June 13, 2024

Remaining Fantasy VII Rebirth, the second installment of Sq. Enix’s audacious undertaking to remake the unique 1997 RPG, launched on February 29. Within the weeks since its launch, it’s clear that Rebirth is a large RPG stuffed with all kinds of facet actions and quests, however it additionally weaves an equally epic and cryptic story of destiny, heroism, villainy, and tragedy.

Understanding FF7 Rebirth isn’t any simple process. It’s a dense story that’s each a sequel to 2020’s Remaining Fantasy 7 Remake and a recreation of an already prolonged RPG on the unique PlayStation. And its world has expanded through the years with a online game sequel and prequels, a movie sequel, and novels. It’s a Joycean stage of element which requires a detailed studying of a number of types of media to know fully. However for now, it appears secure that the unique sport and Remake are largely all that’s wanted to decrypt the ending of Rebirth (and possibly Ever Disaster).

This information will talk about occasions that occur in Rebirth with the aim of portray a transparent image of the plot. It received’t speculate on its creative deserves or achievements or whether or not the ending is “good” or not.

Whereas I’ll make allusions and a few references to the unique FF7, I received’t be discussing expanded materials just like the prequel, Disaster Core, or the movie sequel Creation Kids. I additionally received’t be doing a strict comparative studying of Rebirth and the unique 1997 sport as that’s effectively past the scope of this information—to not point out the rushed and fraught translation of the English model of FF7 makes it powerful to do correct criticism with out having the ability to learn and communicate Japanese (which I don’t).

Let’s begin by recapping precisely what occurs within the last chapters of Remaining Fantasy 7 Rebirth.

A fast rundown of Rebirth’s ending moments

Rebirth is ripe for hypothesis and theorycrafting, a few of which I’ll interact in right here, however let’s simply structure what occurs in Rebirth from chapter 12 to the top as objectively as doable.

The White Materia falls from Aerith.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

The Temple of the Ancients and transference of the White Materia

Close to the top of the sport, the celebration races to the Temple of the Ancients to recuperate the Black Materia, an object of nice energy which Sephiroth hopes to make use of for his evil plans. After raiding the Temple, and a few backwards and forwards dialog between Sephiroth, Cloud, and Aerith, Sephiroth appears to take possession of the Black Materia.

Then, Aerith and Cloud participate in a complicated set of occasions in one other model of actuality the place they go on a bizarre date in Midgar earlier than Aerith offers Cloud an orb of White Materia and shoves him via some unusual spatial dimension.

The White Materia is tremendous necessary

We caught sight of this White Materia on just a few totally different events in Rebirth: Throughout the opening prologue, Zack notices it fall from Aerith as he holds her in his arms within the prologue. Then, after taking a breather at Johnny’s Seaside Inn at Costa del Sol, Aerith tells Pink XIII that her materia has been drained (presumably by the Whispers). What stays is a superbly clear orb. Within the unique FF7, this materia is used to summon Holy, which successfully protects the Planet from destruction, thus stopping Sephiroth’s aim of destroying every part.

After Cloud is shoved via the dimensional flooring by Aerith, Sephiroth seems and delivers a speech concerning the “true nature of actuality” whereas beseeching Cloud to work with him towards a obscure aim of defying future.

Cloud then seems in a forest holding the White Materia and hears Sephiroth telling him that it “doesn’t belong right here.”

Schrödinger’s Aerith: Her dying and the battles with Sephiroth

After a skirmish with some Whispers, Cloud has a dialog with Aerith on this mystical forest. She trades Cloud the total White Materia for her drained, empty one and leaves. It turns into clear Cloud is experiencing a type of imaginative and prescient whereas unconscious, and that the celebration has been dragging him via the forest this entire time whereas they seek for Aerith, who has gone lacking.

Cloud and Barret walk through a forest.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

The celebration continues on to an historical, deserted metropolis constructed by the Ancients/Cetra. Cloud ventures forth to seek out Aerith who’s praying to the Planet. His physique then acts in opposition to his will seemingly to try to kill her. As within the unique, Sephiroth descends from the sky together with his sword to kill Aerith.

At this second, Cloud perceives a number of variations of actuality the place in some cases he saves Aerith, and in others he fails and she or he dies. The scenes change from her being alive, to her mendacity on the bottom, to clear indications that she’s lifeless comparable to blood on the bottom and on her. After this totally-not-confusing-at-all sequence, Cloud realizes that he’s within the actuality the place Aerith dies. The filled-in White Materia, because it did within the unique FF7, falls from Aerith and lands within the lake under Cloud and Aerith. A battle with one of many types of Jenova and a number of types of Sephiroth ensues. Zack crosses timelines, Aerith returns momentarily to struggle. Zack is then separated from the others by the top of the struggle.

