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They speak of anomalies—of a strange energy that warps time itself. Things that shouldn't exist here are appearing near the gates. Things that shouldn't happen are happening. They call this phenomenon the 'paradox' effect.
Paradox (パラドクス, Paradokusu?) is the term used for an anomaly in the spacetime continuum that causes the events in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Paradoxes are believed to be responsible for the apparent overlapping of different time periods, causing unusual types of monsters to appear and otherwise impossible events to occur. They are also believed to cause people to disappear without a trace; the first being Lightning, right after the events of Final Fantasy XIII.
Following the appearance of the gate that appeared in New Bodhum in 3 AF, Time Gates began showing up in a multitude of locations. The research institute, the Academy, gave a name to the anomalies that accompany the arrival of these gates and cause impossible things to happen—they called them 'paradoxes.'
In any location where a paradox is present, people report strange occurrences, such as the sudden appearances of unusual monsters, and odd connections to other times and places.
- Academy Datafile
With our continuing progress into paradox research, we've come to learn that the future can influence the past. Once events in the future are decided, the past is altered to support that outcome.
For people in the future, the past is like an unopened box. Say, for example, at a certain point in time, someone makes a discovery in a set of ruins and learns a fact about the past. In that instant of understanding, past reality is defined.
But then the question must be asked: who, along the entire span of history, is considered to be 'in the future'?
When the goddess Etro reached into the mortal realm to release Lightning and the other l'Cie from their crystal stasis and to wipe their l'Cie brands, chaos seeped into the world and altered the timeline. Lightning was caught in the paradox and dragged to Valhalla, erased from history and only her sister Serah remembers Lightning ever reuniting with them on Gran Pulse. Lightning becomes Etro's protector and calls for Serah to come and find her in Valhalla.
After the appearance of the Time Gate in New Bodhum 3 AF, more begin appearing in other locations on Gran Pulse as well as in Cocoon. Along with the gates, paradoxes affect the surrounding areas and objects, monsters, and in some cases people from different time periods, would disappear from their current time and reappear in another. Paradoxes are known for altering landscapes.
The night a Time Gate crashes outside New Bodhum in a meteorite, Serah wakes and finds her clothes mysteriously changed. She ventures outside and witnesses a time paradox where she sees New Bodhum as a post-apocalyptic wasteland and the crystallized Cocoon disappear from the horizon. Rift Beasts from Valhalla attack the town and Serah is helped by a man who claims to hail from the future, Noel Kreiss, who later takes her on a journey across time to find Lightning.
In the Bresha Ruins 5 AF, the war machine Atlas appears within the site, followed by its control device. Despite Serah and Noel resolving the paradox, the ruins in 100 and 300 AF are affected by paradoxes, believed to had been caused by the appearance of Atlas's control device in 5 AF. In Yaschas Massif 10 AF, the appearance of the fal'Cie Fenrir 190 years earlier than its predestined time causes the area surrounding the Paddra Ruins to be darkened by an eclipse.
Resolving the paradox in Oerba 200 AF unlocks an alternate time in Yaschas Massif, known as 1X AF, where the eclipse never happened and the memories of the Academy scientists (including Hope and Alyssa) have been altered. In Oerba 200 AF, the desolate village's past and future collide and the area is being sucked into a void. Noel and Serah restore the area by solving multiple Temporal Rifts but in 300 and 400 AF, Oerba continues to be affected by paradoxes.
In the Sunleth Waterscape 300 AF, large numbers of Miniflan appear and merge to form the monstrous Royal Ripeness that threatens Cocoon's crystal pillar. Noel and Serah visit the Coliseum and Archylte Steppe in unknown years and retrieve the White Hole and Black Hole fragments that cause the flan to appear in Sunleth Waterscape and Royal Ripeness to grow. With the flan reduced to Mutantomato, they defeat it and save the pillar.
In Augusta Tower 200 AF, the Proto fal'Cie Adam uses a looping paradox to regenerate itself after each time Serah and Noel defeat it in battle. When Serah yells at Hope for having created Adam, he gets her message through the Oracle Drive in 1X AF, and Adam disappears from existence as Hope resolves to never build it the first place. At 300 AF, a paradox caused by someone from another time period affects the tower, causing Noel and Serah to reset the revolving rooms to their proper positions.
After Serah, Mog and Noel leave Academia 4XX AF, they get separated in the Historia Crux and fall into Caius's trap as Alyssa betrayed them by giving them a booby-trapped artefact she received from Caius. Alyssa fears Serah and Noel's actions in correcting the timeline will erase her from existence, as she is a living paradox. In reality, Alyssa died during the Purge but when the timeline was corrupted, she was revived.
It is eventually revealed that it is Caius who is creating the paradoxes across the timeline to shape the future toward the goal he seeks: world destruction. When Noel's blade pierces Caius's Heart of Chaos, the source of his immortality, he fades away while asking Noel to bear the burden of the eternal paradox. The Time Gates begin closing one by one and Serah and Noel use the final gate to return to Academia 500 AF. The world is soon engulfed in chaos as Caius's wish for an "eternal paradox" is fulfilled.
To solve an anomaly that distorts a specific area, Serah and Noel can enter a Temporal Rift and rid of the anomaly by solving a puzzle. There are three types of puzzles with at times multiple levels.
Paradox endings are alternate events in the timeline unlocked by certain actions taken by Noel and Serah, making them "what if" endings. If they defeat certain enemies without first resolving a paradox, or make a different decision towards certain events in the main storyline when given the option, a paradox ending is unlocked.
"Paradox", composed by Naoshi Mizuta, is the second most recurrent theme of the game, behind the main theme, "Wishes". Variants of this theme are "Giant's Fist", "The Story So Far...", "Paradigm Shift", "Song of the Farseers", "Oracle Drive", "Eyes of Etro", "Oathbrand", "Yeul's Theme", and "Time's Master". It is also featured in the "Closing Credits".
paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true.A
- The paradox is one of the many story elements of Final Fantasy XIII-2 referenced in the song "Worlds Collide", one of the game's battle themes.
- Although the paradoxes are said to affect only the timeline after Cocoon's fall, Oerba from the past can be visited (Cocoon in its state before the Catastrophe), yet this is a paradox ending and might be a paradox loop of Oerba 200 AF.
- Paradoxes can move people forward in time without gates. Construction worker Cole in Yaschas Massif 010 AF admits he collects old electronics not merely as a hobby, but because they make him feel at home; he was moved from the past to 10 AF by paradox effects.