If I was voting these days Final Fantasy X would be a lot higher on my list. There is... not a single weakness in its storyline. It's air-tight. It's full of intrigue and twists and depth and logic and heart. People will eulogise that aspect better than I will I think. A civilisation suspended in stasis to be siphoned off of to maintain the status quo. Never-ending, always reverting to cycle, and resisting the ultimate change: the ending of things. The dream ends. Sin ends. The cycle ends. But endings allow other things to begin, and ironically it's the Eternal Calm, but not everything exists long enough to see it. The point in the story where things go completely sideways for the gang at Macalania Temple felt truly like a watershed moment for the series; the world we had come to love and enjoy was weaponised and against them, and the plot never stops galloping after that point. Everything before the confrontation with Seymour feels like a prologue, and from that moment under the frozen lake it's like the game grabs you by the hand and asks you to run. It's thrilling. From the lake to the desert to Evrae to weddings to the fayth to a lake again to mountains to dead cities is a perfect run of storytelling in games. The stakes just ratchet higher and higher; the characters are stripped down of pretense and facades and forced to show who they truly are and who they truly want to be: to live boldly, to reject harmful, rotted tradition, to destroy false hope and no longer live suspended in time. The plot is all about the importance of marching along with time, or perish as it recedes. Spira is the pinnacle of the franchise's world-building efforts; a world where they could set a dozen other games in it at different points in the world's history and future and still have loads to mine afterwards. It's painted so vividly as this wounded world frequently ravaged by rampaging titan and stricken by despair and terror as a result. How cities are barely in existence (and how the biggest city is the seat of the corrupt religion ruling the world) and how everyone in the settlements and villages you find is scared and wary and clinging to Yuna for hope and for leadership. How the terrain is so varied yet... logical and thrilling (The Calm Lands alone felt insane back in the day. Macalania Woods, Zanarkand in both in its forms, Djose, Inside Sin, THE FARPLANE). You end up imagining every other pilgrimage that has happened through the land; how far they got before giving up or guttering out, and surely that's a great mark of whether or not a world in a game is compelling or not: you end up wondering about things that happened nowhere near the adventure you're on. I said this last night but X does a marvellous job of taking the franchise's key, beloved tropes, distilling them into their pure form, and presenting them beautifully. There's nothing convuluted or difficult or perhaps even challenging in how X acts as an JRPG from a battle perspective, but it's just... so well conceived. It felt like (and in fact, kind of was) the last hurrah for this kind of classic, turn-based battle system and it went out with a bang. The concept is so simple but it still manages to be tricky and strategic in all the right places without feeling unfair, joyless, or alienating. The aeons take on the role and form they've always felt like they were growing towards through the main title games. If disembodied minor plot points in VIII, active players in the plot in IX, to actual living, breathing characters during gameplay and storyline, which makes the ending and their eventual sacrifice all the the more momentous as Yuna realises that they need to be vanquished along with Sin. The origins of Anima alone... oof. It makes ripping through them all the more harder. It's times like this I wish I wasn't just shooting from the hip and had something more... final (LOL) to say here, but it's definitely one of the best Final Fantasies by far and, in my opinion, the swan song for the franchise's golden era. But what a way to go out, with your best world ever, your tightest plot yet, and your most lingering, memorable ending ever. What. A. Game.