Mixed or average reviews - based on 62 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 62
  2. Negative: 3 out of 62
Buy Now
Buy on
  1. 90
    It's a pity that a lot of players have been so fixated on the perceived gameplay weaknesses of each of the games in this trilogy, because in doing so they've really missed the broader philosophical richness of the story of Lightning and her ragtag crew of allies and antagonists. Ironically, those people will also find Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the weakest game in the series, when thematically speaking, it's actually the most powerful.
  2. Feb 11, 2014
    It’s the third game in the thirteenth of a series dating back to 1987, yet it’s also one of the most successfully inventive games I’ve ever played. It puts you in control of everything, which is a total inverse of Final Fantasy’s traditional position.
  3. 85
    Lighting Returns takes to the end of the world with vivacity and conviction, reshaping the way that RPGs can and should be in many great ways. Even if the game engine is well past its prime and the voice acting is weak at times, the overall package is an entanglement of nostalgia and intrigue for fans of Final Fantasy XIII and the RPG genre.
  4. Feb 11, 2014
    The incredibly fun combat system and the sheer amount of customization options make this final entry in the trilogy well worth seeking out. If you’re coming into this with the hopes of seeing the story turn itself around then you’re going to leave disappointed. But if you enjoyed the refinements made in Final Fantasy XIII-2, then I think you’ll find a lot to love about Lightning Returns.
  5. Feb 27, 2014
    Lightning Returns is a fun game filled with myriad things to do. The combat system is excellent, and the many options with with you can customize Lightning brings are impressive. It's a fitting end to the series and bodes well for the future of Final Fantasy.
  6. Feb 11, 2014
    As a game for XIII’s downtrodden fans, Lightning Returns is excellent. It fleshes out the interesting world, gives each of the cast a little more screen time without singling any out as more or less important (well, except Lightning) and brings an extremely stupid story to an extremely stupid conclusion in style. And the haters? They’re gonna hate, clearly. That’s kind of their thing. But this isn’t a game for them. No, it’s a reward for those bold enough to be of the apparently controversial opinion that Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t awful. And a fine reward it is too, so long as you don’t go into it expecting a traditional Final Fantasy experience.
  7. Feb 11, 2014
    It's quite a new adventure, or at least it's the first Final Fantasy that changes the old-school scheme the franchise has used for many years. Doesn't look like Final Fantasy anymore, but at least it's worth the try... and the money.
  8. Feb 11, 2014
    Square seems to have taken critiques of the first two games to heart and corrected them. Gone are the oppressively limited environments and the convoluted stories. In their place are a large world, clear story, and the latest refinement of what was already among the most radically inventive combat systems to hit JRPGs in years.
  9. Feb 11, 2014
    For all its weirdness it actually is a pretty compelling adventure. Excellent combat mechanics and the pairing of an open world with a harsh time limit help the game overcome its technical shortcomings and impenetrable story.
  10. Feb 11, 2014
    Surprising, but not for the reasons you might think. With only thirteen days to go before the end of the world, Lightning has her hands full. This final chapter tries a lot of new ideas, many of which work. Unfortunately, the game is a little messy and tonally all over the place. Fans of the series will be satisfied with the emotional finale.
  11. Feb 11, 2014
    Even with its mediocre plot and heavily emphasized fan service aspects, I really enjoyed Lightning Returns. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve followed the series since the beginning, or because I’m a sucker for the characters and their relationships between one another, but this game made me experience a range of emotions that I haven’t experienced from a game in a long time.
  12. Feb 11, 2014
    The game has several technical flaws but on top of this it tries to emulate the western RPGs suffering with NPC you’ll forget easily and gameplay that fans of the series may not fully enjoy.
  13. Feb 11, 2014
    It does not have the soul of a Final Fantasy game, but still we had lots of fun playing it. If you take it as a spin-off, then you'll find a very enjoyable game, especially for Lightning fans.
  14. Feb 17, 2014
    Unsurprisingly, Lightning Returns : Final Fantasy XIII is like the trilogy it ends: full of appeal but ruined by flaws you can't help to notice. We're speaking about the technical aspect that the ip has stacked since its arrival on PS3 and Xbox 360, which still harms the game and our eyes. We're even more disappointed to see that it ruins the good artistic direction of the game. We also have to mention the difficulty, set on extremely hard in a hope to increase the life of the game. But Lightning returns also has some great features, the 13 days left to Lightning to achieve its mission, and the quests to be achieved give a good rhythm to the title, while the costume system give a true strategic dimention to the fights. Don't miss it and hang on tight.
