This post contains several major spoilers, thoughts and theories about Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Crisis Core, Advent Children & Dirge of Cerberus!
If you haven´t played the games or watched the movie yet and want to have an undisturbed experience with it, NOW it is time to stop reading!
If you prefer the German version of this text: go here.
I am still in the process of finding and eliminating possible errors in the language. Please be indulgent, it’s been years since I wrote so much English. ^^‘
We need to talk. We need to talk about the end of Final Fantasy VII Remake. I’m deliberately not saying „about the end of the remake,“ because … Oh, let’s rather take it one step at a time. Basically we have to roll up and analyze the entire story anyway. ^^‘ I hope you brought a little time with you ^.^
I know I’m repeating myself, but I want to start out that way: For me personally Final Fantasy VII has always been the best game ever. My absolute favourite game. I love the complex story and the wonderful characters. I love the atmosphere and the general, rather gloomy mood, which however (almost) never loses its wit and has its very own charm. When (the) remake was announced, I was sceptical about the last parts of the FF series, which had me moderately to very disappointed on various points. But the first real remake trailers came, I got calmer and quite quickly caught up in the hype. I was incredibly looking forward to the game.
Three weeks ago I started to play, more than two weeks ago I finished my first run. When I was done, I had to take a deep breath. I felt like after a rollercoaster ride.
For days now I’ve been writing on this text here, digging back into the depths of the story of the original, should actually see Advent Children and play Crises Core again to refresh my knowledge, and even take another look at Dirge of Cerberus, but at least the latter will definitely never happen: D
I am so ab-so-lutely impressed how Square has managed to breathe so much new life into a game we´ve known by heart for over 20 years and turn everything we thought we knew upside down.
One more warning in advance: The following text is my personal interpretation of things. I am quite sure of some, I can only speculate of others. But of course, everything can turn out to be sheer nonsense. ^^
I wonder if you will follow me or where you vehemently disagree. :)
Please note that the quotes used are mostly words from the German edition of the game(s), which I´ve translated into English. I consider the German translation to be a bit more accurate than the English one, so I will be guided primarily by it.
Let’s do it in order:
The remake started and gave me exactly what I wanted to see. All characters reacted as I expected them to. They were so much BETTER than I ever dreamed of. I noticed small changes (or more precisely: small corrections) in the plot and thought they were really good. I was able to accept everything I saw and combine it with what I loved about the original. Everything was just great!
Until I reached chapter 17.
When I saw Barret get killed and revived by the Whispers, it made me feel … very different.
I said beforehand: If Square would dare to change elementary things in the FF7 story, if it would come out of letting Aerith survive just to give us a peace-joy-pancake ending like they did with the DLCs in FF15 … then I would never, ever touch a Final Fantasy game again. Ever.
And then the Barret-thing came up. Whew. For me at that moment everything pointed to what I feared. They got their back door. So that’s what these stupid ghosts were for. But of course I didn’t throw the controller in the corner right away – of course I kept playing. And quickly realized that it is not as simple as it seemed to be at first glance.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
First we have to understand what the Whispers are.
Shortly after we met Sephiroth for the first time in Chapter 2 (woah – could he look even more threatening? I hardly think …), we also meet the Whispers for the first time. These strange ghosts, flying hoods, which, as we learn from RedXIII in chapter 16, are called Moiren in the German version (which I find wonderfully fitting referring to the somewhat negatively connoted goddesses of fate in Greek mythology), mentioned in English »Whisper« or Arbiters of Fate. They were already introduced as a new element in the trailers, so of course I really wanted to know what these beings could be all about. When I first met them in the game, I had as many question marks on my face as before. I didn´t know where they came from and what their goals were. It was all a big mystery.
The question of visibility alone cannot be easily answered.
Aerith is able to see the Whispers as no one else is yet aware of them. Since she doesn’t know what they are either, the scene at Loveless Theatre seems to be her first encounter with them. That she can see them at all could be due to their Cetra lineage and their connection to the planet, I thought. Cloud later in the train suspectes that it was Aerith’s touch that enabled him to see the creatures as well, and I accepted that as an answer at that moment.
But what about Avalanche in chapter 4? None of them came into contact with Aerith at this point (though that’s only certainly true for Barret and Tifa. Biggs has a connection to the orphanage, the children there also know Jessie and Wedge. So, why shouldn’t the three Avalanche members also know Aerith?). Does Cloud pass on the touch like a virus?
Possible, but this doesn’t explain why Rufus Shinra can see them in the end, but not Tseng, who definitely had contact with Aerith. Maybe it needs to be touched by Whisper? However, this disproves the scene in the church, where one of Reno’s guards runs into a Whisper while trying to capture the fallen Aerith and wonders why his passage is blocked. No, none of this makes any sense.
Let’s leave it like this for a moment, I’ll come back to it later (see -> „Hojo, Rufus, Genesis & Co“). Because – much more important than the question of who can see the Whispers is the following:
What do the Whispers want?
As Nanaki (Red XIII) finally explains in Chapter 17, the Whispers are the guardians of the fate of the planet. They make sure that things happen the way they´re supposed to. So you could see them as guardians of the original FF7 storyline, at least their intervention suggests this:
- I don’t think you understand the first scene until you know what the Whispers are doing. At first glance, it looks like Cloud becomes aware of Aerith at the Loveless Theater because she is waving wildly and seems to be defending herself from something invisible. He looks at her – and Sephiroth appears. Cloud’s attention is certain. However, once you know the end it becomes clear: The Whispers had to make sure that Aerith remained and actually meets Cloud, who had been directed into the small alleys by Sephiroth.
- In Chapter 4, they wish Cloud (with Sephiroth’s voice ?!) sweet dreams. This keeps him away from the 7th Heaven, where the Whispers attack Jessie. When Cloud is brought in by Tifa, the Whispers try to stop them, and they actually come too late to prevent Jessie from falling: She can’t take part in the next mission -> Cloud has to replace her, and so things can continue to run their correct course.
- In Chapter 8 the Whispers prevent Cloud from killing Reno and immediately prevent Aerith from being picked up by Reno and his guardsmen.
- In Chapter 12, the Whispers prevent Cloud from getting onto the pillar too early, which might have saved Biggs and Jessie, and maybe even prevented the plate from being dropped.
