A girl named Luka...

#1 Edited by wemibelec90 (1563 posts) -

NOTE: I apologize for the terrible quality of the images, but I wanted to have pictures of Luka. I had to take these with my tablet off my TV (since LR is apparently one of the games that doesn't allow you to take in-game screenshots), and this was the best I could do.

A look at Luka before you talk to her.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised by Lightning Returns. The previews for it looked strange, almost indecipherable. Everything from the combat to the tone of the story seemed radically changed from the past games in the series. It looked like an entirely different kind of game, one that might not contain what I had liked about the last two games. I bought it with no small amount of trepidation, wondering if I had just wasted my $60.

After I started playing, however, I couldn’t put it down. Few games manage to enthrall me as completely as Lightning Returns did; I couldn’t stop playing until I had consumed all the content it contained. While I greatly enjoyed just about everything about the game, what really impressed me about Lightning Returns was its world. It seemed standard and somewhat boring at first, but a certain side quest made me think about the world in a different way--hell, in a way I have never thought about any game world before.

To help you realize the meaningfulness of this side quest, I first need to give you a bit of information about the world of Lightning Returns. After the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2, an entity named Chaos has began to overtake the world. Anything it touches vanishes into nothingness, never to return for the rest of eternity. Every day, this darkness creeps ever inwards, claiming another town or village in its inexorable march towards annihilation. Eventually--inevitably--Chaos will devour the entire world.

Luka stiffing Lightning yet again.

For those who manage to (temporarily, at least) escape Chaos’ dark clutches, there are a few side effects to this new world. No one ages, meaning death only comes to those who receive bodily harm or fall ill. Everyone has also become infertile, unable to produce any new life to replace the slowly-dying population. Because of these side effects, the only humans who remain after 500 years of Chaos are those who managed to be careful and lucky enough to survive. This remaining population waits uneasily for the end of the world, when all humankind will simply cease to exist.

Now that you understand the world a bit, let’s talk about a girl named Luka. While she looks like a child, it’s important to remember that she has lived just as long as anyone else at this point--500 years and change. Luka stands outside the South Station in Luxerion (one of the last cities in the world) and sells her tears to passersby. Through her quest, you learn about her past: an acting career, an unrequited love and his unfortunate death, and a new profession--selling tears to those who can no longer feel after such a long life

It’s a very simple quest, one that plays out automatically. You simply visit Luka four times, paying her increasing fees each time, and the quest progresses naturally. Luka realizes she cannot cry for herself anymore, her heart just as hard and uncaring as those she cries for. Lightning’s cruel but honest words draw Luka’s tears out, and the girl realizes that crying for money hurts her ability to cry for herself. She vows to never sell her tears again.

Luka finally explains.

It’s a touching quest, with some excellent voice acting by Luka, but its meaning is not really why this quest became so consuming for me. It’s not why I went back to see her at any cost, even when the game’s explicit time limit made doing so difficult. I went back to see this girl again and again because of the questions her story made me ask about the world of Nova Chrysalia.

How do children who never age and never grow up adapt and fit into adult society? Do they live with their parents for centuries, or do they eventually leave the nest and learn to live on their own? Are they given typical adult jobs when they are deemed “grown-up” enough to work? Should they still be called “children” or “little girl/boy” if they are hundreds of years old? These were all questions that went through my mind as I spoke with Luka and heard her story.

However, there was one question in particular that I couldn’t stop thinking about: could (or should?) it ever be acceptable and normal for an adult and a child to enter a romantic relationship? Luka mentions her acting teacher, an older man that she admits to being in love with. According to her, he never returned her feelings. As Luka says, “Even though we spent decades together, he never stopped treating me like a child.” Did this man actually feel the same way and was just afraid to act due to the taboo nature of such a relationship? Or was it impossible for him to see her as anything but a child due to her bodily appearance?

Thoughts about this topic plagued my brain for days on end after finishing this quest. I wanted--needed--to know if there were any other examples of this type of relationship in the world of Lightning Returns. I went back and forth on whether or not a society like this one (or myself, for that matter) could eventually adapt to the idea of a taboo relationship such as this. Would a “child” be able to attain emotional maturity without going through puberty first? Is it really pedophilia, just because one person is in a child’s body, if both parties are over 500 years old?

