The Difference Between a Cutscene and Film

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There’s something that I’ve been thinking about for many, many, months. I wanted to do a post on why, for whatever reason, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children doesn’t quite feel like a movie. It was a similar feeling to Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, of which I discovered the root cause when I went to its IMDB page. Literally, all the team had experience with was cutscene work.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children possesses the technical properties of a movie, and is technically proficient in its construction. It’s the most watchable of all the Final Fantasy movie, not as anemic as Final Fantasy: Spirits Within or as fundamentally broken as Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive.

However, in order for me to really get at the heart of what the issue is, I have to answer a question that no one that I’ve ever seen has really given an answer for or even really addressed: I have to delineate the difference between a cutscene and a film.

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Every Tear

My experience with Final Fantasy XV is slowly, but surely coming to a close. I had to start over so I could try once more with a steadier supply of gil and items. I have much to say on the game itself, more than a single article could possibly contain.

But, since I previously wrote about the soundtrack I figured it would be the best approach to start, because it is also the part of the game that I have the most positive things to say about. Not that I had a negative experience with the game as a whole, but if there was any element worthy of praise in my eyes, it would be Yoko Shimomura’s soundtrack.

I have heard some people describe the soundtrack as “disjointed”, and I think that has to do with the fact that the music’s intensity does not match the narrative’s intensity (though I think that has to do with the way the narrative is delivered in the game rather than anything that Shimomura did). However, when viewed as a whole product, I am pleased with how it turned out.

The soundtrack was quietly released on iTunes. I took the opportunity to snatch it up and give it a listen. Even though “Somnus” is the main theme of Final Fantasy XV, the song that was played the most during Final Fantasy XV and the time it spent as Final Fantasy Versus XIII was “Omnis Lacrima”.

The best music in the soundtrack is built around the tone that Omnis Lacrima sets. The sweeping orchestral score, complete with choir, is excellent for conveying intense combat scenes in the game. I remember it being most effective when I confronted the Adamantoise (it seemed like a good idea at the time).

Another particularly noteworthy track was “Invidia”, which plays during the battle with Aranea Highwind. “Premonition” and “Nox Divina” are also tracks of a similar vein, which play upon summoning an Astral. When Shimomura is given the instruction to work with intensity, it brings out the best in her music. “Valse Di Fantastica” conveys a sense of triumph and adventure that

Where Final Fantasy XV’s music falters is that the other side of the emotional palette,  moments of extreme sadness, are not present. Though I fully believe this is within Shimomura’s capability to produce, the tracks that are meant to convey sadness don’t quite reach the levels that say “Aerith’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VII does.

“Sorrow Without Solace” feels too subdued, as does “End of the Road”. It feels like the listener is kept at arm’s length from really experiencing the sadness that the scenes are supposed to convey.

I think Shimomura’s talent for conveying emotion is clearly there, but I wish I could have seen the other side more clearly. While I love the intensity of tracks like Omnis Lacrima and Invidia, I also like the somber tracks that arouse a sense of deep sorrow. Somnus is the closest to get to this point, but it still doesn’t feel as impactful as Uematsu’s work. Perhaps in an another time, Shimomura will showcase that aspect in a different soundtrack. If she has produced this work already and I am not aware of it, please link it to me in the comments, because I would love to hear it!

What is Going On With Final Fantasy XV’s Soundtrack?

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Photo by ManicMorFF @ Morguefile.com

I have to stop making announcements about what I’m going to write about next because I tend to shuffle around articles. I am still planning on that Final Fantasy VII Advent Children review, since I have seen the movie several times as to highlight flaws with the narrative. But now I have a different issue.

Recently I took the time to pick up a copy of Final Fantasy XV, and for the first time in a long time, I was tempted to pick up the deluxe edition. This temptation was left unfulfilled because I wanted something very specific: the game’s soundtrack.

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