Final Fantasy 16’s first DLC opens that one mysterious door — and its characters minds


This article contains Final Fantasy 16 spoilers.

If you’ve played Final Fantasy 16, you’ll know the door I mean. Down a side path in The Dim is a circular stone door that never opens, a bizarre enigma in a game otherwise overflowing with detail. Throughout the game, it remains a tantalising glimpse of The Fallen leading to a towering spire in the distance.

Until now! The newly released Echoes of the Fallen DLC begins with some slow preamble to loosely set up Clive and Jill’s visit behind the door, introducing a handful of new incidental characters. And then the door opens.

What’s behind it? A brief couple of hours of dungeon crawling and an enjoyable, if hardly taxing, boss battle. As players might expect, the door leads to a Fallen ruin — across the world of Valisthea are hints of this long-forgotten civilisation — that offers visual spectacle in place of real narrative insight. It’s just a hint of a side story from the past that doesn’t impact the main plot.

Final Fantasy 16 DLC TrailerWatch on YouTube

The Sagespire tower itself is glorious, the pinnacle of Fallen engineering prowess bathed in sunlight. There’s a sort of rogue AI that’s not happy with Clive’s intrusion and so begins a climb through intricate hallways infested with purple crystal growths, enemies floating in pods of goo, and corrupted veins of what looks like flesh. It’s all a bit sci-fi, touching on strange experiments and body horror — a striking change of theme for Final Fantasy 16.

Disappointingly, it doesn’t add to combat all that much. There are some twisted versions of familiar enemies, but beyond getting to grips with the controls after months away, they don’t require much alternate strategy. The same can be said for the boss at the tower’s peak, which doesn’t reach the breathtaking highs of the game’s Eikon battles but does provide a suitable technological climax. Here the booming electronic score and choir converge, the screen a whirl of AoE attacks and bullet hell lasers. It’s not overly difficult, but this sort of visually arresting and thrilling display is what CBU3 does best, be it here in Final Fantasy 16 or in MMO Final Fantasy 14.

View of the full party looking up at the Sagespire tower from the bottom

Clive begins the climb up the Sagespire with sunlight pouring in

The mood and architecture is beautiful as ever | Image credit: Square Enix / Eurogamer

There is a slight cheapness to the presentation though. Don’t expect any elaborate cutscenes here and, as with side activities in the main game, some of the conversations are robotic with poor lip synching by comparison to key story points. I do wonder if this DLC has been spun out of cut content. After all, that door has been there conspicuously since the start. And with its somewhat out of place technological spin and incidental plot, this extra odd little quest was perhaps easily removed from the base game, but makes for some enjoyable fan service as a late addition.

All that said, the forthcoming The Rising Tide DLC will likely be far more substantial. Its focus on the Eikon Leviathan has been pitched as more heavily story-focused and could provide some new magical water abilities to play around with. It’s a little disappointing to find neither of these will focus on other characters, instead continuing Clive’s journey. Yoshida himself previously said he’d love to make Cid playable, for instance. Yet DLC director Takeo Kujiraoka recently noted to Famitsu that playable characters other than Clive would require a new battle system. Final Fantasy 16 is, above all, Clive’s story.

Clive battles a flying cyclops enemy in Final Fantasy 16 DLC

Clive against bullet hell from a mechanical boss in Final Fantasy 16 DLC

Bullet hell! | Image credit: Square Enix / Eurogamer

There’s another new feature in Echoes of the Fallen outside of its main quest, that does look toward the wider cast by opening a door to their minds. The Grand Cast — a sort of character map of the cast and relationships — now has Inner Voice, revealing the thoughts of Clive, Jill, Cid, and others at the click of a button. You can cycle back through the timeline of events to see what everyone really thought of each other as a quick one line thought bubble: relive Clive’s turmoil at the death of his brother, for instance, or follow his relationship with Jill from «part of the family» to romantically looking upon the moon together.

Torgal asks "where did he go?" on Final Fantasy 16's Inner Voice board

Torgal says "master says he's still watching over us" on Final Fantasy 16's Inner Voice board

Bless Torgal | Image credit: Square Enix / Eurogamer

I always appreciated the game’s Active Time Lore system as a glossary of character detail and so Inner Voice is a cute extra, if only to see wolf companion Torgal’s take on the game’s events. In this DLC’s brief runtime, there’s still room for a little poignancy, at least. On the topic of a certain character’s death, Torgal questions, «Where did he go?» before noting, «He’s fallen asleep»; later he responds: «Master says he’s still watching over us». As if that moment wasn’t already heartbreaking enough.


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