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This article assumes you have played both Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 and will have unmarked spoilers for both games.
The world is ending, and if you want a savior, you're gonna have to be the savior yourself.note 

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the third installment in what is now the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and fifth announced, fourth entry in the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series, marking the first instance of a direct trilogy in the flesh-crystallizingly popular Final Fantasy series. It caps off the "Lightning Saga" of the Fabula Nova Crystallis franchise.

At the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Time itself was destroyed and took the world as we knew with it. Lightning, having failed her mission as Etro's champion, placed herself into crystal stasis to survive the Time Crash and preserve the memory of her fallen sister, Serah. Five hundred years later, she awakens into Nova Chrysalia, a new world composed of four connected islands floating in the Sea of Chaos, and humanity's last bastion. However, she soon discovers that this world has a mere thirteen days left before it is consumed and reborn as a new world, and Lightning must strive to ensure that the new future is a bright one.

The main feature of the game is the Doomsday Clock, which counts down the minutes until Nova Chrysalia is destroyed. By defeating monsters, completing missions, and making new discoveries, Lightning can obtain Eradia so she can extend the lifespan of Nova Chrysalia, putting more time on the clock so it can end when it's supposed to, as well as increase her base stats — HP, Strength, Magic, Max ATB, Item Slots and EP (which are expended on such useful moves as stopping time). If you're wondering, this gameplay mechanic has already been done before by Square; bonus points for Lightning being a Valkyrie.

The game features a day-night system, an equipment system that affects Lightning's appearance (seemingly a combined form of XIII and XIII-2's equipment system with X-2's outfits and costumes), a real-time version of Command Synergy Battle (XIII and XIII-2's variant of the Active Time Battle system) with seamless integration and free movement complete with timed hits, and Lightning as the sole playable character for the duration of the entire game.

An English and Japanese trailer displaying new game features have been released. The game was released on November 21st 2013 in Japan, on February 11th 2014 for the US, and February 14th 2014 for Europe. A PC version was released on December 10, 2015.

A novel taking place after the ending, known as Final Fantasy XIII: Reminiscence -tracer of memories-, was released in June 2014.

If this description did not spoil you already, You Have Been Warned.

This game provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-D 
  • Action Commands:
    • You can Guard against attacks to reduce the amount of damage you take, at any time. As an added bonus, if you use Guard at the exact same time an enemy hits you, the word BLOCK will appear on screen, meaning you take no damage from the attack (there's even a trophy for doing this). You can also use the Evade command to dodge attacks.
    • While it's not hinted at (unless you read the Battle Guide in the Datalog), attacking enemies with the right timing with also get a PERFECT rating, increasing damage and stagger power considerably.
  • After-Combat Recovery: On Easy Mode, Lightning will recover HP between battles, regardless of whether you're standing still or moving. Averted for Normal/Hard Mode, which are more in-line with previous FF games, where the HP you end a battle with remains the same post-battle. To rub it in even further, having the enemy hit you first on the world map removes 5% of Lightning's HP on Normal/Hard Mode, which you won't get back after battle.
  • After the End: The world in this game is Gran Pulse after the Time Crash at the climax of Final Fantasy XIII-2.
  • The Ageless: Everyone on Nova Chrysalia, thanks to the world being infused with Chaos. On the downside, everyone is sterile as well.
  • Alien Sky: At night you can see The Ark (which replaced Cocoon, but was abandoned) in the sky, with a narrow ring system around it. It is particularly easy to see from The Dead Dunes and The Wildlands.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Lightning destroys Bhunivelze once and for all by combining the spirits of Snow, Sazh, Hope, Vanille, Fang, Serah, Noel, Dajh, Mog and the souls of humanity for one fell swoop that sends him hurtling towards the black hole where Nova Chrysalia and the old universe is about to be consumed.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Some of the things you can find in item orbs and buy in shops, are new costumes for Lightning. Justified, in the fact that they act as this game's take on Paradigm shifts and receiving them give you new weapons, shields, and commands for Lightning to use.
  • Animal-Eared Headband: A variety are available as adornments such as Moogle or cat.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Leaving Lightning idle for an hour-and-ten-minutes in-game (ie a little under three minutes IRL) will automatically pause the game, preventing the player from inadvertently wasting time.
    • Final boss too tough for you? You can use the Crystal Of Atonement to start a New Game Plus and level up quite a bit.
    • Several in the Luxerion Main Quest:
      • Don't want to bother with the tailing segment, or just want to save time? You can fight the Children of Etro members - brazenly even - and when the stealth outright fails, Hope directs you to the graveyard's phone booth anyway due to rumors of it ringing even with no one around.
      • Also want to save time/not bother with the number codes for the phone booth? Simply provoke them over the phone by giving them an incorrect code, defeat the Dreadnought enemy that appears, and you'll have forced your way in easy-peasy.
      • If you fail to pick up the Crest of Etro needed to follow Noel into the innermost depths of The Warren, instead of backtracking all the way to the Grave, some Children of Etro members will spawn outside the gate so you can defeat them and gain the item. Even better, you can skip the whole process and simply attack/defeat the gate guardian, opening the gate.
    • Opening the main menu, talking to NPCs and buying things from shops all stop the clock.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Inverted. There's a Cult known as the Children of Etro who perform what appear to be sacrifices, but they believe Lightning is destined to destroy the world due to being the "Savior" and seek to kill her to prevent this. They are so devoted to this task that they start to kidnap and murder young women who bear a resemblance to Lightning, in the hopes of one of them being her.
  • Arc Number: 13, much like its predecessors.
    • Hope went missing 169 years prior to Lightning's awakening, during which time his body was hijacked by Bhunivelze. 13x13 = 169.
    • The maximum amount of days the world can have before it is destroyed at any given time is 13 days. Though if you play the game right, Lightning can create a fourteenth.
    • Lightning's Default Weapon, Crimson Blitz, raises both her Magic and Strength by 130 points. 13x10 = 130.
    • The quest "Born from Chaos" says that thirteen heroes perished trying to defeat Zomok.
    • Vanille and Fang woke up 13 years before Lightning did.
    • Talking to Hope at the end of the first day reveals that originally, the Final Fantasy XIII universe ran on 26-hour days (13 x 2), but after Ragnarok crystallized the falling Cocoon, time was altered to 24 hour days, according to FFXIII-2 datalogs. Of course, this is to make the time management easier for us real life gamers.
    • The "Like Clockwork" sidequest in Luxerion involves checking 13 clocks to make sure they are working properly.
    • The "Mythical Badge" Canvas of Prayers sidequest is to obtain the supposedly mythical 13th badge of merit issued by the High Priestess of the Order.
    • Hope's age of 1014 can be divided by 13 twice, making the numbers 78 and 6 respectively.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Lightning tells Lumina her plans to betray and kill Bhunivelze at the end of the world, a plan that Lumina loves. As she's praising it, Lumina mentions how Lightning would also be betraying Hope and asks her if she even considered the situation. Something Lightning can't answer.
    Lumina: Are you really prepared to kill Hope?
    Lightning: (scoffs) You think I'm not?
    Lumina: You answered a question with a question. That's an evasion.
  • Astral Checkerboard Decor: The whole game has this as is motif.
    • The Final Boss is fought on one of these. Bonus for his own "robe" actually being a part of the checkerboard, and in his final form he literally fuses with the damn floor!
    • Any area that's under a Chaos infusion also exhibits this pattern on the dome itself.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Taken more literal in this game than in previous entries. Unlike the previous two games, where you just had to raise the Break Meter by using any spell to boost it up (and physical attacks to keep it raised), here Lightning must chain together attacks and spells the enemy is weak to in order to trigger a Stagger. In many cases, enemies can be Staggered at least twice for even more damage.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Flare, Chill, Surge, and Tornado are top-level spells that strike everywhere on the field, no exceptions, and cause damage proportionate to Lightning's present HP. This sounds a lot more useful than it is; with only twelve available commands at any given time, you're better off with proper Fire, Blizzard, Thunder, and Aero spells - and this doesn't get into their intensive ATB-costs, well above even those of the -ga spells.
  • Badass Longcoat: While some Garbs are made of fanservice, and some are made of silk, gold, and awesome, some are this. Particularly the Sacred Knight and especially the Quiet Guardian. You can even recolor Quiet Guardian's long coat to another color, say, red or deep crimson. Even better, both Garbs are not only stylish, but extremely useful; Quiet Guardian, for example, can be equipped with an Accessory that reduces physical or magic damage by 75%. Quiet Guardian itself already has a built-in 15% damage reduction to both, and so, by combining the two effects, Lightning can shrug off even the mightiest attacks without so much as batting an eye.
