- The 2020 remake of Final Fantasy 7 on PlayStation surprised fans by reimagining the iconic 1997 game, but its sequel might be even more shocking.
- The new trailer suggests an alternate timeline, hinting that other characters like Cloud or Zack Fair might replace Aerith in the pivotal event.
- Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is set to release on February 29, 2024, exclusively for PlayStation 5.
For fans of the original Final Fantasy 7, the 2020 remake on the PlayStation 4 (and PlayStation 5 and the PC) came out of left field. On one hand, it was an exciting revisit to one of gaming's most iconic titles. But, it also shook expectations. With its vivid twists and reimagined universe, it reopened discussions about the trajectory of future remakes, specifically concerning the preservation of crucial plot points from the iconic 1997 release.
Recently, Square Enix added fuel to the fire of anticipation by releasing a trailer for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the next installment in the remake series, as part of PlayStation's State of Play livestream.
Following the reveal, producer Yoshinori Kitase tantalized fans with a message that highlighted the game's intensifying narrative arc. "The story will unfold more dramatically than ever before," stated Kitase, hinting at a pivotal moment in the original game where Sephiroth takes the life of the beloved mage, Aerith. Creative director Tetsuya Nomura further stirred intrigue by revealing that the narrative would stretch to "The Forgotten Capital" - the very backdrop of Aerith's untimely end.
Aerith's demise in the original game has permeated pop culture to such an extent that even those unfamiliar with the game, like Brit Baron (the voice of Aerith in the remake), have at least heard of it. The emotional weight of this event has left fans split on whether Square Enix should retain or revise it. The released trailer for Rebirth hints at an alternate timeline where Zack Fair, whose tragic past deeply affects Cloud and Aerith, appears alongside an injured Cloud. This teases the possibility that Cloud or even Zack could replace Aerith as the sacrificial lamb, especially since the trailer ominously displays several wounded members of the Avalanche crew.
This, coupled with rumors that Zack Fair will be playable for a large portion in the sequel and a different protagonist is going to take over in the end, implies that Square Enix has something different up its sleeve.
Kitase has previously shared that the remakes aim to strike a balance between nostalgia and innovation. The intention isn't merely to rehash familiar memories but to blend them with new narrative elements. At the very least, this seems to have kept long-standing fans on their toes, unsure of which segments would mirror the original and where the fresh twists would be introduced.
Rebirth's storyline proceeds directly from where the previous game ends. Cloud and his comrades, fleeing the clutches of Shinra, are shown embarking on a quest beyond Midgar, particularly pursuing the elusive SOLDIER, Sephiroth. FFVII Rebirth promises a roster of familiar and new playable characters, such as Red XIII and Yuffie Kisaragi as well as, possibly, Vincent Valentine.
Going back to the impending fate of Aerith, it would make narrative sense for Cloud or the alternate Zack Fair to take her place. It's hinted throughout the first game and the trailers for the follow-up that either one or both of Sephiroth and Aerith are aware of the original storyline. Cloud might possess knowledge of similar events as well but, for some reason, he can't seem to recall it. Ultimately, this adds layers of complexity to the unfolding events. If nothing else, this presents an intriguing dynamic where certain characters attempt to rectify past errors while others grapple with their incomplete understanding of the future.
Given the gravity of Aerith's death in the gaming world, the likelihood of it being retained or dramatically re-envisioned remains the central question.
Square Enix appears to be playing a high-stakes game, leveraging the legacy of the original while keeping things fresh. Whether they will uphold one of gaming's most poignant moments or rewrite history remains to be seen. The world will find out when Final Fantasy VII Rebirth launches on February 29, 2024, exclusively for the PlayStation 5.
But, if we were to make a simple wish - we're hoping Square Enix doesn't just change things for the sake of changing.
Speaking of Final Fantasy 7, Square Enix is technically giving away FF7 Remake for free for every purchase of the correct edition of FF7 Rebirth. Finally, you can now pre-order FF7 Rebirth. The most expensive edition comes with 19 inches of Sephiroth.