Note Block Beat Box: Listening to Answers from Final Fantasy XIV

Note Block Beat Box: Listening to Answers from Final Fantasy XIV

This dire song seemingly foretold the fate of Final Fantasy XIV long before its fiery end.

You don't have to play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn to appreciate its theme song, Answers. Nor do you have to be involved with the popular MMORPG to get a kick out of how eerily prophetic it is.

Composed by master Final Fantasy music-maker Nobuo Uematsu and featuring vocals by American singer Susan Calloway, Answers was initially penned for the original release of Final Fantasy XIV. When the game turned out to be a dog's breakfast thanks to its poor interface, crummy battle mechanics, and performance issues galore, Square-Enix scrapped the whole shebang, rebuilt the experience from the ground-up, and re-launched it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in 2013.

Answers carried Final Fantasy XIV to its death, both as a means of accenting the game's last days while the moon Dalamud ("Meteor") fell slowly towards Eorzea, and as the background song accompanying the land's complete and utter destruction at the hands of Elder Primal Bahamut.

Indeed, Bahamut "hatches" from Dalamud in an incredibly bad mood for story-related reasons, and though his rage is justified, he has no more regard for the peoples of Eorzea than we would for a hill of ants squatting in our backyard.

Whatever you may think of Square-Enix, the company sure knows how to put on an Apocalypse. The cinema depicting Eorzea's last moments is stunning. It features a truncated version of Answers, so here's the whole seven-minute deal.

Again, Answers wasn't composed for this cinematic, though the two go together like a sword and scabbard. Its solemn tone and lyrics were composed for Final Fantasy XIV, not A Realm Reborn.

Looking up Answers' lyrics may therefore give you a small case of the shudders. This isn't a happy, poppy tune about love and adventure and friendship. In fact, it can easily be regarded as the last back-and-forth between the gods and the people of Eorzea, who don't understand why their lives are coming to a sudden and violent end:

Tell us why, given life

We are meant to die, helpless in our cries?

Answers doesn't break the fourth wall but it pushes at it a bit, even if it was never supposed to. The original Final Fantasy XIV was a hot mess, sure, but it was still a world full of people, magic, and beasts. Square-Enix made such a hash of the game, it literally had to burn everything down and start again. All those animals, all those creatures, all those NPCs -- they're not real, but if they were, they'd be the tiny victims of tremendous gods who turn them to ash because of a whoopsie. Frankly, it's not fair.

But as the end of the Apocalypse video reminds us, every ending has a beginning. Eorzea resurrected to a much healthier response from critics and players, and A Realm Reborn remains a highly successful MMORPG.

That doesn't mean Answers is a happy song, especially if you do regard it as a conversation between Final Fantasy XIV's mortals and higher powers. All the gods can do for the incinerated is remind them that they're part of a much bigger plan, even if that's a small comfort:

Thy life is a riddle to bear rapture and sorrow

To listen, to suffer, to entrust unto tomorrow

In one fleeting moment, from the Land doth life flow

Yet in one fleeting moment, for anew it doth grow

In the same fleeting moment, thou must live, die,

And know.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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