  • Back from the Dead: Fang and Vanille. One shouldn't confuse crystal sleep with death, as crystal stasis is meant to be brought back from at some point. It is suggested by Hope that Bhunivelze was the one who woke them for some plan, and indeed, Vanille proved to be central to the Soulsong operation.
  • Bag of Spilling: At the very beginning of the game Lightning has absolutely none of her trademark abilities, only two mediocre garbs. This is because she's neither a L'cie nor a champion of Etro anymore. Bhunivelze is the empowering deity in this story, and it takes a few days for her to relearn Army of One via an item chest in the Ark, and it is now enhanced by her Divine powers to speed up and perform a rapid series of Flash Step attacks.
  • Batman Gambit: Lightning goads on Noel during their fight, telling him he doesn't have what it takes to kill her in hopes that he won't. She's right; he elects to destroy the Oracle Drive instead. Hope asks afterward if she knew this would happen, and she admits that she was taking a big risk by gambling on him doing what she hoped he'd do.
  • Bayonet Ya: The Secutors have bayonets mounted on, interestingly, submachine guns.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Lightning does a lot of things throughout the course of her mission as the Savior that are supposed to be impossible, or runs into things that shouldn't exist in Nova Chrysalia but still do:
    • In "Get The Girl", Lightning finds evidence of a woman who was able to age and die naturally, something considered impossible in Nova Chrysalia.
    • In "Life Of A Machine", Lightning is able to collect Eradia from a robot.
    • In "Voices From The Grave", Lightning, much to her own unsease, discovers that she can collect Eradia from some of the dead, which should fall outside her portfolio.
    • At the end of the Yusnaan storyline, Lightning is able to convince Snow to reverse his Cie'th transformation, which up to this point has been implied to require nothing short of divine intervention.
    • The last boss is Bhunivelze, God Himself, and yes, you do kill him. Although this being a Final Fantasy game, it's not that unusual.
  • BFS:
    • Some of the swords Lightning can wield this time around are huge, and the de-facto BFS of the series, the Buster Sword, appears as DLC.
    • Caius's sword, Chaos' Revenge and especially the Reavers' note  Sword, Shard Blade/Flesh Render
    • Lampshaded in Yusnaan where an announcer tells people to be on the look out for Lightning.
      She has rose-colored hair, and is carrying an enormous weapon.
  • Big Bad: Bhunivelze is not responsible for the state of the world but he is exploiting it for his own sinister purpose. That purpose is to commit genocide on everyone who died since Etro did by making them Deader than Dead as part of his plan to populate the new world with emotionless puppets whose souls he can see.
  • Blade Spam: Compared to most other Limit Breaks in the previous games in the series, this game's version of Army of One easily tops any others: it hits 50 times on its own, double the maximum number of hits of the previous record holder Squall.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • Monsters retain their default appearance throughout battles, regardless of the amount of damage taken, and vanish into thin air when defeated. They might lose limbs but there's no blood, only the occasional 'spray' of different-colored gunk.
    • When both Lightning and Noel defeat a group of the Children of Etro members, none of them look hurt, nor did any blood appear to be spilled.
  • Body Snatcher: Bhunivelze abducts Hope 169 years before the start of the game and uses him as its host. This has similarities with Seeing Through Another's Eyes and Demonic Possession.
  • Book Ends
    • Thirteen days preceded the first game, and thirteen days are now ending the trilogy.
    • The original had Vanille and Fang (from Gran Pulse) awakening from crystal stasis into a new world (Cocoon) after 500 years. Here, Lightning (from Cocoon) awoke in a new world (Nova Chrysalia) after 500 years in crystal stasis.
    • Vanille and Fang woke 13 years before Lightning, so this applies for them again along with Lightning, since they were from Gran Pulse and now wake up into a new world (Nova Crysalia).
    • Hope was 14 years old in the original XIII, grew into a 27 year old man in XIII-2, and now he's back to his 14 year old self for this final installment.
    • Finally, the trilogy opens with Lightning infiltrating a train containing victims of the Purge in order to find Serah. The ending of this finale has her stepping out of a train and into the new world she and her friends created, presumably to find her friends and sister again.
      • When she arrived in Luxerion, Lightning steps off a train. When Lightning is reborn in a new world, she also steps off a train.
  • Boring Yet Practical:
    • The Cloud outfit for hard boss fights. When in boss fights with the Cloud outfit, the easiest thing to do is just stagger them, then use Overclock to slow them down, and then just spam Heavy Slash, the locked ability mapped to the Triangle/Y button in the Cloud outfit. The garb has a passive ability that changes Heavy Slash into the Slayer ability, which multiplies the damage output exponentially, and when you have your enemy slowed down with Overclock, you can spam the attack to deal a lot of damage. You can take out hard bosses like Noel and Caius in mere SECONDS by doing this.
    • The Soldier of Peace garb, too. Granted, its starting ATB is 0 (and even then, there are accessories that overcome that), but Artemis Arrow is devastating since it adds another damage multiplier on top of already strong Heavy Slash, seems to at least partially ignore enemy defenses and unlike the Cloud outfit, it has no prerequisite condition (although it does have a more random damage variation and can't be used on flying monsters), allowing you to utterly savage even strong creatures like the Eaters.
    • Regularly checking the Canvas of Prayers. The quests do not give individually high rewards, but they add up over the whole game, and can often be immediately completed with items that you have collected as you go along.
    • The Guardian Corps and Knight of Etro garbs, available as an Old Save Bonus for having played the trilogy's first two games. They have unremarkable statistics with no passive abilities, but they have no locked abilities - which allows for full customization/upgrades - and no ATB or damage drawbacks like some other garbs do.
    • The -ra level spells have just the right balance of damage, stagger power, area-of-effect and ATB cost to make them very useful in a variety of situations, especially Aerora and Thundara. Any garb with one locked is rife for abuse. And if you have 3 different ones on different Schema, you can quickly stagger anything that gets staggered by magic and/or elemental damage. Yes, even the difficult final phase of the final boss.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: The Eaters. High hit points, requiring two staggers to successfully take down, and very powerful attacks. Thankfully, in the areas they're native to, Fang and the Angel of Valhalla are guest party members, making the process to kill them a bit easier. Figuring out how to steal their buffs from them also goes a long way toward making their battles easier as well.
  • A Boy and His X: A Girl and Her Chocobo. The Angel of Valhalla sidequest has Lightning curing, feeding and talking to a Chocobo that she feels a strong bound to. As a bonus, the chocobo is also revealed to be a reincarnation of Odin, Lightning's trusty Eidolon.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The final boss drops a unique double-bladed weapon, with good but not game-breaking stats. The base drop rate is 5%, or 15% on Hard Mode. Assuming you didn't get lucky or save-scum on Easy/Normal, if you're capable of farming the Hard Mode final boss for a weapon... then you really don't need it.
    • The final boss also drops Elementaga on Hard Mode. Unfortunately that's the only enemy that drops said spell, so if you want to level it up so it's usable, you'll have to fight the final boss over and over.
    • The other two bonus bosses also drop equally-rare pieces on Hard Mode, that you probably won't actually need: Disaster from Aeronite, and Heroic Guard from Ereshkigal. note 
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The game breaking Cloud and Yuna garbs are DLC items on consoles. The Otherworld service also provided Turbo Elixirs while it was up.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Interestingly enough, one of the available Garbs is colored and patterned exactly the same as Bruce Lee's iconic Game of Death yellow-and-black tracksuit. It even transforms the game's "Punt" Ability into "Whirlwind Kick" Ability; the (ab)use thereof is key to one strategy against the game's hardest Bonus Boss. See Difficult, but Awesome below.
  • Bullet Time: The Overclock ability slows down time for everyone except Lightning, so they move in slow-motion relative to her.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Lightning goes to the Wildlands, one of the main quests has her fighting Caius at Etro's Throne once again. Yeul wants Light to free Caius's soul, so he can finally die. This prompts Light to find him at Etro's throne and he tells her that if she wants his soul, she has to fight him for it. This obviously is a nod to their battle in XIII-2's Requiem of the Goddess episode, with Caius even turning into Chaos Bahamut for an attack.
      • Bonus points for if you have a XIII-2 Save file so you can use Lightning's XIII-2 Etro's Knight outfit for this fight.
    • After Hope comes up with his Zany Scheme to get Light into Snow's palace by replacing the lead actress of a play, she immediately tries to protest that she can't possibly pull it off, to which Hope replies:
    Hope: It's not a question of can or can't...