- They intervene in Hojo’s laboratory, when the scientist wants to reveal too much about Clouds past to him too soon.
- And their most obvious act, the moment when the scope of their actions can finally be fully grasped: They bring Barret back to life after Sephiroth killed him. This death was not meant to happen. »Fate seems stronger than death,« Nanaki says here.
So it is clear that the Whisper are neither good nor bad. They did not save Barret, they´re fixing what was not meant to be. They are not protecting Reno because they are on his side, but because they keep things going. Otherwise they would surely have handed over Aerith to him, too.
At first I felt that Sephiroth was in some way in control of the Whispers, because Cloud first met Sephiroth and immediately afterwards the Whispers were there. When I heard his voice whispering through them in Chapter 4, I felt confirmed.
But I don’t believe in that anymore. Maybe the whispering isn’t even his voice. If it is, maybe he just oberves the Whisper’s actions to understand how they work, while whispering in Cloud’s head? Maybe he wants Cloud to draw a connection from him to the Whispers, so that Cloud also perceives them as a threat – and eliminate this annoying restriction for him. Be that as it may. I suspect that Sephiroth was not yet aware of the Whipers in Chapter 2. His plan was to prevent Cloud and Aerith from meeting, so he directed Cloud away from the theater and into the alleys. The Whispers allowed this, but in return kept Aerith on Loveless Street until Cloud arrived (later). The fact that Sephiroth then appeared next to Aerith and threatened Cloud might have been another attempt to chase Cloud away. He would have succeeded if Aerith hadn’t addressed Cloud already.
Sephiroth thus notes in chapter 2 that the Whispers come between him and his plans. He must get rid of them …
It is Sephiroth who makes us believe that we must face the fate of the planet. More than that, he WANTS us to do just that. He no longer just controls Cloud. He wants to control the entire future. But to what end?
The will of the planet vs Sephiroth’s will
The 1997 original declared that the planet had its own will, which ensures that it is protected from all harm. We know that the planet created the Weapon after Jenova, „The Calamity from the Skies,“ infected it. We also know that it created Holy and Meteor (whether at Jenova’s arrival or whether it happened long before, as far as I know is not proven), two opposing Materia, both of which are intended to protect it, but in very different ways. They were both given into the hands of the Cetra. Meteor, the absolute destruction, was sealed in, or as the Temple of the Ancients, while Holy passed down from generation to generation and now is in Aerith’s possession.
The primary goal of the planet is to preserve life and the Lifestream, the »circle of life«. Jenova, who wanted to withdraw all the life and energy from the planet, is therefore the ultimate threat. Sephiroth, who (long story short) has taken over Jenova’s goals and now wants to become a god-like being himself, takes her place in Final Fantasy VII. The planet’s defense failed:
The Weapon, who awoke when Sephiroth called the meteor, could not detect him beneath the energy barrier of the North Crater, and directed their wrath at the cities of Junon and Midgar. Sephiroth abused Meteor and blocked Holy, which is why Aerith connected to the planet and called the Lifestream itself to support against Meteor. Only together Aerith, Holy, and the Lifestream were able to push back Meteor, and basically this was exactly according to Sephiroth’s plan. The Lifestream, which used all its power to protect the planet from Meteor, was after all exactly what he wanted to absorb. But he probably hadn’t factored in Aerith …
Nor did Sephiroth reckon with Clouds (mental) strength either. His little puppet had defeated him. Sephiroth could not absorb the Lifestream, he was within it, dissolved and shattered. Nevertheless, the will of the Jenova cells for reunification, to Reunion, was still strong. The cells grew in the Lifestream and spread throughout Gaia, contaminating the world and countless people with the Geostigma Virus, through which Sephiroth tried to return in Advent Children.
Here, too, Aerith ended up using the power of Holy to purify the planet. What happened to Sephiroth at this point is not 100% clear (to me – I have to watch the movie again ^^‘), but it can be assumed that he is still in Lifestream.
Even later, while the happenings of Dirge of Cerberus, Hojo’s machinations caused the planet to call his last last ultimate weapon: Omega. Omega, unlike the other Weapon, is not there to protect the planet; its task is to transport all life, previously brought by chaos (Vincent) into the Lifestream, through space in the cosmos.
In Dirge of Cerberus it says (in approximately) about Omega: »When its time has come, the planet returns to the cosmos. Omega gathers all life and leads it into the boundless sea of stars, where a journey into unknown worlds begins.«
In fact, this means the end of the planet. He would remain as a lifeless stone in space, while he beforehand would have integrating his soul, the Lifestream, into a new cycle and thus brought it to safety.
This is exactly what Sephiroth Cloud shows in the remake. At the Edge of Creation, they both see a galaxy or a star cluster in the far distance of outer space, and Sephiroth says: »Our planet, too, will once become a part of it«. Here he alludes directly to the will of the planet and Omega. But »I don’t want to disappear. I don’t want to extinguish you.« Who is »you« – it can be the planet, Cloud himself or even Jenova – remains unclear.
So what does Sephiroth want? What does it mean when he says »He doesn´t want to disappear«? It´s not enough for Sephiroth to be part of a life cycle. He wants control of the planet. He wants to become the god-like being, absorb the lifestream within himself and use the planet as an ark for his journey to the next one, in order to absorb all life, all energy there too and grow further. Sephiroth wants to live forever, never to be forgotten and be everything. Essentially he wants to be like Omega. But not to become part of the cosmos: but to devour it. He cannot possibly allow himself to enter the cosmos as part of a great whole. He IS the great whole.
Remake – Sephiroth’s Fight against Fate
At the End of the Highway Cloud and the others follow Sephiroth through the portal into the singularity. There the group takes up the direct battle against the Whispers, which have manifested themselves into a gigantic being, Whisper-Harbinger (Jenova was called Harbinger repeatedly in the compilation). It cannot be attacked directly, as three smaller Whispers (Whisper-Rubrum, Whisper-Viridi & Whisper-Croceo) stand protecting in front of it, who must be defeated first. The analysis reveals that we are fighting against manifestations from the future, that try to protect the future that gives shape to them (have to check the exact words again).
The first thing I read somewhere later was that the three little Whispers would were represented Barret, Cloud and Tifa. For – like them – they were swordsmen, pugilists and one with (a) gun arm(s). But that didn’t sound plausible to me. These three never reminded me of my characters. They fought quite differently. And what was the color and the connection to the elements fire, air and lightning?
