Final Fantasy V is a game in which the intimacy between four strangers is at the core of the narrative, portraying a much more mature approach to storytelling than seen before in the series. Similarly to its predecessors, it maintains this somewhat episodic structure of dilemma, dungeon, boss and resolve, however what drives us this time between each episode is the growing intimacy between its four lead characters. Encounters with bosses such as Siren or husband and wife combination Magissa and Forza may be unrelated to one another, but with each battle won, we get to see a new aspect about these characters come to light. The passion and stubbornness of Faris, Lenna’s kind hearted nature, Galuf’s determination to protect his friends; these are by no means traits unique to these characters but it is the way each of these revelations build the relationship between the four adventurers that makes them feel more alive and genuine than any character development the series had explored in prior releases. The player quickly warms to them not because of the quest at hand or the stakes that lie before them, but because with each new episode we see a stronger bond build between them.
The characters therefore don’t come across as superficial, as they often do in character driven predecessors Final Fantasy II or Final Fantasy IV, as the four protagonists come together as solo adventurers, strangers who are initially strikingly independent. As fate would have it however, the meteorite crash lands and brings them all together, leading to the crystals calling for their aid. What transpires from there allows the player to see each individual open up to their new companions, revealing their vulnerabilities and their desires. Because each one begins the game alone in one way or another, we can see quickly the barriers breaking down between them and see their struggle to come to grasps with this. Thus Bartz re-opens his parent’s connection with the crystals and Faris comes clean about her true identity, because all of a sudden they are in an environment where they can talk about their insecurities. Galuf’s revelation when the team are entranced by Siren’s spell epitomises everyone’s strange new circumstances, as he hesitates when he comes to realise these strangers are indeed his friends and he’ll risk his life to protect them, as if this kind of relationship had not been a possibility for him beforehand. It’s heart-warming that such trust can develop between them and thus when the gang climb aboard King Tycoon’s Wind Drake they have largely come to terms with the fact they no longer have to be fiercely independent any longer. The team, and thus the player’s bond with the game, is stronger than any Final Fantasy before it, because we haven’t been told why these characters are fighting together, rather we’ve seen it.
Thus, while plot may be in the background of this particular adventure, the game manages to pull together a more sophisticated narrative because we’re allowed to see these characters grow and develop together as a group, rather than rely on more superficial means of development. As a result the player is invited to come to terms with the narrative at a more personal level as the intimacy of these strangers draws them in and makes us want to explore their lives alongside the adventure at hand. Overall, while Final Fantasy IV may have taken the series to new narrative levels, Final Fantasy V is where the series first tackled more mature narrative methods that later entries in the series have since embraced as standard.