    • The attack Lightning uses to free Hope from Bhunivelze's body is Hope's Full ATB Skill Last Resort. It's most obvious in the Japanese version, where she calls it out, while the English version is more indirect-but-still-there ("A last resort, if all else fails.")
    • The final boss's theme contains lyrics from Fighting Fate, appropriate considering that the end of the world is nigh and what Bhunivelze's plans for Lightning are.
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • The "Thorn" accessories buff Lightning at the cost of a small amount HP at the beginning of battle.
    • The "Darkness" and "Ashura" attacks (tied to the Dark Knight garb) damage enemies at the cost of some of Lightning's HP.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: The combat system revolves around Lightning continually changing her outfit in the time it takes to push the shoulder buttons on your controller.
  • Chekhov's Gift: Remember Lightning's Survival Knife given to her by Serah in the first game? It's used by her in the final battle to free Hope's soul.
  • The Chosen One: Lightning once again; considering that her old boss bit it in the last game, she's now the savior of Bhunivelze.
  • Chronoscope: There is one last Oracle Drive left in the world, showing a prophecy of Lightning being a Destructive Savior that will end the world. Noel and the Children of Etro have been watching this prophecy obsessively and are out to kill Lightning because of it. After fighting Lightning, Noel chooses to destroy the Drive instead after realizing he can't let this "prophecy" control his life forever.
  • Church Militant: The Secutors, who are the Order of Salvation's armed wing, are in the Dead Dunes fighting with the bandit guild Monoculus.
  • Cool Crown: Lightning gets a handful of tiaras and circlets to wear but they are adornments only.
  • Cool Shades: Lightning wears some in the opening cinematic. She also has tons to choose from in the form of adornments, including the ones from the opening.
  • Corrupt Church: The Order of Salvation isn't as good as they seem. They deliberately kept the truth of the Soulsong from Vanille in order to instigate a mass Cessation of Existence ploy in order to purge the unworthy in preparation for Bhunivelze's new world.
  • Crapsack World: While the areas of the Nova Chrysalia aren't all that dark and gritty, the world is a terrible place now. Time doesn't flow for anyone, no life is born, nobody ages but they aren't immortal, so things like disease and injuries, and murder, can still kill someone. This has been going on for 500 Years for these people and majority of them have become very lethargic, if not apathetic.
  • Credits Medley: The closing credits are called "Credits ~Light Eternal~." With Lightning at the forefront, the medley ends with her most prominent themes to higlight her. Since the game wraps up the Final Fantasy XIII saga, it also opens with the game's most prominent theme. In order, it plays "FINAL FANTASY XIII -Miracles-," "Memories of Happier Days," "Snow's Theme ~Final Words~," "The Ark," "Caius's Theme," "Lightning's Theme" and "Blinded By Light."
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Bhunivelze pulls Hope between strings right before destroying his body.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The primary religion of the world is dedicated to Bhunivelze, who is referred to largely as "God" by most characters, though his real name is also used regularly. There's also a great deal of talk about praying for salvation and how God Is Good and stuff like that.
  • Darker and Edgier: The first major story mission has you investigating a series of serial killings occurring across Luxerion, and the first thing you see is a young woman laying dead with a note pinned to her back with a knife. Immediately after, the murderers hang a dummy resembling their target off a tower with a death threat. Not exactly how you'd expect a Final Fantasy game to start.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Phoenix Downs are cheap and Arise can keep you going so long as you have some EP to spend. If you die and run out of other options, you can always escape for the low, low cost of 0 EP. The only catch is that you lose an hour of the world's time, which really isn't generally too big a deal given you can basically just abuse Chronostasis and the game gives you more than enough time to get done what you need if you play it right. On the Final Day, there is no ticking clock, so this is played 100% straight. If you die, or even if you just don't like how things are going, you can run right out of any battle at no penalty whatsoever.
  • Death Seeker:
    • Caius, ironically, given how much he used Re-Raise in the last Game. His plan to save Yeul from repeatedly dying at a young age instead turned her into a "cancerous mass" of semi-unified Yeuls in the Unseen Chaos. However, he's also recognized that if he were to stay alive, any new world would suffer the same fate as the current one.
    • Snow is on the verge of this. As noted below under Despair Event Horizon, he's been struggling for 500 years of deeming himself a Failure Hero. The only thing keeping him going is his desire to protect the people of Yusnaan. By the time Lightning meets him a second time, he reveals he plans to absorb a massive amount of Chaos, and wants Lightning to kill him to prevent himself from going full Cie'th. Thankfully, she brings him back at the last possible moment.
    • Due to the screwed up state of life itself in this world, much of the remaining population could count as well. From those in Yusnaan who jump into thrills out of an implied suicidal desire, to folks in the Poltae who look forward to the world finally ending (with part of this being so they can join Etro, who they worship)... 500 straight years of ageless existence in a Crapsack World will do that.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Serah's death had an incredibly profound effect on Snow, who spent the next five centuries brooding over it to the point of being possessed by Chaos. In fact, the achievement gained from defeating him and knocking him to his senses is called "Hope at the Edge of Despair".
  • The Determinator: In one of the sidequests, Lightning provides some monster drop items in exchange for food to heal her chocobo, the Angel of Valhalla, to a guy labeled by the game as a "Hunter Hopeful." She then learns that he's planning to use the items as proof of a successful hunt and is ready to write him off as a loser/cheater until she learns that A.) there's nothing in the rules that forbids this and B.) this is his 101st time taking the test. She feels that having failed that many times and still kept trying shows real determination and strength of character.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Depending on what default Garb you're wearing, the wandering passerby will change their comments about you. For example, Lightning's Guardian Corps outfit will get comments that she looks like a Sanctum soldier, and the suit-like outfits will cause female NPC's to briefly hit on her before realizing their mistake among other things.
    • In the same vein, though much more rare, civilians will react to the effects of Chronostasis. If you use it near them and they haven't said anything yet (nor are in the process of saying anything), they might just comment on the 'strange burst of light' - plus, if you manage to keep it the exact same time for (in-game) hours, they'll eventually start to wonder if their clocks/watches are broken or something.
    • It's entirely possible that you can't beat the final boss, even after the Point of No Return, so the developers put in the Crystal of Atonement so you can force a New Game Plus.
  • Didn't Need Those Anyway!: A minor example, you can dismember Zomok's and Zaltys' tails by hitting them from behind, causing a short stagger and allowing additional item drops as well as making the attacks that use them useless, naturally. You can also destroy both of Dreadnought's arms by hitting them with strong attacks after avoiding their punches, reducing its defense and arsenal of attacks. The Chimera in the final dungeon can also lose it's two dragon-like head attachments if you hit them at the right moments, turning two elemental absorptions into weaknesses... though unlike the other three, if enough time passes in battle, they can grow back.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Yes, Lightning does kill the Top God, with the help of her friends and the souls of humanity, freeing them from Bhunivelze's control once and for all.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Perfect Guarding. If you can put your shield up right as the enemy's attack lands, you take a lot less damage, and will automatically stagger some enemies. Your window of opportunity is one-sixth of a second. There is an accessory which will expand this to a whole quarter-second.
    • This applies even more to Just Attacks, which is the above except applied to both spells and physical attacks. The key is hitting the attack button just after the last attack's ending frame. While regular attacks are easy enough to master (for relative definitions of "easy"), quick attacks are more difficult. The biggest example is the Whirlwind Kick Ability given from Martial Monk/Fatal Monk Garb. It turns a lowly Punt attack (low attack Ability but spammable due to its low ATB cost) into a better version of it. However, it only truly shines when one masters the timing ability required for it, as it can hit an enemy as quickly as 3-4 times per second. If the player is able to do so, it turns the already strong Ability into the single highest DPS-dishing ability. note 
    • Ultima is this. While locked to the Ultimatius Garb and only available after clearing the Ultimate Lair and similar to Flare and it's brethren, it's damage multiplier is x30.00, and it goes higher the more HP Lightning loses. Play your cards right and it'll cut off a huge chunk of HP off of anything, even the final boss.
  • Disc-One Nuke: With enough patience and correct planning, one can very easily farm three (or more) Shard Blades by slaughtering Reavers (which add huge amounts of both Strength and Magic) extremely early in the game (and, by killing these Reavers, one can get a large amount of EP per kill, thus removing a worry about losing days farming for weapons via Chronostasis use). Things suddenly become a lot easier after this.