I beat the three – and Whisper-Bahamut appeared.
And that was the moment I knew it:
No, we did not fight the fate of our three characters. We are indeed fighting against manifestations of the future. A far-off future, far beyond the reach of Final Fantasy VII.
We are fighting the three Advent Children. Kadaj (Rubrum), Loz (Viridi) and Yazoo (Croceo). The Advent Children stand in our way, here, at the crossroads of destiny, as Aerith says, defending their very existence. Because they can only exist if Final Fantasy VII ends as it ended: with Sephiroth all over the Lifestream.
And at the very latest, it is quite clear that FF7R is NOT a remake in the sense that we suspected it would be. We don’t play » the Final Fantasy VII Remake», but a sequel »Final Fantasy VII – Remake». It is Sephiroth’s remake, his attempt to avert his fate, his defeat. He doesn’t want to enter into the cosmos. And in order to achieve this goal he uses all the knowledge about the future, to which the Lifestream has given him access. He did not reckon on the Whispers at this point; they’re preventing his intervention. So he has to get US to change this:
»I need your help, Cloud.«
How does Sephiroth know what is happening?
The answer to this question is: Lifestream.
The Lifestream gives birth to all life, and all life returns to it with all its knowledge. That is, the moment Sephiroth was defeated in Advent Children (definitve?) and entered the Lifestream, the knowledge of his defeat also became part of the Lifestream. But Sephiroth has been part of the Lifestream since before the events in FF7. He was already pushed into by Cloud during the Nibelheim incident. Even then he drew all his knowledge from him (e.g. about the Dark Materia Meteor). Therefore, the moment his knowledge of his end was added to the Lifestream, his existence at that time can also access it. The Lifestream is ALWAYS and contains all knowledge about the past, present and future.
So is Remake-Sephiroth a Timetravel-Sephiroth from the future? No, I don´t think that, at least not in a physical way. It´s the identical Sephiroth in the same time as the one from FF7. Except that he has »now«, »after« FF7 and Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus and many other things have happened, right up until the point when Omega irretrievably carries the Lifestream into the cosmos, also has the knowledge about it at his disposal. Sephiroth entered the Lifestream during the Nibelheim incident and saw the entire future of the planet right up to its end.
(At this point I would like to add, that now, after the publication of the FF7R Ultimania Guide the difference in Sephiroth’s way of speaking (watashi vs ore) was pointed out several times, a subtlety that unfortunately goes completely lost during the translation. This could mean that Sephiroth »in the end« will be »good« again and will return to his pre-Nibelheim-shape. But … really? Would be a nice twist, but I can’t imagine Square rehabilitating THE iconic villain so easily. It could also simply mean that this is the TRUE Sephiroth who is no longer controlled by Jenovas will. And somehow I would like to bring Genesis back into play at this point, but … we´ll talk about him below -> see »Hojo, Rufus, Genesis & Co.«.)
Back to the Lifestream. We have to assume that time is ALWAYS. I am not a physicist, I cannot explain this comprehensible. But I hope you know what I mean.
I guess that the Cetra, too, have always had knowledge of the future, but they would never dared to interfere in the course of things.
Sephiroth has no such scruples. And the fact that Sephiroth now dares to use his knowledge and intervene in destiny, is what brings the Moiren to the scene. The planet is sending the guardians of fate to prevent Sephiroth (or anyone else) from changing his future, and thus all future.
But he cannot defeat them – his body is captured in the north crater. So he does what he´s always been best at: He starts using his puppets and manipulating everyone in his own sense …
But he’s not just manipulating Cloud anymore – he’s manipulating the players, he’s manipulating us. He makes us do the things he can’t do himself. We’ve fallen right into his trap. We did exactly what Sephiroth, the greatest puppeteer of all time, wanted us to do: we have eliminated the guardians of fate for him.
But there is hope! Because: If the Lebensstrom and Sephiroth have future knowledge – the same applies for Aerith.
Future & Fate
Already in the first gamerun it is noticeable: There is a lot of talk about fate and – Aerith knows a hell of a lot.
If you then play a second time with the knowledge of the end – wow. Aerith doesn’t just know a lot. Aerith knows EVERYTHING!
I heard Maximilian_Dood im Twitch-Stream talking about a theory in which someone suspected that Aerith, the moment she talks to the Lifestream in the intro, gets the same knowledge Sephiroth has. And I find that very plausible! For me, it sheds a little more light on the questionable first scene at the Loveless Theater, in which you don’t know exactly what the Moiren and Sephiroth are actually up to.
Let’s assume that this moment Aerith receives her knowledge of the future, she gets scared and runs out of the alley. Maybe to intervene in the future herself? To escape from Loveless-Street and never meet Cloud? Regardless of whether she wanted to escape or not, the Moiren keep her there until what must happen happens; until she meets Cloud.
This shock could also be the reason why she stares at Cloud with such strikingly wide open eyes when she discovers him (and Sephiroth pushes past her in Cloud’s head). When I first saw the scene, I thought she saw Zack in him and that’s why she froze. But that’s probably not what this is all about. She discovers Cloud and in that moment she realizes that it is too late. That her fate is tied to this moment and this encounter. She can no longer flee, she can no longer escape her destiny.
The game makes various statements about fate:
(List to be completed, I didn’t write everything down ^^‘)
- At the end of chapter 2 Cloud says to Barret: »We are all like this train. Our path is predetermined for us.«
- In chapter 11 Aerith and Tifa talk about the crash of the Sector 7 Plate. Tifa is afraid, but also believes that Shinra cannot possibly be serious about this threat. When Aerith reacts somewhat restrained, Tifa asks: »Aerith! Do you know more?«
To which Aerith gets a fright and evades an answer. A little later she says to Tifa: »We can still change the future. You just have to believe in it.«
But Tifa is not convinced. »I see… If you mean…«
- »Fate seems stronger than death,« Nanaki says in chapter 13, after Barret’s revival.
- And in the singularity Aerith announces: »The future is open.« And at this moment that’s probably correct.
