Final Fantasy XV – Ardyn and Kefka
Final Fantasy XV’s primary antagonist Ardyn Izunia is more than a little reminiscent of one his ancestors from the FF series. Final Fantasy VI is considered by many to be THE best FF game and much of that popularity has come from the game’s antagonist; Kefka. ‘The psycho clown’ as he is known, epitomised by his maniacal laughter, has become a legend within the FF universe. His villainy was shocking and terrifying. While the series has since been terrorised by other deeply horrendous antagonists – Sephiroth, Seymour, etc. – Kefka remains in my eyes the single darkest individual ever to threaten an entire planet.
I found numerous similarities between Ardyn and Kefka. Shadows of the people they once were, their actions are the result of inhuman influence. Kefka, as a subject of a Magitek experiment gone wrong, is man driven to insanity and malicious intent. Ardyn, a king from 2000 years earlier and denounced by the Astrals, is left immortal after a demonic transformation and hell bent on claiming revenge on the future kings of Lucis. Both men’s actions are irrational, single minded madness.
It was also incredibly coincidental that Ardyn was accompanied by a return of Magitek. Bestowing his power upon the Empire’s Magitek to increase his own influence under the Emperor. Magitek of course played a pivotal role throughout FF VI and was a key factor in Kefka’s plans of world domination.
Both Ardyn and Kefka used commanding positions within their incumbent Empires to further their influence. They built themselves a platform from which they could initiate their plans. Ardyn’s power as the Chancellor of the Niflheim Empire gave him virtually unrestricted power to act as he pleased. Kefka, hateful and treacherous, used his enhanced magical power to kill Emperor Gestahl and assume absolute control over the world.
What really stuck out to me was the exuberance of the two characters. The writing for Ardyn is exceptional. The sequence in Final Fantasy XV during the intrusion of an Imperial stronghold is by far the most intense in the game. Thanks to Ardyn’s chilling remarks as I progressed through dimly lit corridors, I was constantly on edge. It reminded me of some of Kefka’s legendary quotes. Some of which were truly terrible, and exposed exactly the kind of monster he had become. Both characters possessed more than plain villainy, there was a deep psychological twist that is very difficult to identify.
“Nothing can beat the music of hundreds of voices screaming in unison.” – Kefka as he poisons the population of Doma Castle.
The final, and probably most obvious connection between these characters is the fact that, for a time, they succeeded. Both Kefka and Ardyn reduced their respective worlds to ruin. The aptly named fourteenth chapter of FF XV – “World of Ruin” is a clear call back on SquareEnix’s part.
For me, Ardyn is as strong a character as Final Fantasy has had for a very long time. His early persona is unnerving and it is clear immediately the he has a part to play in the story. As his own story becomes clearer and revelations about his past are revealed, he drops the act completely to become a genuinely horrifying and deadly opponent. His character has definitely had a hugely positive impact of the game.