    • Additionally, if the Last One of the Reavers is killed, the Flesh Render is dropped, which grants such a huge power boost that it remains viable all the way until the fight against the final boss.
    • The Midgar Flower Girl Garb comes with Mediguard Lv.* locked in, the shield it comes with heals you if you guard long enough and the weapon it comes with is specifically designed for defense. Good for free early game healing.
  • Do Androids Dream?: There is a sidequest in which Lightning must find oil for Bhakti, a small, sentient robot. After she has gathered the required three units, he's delighted because he can now save his friends that are trapped behind a door. However, his friends were humans and after many years, they are nothing but dusty skeletons. Bhakti didn't know that humans couldn't simply be repaired. His great attachment to them causes him to break down, but what appears to be a soul transfers from him to Lightning, just like what happens with other such quests. Everyone is left to wonder whether it's really possible for a robot to have a soul, or whether perhaps what Lightning saved was what was left of the souls of the people, which had found a home in the robot.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Doom is back, and used exclusively by the final boss. In his normal form, Bhunivelze will cast it at the beginning of the fight, although it gets dispelled after that phase. When facing Bhunivelze+, he uses it on his hair pulling final phase, forcing you to stagger him quickly.
  • Door to Before: In the Temple Of Chaos, if you talk to an NPC before the boss, she will create an exit which allows you to dodge the boss, and to return to face him later without having to grind your way through the whole Temple all over again.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted. A quest in Yusnaan has a songstress named Olga publicly yelling at and beating her errant lover Berdy. The abuse happens offscreen with a discretion shot focusing on Lightning, who is quite clearly disturbed by what she is seeing.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The fal'Cie Titan from the first game is inexplicably dead in this game, and parts of him can be found scattered across the Dead Dunes. Meanwhile, the fal'Cie Atomos is also present in the same region, but has rendered itself immobile and the only indication that it may still be alive is its glowing spikes during the night. Hope's reaction to the site of Atomos's husk implies that Bhunivelze just told them to shut down as the world is ending.
  • Dub Name Change: Nova Chrysalia is known as Novus Partus in Japanese, and ditto Luxerion/Luxerio and The Wildlands/Wilderness. Not to mention the numerous NPC characters in the game.

    Tropes E-M 
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Lightning, aided by her friends, frees humanity from Bhunivelze's grip once and for all. In a final act of redemption, Caius allows Noel to take the final incarnation of Yeul with him to the new world, while he and Yeul's other incarnations stay behind with Bhunivelze's corpse to be consumed together with the Nova Chrysalia (with the pair taking over Etro's role as guardians of the threshold). The Farron sisters are finally reunited, Dajh has awakened, and Fang and Vanille are back for good. The series ends with Lightning stepping off a train and into what looks like a real-life French countryside.
  • Easy Logistics: How the people of Nova Chrysalia get food is pretty simple. Much of the food & basic supplies people rely on is produced by the fal'Cie Pandaemonium in the heart of Yusnaan. Snow oversees the production process and ensures supplies are distributed in an orderly manner. Hope also reveals that Pandaemonium uses Chaos energy as the raw materials to produce food, which makes Lightning somewhat disgusted at the fact that people are literally eating Chaos. Hope also notes that some people refuse to take Pandaemonium's supplies and grow or hunt their own food (such as the residents of the Wildlands & the Dead Dunes) but they are a minority.
  • Early Game Hell: The game is awfully difficult when you begin: you have little money, the garbs and equipment you begin with are quite unremarkable and must be replaced as soon as possible, you are in dire need of better skills/abilities to use, you must adapt to the new combat system which requires better reactive-ness than its predecessors, and, on top of that, you have to be careful about the time. Not to mention that monsters bigger than gremlins can take you several minutes to kill. Once you get better equipment and a few stats boots, things get easier, but prepare yourself for a difficult journey at the start.
  • Eldritch Location: The Temple of the Goddess, filled with a surreal combination of Scenery Gorn that is also Bizarrchitecture. It's justified in that the Temple is the largest concentration of the Unseen Chaos in the entire world.
    • The Sanct of Theogenesis where you fight the final boss. Of note is the floor; it's the final boss' skirt.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Right before the Final Boss, you can complete some trials for the Ultima Sword and Ultima Shield. The former gives boosts to strength and magic of 2500. During your first playthrough, your strongest sword until that point will likely be Stigma, which provides 950+ to strength and magic note . The Ultima Shield also adds about as much HP as you can have up to that point.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The world is due to end in thirteen days due to the events of the previous game. Lightning's goal for most of the game is to make sure it doesn't end before that, so that when Bhunivelze awakens on the thirteenth (or fourteenth) day, he can make a new world for everyone to live in.
  • "End of the World" Special: The End of the World as We Know It is going to happen, and it's Lightning's job to ensure that the transition to the new world goes smoothly. Lightning Returns is unique in this respect in that you are working against not one, but two Doomsday clocks. The first being the Thirteen Days until Bhunivelze wakes to create the new world and destroy this one. The second being that the Chaos is consuming the world at a rapid pace, causing it to potentially end before Bhunivelze awakens. Therefore, you are trying to beat one Doomsday meet another one.
  • Enemy Without: Not exactly an enemy, but Lumina is revealed in the ending to be the manifestation of Lightning's Heart, particularly her inner pain and her own need for salvation as a child. Once Lightning finally accepts that long-repressed part of her, Lumina peacefully merges back into her as she calls on her friends to defeat Bhunivelze once and for all.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Bhunivelze's philosophy boils down to this. By tasking Lightning with saving souls, he culls them to rid them of free will, making them nothing more but dolls. He even plans on robbing Lightning of hers, turning her into another Etro, a living balance between the worlds of the living and the dead... alas, Lightning will have none of it.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: There are several samurai outfits available as pre-order bonuses and DLC. PS3 owners could even get one for free if they got the Demo.
  • Exponential Potential: Your offensive kit is organised in "Schemata." Each Schema consists of a garb, a weapon, a shield, two accessories and four abilities (most garbs have one or two abilities locked in, and some abilities are only available from particular garbs). Including Old Save Bonus, New Game Plus and DLC, there are 92 garbs, 87 weapons, 57 shields, 32 head accessories, 37 arm accessories, 34 physical abilities, 35 magic abilities , 11 defensive abilities, and 19 ailment abilities. You have 3 active schemata and up to six in reserve. Good luck working out the best combinations.
  • Fade to White: There is a minor sidequest in which Lightning speaks to three ghosts, and the screen turns white at the end of each conversation. This represents her saving their souls. She thought that only gods could save the souls of the dead. Something of a plot point there.
  • Fan Disservice: If you want to see Snow's Shirtless Scene after the boss fight, you're going to have to fight him in a more progressed Cie'th form than usual.
  • Fanservice:
    • The Miqo'te Outfit. The costume itself shows off more of Lightning's body than normal, and she strikes a sexy pose during her Victory stance whenever you win a battle in that specific costume.
    • For fans of the male body, waiting until later days to set off the battle with Snow will result in his Cie'th transformation removing his shirt and resulting in him being shirtless in the post-battle cutscene. If you save it to Day 6, he loses the top at the midpoint of the battle (assuming you don't take him out before he can power up); if you wait until Day 10, he's topless from the start.
    • Also, in a non-sexual way, the Soldier 1st Class outfit and the Summoner of Spira outfit. When you win a battle wearing either of those costumes, they have Lightning doing the same Victory poses as the characters who the costumes were originally for, and even have the VICTORY THEME from those respective games play in the Results Screen instead of the normal Victory theme.
      • The Miqo'te outfit has the Final Fantasy XIV victory theme (played when finishing a dungeon) and an emote from said race. The Midgar Flower Girl and 1st Class Soldier have the Final Fantasy VII music and Aerith and Cloud's poses. The Summoner of Spira and Sphere Hunter have the Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 victory music respectively while the victory poses are from Summoner Yuna and Warrior Yuna/Tidus respecitivly
  • Fanservice Pack: In an interview, the developers said Lightning's bust was increased from a C-cup to a D-cup, which translates to her going from a B-cup to a C-cup using the North American measurement system.
  • Fetch Quest: It's a game largely focused on sidequesting and time management, so it shouldn't be surprising that a big chunk of the sidequests as well as the entire Canvas of Prayers board consists of collecting a key item or 20 Bear Asses. Even one of the Main Quests is a big fetch quest (finding Dajh's soul fragments). Thankfully, enemy-specific items are guaranteed drops due to the limited monster population, and key items that are dropped from enemies are based on the location of the fight.
