Adding Final Fantasy 9 to my list.
This is something, to me really tells about modern Ff games. It was the HD update, fine. Trophies are weird and you can just turn on cheats to make it easy and still earn trophies. I didn't however. It's the first time I've played it in over a decade.
While playing, it kinda got to me. Not only because this is clearly the best FF game, hands down (sorry everyone it just is) but the story, my god. I remember the story but some of the things behind what the characters are saying, the history of the world, what the actual villains are really doing. These events are horrific, it's pushing the idea of war and genocide. In other FFs it feels like you are just a rebel group vs a bigger nation/corp out to do 'evil', even if that evil does break the world in the end, in FF9 you aren't even that. You are a group directly involved in everything whether you want to be or not. By the end, again, even though I've played and beaten this before, I've changed, I'm older (probably not wiser) but some of the aspects of the end legit made me tear up.
Yet the game still has nice comedic moments, as certain charm. The cinematics were better than anything in FF games since, sure they are prettier but this feels like it has real story impacts. Gameplay is traditional, I certainly did not feel like it was slow or under paced, and makes sure many combat aspects are central to the plot, instead of just being there because it's FF tradition. Design and aesthetics are superb, music is award winning.
And yet, I had to think to myself, in the last decade. SquEnix have all but released 1 FF (mainline) game. FF15 and I didn't even buy it. I've played it and could not even tell you what the plot was. Something involving a boy band going around trying to stop a war of some kind? Won't be playing it again. In that time I've played FF7 once, FF12 2 or 3 times, FF8 twice. I've played FF7R (didn't buy, Sony gave it to me) but don't count that as mainline, and certainly isn't even FF7.
15 and FF7R are good games, can't deny that but honestly, I think a lot is lost in the series. FF16 on the horizon and while I think certain parts looks great, I still don't think it will capture the magic older FF games have. Especially when the main character's name is 'Clive'. :P
Sorry for the long post.