Final Fantasy VII has one of the all-time great legacies of the gaming medium. With crazy sales numbers, a fantastic critical response, and legions of adoring fans, Square‘s first 3D take on its flagship franchise was nothing if not a resounding success. Naturally, this leads to a degree of trepidation upon the announcement of the episodic nature of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Of course, for most of us, those concerns have been roundly and astutely put to bed by the incredible final product that is Final Fantasy VII Remake. However, there were some additions to the game that even those who are loving the new expanded experience found a smidge baffling. Chief among them is the weird phantom creatures that appear sporadically throughout the adventure.
Jarring and odd additions, these creatures, eventually revealed to be “whispers of the planet”, muddy up many of the original game’s most key scenes in this remake. They show up as the plate collapses in Midgar, and even cluster around the facade of the Shinra building at one point, leaving even longtime fans wondering just what the hell is going on with them.
As everyone’s favorite flower girl reveals toward the end of the game, though, these whispers are actually the last vestiges of fate, trying to keep things on track as they are “meant to be”. While this sounds like typical mystical fantasy mumbo-jumbo at first, this phrasing eventually takes on a clever double meaning. Keeping things as they are “meant to be” isn’t really in reference to what the planet wants from this struggle over the power of the Lifestream, it’s about changing what long time fans may have come to expect from Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Though the changes to the narrative and expansions on the story are peppered throughout the journey in Final Fantasy VII Remake, it isn’t until the end of the game that things really start to go off the rails in terms of our expectations. Sephiroth attacks Cloud in Shinra Tower, Barret is violently stabbed, and Wedge, who has somehow survived the fall of the Sector 7 plate, shows up to lend some aid.
Wilder still, Jenova shows up for an epic boss battle, as does Sephiroth. While additions like these can be initially written off as fan service, after the battle with Whisper Harbinger, the final manifestation of all those weird ghosties, we’re treated to a collection of scenes that shows us what has truly changed about this story we thought we knew so well. Biggs has also survived the plate incident, it seems, but even more shocking: Zack Fair is also shown to be alive.
Finally, as if to confirm that what the players are witnessing is, in fact, real, Final Fantasy VII Remake ends with the cryptic promise that “The Unknown Journey Will Continue”. In case Sephiroth’s devious plan to have Cloud and co. take down Fate didn’t make it clear enough, this closing salvo confirms what many may have come to suspect at this point: this new take on Final Fantasy VII is going to diverge wildly from some of the most serious plot points of the original game.
Obviously the natural question, then, is whether Aerith will actually be killed in Final Fantasy VII Remake at all. The most infamous moment of the original game, Aerith’s death, impaled by Sephiroth in front of Cloud’s very eyes, was one of the most heartbreaking moments in the early lives of many a young gamer. Briana White’s charming performance as Aerith in FFVIIR makes this coming tragedy all the more devastating but what if, like in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the moment we’re all dreading need not actually occur at all?
This naturally will leave fans worried about who will die in Aerith’s stead. These sorts of stories tend to have a trade-off for this kind of Faustian deal, and for Sephiroth to maintain his devastating villainous arc in history, he will have to add at least one victim from the main party to his kill list, won’t he?
Either way, Final Fantasy VII Remake ends player’s 30+ hour journey with one hell of a twist. Now, like late season Game of Thrones fans, we can only speculate endlessly on where this story, a story we thought we knew so well, will ultimately end up. While some fans will doubtlessly find these changes (and likely future changes) to be upsetting alterations to their beloved Final Fantasy VII, I, for one, am eager to see where this new take on one of the greatest role-playing games of all time will end up taking us.
The Unknown Journey Will indeed Continue but what does it have in store for us, and for some of the most beloved characters in gaming history? With the whispers of the planet gone for good and the ghosts of the past fading, in turn, the answer is truly anyone’s guess.