  • Final Boss: Bhunivelze, in four stages, is Lightning's final challenge to complete her mission.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the 500-year gap between XIII-2 and Lightning Returns, Noel found an Oracle Drive, which says that, if a certain objective is fulfilled, a peaceful future will be created. This objective is most likely to defeat the Savior and stop them from destroying the world on the final day. This convinces Noel that he will kill Lightning on the final day to create a happy future and save the world.
    • In the first Final Fantasy XIII, when Lightning, Hope, Snow and Sazh turn into Cie'th, they immediately get changed back to humans afterwards. They all said that they had a vision of the future in which all of them, plus Vanille, Fang, and Serah, were all living happy, peaceful lives. But since the ending of XIII nulled that possibility due to Vanille and Fang getting trapped in Crystal, it could still mean that the vision the l'Cie Quartet had was meant to take place farther in the future... and it does.
    • In XIII-2, there is a fragment called the Violet Crystal which possesses the inscription: “When Valhalla consumes the sky, a new star flashes like lightning, and in the heavens twinkle distant hope.” It should be obvious enough by this point which two people the prophecy is referring to.
    • Also, in XIII-2, the Datalog said that the people trapped in the Coliseum (like Snow Villiers) would be trapped there until the "Day of Reckoning" occurs. The Day of Reckoning is the day when Time is destroyed, and Valhalla spreads to the skies, which occurred in the ending of XIII-2. Then those people would be freed, and would join in the Battle between Bhunivelze and Mwynn. The Arbiter of Time also stated that there would be a great battle at the end of time. So after the "event," (being the Day of Reckoning) the warriors and gods of history would duke it out (hence why Snow and the other people trapped in the Coliseum are freed). Also, Bhunivelze would be the final boss. You do the math.
    • How Lightning gets into Snow's Palace may also qualify; mainly. she hijacks a play by supplying some fireworks and becoming the lead actress, and her lines are (paraphrased) "I will serve God, but if he lies to me, I'll kill him" right before stabbing the head of the statue. Needless to say, not only did Bhunivelze "lie" to Lightning about her role (To gather souls so that he can purge them of free will) but he is the Final Boss. Guess how she finishes one stage of the battle.
    • It's established early on that, for whatever reason, Hope cannot see Lumina (interestingly, he is the only character who cannot), and more subtly tends to talk about events from the past in a clinical and detached, impersonal way. Now recall a few things, namely that Hope is acting as "God's eyes" and that Bhunivelze was also stated early in the game as being unable to see human souls. Suddenly, The Reveal regarding both Hope and Lumina ties up quite nicely.
    • Hope's eidolon is Alexander, who in the series has used the Holy / light element. Bhunivelze is the God of Light.
    • On Day 8, when you head out for Nova Chrysalia, Lightning encounters Lumina once again. In this conversation, Lumina blatantly states that the Serah that Lightning has seen the few times up to this point is a fake, Hope is no longer the Hope she once knew, and that her role as the Savior is not at all what it was said to be. It turns out that Bhunivelze made a fake Serah to fool Lightning into thinking he really had her soul, he kidnapped Hope 169 years earlier and molded him into an unfeeling pure being to be his host, and Lightning was saving souls for the new world so Bhunivelze could purge them of all feelings and more or less turn them into unfeeling, controlled robots.
      • Related to the above, when Lightning meets Lumina in the Ark after completing Snow's arc in Yusnaan, Lightning states that she can feel that Serah is nearby. In contrast, whenever Lightning meets fake Serah in the Ark, she bemoans her lack of emotion, even when she's supposed to be meeting her own sister. This ties nicely to the fact that the fake Serah is a soulless replica and Lumina is Serah's Soul Jar.
    • Notice how Lumina's outfit includes long sections on either side? It's not unlike the long sections on Lightning's default outfit, hinting at The Reveal.
    • Even Lightning's overall job hints at the fact that she's being set up to take Etro's place. Beyond being given the ability to save souls, she alone can look at/understand the Canvas of Prayers to answer peoples' wishes. What type of being do you normally give prayers to?
  • Fountain of Youth: While everybody can't seem to age anymore, Hope has regressed back to his 14-year old self thanks to Bhunivelze de-aging Hope so Hope can serve as a vessel for him.
  • Gainax Ending: The game ends with Lightning stepping off a train at a station that appears to be real-life France. It's faintly implied that, yes, it truly is real-life France.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • The Midnight Mauve dress Lightning dons for the play comes with Fira Lv. 3 and she puts it to good use during the play to light her sword on fire. It's also extremely useful when you have to fight Snow shortly after.
    • A weird example of this happening for a New Game Plus: Ultima Weapon and the Ultima Shield can't be carried over, because they get reforged from Crimson Blitz and Night Lotus, respectively, on the final day.
    • It's stated that the more Chaos in the world, the stronger the monsters will become. Indeed, after certain Days, enemies will gain a multiplier to their HP/STR/MAG, Gil and item drops, all similarly affected by Chaos Zones as well. Certain ones also get changes to their abilities overtime, such as the demon-like Gaunts going from using Aero to Aerora after Day 9, and it's Last One possessing Aeroga no matter what Day you fight it on.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: The reason Lightning fights Noel and Snow, both wallowing in guilt over their failure to save Yeul and Serah, respectively.
  • Gladiator Games: The Slaughterhouse, where Lightning can fight strong monsters for recovery items early in the evening, and weaker monsters or hostile people for lesser rewards as the night wears on. Some quests also require her to take part in matches.
  • Glass Cannon: You can create Schemata with high-power attacks and items that maximize attack power at the expense of HP boosts and defensive abilities. The Cosmo Curator DLC garb grants significant attack power boosts but reduces Lightning's max HP by 95%.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Most monsters can be hunted to extinction, and the Last One of each kind has much better drops. There is also an extermination side quest.
  • Grand Finale: This is capstone for the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.
  • Gratuitous French: Chef Aryas at Aryas Village, along with a thick French accent, presumably because of the food association.
  • Guest-Star Party Member:
    • Once you nurture the Angel of Valhalla back to full health, he will help Lightning on her Wildlands missions.
    • Fang also joins as your guest after you meet her in the Dead Dunes. She returns again for the last act of the game, which revolves around saving Vanille from the Order of Salvation.
  • Guide Dang It!: See the page for the whole Final Fantasy franchise.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Lightning sees him again, Sazh is a broken wreck due to Dajh falling comatose for 500 years.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Certain enemies/bosses drop the weapons they previously used upon defeat, then Lightning can use those same weapons against them, if she so chooses. In the same vein, certain accessories and garbs grant you the abilities 'Brave Thief' and 'Protect Thief', which enhances your Heavy Slash ability if the enemy has certain buffs (enabling you to steal/use them for yourself one at a time; great use against the Eater enemies)... though this won't work on the FinalBoss.
  • Holy City: The City of Light, Luxerion, which is where the Order of Salvation is based and is the de facto capital of Nova Chrysalia.
  • Hope Bringer: Lightning's main agenda, besides saving souls, is pulling a few people who went well past the Despair Event Horizon back across the threshold, even if she has to literally knock some sense into them, such as Noel and Snow.
    • This is also the main drive for doing side quests. She can provide people with hope and salvation by doing pretty much anything, to killing every Last One to fetching a ball off a roof.
  • Hotter and Sexier: A couple of Lightning's outfits are more revealing, the poses she strikes in them are more gratuitous, and Word of God has said her breast size has been increased from the last two games. The ability to customize her clothing and take screenshots directly from the game to share with friends is a feature too.
  • 100% Completion:
    • Obtaining every Achievement/Trophy awards the player with the Pallas Athena garb.
    • One sidequest can only be obtained by failing another quest by reading the journal you were asked to find. Given that the subsequent sidequest gives much greater rewards, including the otherwise unobtainable (on the current playthrough) Dark Knight garb, it's best to fail The Avid Reader in order to get To Save the Sinless.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Healing up by resting an inn is still possible as per standard RPG conventions, but the time limit in this game may make that impractical for some. Not to worry; Lightning can still regain health by buying food from various vendors.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Caius, again. Even though he has lost the Heart of Etro, he still cannot die because of the Yeuls that wish to keep him alive. He even does a demonstration for Lightning by impaling himself with his own sword - it only takes a few seconds for the Yeuls to pump Chaos energy inside his body to revive him.
  • Idea Bulb: There is a side quest to find adornments for Candice the baton-twirler. When Lightning gives her some, a bulb lights up above her head as she has an idea about how to wear them.