But even if the course of events can be changed after the destruction of the Whispers – does it mean that you can escape your fate? This will have to be shown in the next games. At this point, there is no way to make a casual statement about this.However, fact is, that Aerith knows about her fate, that becomes clear very quickly in the game. Maybe already in chapter 2 (see above), but at the latest in chapter 8, after the encounter with the black-dressed man with the tattooed No. 2, after which Cloud talks to Aerith about Sephiroth. When he tells her his suspicion that he is still alive … her reaction, her lowered gaze… she knows exactly what it means.
I was particularly impressed by the dream- oder Lifestream-conversation between the two in the optional Aerith scene in chapter 14: Everything she tells Cloud here, that she enjoyed her time with him, that it’s important to enjoy life and that she doesn’t want him to come to save her … all these things she tells him knowing what happened in Final Fantasy VII Original. She’s not talking about the single day with Cloud in Sectors 5 and 9, they haven’t spent more time together in the remake so far. She means the journey that both will experience together. Through the knowledge in the Liefstream she already remembers it. She already consoles Cloud now and wants him to remember it later, so that it won’t come to »Emo-Cloud« later (in Advent Children Times).
»I will remember this,“ Cloud promises.
»Good.« Aerith nods seriously.
Also that she advises him not to fall in love with her, because his feelings would be imaginary (imho, here Aerith speaks mainly to the players ;) ), happens in knowledge of future events. Through the Lifestream she already knows the real Cloud, his still closed subconscious and his true feelings.
Was FF7 the »Bad Ending«?
I have already read this several times, and I believe that the reason for this assumption lies in an inaccurate English translation. I believe that the German translation team has done a cleaner job here, I have noticed so many small things … Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my hands on any Japanese subs to make anything concrete (whoever has them, please give them to me!) and in general, I’ve been out of the game far too long to contribute anything reliable to the translation. But you have your sources ;) (Xelliiii ^_^) …
When the group defeats the first of the three little Advent Children Whisper, or Moira, these lightcircles buzz over the heads of our characters and we take part in different visions, first of all in a scene from the end of Final Fantasy VII, which could also be seen in AC: We see Nanaki, who 500 years later runs towards the overgrown ruins of Midgar with his offspring.
Barret asks after the vision: »What was that?«
And Nanaki replies, (in the German translation:) »The reality we seek to destroy.«
In English: »A glimpse of tomorrow if we fail here today.«
Strictly speaking, both statements are correct. But the valuation inherent in the word »fail« makes the difference here.
If we follow the English translation, then yes: Could it mean that FF7 was the bad end. »If we fail today, if we don’t defeat the Moiren, that’s what our (bleak) future looks like«. This is not wrong. Because in FF7 OG we didn’t defeat the Moiren (because we didn’t fight them) and the vision WAS then part of the future. About the meaning of the scene there were different statements if I remember correctly. I always understood it to mean that the planet got rid of humans 500 years later, but still exists with more nature-friendly creatures like Nanaki`s species.
But let´s take a look at the German translation: »This is the reality we seek to destroy.« = »What we´ve just seen will no longer exist, if we defeat the Whispers.«
And I think that’s correct. If we defeat the Whispers, who will protect the original plot? No one can guarantee that the Advent Children will ever exist. No one can guarantee that there will be life on the planet in 500 years.
In context this makes more sense to me than the English version (again – does anyone have the original Japanese text? ^^‘), because if FF7 was the (for us) bad ending, why would Sephiroth bother to change it? A bad ending for us should mean a good ending for him, shouldn’t it? Therefore – if we now follow his way … could the result not be even worse than before? I am quite sure about this. ^^‘
At this point we should ask ourselves what a bad ending actually is?
Of course Advent Children does not show a purely rosy future, but it shows a future where Sephiroth could be defeated once more and where Holy cleanses the planet from the Geostigma. That will not have been a final victory either. But could Sephiroth achieve his goal of becoming a god? I think not. Because in the end he still fears to enter the cosmos with the planet (Omega). And that is definitely not his wish.
But that is exactly what the cycle of life is all about.
When Aerith before entering the sigularity says that Sephiroth is wrong, that he doesn’t care about the planet but only about himself – that’s where the Cetra speaks out of her. Aerith knows about the Lifestream and she also knows that all life ends once.
»Everyone has to die once«, she says to Cloud in her scene in chapter 14. Of course, at this moment this refers mainly to her own death, but that doesn’t change the fact that she actually knows that everything has to end one day. Even the planet. Not only the life on it is subject to a cycle, but the planet itself is part of a larger Lifestream. And
»When time has come, the planet returns to the cosmos. Omega collects all life and leads it into the sea of stars, where a journey to unknown worlds begins.«
That which seems to the blinded Sephiroth to be the extinction of its existence – Aerith knows that this is exactly the course of events. That it is not a „bad end“, but the fate of all of us.
Everything can happen
The nice thing at this point: Everything is open again. The whole thing offers so much room for speculation and interpretation that it is impossible to predict what will happen next. It could all get (much!) worse if Sephiroth really goes to town. He clearly underestimated Cloud’s strength »back then«. He will not make that mistake again.
But yes, maybe we will even come to a better end. We defeated the Guardians of Destiny. We defeated the original FF7 storyline. And Aerith told us what was behind it: »Freedom. A terrifying freedom, endless, like heaven.«
A future where no one knows what will happen. It could be brighter than the Advent Children’s future, and yes, I would wish it on the characters.
What does Part 2 bring?
First of all, the next part will certainly not be called »Remake«. What I wondered since the presentation of the Remake-Cover – Why the hell is it called »Remake« if it’s only the Midgar Part? Why not »Remake – Part 1« or »Remake (Midgar)« or something? -, is now obvious. The next part will have a different name. I suspect something like »Reborn«. And the last part then »Reunion« or something, but that’s totally speculative and unimportant.
The more interesting question is: What does Part 2 bring us? Will it run exactly like the original? No, certainly not exactly like that. Because things have changed. But will it be completely new? I don’t think so either. I think the plot will still be strongly based on what we know from the original. We will go to Kalm and talk about Cloud’s (and Zack’s) past. We will visit Nibelheim, Gongaga, Corel and many other places we know and love. But not everything will stick to the flow of the original. Because
»The future is open (always a blank page)«.
And even though I am a big fan of the OG-FF7 storyline – I love the idea. If Square continues the way they started the Remake, then they have (once again) my full confidence. They just proved how lovingly and carefully they handle everything. So even during the »unknown journey« I will put myself in their hands and trust that they will continue to proceed honouring the original. And even though „Remake“ now tells a different story, it doesn’t negate the Original. It is obvious that FF7 has already happened as it did. Otherwise Sephiroth and Aerith wouldn’t know all the things they know without a doubt. And this does not only mean a lot of freedom for the game, it also means a lot of freedom for the developers.
And it leads us to various questions. One of them is the fear mentioned above, which manifested in me during the 17th chapter:
Will Aerith survive?
Let me repeat myself: I said from the start that if they change the game so that Aerith survives, this will be the last Final Fantasy game I ever touched. I’m fed up with alternative »and everyone lived happily ever after« endings. I LIKE tragedy, especially when it makes sense. Yes, when you’re fighting for the fate of the whole world, it’s possible that someone actually dies. Oh, for fuck’s sake. ^^‘
But the beauty of it is that this IS NOT a Remake. Square does not simply interfere with the old story, it´s Sephiroth who is trying to do this. Even if Aerith should survive – I couldn’t be angry about that (as long as they tell it reasonably), because it wouldn’t change the Original. If the group finds a way this time – congratulations. They have my blessing.
Do I believe that Aerith will survive? Definitely not.
Why not? Quite simply: Aerith’s death is the central point of the story. She’s the last Cetra, the only one who can activate Holy. Well, she could do it alive. But in Final Fantasy VII that wasn’t enough. Aerith had to ensure out of the Lifestream to support Holy in it´s fight against Meteor. In Lifestream Aerith is something like the counterbalance to the dark Sephiroth- or Jenova cells that want to contaminate and occupy it. Aerith is the last bastion that stands between Sephirtoh and his victory. Therefore Sephiroth must not actually allow her to die. Her death was his defeat.
She was also the one who brought Cloud’s spirit back into his body after the final battle against Sephiroth in the Lifestream. I’m not sure this could have happened without her.
We just can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s not Aerith or the player trying to reboot the story here. It is Sephiroth (*murmurmurmurGenesismurmur*). And whatever Sephiroth wants can only be bad for the planet – even if it might save Aerith’s life. I think Square will do everything to make us believe that we can save her, only to make her death even more serious. Presumably we will reach the Ancient Temple and leave it together with her, only to lose her at a later time. Of course, it would be especially dramatic if it seems that she could survive until the end, until we realize that we have played into Sephiroth’s hands. And Aerith then asks Cloud to kill her… *sigh* Drama. But yes, that’s roughly how I imagine it (see -> 7 seconds).
Ray Coffmen had the fantastic idea that in the end it could even be Zack who kills Aeris – that would be even more brilliant! In that scenario Sephiroth could really need Cloud’s strength to oppose Zack in order to protect Aerith for reaching his goals. Do I believe in this? No. But … who knows? Would be a great story ^^
After his victory over the Arbiters of Fate and the Advent Children like Sephiroth, Cloud travels through the wormhole to the Edge of Creation, where the two face each other again, staged exactly as in the Final Fantasy VII Original. The music, the camera, everything is identical with the (mental) battle that both have already fought.
But before the fight takes place, Sephiroth stops Cloud from having another vision. »Careful now. What lies ahead does not yet exist«. Then he shows Cloud the star cluster and speaks of Omega, or the extended »Circle of Life«, that the Lifestream, the soul of all life on the planet, will become part of the cosmos when its end is near. But Sephiroth does not want to end. And »I do not want to extinguish you. (Nor I want you to end).« I suspect that he is talking about the planet, or rather its physical shell (see »So was FF7 the „bad end“?« and »The will of the planet vs. Sephiroth’s will«), but it could also simply addresses Cloud, because afterwards Sephiroth asks him to join him in standing against fate. Cloud refuses – and both fight against each other.
Afterwards Sephiroth reveals: »Only 7 seconds left until the end. But it is not too late. The future … you decide, Cloud.«
I think it was also on stream at Maximilian_Dood when the theory was discussed that this are the (exact) seven seconds it takes Sephiroth in the OG to plunge down onto Aerith and kill her. Max said he did not believe in this theory and – I don’t believe it either. Still, it´s a cool idea. I didn’t ever realize that this central scene takes exactly 7 seconds. Learned something again. ^^ But the theory forgets that if Sephiroth wants Aerith to be alive – he could simply refrain from killing her. Since there are no Whispers anymore, no one will come and make sure that things actually happen.
Furthermore, Sephiroth clearly says that it’s about the seven seconds before the end. So probably the seven seconds before the meteor hits. And in those 7 seconds Cloud (or even the player?) will have to make a decision.
My first thought was:
Aerith is still alive at this point and Cloud has to decide whether to save her or the planet.
It’s not 100% conclusive though. Because if Cloud kills Aerith, the events could still went in the direction of the AC plot. Holy and Lifestream stop the meteor, destroyed Sephiroth enters the Lifestream and returns through the Advent Children. And if that’s what Sepiroth would have wanted, well, then he wouldn’t have had to intervene in fate at all. But surely there are other variables here that I overlook. After all, we still have at least one more game left to play.
But if Cloud saves her, Holy would be too weak. Without the power of the Lifestream Meteor would just wipe out the planet. Maybe Sephiroth trusts that only the Lifestream will save the planet and that he can completely take over it without Aerith stopping him? Sounds too uncertain to me personally to chain the future of my hoped-for godlike existence to it.
But what if the Lifestream simply does not intervene? What happens then? Suppose Omega were to enter into force? Then Sephiroth would have lost as well and would become part of the cosmos with all the others, including our characters and all life on the planet.
Would I like this ending? Not really. But it would match to the events of Final Fantasy XIII – Lightning Returns, in which Lightning as the „Savior“ saves the souls of humans (similar to Chaos in FF VII DoC, only not as dark) and leads them into the stream of life and after the end of the world into the next level of existence (correct me if I’m wrong, I already lost interest in this story while playing FF13-2 …). For me personally the whole thing is too esoteric and I VERY hope that Square will not take this transcendental path in Final Fantasy VII as well. Still, it would be conceivable – Aerith and Holy with Omega as the Redeemer, who lead all life on the planet into the Promised Land … (Did I say baa? :/ Please no FF XIII-3 remake -.-)
Hojo, Rufus, Genesis & Co.
