Epic Gaming Moments Vol. 2: Id’s Identity (“Xenogears”)

After the last post in this column was dedicated to the biggest goddamn game of all time, I decided to make this one about a regrettably unpopular title: “Xenogears”.

“Xenogears” was a PS1 game released by Squaresoft when it was still Squaresoft and everyone in their offices was swimming in cash and virgins (you with me on the double entendre?) á la Scrooge McDuck. This came out in 1998—the interim between “Final Fantasy VII” and “Final Fantasy VIII”, two of the best-selling PS1 videogames ever.

You’d expect anything they release at that point to become a massive success, but though it did make some pretty decent sales, no one gave a shit about "Xenogears" because “Final Fantasy VIII” was looming on the horizon. This is a shame because, though  “Final Fantasy VIII” is my favorite game of all time, “Xenogears” is pretty close, and I still think it deserved more attention.

The Context:

Also boobs. This game has boobs.

The best aspect of this title wasn’t the flawed gameplay, certainly not the weird but interesting graphical clusterfuck (it mixed 3D background with 2D sprites) or the awkward battle system I haven't completely figured out to date, but its story. I won’t go into details about the story because it’s so mind-wreckingly complex you’d all close this page with goo coming out of your ears. However, I do need to contextualize.

The game, as any 90’s J-RPG is a linear story peppered with segments of battle, exploration and side-questing. We follow Fei, a young fighter suffering from amnesia (hey it was the 90’s; it wasn’t as much of a cliché back then) who has to leave his hometown after he accidentally blows it right the fuck up.

Okay that was a cliché back then too.

Fei could pilot a ‘Gear’ called Weltall, basically a huge robot because this is Japan we're talking about, as he moved across the vast futuristic fantasy world meeting likable characters and slowly uncovering a gigantic apocalyptic conspiracy. However, one of the many villains is this one creepy pretty-boy called Id who often shows up to fuck your party up in those tricky "You can't win this" battles that make you reset the game several times and look like a complete idiot. Id, like many other characters in the game, also pilots a Gear—a blood-red one, in Id’s case.

The Shitting of the Brix:

Id, as drawn by DeviantArt user clarityblue.
So halfway through the first disc, Fei is secluded because he was previously injured in battle while the rest of the party goes do J-RPG things. However, shit hits the fan when Id shows up again and Fei is nowhere to be seen. Turns out that Id is actually one of Fei’s many repressed personalities because this kid had one messed up youth. The cutscene in which we see Weltal transform into Id’s red gear and we finally understand that the lead character is also one of the main villains is still one of the most shocking twists I have ever been subjected to, in any medium.

The cool thing is that it’s not just the twist; what happened has very complex ramifications that reveal more secrets about other characters and the overarching plot around Fei and the rest of the cast, not to mention the added drama that this character dichotomy involves.

Though this was the most surprising turn in the story of “Xenogears”, it wasn’t the only one. The plot continues to develop and grow to one motherfucker of a scope. Anyone who is into sci-fi at all should play “Xenogears”, if only for the plotting. It’s like a mix between Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion”, “Dune” and “Neon Genesis Evangelion” on steroids.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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