  15. Feb 14, 2014
    Lightning Returns is not the closure we hoped for and represent a slight step back for the series Nevertheless is a good game, graced by an amazing combat system that that probably deserved a better context. If you are a fan you certainly enjoy the game, but its magic seems to be lost somewhere else.
  16. Feb 11, 2014
    There's plenty of fun to be had in Lightning Returns if you're open to it, and are willing to overlook some of the messiness.
  17. Feb 11, 2014
    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the last installment of a trilogy that has had its ups and downs. This third installment can't escape from it, with a dynamic battle system, but with a defective story unfolding because of the lack of time you have to explore each chapter of the game.
  18. Pelit (Finland)
    May 11, 2014
    Lightning Returns shows us a flashy new wardrobe but looks still rule over personality. Sadly Lightnings chance of clothes does nothing for the lack of her personality. Overall it is enjoyable, but messy story and flimsy characters don't do it any favours. [March 2014]
  19. CD-Action
    Apr 2, 2014
    I spent 25 hours with Lightning Returns and most of them were pleasant, but it was mainly entertainment for my eyes and fingers rather than my brain. I reckon it to be the best game of the XIII trilogy, but it’s far behind those really outstanding Final Fantasies. [04/2014, p.60]
  20. Mar 4, 2014
    The end of the XIII trilogy, from a gameplay standpoint, gains and loses its strength from design mechanics and decisions that sets Lightning Returns apart from its predecessors. It’s nevertheless a title that caters to the trilogy fan, giving also a different perspective and a fresh air of play to the veteran Final Fantasy players.
  21. 70
    It’s not an excellent product but it is a gem for the future and at the end of the day I'm happy to say that Final Fantasy is still for me.
  22. Feb 28, 2014
    It is a bit disappointing to learn that the story is quite weak in this Final Fantasy game. If you compare it to other Final Fantasy titles you would expect a more thought out storyline. On the other hand, the new battle system is very good, but it cannot compensate for the lack of a good plot.
  23. Playstation Official Magazine Australia
    Feb 27, 2014
    Not bad, just disappointing. The best combat in the series spoiled by subpar plot and too-often-iffy visuals. [March 2014, p74]
  24. Feb 21, 2014
    Topping off the XIII subseries with a competent capstone, Lightning Returns has some bold ideas lost amidst the glitz and glamour of Square’s schizophrenic tone-shifts.
  25. Feb 18, 2014
    Ultimately Lightning Returns introduces some fresh and novel ideas, but spends an equal amount of time hampering these and introducing a new set of problematic aspects.
  26. 70
    It’s more melancholy than anything else—sad at times, joyfully freeing for the franchise at others.
  27. Feb 11, 2014
    In the end, it’s not a bad title, but it certainly ends the trilogy on a lower note than its predecessors. Buy it if you want to see the end to the story, but prepare for some drastic changes.
  28. Feb 11, 2014
    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a good game with many issues. The brand new combat system is the most interesting element of this project, but a weak storytelling and the lack of a true challenge are enough to affect the final score. The game is still good and interesting enough to entertain players till the very end.
  29. Feb 11, 2014
    There's a lot of fan-service in this last chapter of the Fabula Nova, something the fans of the thirteenth chapter won't probably dislike. On the other hand, linearity and the time mechanic make this less and less an JRPG.
  30. Feb 11, 2014
    Full of good ideas, that's a given. Unfortunately, most of them are lost in a miscalculated open world structure, and a bloated, badly written story. It's still a decent jrpg, mostly due to its gameplay and interesting formula, but if you consider that there's a "Final Fantasy" in the title, being "decent" is really nothing to be happy about.
  31. Feb 11, 2014
    If you were hoping that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was going to be a return to Square's RPG greatness of yesteryear, you're going to be disappointed. This latest title continues to attempt to straddle the line between RPG and action game.
  32. Feb 11, 2014
    Lightning Returns has some genuinely great ideas as far as modern RPGs are concerned, and despite being let down by a shoddy story and some graphical issues, it remains a shining example of how dynamic battle systems and thoughtful character customisation can save an otherwise trite, lifeless game.
  33. Feb 11, 2014
    On the surface, it’s a cutesy curio, but underneath all the dressing up and kicking the shit out of cats, there’s a complex and enjoyable JRPG, if not a brilliant one.
  34. Feb 11, 2014
    The conclusion of a trilogy presents the opportunity for an emotional farewell to a beloved cast and world, but Lightning Returns only left me relieved to see this adventure end.