Be that as it may – in my opinion neither of these two paths really lead to Sephiroth’s victory. To win he would probably have to destroy Holy completely and keep Aerith away from Lifestream. But he will surely have enough nasty ideas to get him to his goal (see -> Tifa-Theory). To guess his new(?) goals seems impossible at this point. There are so many additional variables that are known in the compilation, but I have too little insight into them, because I played Crisis Core only once and didn’t finish Dirge of Cerberus or Before Crisis (shame on me ^^‘).
What I am exited about: How exactly did Hojo’s extremely crazy plans look like in Dirge of Cerberus? And what does Genesis have to do with all this? He in particular is a factor that I can’t assess enough. But I know the DoC end sequence with him, in which he talks about his brother and that they still have a lot work to do. Is he referring to Weiss? I don’t think so. His brother, the one who carries the wing on the other side is: Sephiroth. Now considering that this is THE LAST scene of the FF7 story we know so far, the remake basically starts AFTER THAT – so who knows to what extent Genesis is now involved in the game? Why does Genesis carry the body of Weiss out of the cave …?
If we now consider that it is not yet clear who the overall visible Sephiroth at the end of the highway is … would it not be possible that Genesis has provided Weiss as the new body for Sephiroth? But this would actually require a time travel – except … do we know for sure WHEN this DoC secret ending is playing? Wouldn’t it be possible that we saw something in this scene that happened long before?
Anyway – I know too little about this. Still, the whole thing is so incredibly exciting. What will happen? What is behind it? I have no idea. And that’s just as well. ^^
But what I am still concerned with is the question: Why the hell are there thousands of Whispers surrounding the Shinra building, while the one from which the greatest danger emanated until then – namely Sephiroth – is at the end of the highway talking with us? A HUGE change must be underway there! The Whispers only let go of the building in the very last moment, shortly before Sephiroth opens the portal into the Singularity, and they do it under a terribly tortured scream …
This brings me to a possible solution to the question of who can see the Whispers: Maybe they show themselves to those who interfere with fate, those who are trying to change it.
The Shinra-Guard in the church couldn’t see them, because he did not make any real effort to avoid the Whispers. So Tseng in the Shinra building doesn’t seem to change anything either. And who can see the Whispers floating around? – Rufus.
But why aren’t they attacking him? Are they waiting? I have no idea what exactly might be going on, but I’m sure it’s no small matter. The phone call he’s making („Get them.“ (I think „Bring them in“ in the English translation?)) is easy to relate to our group. But what if it’s about something completely different?
I have found a plausible explanation at Sirea. She writes, that in Before Crisis Rufus was the one who worked with the main avalanche group. But not in order to save the planet, but to get rid of his father and get to the top of Shinra himself. In the original FF7, Avalanche wasn’t in the Shinra building, so the Whisper are trying to remove Avalanche – we’ve clearly seen in Wedge’s case that this is true.
As I said, Sirea’s theory makes sense.
One point that we have not touched on yet is the surprising appearance of Zack. WTF means that? That’s probably something that especially all Final Fantasy VII newbies are asking themselves, who don’t even know who the black-haired SOLDIER is, who is shown in the two scenes at the end O_o
(Thanks again to Ray Coffmann – He mentions in his video, the game puts the player in Clouds position – who at this point in time doesn’t know who Zack is either. I think the explanation is pretty good ^^)
Therefore in short: Zack is a 1st Class SOLDIER, Cloud’s friend and role model from his time with Shinra and Aerith’s first great love. He is the one she talks about with Cloud on the playground at Evergreen Park. Many of Aerith’s words and actions refer directly to Zack. Like Cloud, Zack once fell through the roof of the church into her flowers. Zack offered her a date in return for her help, just as she offers it to Cloud in the same situation. It’s basically his eyes that Aerith talks about when she looks into Cloud’s, and in principle she even wears the pink dress because of him. Zack left Aerith because of the mission in Nibelheim – and never returned. She wrote him at least 89 letters, but they never reached him.
This is because Zack and Cloud were misused by Professor Hojo in Nibelheim for experiments with Jenova cells to confirm the reunion theory. It took over four years before they were able to escape. The first Zack-Scene at the end of Final Fantasy VII Remake is identical with the end of Crisis Core, in which Zack faces the Shinra Army to protect himself and Cloud.
Zack is victorious in Crisis Core as well, but a moment later is shot by another team of guardsmen. Cloud receives the Bustersword from his dying friend as well as the words that he should hold on to his dreams and become Zack’s living legend. Furthermore, Cloud should say »hi« from him to Aerith. Then Zack dies.
And in the remake? It seems as if Zack is dragging Cloud further towards Midgar.
So have we created a second, alternative timeline? The clearly displayed chip bag with the changed Stamp Design seems to be the proof for many.
Personally, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that we’re experiencing the story now on two time levels; one where Zack lives and one where he doesn’t. I personally think that’s weak and inconsistent storytelling and I don’t believe that Square is going down that road. Especially because the story doesn’t need it at all – it offers enough tools to get around this »Alternate Universe stuff«. Personally, I strongly believe that there is only one time, but we have changed it.
How can that be?
Well, we’ve wiped out the Whispers in the singularity. Singularity means (amateurish spoken) as much as »outside of space and time«. But this does not mean that it did not happen, but on the contrary: that it happened always and everywhere. What happens in the singularity influences every space and time. That is why our intervention has had an impact on the past, and this changed past will have an influence on our future.
So Zack is alive?
I’m assuming so, but of course, it’s too early to know 100%.
In Crisis Core, Zack died in the rain. He defeated the Shinra Army, and only when the rain set in he was shot by advancing guardsmen (*crysobhowling*). The remake didn’t show us this point in time, so it could still happen – Zack and Cloud drag themselves a little bit further towards Midgar and then the new soldiers appear … And then? Maybe Zack will be mortally wounded and then saved (by the Turks)? Incidentally, that could have happened all along – we only know the story of his death from Cloud’s perspective, and he is anything but a reliable narrator. Maybe the Turks saved Cloud and Zack, Hojo got wind of it, he put Cloud Zack’s sword into his hand and released him as part of his insanely funny experiment, while Zack has been living a solitary existence in Hojo’s lab. Who knows?
