It’s been many years since I played Final Fantasy VIII. I have some trouble recalling the exact details of the game, besides one scene that I remember vividly.
Squall is desperately searching for Rinoa, who is drifting endlessly in space. With the help of Ellone, he’s able to speak to her with his heart. Rinoa’s life support is counting down and, as she thinks she’s going to die, she says goodbye to Squall. She takes what appears to be her final breath, yet, somehow, she hears his voice.
Perhaps it’s the power of love and the connection they share to allow them to communicate with the heart, or maybe there’s some other power at work. In any case, when she opens her eyes she is surprised she is still alive. Thanks to Squall, she remembers to turn on the emergency life support.
We’re not to the part where I started crying yet. That’s coming up.
Squall leaves the escape pod to find Rinoa, and now it’s up to the player to find her and catch her. Not so hard, right?
I was given about a minute to save her, but in that minute I had trouble maneuvering Squall and I didn’t get to her in time. One sentence popped up on the screen: “Rinoa was lost in space forever.”
I started bawling. I watched her become a tiny dot with the vast universe behind her, while in the background the song “Drifting” played. For some time, I just sat there dumbfounded.
For some reason, I didn’t realize I could try again. I thought Rinoa and Squall were dead because I had failed. I was devastated; I thought the game was over.
In fact, it may have been a few days — or even a week — before I continued the game.
When I finally did, I knew that all I had to do was catch her before time ran out, but I still felt anxious.
Then, when Squall wrapped his arms around her, I knew everything was going to be okay. They would not drift in space forever. The story would continue; their lives would go on.
It seems silly now that I let that scene stop me from playing, or that I didn’t realize (in that moment) that all I had to do was start again from my last save point. Maybe I was so wrapped up in the love between Rinoa and Squall that when it appeared that they had died, I felt a huge loss and felt myself genuinely grieving. They seemed like real people to me, and I was connected to their story.
While there are many amazing scenes in Final Fantasy VIII, none have affected me as deeply as this one.