The touching resolution to this quest.

These are strange questions, I know, but I couldn’t stop myself from asking them. I had known that no one aged in this world before talking to Luka, but it was her story that made me stop and consider what that really meant. I started to ponder questions like the ones I mentioned above and think about the world of Lightning Returns on a grander scale. Instead of thinking of the world as a game, I began to imagine it as a real place with real concerns and moral considerations. Trying to understand this fictional world and its people was an intense fascination I couldn’t easily let go of.

I’m not the kind of person who usually gets invested in a world like this. Most of the time, I blow through games so quickly that I don’t even stop to consider what it is I just did. Lightning Returns didn’t let me do that. It offered up a side quest so engaging and fascinating that I stopped dead in my tracks. I was no longer concerned with finishing the game; I wanted to understand it and the world it had hinted at but not fully explained. After Luka’s quest, I can never look at a game world the same way again.

#2 Edited by bigjeffrey (4809 posts) -

damn, i never finished this quest.

#3 Edited by Turambar (6677 posts) -

Huh, I have no recollection of this quest what so ever, and I thought I had finished every non-request board quest in the game.

#4 Posted by el_tajij (708 posts) -

@wemibelec90: This is a great write up, man. I've got a copy of Lightning Returns sitting about 1.5 feet from me but haven't got round to sitting down and firing it up. I think this has given me the push to change that!

#5 Edited by Aetheldod (3514 posts) -

I too pondered those questions .... I disregarded them swiftly because as you said taboos. But yeah the game just makes you wonder , too bad that other npcs werent as interesting as Luka.

#6 Posted by Wolfgame (695 posts) -

I find these type of topics fascinating. Some people will likely say it is a case of overthinking video games, but I like hearing about things like this that resonate with someone in a game. I'm not certain if I will get into ff13 myself, but I enjoyed your post.

#7 Posted by Demoskinos (14585 posts) -

@turambar: There are some EXTREMELY time frame specific quests. You only really need around 40 quests ( I think) to get the 14th day unlocked but there are like 60 total in the game.

#8 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6103 posts) -

@wemibelec90: Moved this to the Lightning Returns forum. When creating threads, try to keep them in a relevant forum. Thanks.

Moderator
#9 Posted by TheBlue (317 posts) -

Definitely a neat, thought-provoking quest. It shows how messed up the world really became. It felt like a Majora's Mask style quest and I wished there were more meaningful ones like it.

#10 Posted by Hailinel (23966 posts) -

@wemibelec90: Excellent write-up! Luka's quest was a real stand-out in the game for a lot of reasons. The world that the game presents also brings up a lot of very interesting questions to ponder about how people and society can cope when placed into such a situation.

@turambar said:

Huh, I have no recollection of this quest what so ever, and I thought I had finished every non-request board quest in the game.

Luka only appears in the late afternoon/early evening at a specific point in the Luxerion South Station area. She's easy to miss if you're not in the right place at the right time.

#11 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -

I'm not sure who wins Worst Font Use of Last Generation: Is it Sony for the fat PS3 Spiderman font, or Square for the XIII series?

#12 Posted by Demoskinos (14585 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@wemibelec90: Excellent write-up! Luka's quest was a real stand-out in the game for a lot of reasons. The world that the game presents also brings up a lot of very interesting questions to ponder about how people and society can cope when placed into such a situation.

@turambar said:

Huh, I have no recollection of this quest what so ever, and I thought I had finished every non-request board quest in the game.

Luka only appears in the late afternoon/early evening at a specific point in the Luxerion South Station area. She's easy to miss if you're not in the right place at the right time.

Its also best paired if you do her quest and the other quest that requires multiple visits.

#13 Edited by shinjin977 (748 posts) -

yup this game have some really great side quest story but the players might have to do some digging.

#14 Edited by Jeust (10482 posts) -

There is article that shows a very interesting premise to the questions presented. The article Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas (source) tells that:

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.

So if these children and their supporters reached a number of at least 10% this new segment of the population would probably get integrated into society, under the chasm of a stereotype like "forever children", and be subject to prejudice. They would eventually lead independent lives, at a certain age established by society too, I believe.