  • I Have This Friend: One of the side quests involves a man named Armand who tells Lightning of a friend of his, a journalist whose stories of corruption drove an innocent victim to suicide, as he had been wrong, and in fact the individual in question wasn't corrupt. Lightning has to visit him over three days and on the final day he admits the truth: he was the journalist who did this.
    Armand: I apologize. I've been lying to you this entire time. I had no such friend. The reporter, the one who killed the innocent woman... That was me.
    Lightning: I had a feeling. The way you've been telling the story...seems to be hitting a little too close to home.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Ever since Chaos enveloped the world and turned everyone immortal, no new life can be born. Eventually revealed to be not because of Chaos, but because Etro died at the end of XIII-2. As the Goddess of Death, she was responsible for watching over souls that died and returned to Chaos, and for reincarnating them. Without the Goddess of Death, the reincarnation process does not happen anymore, and this is why Bhunivelze is grooming Lightning to replace Etro.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: You get a trophy for collecting them.
    • You get the Ultima Weapon and Ultima Shield for completing some optional trials before the Final Boss.
    • You get the Ultimatus garb for beating a bonus boss in the Dead Dunes.
  • Info Drop: Lightning's real name is given once, towards the end of the game, just in case you missed the one time it was spoken in the previous two games. It's actually an important plot point - she cut away the part of her that was the scared girl Claire Farron and became Lightning, and in doing so lost an important part of herself. Only at this very end is she finally able to reclaim it.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: There is plenty of climbing and jumping in the game, and Lightning will never suffer falling damage if she misses. However, if the designers didn't want to program in a way back (for example, at the gorge before the Temple of Chaos), she will just stop at the edge of the abyss and go no further.
  • Interface Screw: One of the final boss's attacks will briefly freeze your controller.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The Doomsday Clock is the most prominent gameplay mechanic and is part of what you do for almost all of the game. The Doomsday Clock runs anytime that you are moving on the field. An in-game day lasts one real time hour. Thus, an in-game hour is 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and one in-game minute is 2.5 seconds. The clock will stop if the player pauses the game, during any cutscenes or conversation, and while in the menu or battle with the exception of the game's Bonus Dungeon. Time of day will affect things like what monsters you can fight, sidequests you can complete, etc. There's a lot more to it than that, which is explained in better detail here.
  • Irony: Snow, the most cheerful and optimistic of all the Main Characters in the first two games, is now the one of the only ones who has given up all hope. He is a completely depressed and broken man due to Serah's death and the world's current state. Despite what he and Lightning went through in the first game, he opposes her now, despite her being Serah's only remaining family.
  • Jiggle Physics: As part of her increased bust size, Lightning's breasts will jiggle. Thankfully it's fairy realistic, and the degree of which they do so depends on what she's wearing, with the tighter outfits (obviously) not having any at all.
  • Just Before the End: Lightning wakes up 13 days before the world ends. She has to save as many souls as possible before then.
  • Just Here for the Free Snacks: One quest involves Lightning going to dinner with a man in her Midnight Mauve outfit in order to save his soul. If the player goes through with it, Lightning insists that she's only agreeing to it because it's the best restaurant in Yusnaan.
    Lightning: How many times do I have to tell you? I'm just here for the steak.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Not all of Lightning's outfits are Stripperiffic, and some are rather fancy:
    • "Midnight Mauve" is a purple silk ballgown, which has to be worn for one part of the main quest. It also comes locked with Fira Lv.3.
    • "Champagne Gold" is the same style as Midnight Mauve, but in gold and with different abilities.
    • "Splendid Admiral:" Gold braid ahoy!
  • Lag Cancel: Some moves can be canceled into a Guard-type Ability before resuming another attack faster; usually a domain of Hack and Slash games a la Devil May Cry. The best Ability to cancel into is Steelguard with its low cost, although any Guard Ability could do the job. It can boost the damage per second inflicted by the Slayer Ability from Soldier 1st Class much, much higher than simply queuing the attacks regularly does.
  • Last Fertile Region: The Wildlands are the last untouched region of nature where animals can roam free and people can live a basic agricultural life.
  • Last of His Kind:
    • Snow is the last l'Cie left in the world. Aside from that, Yusnaan is also where the last living fal'Cie in the world, Pandaemonium, is located.
    • It is extended into a gameplay mechanic with the Last Ones: there's only a finite number of monsters of any given species in a single playthrough, and once you kill enough of them, the last one of them becomes super-empowered. If you beat that monster, they give a nice amount of EP and Gil, leave behind a unique item and since you've driven them to extinction, they won't appear in the world any longer, allowing you to explore the world mostly unopposed once you've finished killing off most species.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The trailers and game reveal right off the bat that Serah's dead, the world's been consumed by Chaos and time has been destroyed.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: This quote after completing the 'Free Will' sidequest:
    Lightning: Think about it. If someone else was making every choice for me, is there any way I could really know the truth?
  • Light Is Not Good: Bhunivelze is considered to be the God of Light. He's really an evil dictator manipulating Lightning and intending to purify all souls of 'uncleanliness', not saving them.
  • Lost in Translation: The Japanese dialogue between Lightning and Bhunivelze at the end of the game was heavily altered for the English release, including the removal of several lines that were sexual innuendo towards Lightning.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Predictably, right as Fang and Lightning finally open the Sacred Gate to get the clavis in the Dead Dunes, the Secutors show up and snatch it away from them. Though interestingly, they didn't know the gate was open until Lumina tipped them off.
  • Madness Mantra: From The Avid Reader, if you choose to read the journal: "Justice will be served."
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: During her time as the Savior, Lightning has to be a guinea pig, errand girl, detective, food taster, assayer, hunter, stand-in date, actress, gardener, therapist, mediator, confidante, and more in her quest to gather peoples' souls.
  • Maybe Ever After: Despite having a happy ending, none of the relationships or potential relationships are given closure. And although the epilogue novel ties up some of these loose endsnote  both of the Implied Love Interest couples are still ambiguous.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Lyla admits that she was the "talking chocobo" that saved Nadia's life in the past. She does it again in the course of the game. Then when Lightning quotes her words back to her, Lyla says she only said the first part of the speech, and that the second part wasn't something she said and didn't even know about. Maybe chocobos can talk; it's not the only impossible thing that's happened during her mission as the Savior.
  • Meaningful Name: The weapon the final boss uses is called "Double Deity" in English. However, the Japanese name of it has one additional kanji to it that translates as "ceremony" or "ritual", which means the weapon's full name is more accurately translated as "Ceremony of the Two Gods.".
  • Menu Time Lockout: You have limited menu access during battles (healing items, Energy Point abilities and Bestiary), but they all pause the action.
  • Mission Control: Hope acts as this to Lightning, providing her with information and guidance from the Ark.
  • Money Spider: You get money for beating monsters, just like the previous game. This can be handwaved as a reward from the authorities, but the money is given directly to you without having to go and collect it from anyone.
  • Musical Nod: The Glittering City of Yusnaan uses the same melody from Out of Phase from Parasite Eve.
  • Mythology Gag:

    Tropes N-Z 
  • New Game Plus: This feature is unlocked either when you run out of time or beat the game the first time around. You bring over all content from your previous save, including Garbs, Weapons, Abilities, Shields, Gil and Items. Hard Mode is strictly tied to New Game+, and cannot be done without it. Even though there's only one ending, the game encourages multiple play-throughs since you can't max out your EP or item slots without a second play-through and the option to power up your weapons, shields and accessories isn't available until then. Interestingly, this feature is acknowledged by the characters themselves: when Lightning begins again in the Ark on Day 1, she remarks an odd sense of deja vu - Hope worries for her sanity when she says this, though he also admits when introducing the Crystal of Atonement that she could have a point.
  • No Hero Discount:
    • On the last day, there're shops that still charge Gil for their services. What are they going to do with the money? It's the end of the world.
    • Inverted during the tutorial stretch, where a shop will sell you potions for a low, low price of 0 Gil.
  • Non-Combat EXP: In this game, the concept of earning CP from enemies to level up your characters is completely dropped. Lightning "levels up", though the concept of numbered levels is gone, through doing Quests which raise her stats once you complete them. Instead of gaining abilities and commands when you level up after doing quests, you gain them by either drops from monsters or synthesizing existing ones (and you can also upgrade your abilities to make them stronger).
  • Non Standard Game Over: Running out of time before the world ends automatically gives you a game over and forces you to make a new save file; using New Game Plus brings all the stuff in your previous playthrough to your new one, and starts you off in the ark on the first day, after the tutorial at Snow's Palace.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Lightning breaks after she realizes she'll be left all alone if she becomes the new Goddess of Death after confronting Lumina for the last time. Hope rescues her afterwards, even though she told him to leave her.
