Review: Echoes of the Fallen is a solid addition to Final Fantasy XVI

It seemed as if it would be Final Fantasy XVI’s year. And much of the early part of the year was dominated by discourse surrounding the game, its characters, plot, setting, etc. The game itself might have ended up as a serious contender for Game of the Year, or perhaps Role Playing Game of the Year, but for a small release later in the year by Larian Studios. Even though the developer once stated that FFXVI’s narrative was a complete story and that no DLC was planned or needed, the first of its announced DLC, Echoes of the Fallen, was released in the last quarter of 2023. But how well does it enhance Clive’s journey through Valisthea?

Upon installing the DLC, you’ll encounter a message informing you that to make use of the content, you’ll need to have unlocked access to the final area of the game, Origin, as well as completed the quests “Where There’s a Will” and “Priceless.” Further, to claim the bonus swords included with the DLC, it explicitly tells you that both of these quests must have been completed. These swords are the Onion Sword and the Buster Sword, both from previous Final Fantasy titles. The attack bonus on each of these is 160, making them little more than a novelty if you elect to use a save from after finishing the main story, which is the easiest way to access the new content. The final bonus item is an orchestrion roll with a 1987 inspired version of the track, “Away,” which plays in the early part of Final Fantasy XVI’s main story that showcases a lengthy battle between the eikons Phoenix and Ifrit.

Beginning the quest is fairly painless, at least. You’ll simply have to talk to Charon, who will detail her concerns surrounding the newly found black crystals that have been flooding the markets of Valisthea. Dubbed “dusk crystals,” they act as a magical foci similar to their shinier, less ominous cousins, but don’t last anywhere near as long, dissolving into nothingness when they are depleted. Charon believes that there may be another Mothercrystal out there that Clive had no knowledge of. Clive vows to find out more about the strange crystals as the small dusk crystal that Charon has placed before her on the counter begins to vibrate and a violent earthquake begins to shake the entire hideout. And scene.

The scene shifts to The Imperial Fringes, where three white robed figures are apparently mining these crystals. Once of them uses one to cast a small light spell, after which it promptly dissolves. As the figure laments the longevity of these dusk crystals, another earthquake shakes the area for a long moment, at which they all flee. The camera pans upward to an ominous blood red sky, framed with large black crystals and the title card pops. Welcome to Echoes of the Fallen.

Your next port of call is Port Isolde, where the dusk crystal trade is booming…or it was, until Uncle Byron banned it, since people were apparently going nuts for these things. There’s a bit of a chase and a few battles before the game drops you into the main locale for the quest, the Fallen ruin accessible through the Deadlands and source of these dusk crystals known as the Sagespire. 

Clive and company are escorted into the Sagespire properly by a host of warm golden rays of sunlight peering through the tower’s many windows, backed up by an impressive organ melody that alternates with a rousing chorus. The tower itself feels more like an imposing cathedral of sorts, especially once you get to the upper floors. There’s no shortage of foes to practice your combat abilities on as well, as the tower’s defense systems spring to life. The final boss that guards the tower’s core at the very top is a hell of a beast, especially.

In terms of the narrative, the Fallen themselves provide an interesting counterpoint to Ultima, wherein the Fallen sought to overthrow Ultima and become gods themselves through the use of their advanced technology, so they were wiped out. You can also see this defiance on display from the upper floors of the tower itself, as Ultima’s spell of Primogenesis which turned the sky an ominous violet haze gives way to a cerulean blue sky and a warm orange and gold sunset in stark contrast to Ultima’s best laid plans.

In the end, Echoes of the Fallen delivers on the promise of one more adventure for Clive and his friends. It’s short and straightforward and like most good additional content, doesn’t overstay its welcome while still managing to deliver a compelling experience.

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