Final Fantasy X Is Still Gaming's Greatest Love Story
Isn’t it Wonderful?
Romance has remained a constant part of the Final Fantasy franchise for decades, weaving often heartbreaking love stories into epic tales of saving the world. And to this day no Final Fantasy, and no other game period, has managed to tell a love story more charming, poignant, and emotional than Final Fantasy X.
Final Fantasy X marked a massive turning point for the franchise, one that would define a lot of what future entries would do. It was the first game in the franchise to feature voice acting, completely overhauled the turn-based gameplay, and featured an utterly gorgeous presentation that was a tremendous step up from the PS1 titles. Despite everything it does well, however, what people remember about FFX the most are its impeccable narrative and characters.
Taking place in the world of Spira, FFX is a drastic aesthetic shift from past games with a more tropical, island setting that’s steeped with culture and religion. Spira is easily one of the best settings of the whole series, doing a great job of building diverse peoples and cultures that feel meaningful and well thought-out at every step. In this highly traditional world comes Tidus, a young man from a wildly different world, where entertainment and pleasure trump everything.
The crux of FFX’s story revolves around Tidus’ culture shock in learning about Spira, and how he gets involved in a quest to save the world. A massive aquatic monster named Sin regularly destroys parts of the world, and in order to calm the beast Summoners go on a pilgrimage to obtain Aeons and defeat it, which brings peace to the world for a while before Sin is reborn.
Tidus essentially falls headfirst into the party protecting a Summoner named Yuna, who he then falls head over heels for. It’s honestly incredible how well-written both of these characters are, and how the game instantly creates this chemistry between them.
Yuna is a woman with a set destiny as a Summoner, a duty to sacrifice herself for the world. This is juxtaposed against Tidus, who lives life only wanting to fulfill his dreams. The way these two personalities play off each other is fascinating, and across the game, you can see both Tidus and Yuna influenced by one another. Yuna starts to break out of her shell and learn to live for herself, while Tidus starts to realize the value of loved ones, and not try to shoulder everything himself.
This budding romance grows more complex across dozens of hours, and is highlighted by a few high moments, unforgettable scenes that are impossible to forget. There’s the touching scene in the lake when Tidus and Yuna first really acknowledge their love, the daring rescue during Yuna and Seymour’s wedding, and the utterly gut-wrenching ending.
These moments serve as highlights of the romance, while the slower parts of the game meticulously build out Tidus and Yuna’s characters, along with the rest of the party. It’s all propped up even higher by one of Nobuo Uematsu’s very best soundtracks, which can seamlessly seesaw between whimsy and drama.
What’s really important about FFX’s romance is that it’s not one-sided, it’s not the girl falling for the stoic hero. Tidus and Yuna are equal players here, and even though Tidus is the “protagonist,” there’s a case to be made that Yuna is actually the main character, which she then is by all accounts in the sequel. FFX is a story about two people meeting and falling in love under extreme circumstances, and learning how to change themselves and the world around them for the better.
While Tidus and Yuna easily take the spotlight, the rest of the cast in FFX are equally fantastic, and every single one gets their own narrative arc, from the undeniably cool Auron to the cold but caring Lulu.
So much of what works about FFX is how complete the experience feels, from start to finish. The moody opening sets the tone, but there’s real emotional payoff and catharsis that happens at the end of the journey. The turn-based combat and character progression are great on their own, but the real driving force of the entire game is the complex romance at its heart, one that’s hard to see Final Fantasy ever topping.