Long cutscenes (and lots of them) have been kind of a Final Fantasy tradition for decades now. Learning to love this franchise often means learning to love putting the controller down from time to time and simply watching the story unfold. That being said, Final Fantasy 16‘s potentially record-setting total cutscene length may test even the most patient franchise fans.
Earlier this year, Final Fantasy 16 producer Naoki Yoshida estimated that the game featured about 11 hours of “cinematic cutscenes” that were all “seamlessly interwoven into the game, playing in-engine in real-time.” He mentioned that the team really wanted to take the time to tell a complete story within the game, which many took as a reference to the fact that Final Fantasy 15‘s full story actually played out across multiple DLC installments. Even if it wasn’t a reference to that controversial decision, many fans were happy to know that Final Fantasy 16 would offer a complete, standalone narrative experience. Granted, 11 hours of cutscenes may be on the longer side for a video game story, but that’s actually a pretty modest ask for most hardcore JRPG fans.
However, it turns out that Final Fantasy 16 may feature even more cutscenes than that. After all, YouTuber Gamer’s Little Playground recently compiled every Final Fantasy 16 cutscene into a single “movie” video that clocks in at a whopping 20 hours and 20 minutes. YouTuber GamersPrey published a similar video that checks in at 17 hours and 16 minutes. So far as I can tell, the discrepancy between the two videos’ lengths largely comes down to editing and the fact that the 20-hour video includes slightly more gameplay (or QTE) sequences as a “buffer” between story sections. Mind you, neither video includes all of the non-interactive sequences you’ll experience during sidequests. They instead focus on Final Fantasy 16‘s relevant main story segments.
So why the discrepancy between that 11-hour estimate and that apparent 17-20 hour reality? Well, it seems that Yoshida’s estimate was only based on the number of (as he described them) “cinematic cutscenes” in the game. In other words, that estimate seemingly didn’t include the various cinematic dialog sequences and other non-interactive sections that are rendered in a slightly different way. You can “skip” or expedite some of those sequences by pressing a button, but given that they are all relevant to the main plot, you probably won’t want to if you’re trying to witness the entire story.
So, if you choose to include those sequences, Final Fantasy 16‘s total cutscene time shoots up dramatically. If it takes the average player 35-40 hours to beat Final Fantasy 16 (which seems to be the most popular estimate so far), then roughly half of that time (if not more) will be spent viewing non-interactive story sequences.
That will obviously be a major turn-off for some, but I’m far more fascinated by the pure numbers at the moment. In fact, so far as I can tell, Final Fantasy 16 may have just set the record for the longest total cutscene time in video game history.
Mind you, that’s not exactly a metric people tend to keep solid records of. For instance, Metal Gear Solid 4 holds the record for the longest individual cutscene in a game (71 minutes), but there are “only” about 9 total hours of cutscenes in that game. Final Fantasy 16‘s individual non-interactive cutscenes are significantly shorter, but there are a ton of them that add up to a much longer overall runtime.
So how do other cutscene-heavy games compare? Well, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, clocks in at about 16 hours of non-interactive story sequences. Death Stranding features about 11-12 hours of such cutscenes. Even Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix (a popular candidate for the “most cutscenes” record), only features about 13 hours of such sequences. Red Dead Redemption 2 features a lot of story-focused scenes, but if you exclude the sections of the game that afford you some degree of control (such as riding on horses and stagecoaches), then you’re really looking at about 12 total hours of comparable sequences.
Again, any discussions regarding this potential record are complicated by how we define cutscenes vs. other kinds of non-interactive sequences. If we follow Yoshida’s definition of the phrase, then Final Fantasy 16 probably does come closer to that 11-12 hour estimate. However, if you extend that definition to include all main story-relevant, non-interactive, cinematically presented sequences, then you should know that Final Fantasy 16 will essentially take the controller out of your hands for nearly 20 hours of its runtime.
Try as I might, I can’t find another game that beats that number and only a few games come close to even challenging it. So while that might be a dubious record in the minds of those opposed to such sequences (or at least that many of them), it really does seem to be a record that may not be beaten for a very long time (if ever).