Also under the same principle falls the relationships between adults and these "forever children", that initially would be shunned and rejected by society, but eventually they should be accepted by the majority as well.

All this considering that society should follow a western type, and the number of "forever children" would rise over time.

#15 Posted by Hailinel (23966 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@wemibelec90: Excellent write-up! Luka's quest was a real stand-out in the game for a lot of reasons. The world that the game presents also brings up a lot of very interesting questions to ponder about how people and society can cope when placed into such a situation.

@turambar said:

Huh, I have no recollection of this quest what so ever, and I thought I had finished every non-request board quest in the game.

Luka only appears in the late afternoon/early evening at a specific point in the Luxerion South Station area. She's easy to miss if you're not in the right place at the right time.

Its also best paired if you do her quest and the other quest that requires multiple visits.

Yeah. The most challenging thing about the quest (which really isn't challenging) is just making sure you fit in a little time to visit her on four days. They don't even have to be consecutive and the gil cost across all four days should pose no issues at all.

#16 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1539 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@wemibelec90: Excellent write-up! Luka's quest was a real stand-out in the game for a lot of reasons. The world that the game presents also brings up a lot of very interesting questions to ponder about how people and society can cope when placed into such a situation.

@turambar said:

Huh, I have no recollection of this quest what so ever, and I thought I had finished every non-request board quest in the game.

Luka only appears in the late afternoon/early evening at a specific point in the Luxerion South Station area. She's easy to miss if you're not in the right place at the right time.

Bummer. Like @turambar, I completely missed this quest, and I did almost everything else. I was also kind of annoyed that they didn't address the plight of the children very much since it could have been a neat science fictioney thing to consider. Now I learn that they did and I just wasn't at the right place at the right time.

By the way, this reminds me: why did nearly (if not literally?) every single boy in the game have the same character model? It was weirding me out enough that by the end I was convinced it was some kind of inside joke that was going over my head.

#17 Posted by Hailinel (23966 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@wemibelec90: Excellent write-up! Luka's quest was a real stand-out in the game for a lot of reasons. The world that the game presents also brings up a lot of very interesting questions to ponder about how people and society can cope when placed into such a situation.

@turambar said:

Huh, I have no recollection of this quest what so ever, and I thought I had finished every non-request board quest in the game.

Luka only appears in the late afternoon/early evening at a specific point in the Luxerion South Station area. She's easy to miss if you're not in the right place at the right time.

Bummer. Like @turambar, I completely missed this quest, and I did almost everything else. I was also kind of annoyed that they didn't address the plight of the children very much since it could have been a neat science fictioney thing to consider. Now I learn that they did and I just wasn't at the right place at the right time.

By the way, this reminds me: why did nearly (if not literally?) every single boy in the game have the same character model? It was weirding me out enough that by the end I was convinced it was some kind of inside joke that was going over my head.

There's a lot of character model reuse in the game. Nothing unusual compared to a lot of RPGs.

#18 Posted by wemibelec90 (1563 posts) -

@el_tajij: Thanks for the compliment! I certainly think it's worth a playthrough, but it may not be to your taste. It seems to me like one of those games that is very hit-or-miss for most people.

@wolfgame: This isn't something that happens for me ever, either. I was extremely surprised to see a world that I actually looked more closely at.

@sparky_buzzsaw: Oops, sorry. I thought since this was "blog-y" it would go in the General forum.

@hailinel: Thanks! I had been wanting to write something about this quest since I finished the game nearly a month ago. It too me this long to piece my thoughts together and do the idea justice. I'm happy it turned out so well!

@jeust: An interesting article. I would like to think that society would adapt to these children, but pedophilia is such a deep-seated taboo that I wouldn't be surprised if it managed to persist in some manner or another.

#19 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1539 posts) -

@hailinel: Oh I know and accept that, but even relative to the amount of "we put dumb-looking glasses and a hovering moustache on this guy, he's totally different!" in LR, that boy character model really started sticking out to me. There were at least three major characters that looked exactly the same, right down to their haircut.

It wasn't a huge deal, just felt like an odd oversight.

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