    • On a more humorous note, Lightning visibly breaks her stoic demeanor when being asked by Hope to be the star in the Goddess Play in Yusnaan, and she becomes more and more embarrassed whenever she has to say "Meow-meow Choco-chow", even trying to speed it up so that Hope (or anyone else) can't hear it.
  • Numerical Hard: On Hard Mode, enemies have 2.5 times as much Strength and Magic as on Normal, and 3.5 times as many hit points. They have better drops, but no new special moves. At the other end of the scale, enemies are weaker on Easy than on Normal note , but the biggest difference is that enemies drop twice as many Energy Points on Easy, which makes a big difference to how often you can use EP abilities, such as stopping the clock.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: While the second game was just XIII-2, this one is called Lightning Returns.
  • Old Save Bonus: Lightning's equipment from the previous two games will be available for her to wear if the player has save data from the games in question.
  • Only the Chosen May Ride: The Angel of Valhalla, a white Chocobo spoken of in legend in the Wildlands that can only be tamed by its one true master. This of course turns out to be Lightning - it's justified since the angel is actually the reincarnation of her Eidolon, Odin.
  • Order vs. Chaos: Bhunivelze, the embodiment of order, against, the Chaos. The former has a religion, many worshipers and imposes social structure upon the population. He's also going to strip humans of their emotions so he can better control them. Chaos is basically otherworldly energy which eats away at the physical world and makes monsters stronger. It also is where souls, including human souls, and emotions come from.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: You cannot grind for experience in this game, but you can grind for items, money and Energy Points.
    • There is a side quest in Yusnaan which requires you to kill 30 monsters in a time limit (hint: Chronostasis). If you quit before fulfilling your quota you fail the quest, but keep all of your drops and EP. You can re-take the quest as often as you like until you complete it.
    • Cactuars spawn at a point in the Dead Dunes. They have a base value of 5000 gil, rising to 15,000 on Day 13, and 25,000 if you unlock Day 14. Would sir like to put some money aside for a New Game Plus?
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Lightning begs this to anyone at the end of the game as she's set to become the new goddess of death, and won't be reborn in the new world. She ends up saved by Lumina and Hope, who decided he'd rather be reborn with her rather than his parents.
  • Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You:
    • Unable to shed the guilt of allowing Serah to die, Snow tries to force Lightning to kill him and avenge her sister. Lightning will have none of it, and, after knocking him to his senses, encourages him to have hope that one day he and Serah will be reunited in the new world.
    • In a sidequest, a sick man in Poltae is expecting, and welcoming, a woman in Jagd Village to send him poison disguised as medicine. He is guilty of the crime of murdering said woman's husband, so he is quite confused when he drinks the concoction Lightning delivers only to find himself healthier. Despite his expectations, it really WAS medicine.
  • Psychic Powers: When she awoke, Vanille gained the ability to hear the souls of the dead.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Lightning has a large selection of non-prescription glasses as adornments, with multiple frame colors.
  • Punny Name: The ultimate garb, with the Ultima magic, is called Ultimatum/us.
  • Purple Is Powerful:
    • All the Last Ones glow bright purple-pink, as do the weapons you get from a select few of them.
    • The Garb Purple Lightning is a ninja-themed purple-colored Garb. It is amazingly useful and powerful, especially when combined with the Katana-type weapons since high attack powers mesh well with the Garb's locked Ninjutsu skills.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: While most Garbs are designed to be stylish, some achieve this effect. For example, the Garb Carnaval Crusher has Lightning wear what is essentially rainbow-colored feathers attached to a swimsuit. Ditto Rhapsody in Rose, except with pink feathers. Even worse, while the examples above can be recolored, no such option exists for Soldier of Peace, in which its jungle-themed mishmash of colors will look great in the few jungle-themed places that the game world has, and nowhere else. Which is a shame, considering how powerful Soldier of Peace is.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Everyone alive is 500 years older due to the time crash allowing people to not be able to die naturally. Fang did the math and concluded that she was the oldest hag on the planet.
  • Recycled Soundtrack:
  • Retraux: The Retro-spective Trailer recaps the two preceding games in the style of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System Final Fantasy games.
  • Rule of Cool: The ending. How is Lightning able to cast Last Resort? Where did she pull the Survival Knife from? How did the party spontaneously summon their Eidolons again? Who cares, it's thematically and visually awesome!
  • Sand Is Water:
    • Lightning can surf on sand dunes. Oddly, she can do this even when the ground is not sloped enough to facilitate movement.
    • Previous games gave us the Sahagin, a (presumably) amphibious animal found next to water. In Lightning Returns we get the Desert Sahagin, which swims through the sand.
  • Save Scumming: Abusing the Crystal of Atonement can have a similar effect. The crystal becomes available on the Ark on a New Game Plus, and allows you to start a new New Game Plus. If you missed some collectibles on your first play-through, you can spend a few days rounding them up and ignoring the quests, and then use the crystal to start a new New Game Plus with all the goodies. If you're feeling particularly shameless, you can also indulge in some vanilla Save Scumming during this period.
  • Scenery Porn: Really, the entire series is known for this, but there is an even more beautiful one near the end of the game. There is a special set of four dungeons just before the Final Boss that help rebuild the Infinity +1 Sword, and they recap the XIII trilogy by using immensely beautiful hand-drawn backdrops.
  • Scratch Damage:
    • Cactair (a Cactuar with an afro complaining about his hair and said afro sometimes messing up its attacks) only takes 1 point of damage per hit, having a ridiculously high minimum damage check. Good thing he only has 160/200/700 HP on Easy/Normal/Hard Mode, respectively... still, you'll want to keep any ice abilities off your garbs; the minimum damage check wont apply to those, seeing as Cactair absorbs ice.
    • There are garb/accessory combinations that make Lightning invulnerable to magical or physical damage, but also make her only able to deal scratch damage in return. She can still build the stagger wave with them however, particularly against enemies that you want to stagger but would kill normally (ie, several NG+'s in when you're very powerful), which makes them quite useful.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Inverted. The human enemies are usually fully dressed, but Lightning herself has some notably skimpy clothing options.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: This game retroactively turns the entire fal'Cie plot to bring the Maker back into this. We also see at the end of the game that bringing Lindzei back would probably have been pointless, as he is subordinate to Bhunivelze, who has his own agenda.
  • She's Back: Lightning... returns to the protagonist role for this game, as opposed to her role as the Big Good in the second game.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Dead Dunes, a massive expanse of sandy dunes dotted with ancient ruins.
  • Ship Tease: Hope and Lightning get some rather heavy teasing to the point they're practically Implied Love Interests. Aside from all the time they spent chatting in this game (which is every day, since Hope is her Mission Control), a major crux of Hope's character is revealed to be his devotion to Lightning, and his desire to reunite with her has been what's kept him going in the five centuries since XIII-2. It's also heavily hinted that Hope feels or has felt romantic love for someone in the past, and while he never explicitly says who, the conversations that bring it up frame it in a way that makes it's clear he means Lightning. For her part, Lightning doesn't seem to obviously reciprocate his feelings in a romantic way, but she is just as passionate about saving him as she is anyone else, and her final confrontation with Bhunivelze has her desperately reaching out to Hope's soul to free him. The ending even has Hope refuse to go to the new world if Lightning isn't there for him, and later Lightning and Serah turn to the party and specifically beckon Hope and Snow toward them — with Serah and Snow being an Official Couple, the subtext between Lightning and Hope pretty much becomes "text" at that point.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Lightning tails the Children of Etro during a night-based mission. This is the game's first mission, in fact and they're all dressed in white robes and hoods, almost like a certain other order...
    • The "Family Food" sidequest involves a Gordon Gourmet who specializes in turning around failing restaurants.
    • The Dead Dunes contains two to Shadow of the Colossus.
      • One of the locations you can visit is called the Grave of the Colossi.
      • You can kill the many lizards that run around the area. These lizards have similar markings to the normal lizards in Shadow of the Colossus, Lightning kills them the same way Wander does and like him, she also collects their tails afterwards, although they're for sidequest purposes and aren't useable items.
    • A sidequest right outside the Slaughterhouse involves a man who used forbidden alchemy to transmute his brother's soul into the body of a machine. Unlike Alphonse, the poor brother's soul went mad and began killing anyone who came near it.
    • A series of sidequests involving opening up the highways that connect the world are handed out by Non Player Characters named Ford, Dent, and Zaphod.
