22 years later, Final Fantasy's most emotional moment still holds up

They’ve got your back.

Originally Published: 
Final Fantasy You're Not Alone
Square Enix

Final Fantasy has always been a character-focused series, building out memorable ensemble casts with each entry. Final Fantasy IX, in particular, goes to great lengths in order to flesh out each of its party members and make each have its own narrative arc. A huge part of each character’s personal growth is support and guidance from the game’s main character, Zidane. Everything the game has done comes to a head in one special moment that any fan will know as the “You’re Not Alone” scene, corresponding to the name of the song that plays.

If you let the main menu of Final Fantasy IX sit for a bit, it plays a sequence of quotes for each character, with Zidane’s being “you don’t need a reason to help people.” That's how the character approaches everything throughout the narrative. Zidane doesn’t think twice before jumping in to help people, something that even gets him into trouble multiple times. Still, the valiant thief leaves a lasting impression on the rest of the party, even the stickler knight Steiner who is a stickler for rules.

You see Zidane’s personality start to chip away at everyone’s shells, and from the very first minute, it’s clear Zidane has an extremely strong sense of self. That’s what makes one of the revelations near the end of the game so heartbreaking when Zidane finds out he’s essentially a synthetic being created to be an “Angel of Death.” Zidane’s entire life and purpose for being are shattered, leaving him a husk of a person. Until this moment. Zidane had a quip or a comeback for everything.

Every party member plays a role in bringing Zidane back from the brink.

Square Enix

As Zidane grapples with his very existence he pushes his friends away and treats them like garbage, something wildly uncharacteristic of his character. At this point, it’s important to point out the song “You’re Not Alone,” a phenomenal track composed by Nobuo Uematsu that plays in only this scene, and can’t be found anywhere else in the game. It’s a somber melody that focuses on a distorted guitar, different from anything else found in Final Fantasy IX’s music. Yet for as somber as it is, there’s a certain playfulness underneath as well, making it the perfect encapsulation of the game at large. The YouTube channel Game Score Fanfare has a great video on this exact song if you want to dive a little deeper.

During the scene, Zidane staggers through a series of battles, and in each battle, different party members come to his aid, despite Zidane’s best efforts to push them away. He’s hit rock bottom, but Zidane’s friends are there to build his sense of self back, piece by piece if they have to.

"You’re Not Alone" is like a snapshot of Final Fantasy IX’s overarching themes of finding a home and valuing friendship. It perfectly encapsulates the game as a whole, but it’s also an example of what makes the Final Fantasy series so emotionally resonant for so many people.

You’re Not Alone is the rare moment that leaves its hero vulnerable and broken.

Square Enix

Every single main character plays a role in this scene, no one is forgotten, and the shining hero is brought to his very lowest level. From the combat sequences to the music the scene is impeccably designed to stand out from the rest of the game, and provide a vital moment for players to reflect on its themes.

The very best video games are able to send a message that transcends simple entertainment. Final Fantasy IX’s “You’re Not Alone” is one of the best examples of what the series has done. It’s a reminder that even at your lowest there are people you can lean on, people that will help you build back stronger.

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