While enjoying the return to the world of Gaia in Final Fantasy VII Remake, fans will have no doubt noticed more than a few…differences…between this and the original game. Some characters’ roles have been expanded as have some locations. There are new activities and side-stories to be enjoyed as well. Yet, these represent the beginning of the changes rather than their sum total. Final Fantasy VII Remake’s version of events is very different in many important ways, and it’s looking like that’s only going to grow in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. This difference naturally raise questions and now seems like a good time to discuss some of the biggest. Naturally, spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake will be found below.
What Does Aerith know?
Throughout most of the original Final Fantasy VII, Aerith was every bit the bright, happy-go-lucky girl she appeared to be. She knew about of some of the world’s sad realities thanks to her history with Shinra, but was otherwise about as much in the know as everyone else. She might’ve even been less aware compared to Cloud and the AVALANCHE members in some respects. It wasn’t until near the end of the game, after she’d fully awoken to her Cetra heritage, that Aerith’s awareness of the world grew beyond that of the others. It could be said that Aerith, in the moments before her murder at the hands of Sephiroth, fully understood it all. It’s likely how she was able to realize what needed to be done and ultimately save Gaia from Meteor.
In Final Fantasy VII Remake though, it’s heavily hinted that Aerith already knows a lot more than she’s letting on. She somehow already seems to know something important about Sephiroth, something that she has no business knowing at this point unless she, like Sephiroth, somehow has a level of awareness of the original game’s events. What exactly she knows and what she intends to do about it is still unclear, but it must be something significant enough to trigger her character shift much earlier in the story. If her knowledge includes her other self’s death, fans might just get to see an Aerith very different from the one that came before, an Aerith fully possessed of Cetra knowledge and with time enough to be affected by it.
What About Genesis?
Genesis Rhapsodos’ story has gone largely unresolved ever since Dirge of Cerberus revealed that he was once again active in the world. At the time the Final Fantasy VII takes place, he’s sealed in an underground chamber deep below Midgar. It’s reasonable to think that this is still the case in Final Fantasy VII Remake, but there is reason to believe that he’ll become an active force in the story. One of the strongest pieces of evidence is the sheer scale of the AVALANCHE organization. Instead of existing solely as Barret’s small group of operators, this AVALANCHE is a proper organization with one goal: stop Shinra.
Considering Genesis’ vendetta against Shinra, his natural charisma, immense power and popularity, he’d have little trouble creating such an organization. His need to be a hero in the eyes of the public would also give him added motivation to embark on such an endeavor and his status as AVALANCHE’s leader would give Shinra extra incentive to perform the self-sabotage seen in Remake’s opening hours (and the later dropping of the Sector 7 plate) so that they could damage the heroic public image he so desperately craves. There have been hints of his reintroduction in Remake, but nothing concrete so far.
What Exactly do the Whispers want?
As events played out in Final Fantasy VII Remake, fans got a taste of what the Whispers were capable of. These supposed servants of the “proper order” straight-up resurrected Barret after he was killed by Sephiroth simply because his death wasn’t supposed to happen yet. This didn’t stop Whispers from attack Cloud and the others, but it does show that these entities are willing to go to great lengths in service to their idea of the “proper order.” Still what exactly will this new force do in this version of the story? If they’re willing to bring someone back to life (a feat that was entirely impossible in the original game) then wouldn’t they also be willing to ensure that those who are supposed to die do so at the proper time?
It’s tempting to say “yes” and assume that they’ll be coming after Aerith in due time, but their behavior isn’t consistent enough to assume that yet. For one, why attack Cloud and the others and not Sephiroth? He’s almost responsible for events deviating from their original course, and yet these creatures seemingly are not interested in working against him. They’re not working for Sephiroth since they revived Barrett, but their less-than-friendly disposition towards Gaia’s saviors leads one to think that their goal is something other than preserving the timeline.
Where is Zack?
Arguably one of the biggest “no way!” revelations in Final Fantasy VII Remake is that Zack Fair may very well be alive in this timeline. As most fans know, Zack was already dead by the time Final Fantasy VII’s story began having been killed just outside Midgar by a Shinra army group. He essentially gave his life to save Cloud’s, which is a big part of the reason why Cloud is the way he is for the first half of the game or so. Cloud’s self-loathing, his admiration for Zack, his guilt over his friend’s death and the lingering effects of the Mako experiments he underwent all combined to create a false Cloud, one that was every bit as strong and confident as Zack but retained no memories of the man himself. Zack dying is also the only reason Cloud took up possession of the Buster Sword in the first place.
Final Fantasy VII Remake’s version of events calls this entire background into question though. Players are shown the scene outside Midgar, the one where Zack, still dragging a half-conscious Cloud along, is confronted by a large contingent of Shinra soldiers, machines and monsters. Instead of making a heroic last stand and ultimately succumbing to countless injuries however, Zack takes them all out and does so almost effortlessly. He just cleans them up like it’s no big deal and then resumes his walk into Midgar. If this is what happened in this version of the world, then he should by all rights still be alive and very well. Yet, he’s still nowhere to be seen.
Further, Cloud still has the Buster Sword and his personality is still messed up. If Zack is indeed alive, Cloud should still be his old self, shouldn’t be wearing Zack’s gear and shouldn’t be wielding a weapon Zack cherished so much that he himself barely ever used it. Also, since Zack almost certainly made it to Midgar, shouldn’t he have attempted to make contact with Aerith by now? He knows where she lives (and would likely want to see her again), so where is he?
Has Sephiroth’s End-Game Changed?
In the original Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth’s goal was to become a sort of god-like being by merging with Gaia’s Lifestream. To do that, he needed to force the planet to manifest said Lifestream, which could only be done by inflicting a grievous wound upon it via Meteor. It’s hard to imagine that the megalomaniacal former SOLDIER would change even with knowledge of his defeat in an alternative timeline, but something about him has changed, though. He’s appeared much earlier in this series of events but hasn’t done anything decisive yet. Considering what he’s implied to know, this is strange.
If Sephiroth knows that he’s destined to lose and that Cloud is involved somehow, shouldn’t his first move have been to eliminate Cloud while he’s still relatively weak? Even if Sephiroth does feel like he needs a pawn to achieve his goal, there should still be several other candidates beside the one that killed you in an alternate timeline. Why does he allow Cloud and crew to live? Indeed, Sephiroth almost assuredly knows about Cloud’s involvement, otherwise he wouldn’t have shown Cloud that vision and made that “seven seconds to the end…” remark. Something is off here.
Sephiroth does outright kill Barrett, which should mean that he’s serious this time. Still, wouldn’t he be behaving differently if he knows generally how things turn out? Either remaining the quite manipulator in the background or outright obliterating Cloud’s party likely would have been enough to secure his eventual victory, yet Sephiroth did neither. Something about his goals have changed, and considering his utter mania, they’re now probably much worse than before.
With so much of Final Fantasy VII still left to bring forward into this new series of games, it’s likely that fans won’t be getting all the answers in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. It’s a frustrating acknowledgement to be sure, but it also an oddly exciting one. Square Enix made a bold choice when they decided not to make this series into a straight, one-to-one retelling of the original as doing so carried a great risk of angering fans. Strangely enough though, this familiar yet obviously different version of events has proved to be one the Remake series’ biggest draws. The developer has managed to reintroduce the unknown to this well-known story, and perhaps that’s worth having to sit on a few unanswered questions for a while.