    • Both a shout-out to the game and the series' development: After completing the quests with Dr. Gysahl and his numbered apprentices, one of them, Thirteen, will be ecstatic to learn that Dr. Gysahl knows her real name (Claudia), a sign that she's made an impression on him. Talking to her again has Thirteen say something like "Maybe one day I'll finally be as good as Seven. It was a known fact going into FFXIII's development that Square was aiming to top FFVII.
    • There's one suit-like garb called Loyal Servant. Now, doesn't Square Enix publishes certain manga about a loyal servant? Bonus points for Maaya Sakamoto, Daisuke Ono and Yuuki Kaji voicing main characters in the anime.
    • The description for the Delicious Mushroom adornment is "A mushroom that looks like it might help you grow bigger..." Said mushroom is red with white dots. Doubles as a reference both to the Super Mushrooms from Super Mario Bros. and their real-life inspiration, Amanita muscaria, a.k.a. fly agaric or fly amanita, which the adornment closely resembles and which is said to give a feeling of growing or shrinking when eaten.
  • Side Effects Include...: An alchemist named Velno gives Lightning a potion mixed from two poisons called Nektar that she wants her to test in battle. She promises great things, though she can't say exactly what it does and warns her that "Side effects may include dementia, gangrene, sudden death and hair loss."
  • Sidequest: There are 66 of them, though one must be failed to open up another, and another can only be completed from a second playthrough onward. The official guide states that completing them all will raise Lightning's stats more than the five main quests and the Canvas of Prayers quests combined, and for the most part, it's true. note 
  • Silliness Switch: Some of the costume options and adornments appear to go in the ridiculous direction. You can have Lightning cosplaying as Cloud Strife, or performing Parkour in a ballgown. All the while wearing a silly hat. The Moogle Queen outfit, an outfit with Moogles attached to a bodysuit, that makes Moogly sounds, is the pinnacle of the silliness.
  • Stripperiffic: Some of Lightning's outfits show a lot of skin (including some that show enough of her back to prove that she couldn't possibly be wearing a bra with those specific outfits), and a few have skirts which are so tiny that her black bikini briefs show above the waistband, covering a bunch of tropes in the process.
  • Superboss:
    • The Aeronite in the Dead Dunes and the Ereshkigal at the end of the Ultimate Lair. Both of them have convoluted stagger conditions and come with a time limit, but drop incredibly useful head accessories.
    • Delaying certain main quest objectives long enough will also cause the main quest bosses to become a "+" version of themselves note , that are harder but give better rewards.
      • Meeting certain conditions on New Game Plus will make the final boss a "+" version too. And obviously, it's not easy on your first New Game Plus, even with 'maxed' stats and the best abilities.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: While not necessarily a denial, per se, Hope spends a lot of time reminding you that he's on your side, no matter what...
  • Techno Babble: Hope's given explanation for Lightning's having to return to the Ark every day at 6 A.M. is that it's to "regulate the time distortion." It's never really explained just what this means.
  • Temporary Online Content: The Siegfried garb and the screenshot function are inaccessible now that the Overworld services are down.
  • Thematic Sequel Logo Change: The logo for the game was said by the creators to have been designed specifically to convey "newness" and thus features sharp edges, a symmetrical design and a lack of the usual font.
  • Time Crash: Time has stopped flowing for normal people, resulting in them not aging since XIII-2 despite the fact five centuries have passed. Time as a whole is out of whack, which could be why Lightning can mess around with it so much.
  • Too Awesome to Use: There's a trophy for getting an Elixir. The achievement description lampshades this trope:
    It's so rare that it seems almost a waste to use it, doesn't it?
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Although there's no doubt Lightning was badass since the very beginning, she definitely gets to show off in this game, taking on and defeating powerful enemies all by herself. It's made more prominent with more familiar enemies like the Dreadnought, which took up a level itself this time around, and used to require a party of three to defeat!
    • Some familiar boss characters such as Noel and Snow employ several strong techniques not seen before in the previous games, and will also get an advanced Noel+ and Snow+ form for the boss fight if you let too many days pass by before fighting them. And while Caius will always be at full strength no matter the day you fight him, he is much tougher than he was in XIII-2, bringing every old ability he knew while using several new powerful magic abilities as well, and takes an even more aggressive and offensive assault than he ever did.
    • Meonektons in XIII-2 were the Mookiest of Mooks, second-weakest only to their weaker counterparts, the Nektons. In Lightning Returns, they have turned into some of the game's worst Demonic Spiders.
  • Troll: Lumina. The fact that she can manipulate, tease, frustrate and mock every major character in any way possible is an understatement to what she can actually do. What's more, it all seems to be for her personal amusement. In truth, she's actually helping them and Lightning to be able to oppose god, so she is not actually a troll even if she does appear so.
  • Try Not to Die: Hope keeps reminding Lightning that if she dies, she will have failed her mission and it's the end of the world.
    Hope: Do what you have to, but Light? Try not to die, okay? I've got no one else who can take your place.
  • 20 Bear Asses: The majority of the Canvas of Prayers sidequests are basically "find X number of Item Y". Most of which are monster item drops, all of which have a 100% rate note , with the rest being items you either get through side-quests or pick up in specific locations.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: If you don't learn time management and Chronostasis, you will run out of time to perform all the quests, and may even fail the game. If you learn them all too well? A determined/well-informed player can complete the main quests before the end of the third day, and most of the side + canvas quests by the sixth day. Now what?
    • Fortunately, failing triggers a New Game Plus, allowing you to continue grinding and even bump down the difficulty if needed. It also unlocks several game mechanics.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The Yeuls are responsible for practically all of the events that led up to the events of this game.
  • Urban Segregation: Luxerion has the district named The Warren, which is not only poorer and shabbier than the rest of the city, but is also locked up between 6 AM and midnight. It's not as bad as it sounds because it's possible to leave the Warren via a ladder but there is still a sharp divide.
    • The Augur District in Yusnaan is inaccessible to regular people. This actually drives some people to risk their lives to sneak in.
  • Victory Pose: One for each garb type. The outfits that are taken from other Final Fantasy games use the victory poses of the respective characters and the victory theme from the game.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • In the Dead Dunes, occasionally you come across tiny little lizards off the beaten paths, who are absolutely no threat to you whatsoever... that you can kill by attacking. With every one killed, they either drop a Lizard Tail (for side-quests), or unappraised items (which when appraised, are good sources for gil and some rare consumable items). If you kill enough lizards, you get an achievement.
    • Soldiers wander around Luxerion, and you can fight them just like any monster, though you have to enrage them by attacking multiple times ... they don't come back after you defeat them, at any point, unlike their contemporaries in Yusnaan.
    • Running around with Lightning having her sword out is normally enough to startle random NPCs; actually swinging it directly at them will often cause them to cower or flee in terror.
  • Villainous Valor: During the finale, the guards fighting you know Lightning is insanely powerful and that she can easily kill them; they're not fazed in the slightest. After all, as the first guard to challenge her says, the world is minutes away from ending, so they're all going to die anyway.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Lightning can change clothes like Serah and Noel back in XIII-2, but in this game they have an actual impact on her abilities, and also serve as this game's take on the Paradigm Shifts from XIII and XIII-2. Adornments also return from XIII-2, allowing you to put hats and other things on Lightning.
  • Warp Whistle:
    • In two forms. Lightning can move between the four different zones by taking the train - this is instant for the player, but uses game time. She also gains the ability to teleport to previously visited locations, which takes no time but uses Energy Points.
    • The Red Cactaur statues from XIII-2 are back, and they let you traverse the Dead Dunes easily.
  • Whale Egg: Fuzzy Sheep turn out to belong to the small group of mammals that lay eggs.
  • When She Smiles: The new world Lightning helped create gets a little brighter.
  • White Stallion: The Angel of Valhalla, a white chocobo that Lightning must tame and ride in the Wildlands.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The final area is called "Cosmogenesis: Sanct of Theogenesis". Cosmos should be familiar to some, but the word "theogenesis" has close ties to Christianity.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: A good number of people in Nova Chrysalia are just... tired of living for so long, and some are looking forward to The End of the World as We Know It.
  • World Tree: Inside Hope's Ark is Yggdrasil, a "holy tree of life". When Lightning is in it, time stands still for completing quests in Nova Chrysalia, whereupon each day she gives her accumulated Eradia to the tree and enables it to prolong the life of the world.


Video Example(s):


Legend of The Savior

In the opening of the game, Snow recounts the legend of The Savior as Lightning fights.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / OpeningMonologue

Media sources: