My favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy Tactics. I make no secret of this. There are multiple characters that do amazingly heroic things and some that do things truly villainous, but there is only one that tries to right the wronged and he is simply forgotten for 400 years.
The story of Ivalice is rich in conflict. It begins at the end of 50 years of fighting for territory when a truce is called in the now weakened land. Final Fantasy Tactics picks up at the beginning of a civil war between 2 dukes as they struggle between bringing an infant prince and an adopted princess to claim rightful rule of Ivalice. It tells the tale of two men; one with no noble ties rising up to unite the country, and another who stopped a corrupt church that was manipulating the war behind the scenes as an attempt to use the blood of the fallen to resurrect their god and grab the unimaginable power to conquer the world. It’s almost Shakespearean in a way.
This is the story of Final Fantasy Tactics written as simply as I can. It is a tale of these two friends did things that would label them as heroes. The first man was lifted up as a king. This man would be able to bring peace to the disenfranchised masses who gathered angry at the nobles for ignoring their needs in their costly power grabs. The second man would be buried as a heretic; forever marked for his betrayal despite saving the land of Ivalice from destruction.
It is these two men who will forever be remembered, but it is in the man who dared to tell the true story behind the rise of the Commoner King at the expense of the Noble Heretic that we see something most fail to remember. That heroes aren’t just the main characters of the story. The man we’ll be exploring is Olan Durai, adopted son of the leader of Duke Goltana’s knights, “Thunder God” Cid. He is one of the true heroes of Final Fantasy Tactics.
Olan’s tale in the game is surprisingly brief which is itself something amazingly humble in context. He is the writer of the Durai Papers which chronicle the truth behind the Glabados Church and its attempt to use the war and some demons to gain control of Ivalice. His work also showcases how the new King Delita Hyral rose to rule through murder, kidnapping and deceit. It is a much more powerful tale when you find out that his strong will to reveal the horrible truth behind these atrocities committed led to his imprisonment and eventually death by the hands of the church. He is stripped of everything to bring the truth to the world, which he would have to wait for centuries to do.
Olan’s first encounter with Ramza Beoulve is when he stumbles across a pack of thieves and is ultimately rescued by Ramza’s knights. This chance meeting kicks off a friendship as they would work together to find evidence to bring the church down for it’s crimes. This is all derailed when Delita begins to make his move to the throne.
Delita uses his power to frame Olan’s father Cid for the murder of Duke Goltanna who had been accumulating strength with the Glabados Church. This allows Delita to rise to a high ranking position against the other Dukes and Olan is imprisoned. He gets injured escaping his cell, and instead of fleeing, he tries to find Princess Ovelia to warn her of Delita’s motive to use her in his plans to kill the high priest and marry her so he can build his own Kingdom.
Olan is spared because he will be manipulated with Ramza to topple the heads of the church under Delita’s command. Ramza does his thing to weaken the heads in the church and Delita becomes King. Olan is then left in the awkward position of knowing everything messed up that happened during this war. Instead of sitting back and allowing these crimes to go unnoticed, to allow his father and friend to be buried and forgotten as heretics, to allow the church to rise back to prominence under Delita, he begins to produce a book to showcase the horrors that built up the only hero in this war.
Olan Durai tried his very best to right the wrongs that occurred during the war by exposing the facts, and he was burnt at the stake for his trouble. He was labeled as a heretic and given the same memorial that his friend received; no funeral, no memorial, and no one to care for him except the remnants of his family. Delita, for all his crimes would be remembered as a hero until this book was found 400 years later and Olan was given a chance to tell the real story of the war.
Sometimes a hero simply stands up for justice in the face of a tide of corruption. Olan fought with everything he had to fight injustice.
What Olan does is heroic simply because he was beaten so many times in this story and he still decided to write the book. The end of Final Fantasy Tactics is actually fairly ambiguous. The Germonik Scriptures, which tell the truth of the great blood angel Ajora is missing (presumably either destroyed or in the hands of the officials of the church). Ramza, Cid, and the rest of their army are all missing and it is unknown whether they survived their battle against Ajora’s resurrection. It was during this time that Olan would be forced to work under Delita to weaken the church. He would use this time to chronicle all the events of Ramza’s life since they last met.
It is also easy to infer that Delita imprisoned Olan during the period before his wedding. Once Olan finished his mission and Ramza disappeared, why would Delita risk letting Olan wander free? So Olan basically spends the rest of his life trying as hard as he can to get the truth out about the war from his cell. He tries to bring light all of his knowledge of the church, the King, and the people who still cling together and support these establishments. He is imprisoned and eventually murdered for trying to change the corruption that Delita left up.
Olan’s words explaining the truth about Ajora (the church’s Christ figure) are perhaps the only accurately recorded text left in history as Delita has shown he’ll do anything to manipulate his destiny to get what he wants. His bravery to unravel the truth even after being stripped of all his power is commendable. He’s essentially the only real reporter in gaming and he does everything he can to gather the truth and get it out there. There really aren’t too many other truth seekers in this genre and this is a prime example of doing the good thing for justice.
An alternate perspective is that he made the whole thing up after being branded a heretic as a means to slander the church and the king that united Ivalice for killing his papa and best friend, but that’s nowhere near as romantic.