After seeing the first trailer for the next installment of the second part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake project, called Rebirth, and reviewing several key elements of the first game, it’s time we put this to bed: are these titles going to be faithful to the original materia(l) or are they going to branch out into something original?
When Square Enix officially unveiled Final Fantasy VII Remake (FF7R) back in 2015, it filled many people with excitement and anticipation, moments and memories from their childhood springing to life thanks to modern-day technology. Places such as Midgar, Tifa’s bar, the Temple of the Ancients, Nibelheim, the Gold Saucer, the Northern Crater, and more were finally making a return.
There already have been confirmations in the first entry, and while others may or may not be confirmed in the upcoming ones (we already saw what appears to be Cloud and Sephiroth walking towards the Mako Reactor at Mt. Nibel), there is a chance for the story’s path to greatly deviate from the original.
Death of the Arbiter opens up all possibilities
What occurred at the end of FF7R, the boss that the party took down, creates the right circumstances for such a thing to take place.
Cloud and company defeated the so-called Arbiter of Fate (you won’t find a more grand title than that). His name suggests he was the being that ensured everything happens the way it’s supposed to in the order that it’s meant to occur. Remember those little black-cloaked figures that showed up at random intervals and screwed things up for Cloud and his gang? Well, he was their leader.
Both the Arbiter and his group of cloaked minions were around to make sure that things followed the same path as they did in the original FF VII, published in 1997. Now that Cloud and allies have taken them down, there’s no telling what could happen.
Aerith may not actually die. Zack might still be around. On the same note, Tifa, Barret, Red XIII, Cid, Vincent, Yuffie are all fair game. Even Cloud. Although personally, I predict the Buster Sword inheritor will just be an emotional punching bag, suffering through whatever consequences his own actions may have caused.
What is Sephiroth's endgame?
The really interesting thing here is that Sephiroth intended for this to happen. Following his movements and actions throughout the first part of this project, it’s clear that he not only doesn’t intervene in Cloud’s battle with the Arbiter, he actually leads him to the mysterious being. It’s as if Sephiroth knows that if things followed their natural course, he’d end up dead and will not end up gaining what he hopes to gain. He needed that creature out of the way to open up the possibility for another future.
Could this be the same Sephiroth who was killed by Cloud and company, drifting into the Lifestream and returning to the past to change the course of events? I can’t say for sure, but honestly, this is Tetsuya Nomura we’re talking about. I wouldn’t cross that scenario out just yet.
Then there were the cryptic trailers we saw last week. One came from a mobile game Ever Crisis, showing a man with short white hair, holding a different katana to that of Sephiroth during the Nibleheim flashback. It could be the One-Winged Angel himself, just a much younger version of him. Who knows?
The other was from FF7Rebirth, showing Zack carrying Cloud towards Midgar (with Sector 7 obviously missing) and the black-haired SOLDIER apparently speaking to Aerith.
What these things mean and how they’re going to alter the course of events remain to be seen. Admittedly, these changes bring an air of freshness to an already well-known story. To clarify, it does not have anything to do with Kingdom Hearts; the stories between these franchises are in no way influential.
Don't expect the world from Square Enix
Looking at it strictly from a developer’s point of view, it’s also easy to understand why Nomura and the team at Square Enix would decide to follow this path. While it may not be a reason that many will agree with or even like, it’s understandable: they plan to leave out some areas from the original game.
It’s impossible to fit in all the content from the original and release these titles out in time. It would take an incredible amount of time and resources to create each individual area and shove it all into an open-world setting. Even if they released five or ten games, it would still be a gargantuan task.
What this decision might mean is that we'll get to explore a certain number of previously known areas, such as Kalm, Nibelheim, etc., then we could return to Midgar (personally, I hope that isn't true) or go somewhere completely new if the scenario calls for it.
While it would’ve been nice to see every place brought to life through the processing power of the Unreal Engine 5 and the speed of the PlayStation 5, this simply may not be possible. We as players need to be open and understanding of that possibility. As long as the story is good enough and respectful to the original, that’s all that really matters.
The end of that very first trailer back in 2015 ended with a specific line that went: “The reunion at hand may bring joy, it may bring fear, but let us embrace whatever it brings... for they are coming back!”
A fitting message for what's to come!
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