Time Travel is a recurring motif in the Final Fantasy series which focuses on carrying people through time and possibly allowing them to change their fate.
Garland makes a pact with the Four Fiends to be sent through time to become an immensely powerful being known as Chaos. After the Warriors of Light have defeated the Four Fiends and saved the crystals, the Fiends create an archdemon, Chaos, using Garland's body, and send him 2,000 years into the past.
Following Chaos into the past, the Warriors discover it was Chaos who had sent the Four Fiends into the future, creating a time loop paradox. Defeating Chaos in the past breaks the time loop and the Warriors are sent back to their own time, but they have altered the time line and nobody in the new time line has any memories of the events.
Time travel is a major plotline in Final Fantasy VIII; chiefly, the ability to time travel revolves around the desire to change the past and the wish to preserve a single moment in time and avoid an unwanted future.
Ellone is a young woman with the power to transfer people's consciousnesses into other people's from the past. Although limited to people she has had contact with, Ellone hopes to use this ability to change the past and prevent a series of events from happening. She discovers, however, that her attempted manipulations were actually a part of the causes that lead to the events she wishes to erase and learns that attempting to change the past in such a way is futile. However, she acknowledges that the information and new perspective gained by witnessing the past events can help one to alter the present and future.
Ultimecia, a sorceress who lives in the future of the game's time, is aware of a coming "prophecy" of her being defeated by a "Legendary SeeD". In order to prevent this, Ultimecia intends to compress time into one single moment with a form of magic known as time compression. When that fails, she instead attempts to absorb all that ever had and ever would exist, including all time and space, in order to become "a living god".
Using the Junction Machine Ellone, Ultimecia sends her consciousness back in time to possess and control past sorceresses. She controls Edea Kramer and pursues Ellone, because the Junction Machine has not yet been invented in the game's present, to get even further back in time in order to be able to start the time compression. After Edea is freed from her control, she possesses Rinoa Heartilly and then Adel, at which point Ellone sends Ultimecia, Adel and Rinoa's consciousnesses back into the Adel of the past, then brings only Rinoa back.
With her consciousness now in the game's past, Ultimecia succeeds in partially casting the time compression spell. However, Ellone then severs the mental link, cutting Ultimecia off from the earlier time periods and leaving the spell incomplete. This allows a group of SeeDs from the present to travel through time, encounter Ultimecia in her realm, and kill her, breaking the partial time compression.
As the time compression spell is broken and time begins to revert back into its original form, one of the SeeDs, Squall Leonhart, ends up traveling too far back in time and meets himself as a child. While in the past, he plants the idea of forming the SeeD organization that would one day defeat Ultimecia, thus becoming the "Legendary SeeD" Ultimecia plans to avoid facing in the future. This forms a stable time loop that causes the events of the game to play out as if they are predestined.
Scattered throughout Vana'diel are numerous statues that resemble Atomos, called the "Cavernous Maws", which act portals to twenty years into the past, around the time of the Crystal War's end. Lilisette uses these portal in order to prevent the events that would lead to her father's death, while Lady Lilith, a version of Lilisette who came from a reality in which the Crystal War never ended, used them to ensure the continuation of her future, by erasing Lilisette's future.
Despite the efforts of the both of them, neither are able to erase the other future, instead are only able to achieve a balance between the two realities. However, it is also revealed that the goddess Altana had once rewritten the timeline to prevent its ruin.
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The universe in Final Fantasy XIII and thus in Final Fantasy XIII-2 is divided in two halves; what could be called the mortal world, or the world of Gran Pulse and Cocoon, and the world of the dead, Valhalla. Whereas beings are born, live, and die, in the mortal world, Valhalla is different; it is a world of entropy that exists outside the timeline of the world of Gran Pulse, a world without a past or future. Those who reside in Valhalla can see the span of the entire timeline by gazing into the mortal world.
The ability to travel in time originates from the goddess Etro who resides in Valhalla. The legends state that Etro placed a piece of chaos, a malevolent energy that seeks to return everything to entropy, into every human, giving them a "heart". Certain people possess more "heart" as a gift from the goddess than others, giving them greater affinity to chaos, and these individuals are able to enter the Historia Crux and travel in time. As Yeul explains to Serah in the Void Beyond: "The power to step outside the timeline. The power to witness the future. These gifts come from Etro. Her servants are known by her blessings".
