Character analysis: Ignis

Final Fantasy XV is a game that owes a lot to its characters and whoever wrote them. This is a game that’s plagued with issues (mainly its lack-lustre combat and sometimes patchy story) that I absolutely adore anyway, and the characters are a big part of that. While the slew of likeable side-characters is definitely a contributing feature, the real spot-light is straight on our four main ‘chocobros.’

There are a lot of factors to this. One of the main one is that the four leads have a crap-ton of interactions, quips and comments throughout the adventure, which allows for plenty of opportunities for them to flaunt their characteristics. Likewise, since you spend pretty much 90% of the adventure with, it’s hard to not get attached the motley group, even if only because they have some fantastic banter. One of the biggest reasons they endear, however, has to be because this is one of the most genuinely bro-mantic RPG party I’ve seen for a while.

While all the parties that are gathered throughout all of the Final Fantasy games have an impressive level of camaraderie and sense of unity, the four main leads for XV are none the less exemplary in how well they gel together. From the casual jokes to the serious arguments, it’s clear just how tight-knit the four lads are, and there’s a real sense of brotherhood to their interactions. It really does feel like you’re watching some zany fantasy road-trip between four lifelong buddies for most of the game, and it feels perfectly natural that they’d go to such lengths to support each other.

Today, however, we’ll be looking at just one of the four, the reliable Ignis. In fact, no, reliable isn’t quite right. He’s closer to the group’s mother hen (a fact that he doesn’t even try to deny). Hell, just ‘mother’ might be more accurate: He’s the group’s primary cook, a few lines suggests he actually maintains Noctis’ clothing himself, and he remains the most consistently level-headed out of the four. That isn’t to say that he’s above getting involved with the group’s escapades, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We need to look at Ignis’ traits from within a proper context, and what better time to analyse the guy after his own DLC finally came out.

Just so we’re all on the same page, we’ll be talking about spoilers throughout this entry for both the primary game and the ‘Episode Ignis’ DLC. There’s some neat twists in the DLC in particular that we’ll give some focus, so reader discretion is advised.

In any case, adjust those specs, gel up that quiff, and prepare to write down some recipes, and let’s take a look at Ignis.

—————

Ignis’ back-story isn’t 100% obvious in the game, though according to the DLC and his official description, it’s pretty clear that he was very young when he first met Noctis. It appears that Ignis had an uncle who worked as royal attendant, who was likely the one to first recommend Ignis to King Regis.* Perhaps on the strength of Ignis’ intellect and sense of responsibility, Regis introduces the boy to his son, and hopes that Ignis will stand by Noctis when he needs a friend to keep him from faltering. Ignis apparently took this to heart, since even at such a tender age he began to train extensively in hopes of joining the ‘Crownsguard,’ the official retinue of the royal family, managing to get into their ranks at only eighteen years old. While Noctis was a little hesitant towards Ignis, indeed treating the guy more like a butler in one of the flashback episode of ‘Brotherhood,’ the two eventually started to gain a mutual respect for each other, one that would define their future friendship.

*You can find hints of this in “Final Fantasy XV Prologue Parting Ways,” a free web novel/audio drama, and more evidence that Square Enix has a massive fetish for creating as many add-ons and spin-offs to their main properties as humanly possible. As if we needed anymore proof after Kingdom Hearts…

With his back story in mind, it’s easy to see how Ignis managed to fall into the role of the group’s ‘mother.’ He’s clearly pretty used to cleaning up after Noctis and cooking most of the guy’s meals, and there are several hints that Ignis used to drive the prince around a lot of the time as well. He’s basically just continuing in the role that he was very much settled into, just now with Prompto and Gladiolus in the mix. To his credit, Ignis doesn’t seem to mind too much: he seems to quite enjoy cooking judging by his enthusiastic reaction of figuring out a new recipe, and it doesn’t look like he resents the role of wrangling the other three from doing anything too reckless. That isn’t to say that Ignis won’t get involved in the often times zany stuff the group get up to. Ignis will quite happily join in on the group’s various banter, and is just as enthusiastic as the other three when they’re mucking about at the betting arena or killing time at a campsite. It’s pretty great how the game balances Ignis’ more sensible side while still showing he’s as fun-loving as the rest of the group, since it allows for a more rounded character. Hell, he even joins the group in their more dangerous expeditions: he’ll be right besides them as they go diving into dangerous pits and ruins, sneaking into imperial bases, and hunting dangerous monsters, he’s just often the one to call for an actual PLAN.