This is contradicted by the fact that after Zack’s death in CC we also saw Aerith in the church, who seemed to have felt his death in the Lifestream … (edit: after a second look at the CC ending, I realized that this is not true: She felt him, shortly BEFORE he (possibly) died).
But back to topic. I think it’s pretty clear that Square wants to show us that Zack is alive (edit: the FF7R-Ultimania that has been released in the meantime confirms that Zack is alive „somehow«).
I think when Cloud and the others defeated the Whispers in singularity, they recreated reality, and in this reality Zack survived (up to this point). Did you see the Whispers that were swarming around the guardsmen when he faced the army? Maybe they would have made sure that Zack would actually meet his end after the battle – but were prevented by our intervention. They shatter in the tremendous explosion that sweeps Zack off his feet and rains down on the world as a golden shimmer. On Zack as well as on the people who are in the process of rebuilding Sector 7. And to the children of the Hälmchenhof in Sector 5, on the top floor of which we see Biggs lying in a room, injured but clearly alive.
I think it’s important: FIRST we see the »new«, shaggy stamp – the Whisper’s explosion follows THEN. In principle, only from this moment on can things have changed. So the »old« Beagle Stamp could have been the change already? So everything we experienced in the remake would have already been changed and at the same time »always been like this«. Can you still follow me? ^^‘
But wouldn’t our characters have to be affected by the changes if we were to undo everything that the Whispers wanted to put in the right direction? Cloud would no longer be in possession of the Bustersword and would have to have a much less disturbed personality. And Barret would clearly have to be dead if the Whispers (yet) were unable to intervene. Right?
I think our characters aren’t affected by the changes because they were inside the singularity, when they destroyed the Whispers. They weren’t »in time«, so for them everything remains as they have experienced it so far.
This naturally leads to many more questions:
Will we meet Zack in the next part?
Maybe. We have no idea what happened to him since he returned to Midgar, if he actually survived. Maybe Hojo recaptured him and he’s still in some experimental lab? Maybe his cells have started to degenerate in the meantime and he is on the verge of a new death? Maybe he is desperately searching for Aerith and Cloud or is already – like Cloud – being abused by Sephiroth as a puppet? Well – we simply do not know. Everything is possible. And that makes it incredibly exciting. I personally would be very happy if there would be a real reunion for Aerith and Zack. Aerith clearly felt Zack’s presence when he and Cloud, or rather the echo of the two, passed them. Even when she lets the rain drip onto the palm of her hand … Back then, it was also the rain that told her that Zack was about to die. Maybe Aerith, after she noticed his presence, felt for him in the Lifestream and realized that he wasn’t in it anymore?
Her look into the sky and her statement »The Sky scares me«“ are also a direct reference to Zack. Although the sentence is also an expression of her concern about an uncertain (cloudy ^^) future, she already said in Crisis Core:
»When I’m with Zack, the sky is not so fearful.«
When she is with him, she is less afraid of all the uncertain things that await her.
Are Jessie, Biggs & Wedge alive?
In the OG, all three died when the pillar of Sector 7 collapsed, in Remake we were with Jessie (confirmed by In-Game-Text) and Biggs (declared as mortally injured) when they died, but Wedge survived, only to be kicked out of the 68(?) floor by the Whispers after helping us in the Shinra Building.
If we assume that the things that only happened because of the Whisper’s intervention are not happening now, Wedge should actually be alive.
We have already seen Biggs lying in a bed in the orphanage. Next to him on the table was Jessie’s glove. Does it mean that Jessie is alive, too? It’s not certain. Biggs might have kept it just as a memento. But actually I do not believe that. When the camera pans on Biggs, you see another bed on the other side of the room. You can’t tell if someone’s lying in it, but, … yes. I personally believe that Jessie is alive and could imagine seeing her again in the role of the princess in the Gold Saucer. Which means that Cloud and his date unfortunately can’t be part of the play ;)
Actually I was finally finished with my contribution to my satisfaction, wanted to add pictures and upload it today. But then I watched a video by Soldier 1st Class on Youtube about the „Tifa-Theory“. And while yesterday I shook my head and thought „No, this will never happen“ … a puzzle was put together in my head overnight. That’s why I need to add this.
In the visual presentation in the Shinra Building, the entire group at the end has a vision in which Meteor hovers threateningly over Midgar and Sephiroth kills Tifa and Barret. When mentioning the »7 seconds«, I thought about this scene for a moment, but quickly realized that the moment lasted much longer than 7 seconds and wiped the thought away. The scene was visually stunning, but everything was shown so casually, as if it had no deeper meaning.
Nevertheless, I already read many speculations »What if Sephiroth kills Tifa this time instead of Aerith?« But that just did not convince me. It seemed so arbitrary to me. Because even though Tifas death would be even more horrible for Cloud himself than Aerith’s death – it would simply mean too little for the story. Aerith has to die to save the planet. Tifas death would only affect Cloud.
Now we return to my considerations in the section „7 seconds“.
»I will take your most precious treasure/your dearest.«
(I will give the exact wording later, I have to watch the movie again ^^‘)
No matter how much Clerith gets shipped – Cloud’s favorite is Tifa. It was her in his childhood, in his youth and she still is, even if the psychologically so broken Cloud doesn’t know it anymore at the beginning of the plot. He doesn’t even know who he himself is. But his closed subconscious knows these things. In the Lifestream he reveals it. That’s why Aerith – and Sephiroth know it in the remake.
If Sephiroth wants to break Cloud’s spirit once and for all, then the key is not Aerith’s death, but Tifas. – To anticipate it: I do NOT think Square will go down that road! Absolutely not. It would be a hollow shocking element that would take more from the game than it gives. But let’s keep playing it anyway, simply because it’s interesting ;)
I’m very unsure about the timing.
If she dies in the Ancient Temple, instead of Aerith in the original storyline, it will prevent Tifa from helping Cloud to put his memories and self back together. Good for Sephiroth, but from that moment on the story would have to go completely new ways and maybe Cloud would never become himself again. Of course, Aerith could help out here with her knowledge or – if we assume that Zack is still alive, he could, too. But neither of them ever had such a deep connection to Cloud as Tifa. It would be a very big deviation, and it also disregards the »7 seconds«. So I don’t believe in it.
