Final Fantasy VIII
PLAY Magazine UK|November 2021
Squall’s well that ends well

Final Fantasy VIII is a love story. And it might be one of the greatest gaming has ever told. Coming off the back of the most successful RPG of all time (Final Fantasy VII) Squaresoft’s follow-up needed to be different. After a game with corporate greed, climate change, and political activism at its heart captivated players the world over, Squaresoft needed to put the follow-up’s ticker in a different place entirely. So the developer pinned it squarely to the sleeve of Squall’s iconic leather jacket.

Sure, your emo protagonist was the victim of some dodgy localisation and is generally an edgelord sourpuss, but he has heart. With plenty of internal monologue (unusual for the series), you spend loads of time in his head, too. His grim worldview and reticence to let anyone past his emotional walls has defined the game in hindsight, but once you crack Squall’s outer shell, you get to see perhaps one of the most broken protagonists in the series’ long history.

Squall exists in a world that’s been actively hostile towards an entire generation: rumours circulate of children being kidnapped to placate a mysterious sorceress, myriad wars span continents, and experimental technology is being adopted. Throw in the fact that he was orphaned at a young age, then abandoned by the one role model he had during his worst years, and you start to understand his prickliness when it comes to relationships and abandonment.

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