Final Fantasy XVI brings some massive changes to the long-running franchise, not the least of which is a singular focus on the game’s main character, Clive Rosfield. Unlike every other mainline game, there’s no customizable party, but what’s interesting is that even in spite of that, Final Fantasy XVI has one of the best ensemble casts the series has ever seen. Early on in the game, a real narrative highlight starts to rear its head, with the fantastically complex relationship between Clive and XVI’s version of a classic character, Cid.
Nearly every single Final Fantasy has a version of Cid, but Final Fantasy XVI quickly establishes its gruff old man as the best of an already fantastic bunch. Cidolfus Telamon is the Dominant of Ramuh, being able to harness the power of the god of lightning. After the gut-wrenching opening of the game, Clive is essentially saved by Cid and brought to his secret base, the Hideaway. It’s here that the two men start developing a complex relationship.
Cid is the physical embodiment of the main narrative theme of Final Fantasy XVI, a force trying to create a world where anyone, and everyone, can live and die on their own terms. When he meets Clive, there’s what feels like almost an electrical attraction between the two, an instant mentor and mentee relationship, but deeper.
“…this bond between Cid and Clive acts as a central point of motivation for nearly everything in Final Fantasy XVI’s narrative…
Part of the reason for this is the utterly phenomenal performances given by both characters’ actors, on top of some stellar writing for Cid especially. Like many of the Cids in the series’ past, Cidolfus is a world-weary man that’s seemingly been through it all. He knows how dark and desolate the world can be, but he also knows the love and care that communities can build. He’s an idealist.
Cid quickly sees that Clive is on a path of destruction, one that could bring down himself and everyone around him. Because of that, he starts to act as a sort of guide and mentor to our protagonist, but the bond between the two quickly develops into a deep bond of love, something that, eventually, the two men aren’t afraid to acknowledge.
Without spoiling anything, this bond between Cid and Clive acts as a central point of motivation for nearly everything in Final Fantasy XVI’s narrative. There are plenty of other complex relationships Clive develops, but his dynamic with Cid is an absolute high point.
It’s hard to think of many other mentor relationships that feel as well written in the Final Fantasy series, with the only ones springing to mind being Auron and Tidus from Final Fantasy X and Zack and Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. These are two fascinating characters in their own right that only become even more dynamic after you’ve rolled the credits and seen everything. After you beat the game, I urge you to think through these two characters and how their desires and ideals are spread throughout the entire narrative.
It’s rare to see a game so wholly embrace its narrative themes in such a perfect way so early on. That’s truly a testament to the quality of writing in Final Fantasy XVI, and there’s little doubt that both Cid and Clive are going to go down as some of the most beloved characters the franchise has seen.