I will freely admit to you here that although I am a fan of the Final Fantasy series, the Final Fantasy Tactics sub-series is one that I never really got into. Yet, this doesn’t mean that those games didn’t interest me, and having played a bit of “Final Fantasy XII” and “Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings” I have grown a bit more interested in the games. Regardless of my experience or lack thereof with these games, though, I can say that I’ve read a ton of the lore and information out there about them and the world of Ivalice and now I am left with some things to ponder.
Before we get into specifics here, I should note that Ivalice is the setting of multiple games that make up the Ivalice Alliance. Also, technically Ivalice is not the name of the world they take place in, although for the sake of simplicity fans have dubbed the world to be named that. Ivalice is seen as a kingdom in some titles and a geographical region in others, while the world itself remains unnamed in official sources. There is some debate as to the order that different games in the series take place, but best estimates place the timeline as such:
“Final Fantasy XII” -> “Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings” -> “Final Fantasy Tactics Advance” -> “Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift” -> “Final Fantasy Tactics” -> “Vagrant Story” -> St. Ivalice Period
At first glance, it is easy to think that all of these games take place within the same universe. In a way, this is true, although two games seem to throw a wrench into the system: FFTA and FFTA2. In FFTA, we meet a teenager named Mewt Randell who lives in a town called St. Ivalice. When Mewt discovers a book called the Gran Grimoire, he magically transforms St. Ivalice into a fantasy kingdom that seems to be “based on” the actual world of Ivalice. Therefore, it isn’t that Mewt and his friends are transported to Ivalice, but rather that their own thoughts, dreams, and imaginations power the creation of a fantasy world that is similar to the Ivalice seen in other games. At the end of their quest, everything is righted and St. Ivalice is restored to its usual state.
At one point in the game, Mewt is asked what his favorite game is, to which he replies: “I’d pick Final Fantasy. That’s my favorite.” This statement seems to suggest that St. Ivalice is a made-up town located somewhere on Earth and that Mewt is indeed referring to the actual series of games. However, the problem is that it is never directly stated where St. Ivalice is located. This is likely intentionally never made clear to the player. Some fans have suggested that St. Ivalice is a town in a northern part of the world of Ivalice yet in the distant future (given that technology is somewhat similar to the late-20th or early-21st century). Video games are obviously mentioned to exist, and perhaps the reference to “Final Fantasy” is just a nod to the player and shouldn’t hold any particular meaning as to the town’s location.
In FFTA2 we meet another young lad by the name of Luso Clemens. While it is not stated exactly what town he is in, it appears that he is also from St. Ivalice because of the presence of an older version of Mewt, here referred to as “Mr. Randell.” While working in the summer helping out Randell, Luso stumbles upon a mysterious book in the library and, through its magic, is transported into the Ivalice that is seen in other games. While the Ivalice explored by Mewt and his friends is often dubbed Dream Ivalice, the location of FFTA2 is generally called the Past of Ivalice. Thus, the book discovered by Luso, rather than creating a magical fantasy world of the user’s own imagination, seems to take the reader into the past of his own world. Some have argued against this idea, thinking that Luso is transported to yet another fantasy land, but the appearance of familiar characters like Vaan and Panelo (from FFXII and Revenant Wings) suggests otherwise.
Luso also appears in the enhanced remake of “Final Fantasy Tactics,” called “Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions,” but no real explanation that I can find exists for why he is there. Also, the fact that Balthier from FFXII and Revenant Wings makes an appearance as “a secret character” seems to suggest that these two are meant to be there for fun, but their presence isn’t actually meant to fully be canon. Still, it is possible that Luso used the Grimoire again at a later date and was transported to the period of the War of the Lions, but that would purely be conjecture.
So, for those that seem to think that there is a possibility that all of the games that take place in Ivalice are merely in a fantasy world that is created or accessed by a book located in a fictional version of the real Earth, I really don’t see anything that can support that argument. To me, it seems fairly clear that St. Ivalice is a town located somewhere in the future of the “world” of Ivalice. Mewt and his friends create a dream world using the Gran Grimoire, but this is not the same as the real Ivalice and nor does that imply that Ivalice itself is part of a dream. Luso, on the other hand, finds a different book that allows him to travel through time, witnessing some of his world’s past.
Hopefully this makes sense to all of you! However, I am always open to hearing the opinions of others, so feel free to let me know your thoughts!
NOTE: In the timeline listed, “Final Fantasy Tactics Advance” is inserted for the sake of simplicity. The events of the game are primarily set in a dream world.