  35. Feb 11, 2014
    What sets Lightning Returns apart is how effectively it surrenders its core criteria for the explicit purpose of inflicting a sense of impending doom into every moving part of its system. Clever additions and smart retractions are meant to coalesce, but in practice the game is total chaos - albeit the kind that's fun to play around in.
  36. Feb 10, 2014
    Its fresh combat system is a great success, and the well-designed world provides more than enough reason to play through the end of Lightning's journey. At the same time, the incredibly inconsistent tone and underwhelming plot caused any story-based satisfaction to completely elude me.
  37. A lot of Final Fantasy fans will definitely fall in love with the Lightning Returns. Open world gameplay, battle system and customizations are great but sometimes story is not enough, even for them.
  38. Mar 1, 2014
    Lightning Returns tries to restore the honor of the Final Fantasy franchise as well as being an RPG with modern design sensibilities. Unfortunately, it succeeds in neither. Final Fantasy gameplay elements drown in a mishmash of poor game design and forced choices. This third XIII does have its own charm though. Touching music and the still present FF-magic make Lightning Returns an acceptable RPG.
  39. Feb 24, 2014
    Well, this is a bit of a disappointment... The story isn't as gripping as it could have been, the game feels rushed and the visuals aren't as good as you'd expect. It offers closure for the fans, sure, but as the final part of an epic trilogy it doesn't even come close to the mark.
  40. Feb 20, 2014
    A faulty experience due to its uninspired side-quests and flawed time limit system, Lightning Returns is an Apocalypse devoid of transcendence or passion.
  41. Feb 11, 2014
    This is the most satisfying battle system the series has had since Final Fantasy X, and it stands strong enough on its own to merit a recommendation for most players.
  42. Feb 11, 2014
    Plenty of depth there for those willing to make the most of it, but too many barriers for those not already predisposed to like it.
  43. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Apr 7, 2014
    Beautiful world and solid gameplay, countered by a boring story and not very likeable characters. [Issue #240]
  44. Hyper Magazine
    Mar 9, 2014
    Three strikes and you're out. [Apr 2014, p.55]
  45. Feb 21, 2014
    What was once a glorious name in JRPG is slowly dismantled by Square Enix and inscrutable design decisions. The sad bit about it is that conceptually this could have been a decent comeback for Lightning.
  46. Feb 20, 2014
    Sadly, that fresh new take on combat is hamstrung by a camera that can’t keep up with the elaborate effects, animations and blistering speed.
  47. Feb 19, 2014
    The confusing plot, unsympathetic main characters and the continuously ticking doomsday clock make Lightning Returns an unpleasant experience that's saved by its fun battle system and a pretty world to explore. Lightning Returns is Final Fantasy without the fun, feeling of wonder or the emotional wealth that made the series great.
  48. The main problem with Lightning Returns; it’s a game so desperate to refine each individual element that they’ve become disparate. There’s undoubtedly stuff here worth exploring – the cerebral combat, fan-serving storyline and grand finale to a three-game story – but despite Square Enix’s intentions, it’s not a world you’ll make time to revisit.
  49. Feb 13, 2014
    The biggest problem the game has is that, unlike the most memorable Final Fantasy episodes, it refuses to allow players the opportunity to compassionately connect with Lightning or her mission objective.
  50. Feb 11, 2014
    Lightning Returns feels almost pointless, amounting to little more than an excuse to dress the heroine up in different outfits and beat the crap out of things. There's not much payoff for those that have been faithful since the beginning and it's so obtuse that it will be difficult for new players to get into.
  51. Feb 11, 2014
    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is not a bad experience, but it will for sure divide the fans. It seems like the studio had several good ideas, but that once assembled they did not make a good Final Fantasy game. This episode tried to convince the players by offering an open world and a certain freedom of action, but it fails in terms of storytelling. And technically, Lightning Returns just doesn't reach the level fans of Final Fantasy expect from the series.
  52. Feb 11, 2014
    One step forward and two steps back for the XIII saga and will only attract those looking for fan-service or high-octane combat.
  53. Feb 13, 2014
    The story is just a bunch of barely understandable gibberish, the characters feel tired and overdone, and the “streamlining” of the combat is only the equivalent of dumbing-down. Nothing more.
  54. Games Master UK
    Mar 10, 2014
    A surprisingly deep battle system fails to outweigh a duff story, forgettable characters and a sterile world. [Apr 2014, p.66]
  55. Feb 25, 2014
    Ultimately, though, the game’s flaws more than outweigh its strengths, making it hard to recommend to all but the most diehard Final Fantasy XIII fans.