This is where we come to another part of Ignis’ character, namely his role in an actual gameplay sense. Both in battle and out of it, Ignis is definitely the group’s main support. In battle, Ignis doesn’t deal as much damage as Noctis or Gladiolus, and he lacks the debuff effects that Prompto has, but he’s the only one in the group who comes with an ability to heal all four characters at once. Likewise, most of his abilities are focused on maximising the potential of the others in the group, such as providing an elemental damage buff to Noctis, or co-ordinating the attacks of the others in the borderline broken ‘Overwhelm’ attack. This fits in with how he helps out of combat; out of everyone in the group, Ignis is the most likely to come up with a strategy or plan of attack, and will often direct the efforts of the others. Basically, what Ignis lacks in raw power, he more than makes up for by acting more or less as the strategist of the group, and the other three often benefit from his guidance. This is even true from a narrative point, since the group come to the closest to their breaking point after Ignis is blinded and nearly out of commission, and it’s only after he picks himself back up do they really get back in synch with each other. To that end, it seems fair to say that Ignis plays a fairly important role in the group’s dynamic.

Outside of how he works within the group, though, there are still some interesting aspects to Ignis as a character. One of the most defining traits Ignis has is probably his sheer loyalty to Noctis, to the point where I’d argue he’s actually the most devoted out of Noctis’ three friends. This is no mean feat, since both Prompto and Gladiolus are both also hugely loyal to Noctis as well, befitting the theme of brotherhood that runs through the game. Ignis, however, does manage to take it a couple of steps beyond what the other two manage; as we find out in his DLC, Ignis actually put on the ring of Lucii after the rampage of Leviathan, aka the ring that is fatal to anyone not of royal blood. The fact that he’s even willing to risk putting the ring on even when he’s probably fully aware of the consequences is pretty damn impressive, but it’s worth mentioning that he doesn’t even tell anyone about the whole episode. Since he only put on the ring to try and protect Noctis, maybe he thinks that telling the others that he was actually blinded by the ring’s power would only serve to make prince feel guilty, and thus doesn’t bring the fact up. Hell, the fact that he continues to try and follow behind the others even after he gets blinded is worth more than a few commendations, especially since he seems to teach himself how to fight as well he did before he lost his sight in the ten years Noctis is ‘away.’ The fact that all of this seems to be in service of helping Noctis push forwards really does help sell just how devoted Ignis is, and at least one of the reasons he’s “best bro.”

If I had to make a theory on exactly the WHY of Ignis’ sheer loyalty factor, I might pin it down to a combination of King Regis giving him the responsibility when Ignis was just a lad, and the fact that he came to genuinely see Noctis as an important person in his life. For the first point: Ignis is clearly the type who takes his responsibilities seriously, and it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to imagine that he would take one from the king as a super important one. It probably helps that he got the job when he was pretty young, so it’s had quite a few years to take root in his head as being among his number one goals in life. More than the first point, however, I think it’s the second point that’s the really important reason for his sheer loyalty. While it’s not super clear on the status of his family, the fact that the only really confirmed member of ANY relatives to Ignis is one royal attendant uncle could suggest that Ignis doesn’t exactly have a large family or one he’s super well connected to. It’s highly possible that he came to see Noctis as a something of a brother figure, and all the protective instincts that come with that. If I found out that any one of my brothers were suddenly going to have to be freakin’ king, you can bet your bottom dollar that I try and do everything I could to ease the metric crap-ton of problems that would come with that. This would certainly explain why Ignis is so determined to help Noctis, even after he loses his eye sight.

That’s not the only talking point about Ignis’ character, however. There is another interesting aspect that his DLC adds to the mix. Assuming that the primary path of the DLC is indeed the true events, than Ignis actually found out Noctis was going to have to sacrifice his life WAY earlier than anyone else in the group, including Noctis himself. This adds a pretty heartbreakingly tragic spin to Ignis’ character: it’s clear that he cares deeply about Noctis, and indeed seems to be willing to move heaven and earth if it meant keeping the prince safe. How conflicting must it have been, then, to know that supporting Noctis in his adventure would just be helping the one person he cares the most about take another step towards his death? How would you even determine what’s the right thing to do in that situation? Hell, there’s a line at the end of the DLC where he actually suggests to Noctis that they just call quits on this whole quest, even though Ignis knows that Noctis giving up now means that the world is utterly screwed. This also means that he spent the ten years of near apocalypse knowing that the only solution to their problem was going to come about if Noctis threw himself into the metaphorical fire. Even worse is that he most likely kept this fact of the situation to himself, meaning that he alone had to carry that info up until the day Noctis finally returned. It kind of just twists the knife even deeper for the poor guy.

Aaand, I think we’ll call it there for now. Apologises that this entry is pretty brief; IRL matters keep getting in the way with writing these entries, mostly because of the holiday season. Hopefully things ease off after the New Year. If need be, we’ll come back for a second run at any matters that we didn’t give enough attention after the fact.

See ya’ll soon!

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