While the Sphere Grid can be customized, it’s mostly linear. I think everyone realizes this while playing Final Fantasy X.
“It is a roughly circular grid of interconnected nodes arranged in smaller circular clusters, containing all the abilities and special skills the player characters can learn.”
When it comes to unlocking abilities, your characters have a certain path to follow.
However, what if the game intends for our characters to break away from the path?
Final Fantasy X deals with false hope. It also deals with breaking away from tradition when it no longer serves your best interests. Yuna’s role in Spira is a summoner, and her goal is to defeat Sin. As a monk in Besaid Temple describes:
The summoners are practitioners of a sacred art, sworn to protect the people of Yevon. Only a chosen few become summoners, who call forth entities of a greater power: the Aeons. The Aeons hear our prayers and come down to us. They are the blessing of Yevon.
However, this isn’t the whole truth. Summoners will never defeat Sin this way. Yuna’s father Braska died while trying, and Yuna was surely to follow in his footsteps. If it weren’t for Rikku and the al-Bhed’s constant abductions, Yuna wouldn’t have survived her pilgrimage. In this sense, she must break tradition, to save future summoners from the same fate.
From a gameplay standpoint, this is the reason why we’re able to travel into other character’s routes. In Final Fantasy IV, we had no choice. Our characters have a specific job set, and our mages learn magic at specific times in the game. Afterward, Final Fantasy V, VI, VIII and VIII let us customize our characters without too much restriction. Final Fantasy IX bring the job classes back to the foreground.
Yet Final Fantasy X breaks from this tradition; we have set job classes so to speak, but we can choose to learn other skills if we like.
If the point is to break away from tradition, why doesn’t the game make it easier to do so?
Final Fantasy X illustrates a truth about Yuna’s position: breaking from tradition is hard. We’re all creatures of habit. Even from the comfort of our own homes, when we have the freedom to explore, we don’t; we still choose to rely on the game’s recommendation.
Sure, the game’s recommendations know best. But it seems as if we might find a new approach, or a better surprise if we take a risk. Many of us don’t. We get comfortable, and just do what we do naturally. What works, or rather what we think works.
Isn’t this how Spiran felt about the summoners. Every so often, a summoner would perform a ritual. Yet Sin would return. But now, only the Al-Bhed believed the pilgrimage was worthless. But they’re why Spira was able to find a new way. And it pays off, as Spira gladly accepts Machina in Final Fantasy X-2.