If you're just starting Final Fantasy XIV for the first time, or returning after a long break, you should know about one of the game's best kept secrets.
It’s a quest with a purple marker, which means the player is given something from it. It’s unremarkable, at least in the beginning.
The quest starts off very normal. A person in Ul’dah (One of the three main cities of Eorzea) asks you to check on a person who needs your help and that you can find them at the Lichyard. This is pretty much a graveyard. Being the hero of light, the player will make their way to the Lichyard and find a bereaved character named Nashu.
She explains that she’s standing in front of the grave of Hildebrand, gentleman and inspector extraordinaire. The way she spoke about him made me wonder why I had never heard of the character before. At the end of her story she explained that she was trying to take over for the inspector and she was stuck in her current case, her cat ears drooping. She asked if the player would mind her helping her crack the case in memory of Inspector Hildebrand.
The hero of light nods and Nashu gives you details on the case.
Nashu wants you to help her understand where the Dapper Zombies have come from.
Dapper Zombies? Come again?
She sends the player off to talk to these Dapper Zombies and find out where they’ve come from and what they want. This involves the player participating in a Fate, which is a timed event that happens occasionally at a set place, called “Fallen Corspes Writhe in Style”.
Of course, the Zombies don’t want to talk, they end up attacking, spouting nonsense such as “A gentlemen is as a gentleman does”.
If this sounds bonkers, that’s because it is. And this is mild in comparison to where it goes.
The Hildebrand questline cannot be accessed until after the main scenario has been completed, which means a lot of players will overlook it. I had no idea of its existence until I stumbled upon its humble beginnings. It’s a pity as it is one of the most interesting and entertaining quest lines in the game.
The quest line is split into roughly 5 episodes. Each episode has an epilogue with a preview of the next episode. During this time, Nashu oft breaks the 4th wall, speaking directly to the player about something that is rather nonsensical.
The episodes follow the main cast which including the player features Hildebrand, Nashu, Ellie and Briardien. The player joins the motley crew as they try to unravel riddles and prevent a series of thefts with one huge disadvantage. Hildebrand is rather dense.
The quest line uses kyogen, a traditional form of Japanese comedy throughout the questline whenever Gilgamesh is involved. (Gilgamesh has a green chicken named Enkidu. Enkidu is powerful, don’t underestimate the green chicken.)
The dialogue is peppered with stupid jokes, the type that school children may find funny, but including the over exaggerated facial expressions and slapstick, it all works to make a thoroughly entertaining ride.
I found myself not only invested in what happened in these episodes, but also what would happen to the characters. What silly antics would happen? What dumb conclusions would Hildebrand come to? What crazy things would happen next?
Even if you’re not a fan of the silly over the top humour, the quest gives the player character a dance (the Manderville), a wind-up gentleman, the gentleman attire and the gleaming smile emote. The quest reminds me so much of Phoenix Wright and various animes. Tropes are used to great effect.
A lot of the class quests in FFXIV have interesting characters and stories, and a lot of FFXIV uses puns and silly things for its quests and achievements. The Hildebrand questline combines those two things perfectly.
I'm a Mander-Mander-Manderville man,
Doing what only a Manderville can,
From the peaks of Coerthas to Thanalan,