Lead scenario writer for Final Fantasy XIII-2, Daisuke Watanabe, has explained in an interview that because the goddess Etro saved Serah by releasing her from her crystal stasis she acquired powers normally non-accessible to humans and this is why she can time-travel when passing through the Time Gates. Other people, namely Lightning, Sazh, and Snow, who were also saved from crystal stasis by Etro, also have the power to use the Historia Crux to travel in time; however, Hope appears not to have this power.
Noel Kreiss comes from 700 AF in which all of humanity is gone except for him. He prays for the goddess to grant him the gift of chaos, so he may follow Caius Ballad to Valhalla. His prayer is answered and he is taken to Valhalla where he meets Lightning, Etro's champion who fights to protect Etro's Temple from Caius. Lightning asks for Noel to find her sister Serah, and sends him through a Time Gate to New Bodhum 3 AF where the story of Final Fantasy XIII-2 begins.
In order for Noel and Serah to travel in time they use Time Gates and artefacts to open them. The Historia Crux is the crossroads of history, "the ability to step outside of the timeline" as Yeul put it. Whenever a Time Gate to the Historia Crux is opened with an artefact writing in Etro's script is briefly seen, indicating a link to the goddess.
It may well be that the Time Gates are consciously created by the goddess, rather than things that arise out of paradoxes, as Snow Villiers is unable to follow Serah and Noel through a Time Gate despite being a time traveler himself, because the gate in question was not "meant for him". Because Lightning resides in Valhalla she is able to keep an eye on Serah and Noel's journey to solve the paradoxes in the timeline, and eventually leaves Valhalla through a Time Gate to meet them in New Bodhum 700 AF, although their encounter is brief.
Caius, who possesses the Heart of Chaos, is the one who, after realizing that Noel cannot succeed him by killing him, decides to bring about the end of history by other means. Because of the Heart of Chaos Caius is able to travel to Valhalla and from there he creates paradoxes in the timeline in order to set the stage for a mass sacrifice of people, an act he hopes to open Etro's Gate and allow chaos seep into the mortal world, returning it all to entropy and transform the world into Valhalla. Caius cannot travel in time like Noel and Serah do, but he is able to send messages from Valhalla to his past self; this is why the Caius of 200 AF appears to know Noel is.
When he is about to set his plan in motion in Academia 500 AF, his plans are foiled by Serah and Noel and he opens a portal to Valhalla where Caius, Serah, and Noel enter. After a gruesome battle Noel's sword pierces Caius's Heart of Chaos, and the paradox comes to an end and the Time Gates begin to vanish one by one, marking the end of Serah and Noel's time traveling journey.
Another method of time travel is invented by Hope Estheim who is unable to use Time Gates: because of his research, Hope developed a method of time travel via a suspended animation capsule. It can only be used to travel forward in time, however.
Ramza Beoulve encounters Balthier from Final Fantasy XII. Although Balthier only explains that he needs to return to the Cache of Glabados to put things back as they were, it can be assumed that he was somehow displaced in time. Additionally, Ramza also meets Luso Clemens from Final Fantasy Tactics A2, still with his Gran Grimoire.
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After the Heroes of Light meet up with Rolan in Spelvia, they find him consumed by monsters. They manage to release him, but along with it the darkness trapped within Rolan is unleashed upon the world, plunging it into darkness and the party is sent decades into the past to a time none of them has been born yet.
The party proceeds to travel the world uncovering many mysteries that explain the events that took place in the original world. The heroes defeat Chaos's minions, and finally defeat Chaos himself. Defeating Chaos reverts the time line back into normal and the heroes are sent back to their own world.
The party can travel through time pretty easily with the Talon and possessing the correct Talon Units, but they can only go to a specific eras. The effects of the flooding and its threat can be seen upon the world of the past, present and future.
- Although not strictly time traveling, the Phantom Village in Final Fantasy V can be visited in the present time even though the point of view of the inhabitants is 1,000 years in the past due to being locked between dimensions for that long. In the Interdimensional Rift, the same village appears frozen in time altogether.
- ↑ http://finalfantasy-xiii.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-15139.html
- ↑ Final Fantasy XIII-2 Ultimania Omega Scenario Interview with Toriyama and Watanabe