Therefore, let us assume that everything happens as it should. We are in the Ancient Temple, fetching the Dark Materia and leave it again, with Aerith at our side. Here I’m unsure how Sephiroth could then get Cloud to hand over Meteor to him, but that’s probably only a minor problem. Until Cloud’s mental collapse there shouldn’t be too much missing at this point. Let’s assume it happens and jump to the end:
Our party is alive. We understand how urgent it is NOW for Aerith to die. »Cloud, please! Kill me!«
7 seconds left.
And while Cloud ponders how and if he should do it. If he CAN do it, if he can really kill Aerith – Sephiroth kills Tifa.
So Cloud would have to decide in this lose-lose scenario: does he kill Aerith himself and save the planet? Or does he save his Tifa? He promised her. He will always help her when she is in trouble.
Should he really succeed in defeating his selfishness and killing Aerith, he would still have to go into the Lifestream and fight Sephiroth. But where would he get the strength to do so when the only anchor to his true self has just been destroyed? So he would have killed Aerith within 7 seconds AND lost Tifa. Probably he would not care anymore if Sephiroth wins …
Anyway, that would be the time when I would wish that Zack would jump out of the bushes and do his part to save the world. But what if it’s „Puppet Zack“ who wants to kill Tifa? Next level of cruelty, I would say. Then on the one hand we would have Cloud, who knows that he has to kill Aerith for saving the world and on the other he would have to stop his best friend from destroying his great love? Ouch.
As I said: I don’t think Square will go this way or a similar one. It would be so bitter and so dark and it would completely destroy Cloud. I don’t see a happy ending here. Not even a semi good one. It’s only black. (And no matter what malicious tongues say, not even I would write such an absolutely bleak scenario ;) )
During my search for a video with japanese subs I found a pretty cool ending theory video from Luzbelheim Lux. It shows key moments from Remake, OG and Advent Children, each with identical background music and thus referring to each other. Much of what he shows in it is absolutely eye-opening, especially if you consider the respective names of the music pieces. While I love the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VII and have heard it countless times in my life, I’ve hardly paid attention to the names of the songs. An omission, as I now realize.
Many of his theories support my own thoughts. Have a look at the video :)
And on the subject of music … Did you have a closer look at the lyrics to »Hollow«?
That’s not all, of course. There is still so much to analyze and find out (Marlene? Anyone?) that probably there would be no boredom until the next part is released. But at this point I’ve had enough.
All in all – is the end of Final Fantasy VII remake good as it is or bad?
That’s probably something everyone has to decide for himself.
I already said, I wasn’t a big fan of the idea to change the story of Final Fantasy VII Original drastically (edit: according to Ultimania, Square won’t do that either. But they’ve said a lot of things before -.- ). But the way Square approached this has changed my point of view. We are not playing a Remake, we are playing a completely new game. We’re playing a sequel. All the seemingly small changes in the plot suddenly make so much more sense after the end. And I’m just incredibly excited about how it’s going to continue. I’m so excited to go on another adventure with these wonderful characters, to be able to join them, to laugh and cry and hopefully save the planet from Sephiroth.
The only thing I am a bit sceptical about is the possible endresult. I don’t quite see where all this is going to lead, but it would be boring if it did. Personally, I wouldn’t want a repeat of the Final Fantasy XIII-3 story. And an ending with a dead Tifa and a completely broken Cloud is something I also can’t imagine. But for the moment … I trustingly place my Final Fantasy VII love in Square’s hands and await the things that are to come.
And what do you think? Did you like the ending? Did you find other explanations or draw other conclusions? Where do you think the journey will lead? And – are you looking forward to the next part?!
I am very curious to know your thoughts.
Edit: My mistake, the answer and many, many details
Like I said – I didn’t even come close to finishing DoC (I was too stupid for the combat system and quickly lost fun) and played CC only once (never been a fan of handhelds ^^‘). That’s why I’m missing much, much knowledge about the whole compilation and was just allowed to find out HOW damn much has slipped through my fingers. :D
Did you know that the calendar of the FF7 universe goes from 0 to 2000 and then resets to 0 again? I certainly did not ;) But that leads closer to the solution of the riddle.
This morning I startet to watch a Youtube video from Sleepezi, which gave me my missing puzzle piece, namely the answer to the question of „Why?“ or the question of „Where should the journey go?“. I had only seen 5 minutes of the nearly 3 hours of material, but that was enough to clarify the uncertainty in my thoughts and to locate the error.
I don’t want to draw attention to the many great details he explains, please just have a look at his 2 videos on the subject so far – there awesome! I just want to add a few words about what is wrong with my text here:
Sleepezi’s idea is that it is not Sephiroth who initiates the Remake and thus the changes, but primarily the Lifestream or even the universe itself.
It was really eye-opening to hear that. Because it solves the problem that I have encountered time and again: Why shouldn’t Sephiroth be satisfied to travel with Omega and the Lifestream deeper into the cosmos? Basically, this was exactly his plan, wasn’t it? So I was wonderung what his „new“ plan could look like. How must his godlike-being be designed so that he is satisfied?
And at this point Sleepezi’s video gives me the answer.
I asked the wrong question. It is not: What does Sephiroth NEED to achieve in order to be satisfied? It is: Why has he not yet achieved his goal?
And the answer is: The planet won’t let him.
Oh, my God. :D Eye-opening, isn’t it?
The planet has „sacrificed“ itself as a prison for Jenova and Sephiroth to prevent its own Lifestream from becoming part of the greater one, to prevent him, the infected one, from infecting the greater Lifestream in the cosmos. Omega IS Sephiroth’s goal. It would be enough for him to travel with him into the cosmos. But the planet does NOT ALLOW it! The planet prevents Omega from leaving him as long as his life stream is not pure. So the Whispers were not created BECAUSE Sephiroth intervenes in time, but much earlier, perhaps even when Jenova landed on the planet. The Whispers keep the events stable, in a cycle, where Sephiroth cannot succeed in leaving him.
So we have several possible scenarios in the next Remake parts:
And suddenly everything makes even more sense. Crazy, right? I’m very impressed right now. Both of Squares work builing such a complex Universe and even Sleepezi, who figured out that much details.
And now I’m going to finish watching these videos, because they still contain SO MANY more details, things I never paid attention to in my life and I can only recommend you to watch them as well. Have fun with it and most of all – have fun in this absolutely great FF7 universe!
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