The Fabric Of Reality

One thing that Final Fantasies are known for are the recurring elements, at least some of which are present in every one of the games. This essay attempts to cover some of the basics of one of the lesser-noticed elements, that of the patchy fabric of reality in the games.

The Case of Ivalice

Ever wondered about Cloud's (FF7) appearance in Tactics? This is one of the most known and most blatant examples of the breaking down of reality. To put it simply, while Cloud was immersed in the Lifestream of his own planet Gaia, the power of it temporarily transported either his consciousness or his whole body along with his consciousness to the world of Ivalice in Tactics. While it isn't known if it is a property of the Lifestream everyone that falls into it can utilize or merely a fluke of some kind, it does present some interesting indications about the nature of the life of the planets and the people that live upon them.

Another example of the same kind of transportation is Balthier (FF12) in Revenant Wings, coming into contact with one of the Auraliths in the sky land of the Aegyl and being transported into the Tactics Ivalice quite like Cloud was. However, in this case it could be argued to be a case of time travel rather than world travel, but the reality is not constant in either case. Other examples of Ivalice's instability can be found plenty in the Tactics series, where there exist books called Gran Grimoires capable of transporting the reader to the Ivalice of old or even creating another Ivalice entirely based on the desires of the reader and the information about Ivalice it itself holds.

What remains to be seen is whether these examples prove that Ivalice is particularly prone to alterations in its reality, or whether its alterations have been simply better represented among all the games.

The Interdimensional Rift

What next catches our attention is the original dimension/world traveler, Gilgamesh, who once having entered the Rift, became a traveler of many worlds, appearing over at least three or four games as himself, not a person with the same name. He also comes from the the game that perhaps most remarkably integrates the fabric of the world's reality into it, being that the world itself has long since been torn in two and portions of it sealed to the Rift. There is also some indication that the very same Rift, the dimension between worlds, is present in quite a few of the other games as well, although sometimes under different names and always presenting different fragments of the Rift to the player. It could most convincingly be argued that the Crystal World of FF9 is a portion of the Rift. And what of the chaotic trials of the Challenge Dungeons in FF4TAY or the Walk of Echoes in FF11, let alone the fortress of the disappeared Yukes in FFCC Crystal Bearers? Indeed, it could be argued that even the Farplane, the place of residence of the dead as per lore in FF10, is connected to the Rift in some way, if not entirely within it.

One indisputable case of the Rift being present is the Dissidia series, where the whole games take place within a portion of the Rift. It also tells the story of a time when all of reality (around at least one world, the original Gaia was broken down into fragments and some fragments were summoned into the Rift-born world where a long battle between the forces of chaos and the forces of harmony took place. The warriors of each side are known to have come from different points in their own timelines, ones from the same world not necessarily from the same time objectively. This, if nothing else, should convince the reader that the fabric of reality in the Final Fantasy worlds must be riddled with holes and faults that such a summon can take place, drawing the consciousness of one person within their own world to one within the Rift. It does bear noting however, that when trying to come up with a logical point of time for each warrior to have come from based on what they remember and how they behave, it almost invariably results in a time when the warrior came in contact with a 'weak point' within their own world, such as crystals, the land of the dead or even the planet's soul itself.

Otherworlds and Alternate Realities

The concept of a world after death should be familiar to most readers. While strictly speaking an afterworld is only present in several of the games (namely the Pandaemonium in FF2, the Farplane in FF10 and the land of the dead in FFCC), other such otherworlds are more widely presented. They range from the 'illusionary' worlds of the Esper world in FF6 and the Feymarch in FF4 to the dream-Vana'diel and the Abyssea-Vana'diel of FF11, the world of darkness in FF3 and the hodgepodge of worlds that became the Wonderland in FFU (indeed, even the dream Ivalice mentioned before). Related but not the exact same are the instances of mangled time in FF1, FF8 and 4HL, where time either loops, creates alternate timelines and even is almost compressed to a single instance (or all of the before).

What combines these otherworlds is their apparent trait to link to the Rift and to other worlds, they are 'weak points' quite like the crystals and downright rips in the reality from the previous examples. Indeed, among them is an example of a certain summon, Atomos, directly transporting people from one dimension/reality to another.

The Reason

So how come these worlds have not collapsed in on themselves already if they're so faulty? One reason for this could be what I called weak points earlier - the crystals especially. It is a well-established fact in the earlier Final Fantasies that crystals are what keep the world together, harnessing the elements and bringing stability into the world. It is also fact that when the power of the crystals wanes, the world starts slowly deteriorating, its winds stopping, its earth rotting, even monsters appearing more frequently. Likewise with a planet's soul, if it withers away then the world dies - there is even a parasite that travels between worlds and appears to eat or at least in some way corrupt planet souls. It could very well be that these weak points are only weak points because they keep the chaos of the Rift at bay, and thus must be in some kind of contact with the Rift themselves.

JGwinters


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