When I sat down to think about what I’d talk about this week, I realized that there was so much more to think about with the next Final Fantasy Remake game. The implications of deviating from the old story are huge, so why not take a few more minutes to consider some of the craziest things that could happen? As might be implied by the subject, there will be spoilers so I guess beware? (Seriously though, if you’re getting mad about spoilers more than 25 years later, that’s a you problem.)
Zack Isn’t Dead?
Zack’s death before the events of the original story are in large part responsible for setting that story in motion and having things play out the way they did. Because Zack died saving Cloud from the experiments they both underwent at the hands of Dr. Hojo, Cloud took on his personality and adopted/adapted many of his memories, skills and experiences as his own. Cloud is who he is because of Zack (at the beginning of the game anyway) and perhaps because of the guilt/responsibility he feels towards his fallen friend. It’s because she so much of Zack in Cloud that Aerith takes an interest in Cloud in the first place, and it’s because of the sheer confidence and skill Cloud inherited from Zack that he’s initially able to do so many of the things he does. Zack’s survival could potentially change all of this.
If Zack’s not dead, then where did all of Cloud’s skill come from? What about the personality shift that came as a result of Zack’s death? Is this the real Cloud we’ve been seeing from the very beginning? Will he not undergo a psychotic break like he did in the original because there’s no actual dissonance between his fake and true selves? If there is, will it simply be enough for him to meet Zack again and see that he is, in fact, Cloud? And what of the relationship between Aerith and Cloud. If Zack’s back in the picture, will Aerith return to her first love or continue to pursue Cloud considering all they’ve been through together up to this point? Seriously, the possibility that he could still be alive is huge!
Sephiroth Never Truly Died?
This actually isn’t a new idea considering the events of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Sephiroth has seemingly always been able to retain some sort of power or sense of self within the Lifestream since he’s mostly a foreign entity life Jenova before him. However, the implication that he’s able to reach out and influence himself in alternate timelines (dimensions? universes?) is new. If Sephiroth goes about his plan differently, does that me he could win? Is his goal going to remain the same? How big will the ripples of change be?
We’ve already seen things play out differently in these opening chapters, so how much more drastic will it get? Also, if his influence is already changing things, then is the foreknowledge he’s apparently imparted to his alternate self really valuable? I mean, Cloud’s team isn’t exactly following the old script here, so perhaps defeat is still inevitable since Sephiroth doesn’t actually know what will happen next. It’ll be fascinating to watch this play out, eh?
Could…Could Aerith Live?
Aerith’s death is perhaps the single biggest moment in the entire Final Fantasy series, and indeed the biggest moment in 90’s era gaming. It’s something people still talk about today. It’s practically legendary at this point. It was a major driving force Cloud and company to push forward and finally defeat Sephiroth and save the world, yet…it was never actually necessary. By the time she was killed, Aerith had already completed her summon, she didn’t need to die in order for it to happen. Also, I’m pretty sure Cloud and the rest were already pretty darn determined to stop Sephiroth, increasing Cloud’s personal vendetta against Sephiroth didn’t really change that. Really, Aerith didn’t need to die in order for the rest of the story to play out as it did. It was an amazing, dramatic gut-punch and another example of Sephiroth’s cruelty, but it wasn’t necessary. This means that the door is open to a different route this time around.
Honestly, Aerith dying again isn’t going to have anywhere close to the same narrative impact as it did in the original. If Sephiroth kills here again, I’m pretty sure most people will be like “well, I guess that’s just how it is.” I doubt it’ll generate any buzz, for feel at all impactful. Aerith living though, that’s exciting! That’s unexpected. Even though we’re all thinking that it could happen, I wonder how many of us are actually daring to believe that Square Enix would actually do it. I’m not sure I’m even able to really hope that they would. Aerith actually surviving her encounter with Sephiroth would be huge! Everyone would be buzzing about it! Everyone wants to see it, to see what could have been! I know I’m down for it, but still…will they actually do it???
How do you feel about all this? Are you strapped-in for the ride or would you rather that they had stuck to the original script?
Image is official promotional art work