pretend-call
For me it was clear that Yoonbum wouldn’t have left the house (I’m not even sure if he ever was in the closet, I always assumed he was in the kitchen bc his feet?), but it was nice to see Sangwoo getting all worked up about it, choking that lantern and get the flashback to his mother (whom I’d now assume was murdered by him).
Then, when he gets back into the house, mumbling about killing Yoonbum he finds him sitting at the kitchen floor, collapses kinda and then tells him to come into his arms and whispers “Let’s stay together forever”. This is where it gets interesting:
At first we have this panel; Yoonbum in his arms, who clings on to him. Looks like a hug to me I’d say but then
He lets his arm fall down to the floor and there were 2 ideas forming in my head when I saw this;
1.) he needs to steady himself, because he’s exhausted from spending this nerve-wrecking time under the sink. If Sangwoo was just hugging him he could let himself fall into his arms and wouldn’t need to steady himself so I guess they kiss (maybe passionately and maybe more will happen because Sangwoo kind of regained a lot of trust in Bum).
2.) tbh,option 1 is much more likely but; what if Bum is fed up with everything. the way he let’s his hand fall down could seem like a ‘fuck this, I won’t deal with this anymore’ (even though it’s unlikely bc Bum is not what you’d call resistent, especially when it comes to Sangwoo. Therefore declining Sangwoos needs or using his moment of weakness to negotiate some advantages for himself (like I said: much unlikely).
What did you think about this chapter and where do you think we’ll go?
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.