Zack, Cloud, and Aerith

I Don’t Know What to Expect With ‘Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’ (But I’m Ready to Ship Everyone and Feel Things)

"Wait, what are you implying? That I died?"

MAJOR spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake

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On April 10, 2020, Final Fantasy VII Remake was released on the PS4. The game promised to be a bigger, more expanded take on the 1997 classic, so much so that it was being broken into multiple parts. During Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII 25th Anniversary Celebration Broadcast, they announced the second part of the story—Final Fantasy VII Rebirth—and revealed that the Remake series will have one last part after this, making it a trilogy. Three parts to mimic the original game’s three-disc release? Sounds cool to me! They also announced a remaster of Crisis Core, the prequel that focuses on Zack Fair.

The big twist of Final Fantasy VII Remake

When I originally played Final Fantasy VII Remake I assumed I’d be getting better graphics, more side quests, voice acting, and the other kinds of updates that come along with the word “remake.” Then? Sephiroth showed up WAY earlier than expected. “Oh, they’re illustrating Cloud’s PTSD,” I said to myself. It was a cool addition to the story, in my opinion. Longtime fans know that wherever Cloud is, Sephiroth will follow, and that brings about a lot of trauma for our spiky-haired protagonist.

However, things began to get… weird. Ghost-like beings would appear during key scenes (ie: Cloud meeting Aerith) and interrupt what was going on. “I haven’t played this in years, but I KNOW that didn’t happen before.” That’s when I realized that we were getting new content in the game, which meant I wouldn’t be able to rely on the memories I had of the original to guide me through the story. Granted, a lot of it does play out like the first section of the original… until the end, which opens up some surprising possibilities.

Those new entities that have been showing up are called the Whispers, and they’ve been trying to make sure you stay on the right path so Final Fantasy VII can happen the way it’s supposed to. Heather Wald explained this new, major plot addition over at Games Radar. “Eventually, you learn that these ghostly figures are trying to ensure you stay on the destined path and don’t deviate from the plans fate has set out for Cloud and the other main characters.” One example of this is when the Whispers prevent Sephiroth from killing Barret because that’s not what’s supposed to happen.

At the end of the game, when your group decides to leave Midgar to stop Sephiroth, you have to fight the Whisper Harbinger AND Sephiroth. Sephiroth being the final boss so soon is definitely not how things played out before. You’re supposed to just be able to leave Midgar after everything that’s happened so far (the Sector 7 plate collapse, rescuing Aerith from Shinra, meeting Red XIII, and deciding to pursue Sephiroth after he murders the president of Shinra), but now there’s a literal final boss portal you have to enter. As Wald explains, Aerith hesitates (because she totally knows more than what she’s been letting on). “It’s also interesting that Aerith initially hesitates to let Cloud enter the portal because ‘we’ll be changing more than fate itself. If we succeed … if we win … we’ll be changing ourselves.'”

Related: Vincent Valentine Voice Actor Says Character Recast for FFVII Rebirth on Siliconera

With the Harbinger defeated, this means that things are up in the air for how they will play out in Rebirth. This seems to be what Sephiroth wants, and he even asks Cloud to join him in “defying destiny.” Considering how things ended for Sephiroth in 1997, it makes sense that he wouldn’t want things to play out the way they did before. Cloud refuses to join Sephiroth, but as the game shows us major differences in Final Fantasy VII after the defeat of the Harbinger, I’m thinking that Cloud and the others are gonna struggle with what they should do. After all, characters that were supposed to die are now shown as being alive. We see Biggs recuperating at the orphanage even if he’s supposed to be dead after the Sector 7 plate collapsed. No word on Wedge or Jessie surviving yet, but we do see Jessie’s glove and headband on a desk where Biggs is resting.

The major change comes at the very end of the game when we see Zack walking with Cloud. Zack is supposed to die at the hands of SHINRA soldiers and pass his sword onto Cloud, but now we see that he’s, somehow, perfectly fine. As he walks with an unconscious Cloud, we see the group we’ve been playing with (Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Aerith, and Red XIII) walk past them. They’re walking away from Midgar while Zack and Cloud are walking toward it. Aerith stops, hinting that she knows that the course of destiny has changed.

Is the Rebirth trailer implying that Aerith could live???

Knowing that the rest of the Remake is up in the air plotwise is exciting. Instead of going into this game and being sure that I know what’ll happen, I honestly have no idea since the course of Final Fantasy VII has changed. Is there even going to be a set ending for this? Or do we get to choose how we want this to play out? Do we try and do things the way of the original, or take a new path? It’s put a new spin on the classic that I wasn’t expecting, so much so that it kinda feels like I’m playing a new game.

At the time of Remake’s big twist, I’d jokingly said to my wife, “Maybe Aerith can live, too, just like Zack.” This reveal trailer seems to hint at that very premise as we hear Cloud and Aerith talking to each other. The trailer opens with Aerith saying the following. “What we’d done, that set in stone, the past is forever. But the future, even if it has been written, can be changed. So focus on the future, not the past.” We get shots of events that we know are coming, such as Meteor crashing into the planet, and Sephiroth wanting JENOVA. Then, Cloud says this. “I saw you lying there, I figured it was too late.” Yeah, that’s one of the most iconic video game deaths he’s referring to, isn’t it?

However, it sounds like this death didn’t happen as Aerith says, “Wait, what are you implying? That I died? That I’m some kind of imposter?” The trailer asks us what is fact and what is fiction, and I imagine that our heroes are gonna have to try and figure that out. Even worse? They’re probably gonna have to make hard decisions, like letting things happen the way they’re supposed to (Zack and Aerith dying) or, as Sephiroth says, defying destiny. And that’s just Rebirth, there’s still one more game after this!

I suppose the one silver lining is that with Rebirth hinting at getting up to Aerith’s death, we’ll be meeting new characters and new party members. And look. I’m not sure about the outcome of this new-style Final Fantasy VII, but I DO know that I’m ready for Vincent to show up, as you meet him before you lose Aerith. That being said, considering how ridiculously attractive everyone is in Remake, can we handle Square Enix rebirthing this man?

Time to add to our poly family of Avalance hotties! Yuffie’s coming too, right? Is it time for Cid to show up? Is everyone gonna snuggle Red XIII?

Crisis Core coming in with some fantastic timing

Unlike Rebirth, this new Crisis Core update doesn’t seem to have any new plot elements. Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII – Reunion is, basically, what I THOUGHT Remake was going to be. Updated models, full voiceovers, and a way to play the original on new platforms. This is especially true for Crisis Core, which had been a PSP release back in 2007 (Japan) and 2008 (US). This feels similar to Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden coming to consoles, save with more updates.

That being said, the timing of this release is pretty brilliant. Set to release this winter, it’s just enough time for fans to revisit Zack’s story and, well, watch him die at the hands of SHINRA. That’ll definitely set the tone for Rebirth, which is planned to have a Winter 2023 release. I can already see Sephiroth (seductively) whispering to Cloud how if he helps him, there could be a future where Zach lives.

That’s assuming Square Enix doesn’t have any sudden surprises with this Crisis Core remaster. I don’t quite trust them after the twists of Remake.

(Featured image: Square Enix)

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Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)