  56. Feb 11, 2014
    Overall, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is more trouble than it's worth. While there are a few things to enjoy about it, the game is all over the place, and the banal plot and ridiculously neat ending make it impossible to take seriously.
  57. Feb 11, 2014
    Compounded by the nonsensical script and one-dimensional characters it’s as if the game is specifically designed to feel as shallow and disconnected as possible. Lightning Returns might be an enjoyable enough folly for fans, but there’s very little here for anyone else.
  58. Feb 11, 2014
    Despite a decent story, a great combat system, and a large, non-linear world to explore, Lightning Returns' tedious structure makes seeing this journey through to its end a laborious grind.
  59. Feb 11, 2014
    The promising schemata system and grandiose cutscenes are solid pillars from which a great RPG could have been constructed, but Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII falls well short of greatness.
  60. Feb 11, 2014
    As a game—that is, a collection of loosely connected systems—it’s all very average, something that works but is wholly forgettable. Combat is more often than not a chore, the world is depressingly dull to look at, and the story feels like the last ingredient Square Enix threw in the pot, and at the very last moment no less.
  61. Feb 11, 2014
    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be lauded in the short term for its fun battle system, but remembered in the long term for its bad story and atrocious ending.
  62. Feb 14, 2014
    It’s just a quickly thrown together mess of mechanics that feels like it’s trying and failing to be an open world American style RPG. Frankly, you aren’t missing anything if you totally pass this title up.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 662 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Feb 11, 2014
    The XIII series as a whole is amazing and I don't understand the unnecessary hate towards it. The story, characters, battles... everything wasThe XIII series as a whole is amazing and I don't understand the unnecessary hate towards it. The story, characters, battles... everything was awesome! So far that hasn't changed in Lighting Returns either. I'm enjoying it very much so. I think a lot of people (mostly guys) are scared or just straight up pissed off by having strong female lead roles in the gaming world today. Lightning is strong, independent, goal oriented, and having a female protagonist is something pretty new in the gaming scene. Only a select few females leads have made it "acceptable" by the community, such as Lara Croft. We need more of those in the gaming world and Lightning is the right role model for that! Full Review »
  2. Feb 11, 2014
    Contrary to the popular belief that the FFXIII series is garbage and no one likes it, I actually love it. I know the characters can be overContrary to the popular belief that the FFXIII series is garbage and no one likes it, I actually love it. I know the characters can be over the top at times but that's true of most anime you watch and just part of the culture from where the game originated. I enjoyed the entire series. Full Review »
  3. Feb 15, 2014
    I've been a fan of the FF franchise for 20 years now and this is the first installment where I simply don't want to play anymore. I might giveI've been a fan of the FF franchise for 20 years now and this is the first installment where I simply don't want to play anymore. I might give it another shot later, but here are my first impressions after 3 hours of playtime. I really enjoyed the last two games in this trilogy and was excited for a third.

    Story: I'm immediately adverse to the story line. The game basically seems pointless. In 13-1 we were tasked with saving Cacoon. (We may have failed, but we gave people a new home on Gran Pulse.) In 13-2 we were tasked with saving Lightning and restoring the timeline. In 13-3 the world's going to end in 6 to 13 days no matter what we do. We can potentially resurrect Serah (to live on some new planet) if we save enough souls before the end of days. We are essentially Bhunivelze's pawn for this task. We feel much less like a hero, and Lightning herself doesn't seem thrilled about the task.

    Combat: The combat is often one of my favorite parts of an FF game. Being able to strategically plan out my moves and watch my characters grow there combat skills has always kept me entertained. This is the reason that I gave this game a 1 and not a 0. The combat system is new, but it seems to have potential for keeping you engaged. Setting up your schema is a lot like choosing combat roles in the previous installments, but you have even more flexibility. The problems, not enough combat and you don't get XP from killing monsters, you only gain skill ups through quests (which so far have not been entertaining).

    Open world / Time Limit: The open world would not normally be a bad thing. In fact my complaint about many of the recent FF games was how linear they felt. The problem is the time limit. I want to go exploring, but I feel like I can't because I need to be completing quests. In fact if I don't complete enough quests, Lightning won't even get 13 days to save souls in the world. This makes me very stressed about how I spend my time in game, and I have enough stress in my lift. I play games to relax, and this game doesn't give me that luxury.
    Full Review »