When the combating is over, the celebration mourns the lack of Aerith. Cloud remains to be in a position to see her spirit and may see one thing within the sky indicating that the Planet is dying. He’s the one one who can see Aerith or this phenomenon (although Pink XIII appears to have the ability to sense Aerith’s spirit and even calls out to her in a scene that by no means fails to scale back me to a crying mess).

Aerith's spirit looks over Red XIII and Tifa as they mourn.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Shortly earlier than the celebration boards the now-repaired Tiny Bronco, Cloud displays on the empty White Materia earlier than realizing that he nonetheless possesses the Black Materia (I’ll deal with Aerith’s declare that the Black Materia is pretend in a while). He equips it to his sword and heads over to hitch the others, telling nobody he has it.

Cloud and Aerith’s spirit share a last dialog through which Aerith says that she is going to cease the Meteor and Cloud guarantees to cease Sephiroth. Cloud boards the Tiny Bronco which flies away, leaving Aerith’s spirit to say goodbye to the celebration as emotional music performs.

A last title card states that “No Guarantees Await at Journey’s Finish” earlier than the credit roll (and all of us cry hysterically).

Important historical past within the Temple of the Ancients

Let’s deal with just a few issues that occur within the Temple of the Ancients as they’re actually necessary.

So far as the unique FF7 is anxious, and far of Rebirth, the Black Materia can be utilized to summon a large meteor to destroy the planet. This was the top aim of Sephiroth within the 1997 sport, which was in the end thwarted by the celebration, the Lifestream, and Aerith’s spirit (she seems just a few occasions after her dying within the unique sport).

Rebirth appears to maintain Sepiroth’s plans in place, now with a multiverse twist. It additionally provides the origin of the Black Materia to the lore: The Gi, who should not native to the Planet and thus can’t return to the Lifestream (which is said within the unique FF7) upon dying, created it and have requested Cloud and co. to recuperate it in order that they are able to use its energy to lastly die and relaxation.

Is the Black Materia actual? Aerith mentioned it’s a pretend.

Cloud’s possession of the Black Materia on the finish of Rebirth is an necessary deviation from the unique narrative. We’ll have to attend till half three to know what’s happening with this transformation.

What seems to be just like the unique, nonetheless, is the character of the Black Materia: It isn’t the Keystone or the orb which was stolen from the Temple, however it’s the Temple itself. The Ancients sought to cover the materia from any who’d use it, and so had it transmogrified into the type of a temple, which might shut round any who tried to take it. It’s my present assertion that that is what Aerith means when she says the materia is “pretend.” The orb in query throughout that scene isn’t the Black Materia; as an alternative, the Black Materia is the very temple they’re all standing in.

After a romp via the Temple of the Ancients, the celebration will get a little bit of a lore dump from the voices of the Ancients/Cetra about an historical battle between humanity and the Cetra, the Cetra’s obligation to guard the planet, and the function Jenova performed in all of this. As Cloud tells Tifa in a bout of insanity earlier than trying to kill her on the Gongaga reactor, Jenova can disguise herself as “these we hate, these we love, these we worry—Jenova would change into anybody to idiot her prey.” That is repeated by the Cetra within the Temple of the Ancients and is what makes Jenova so harmful:

Way back, a wound marred the northern lands. And to fix it did many enterprise forth, solely to satisfy with catastrophe. A deceiver that stole the faces of the lifeless—of moms and dads, sisters and brothers misplaced. With their voices did it sow the seeds of discord amongst our folks—among the many kids of man. For the planet did we [the Cetra] lay down our lives in battle, and in dying returned to her embrace. But our adversary [Jenova] didn’t. Couldn’t. Thus did it fall right into a deep slumber. And within the lengthy silence of its sleep, it was given the title Jenova.

When you’ve performed the unique FF7, this could sound acquainted. Jenova, an alien entity also known as the “Calamity” (an important phrase when making an attempt to know FF7), is able to infiltrating the minds of her victims, making them doubt actuality, posing as different folks, and inflicting absolute destruction. FF7’s science fiction rationalizes this by saying that the facility comes from Jenova’s very cells, permitting the Shinra firm to reap and experiment with it, probably the most notable of outcomes being the creation of Sephiroth who now sees Jenova as his mom.

Sephiroth talks to Cloud who is off camera.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

The Cetra’s historical past lesson continues with a doubtlessly essential little bit of language.

Heed effectively our warning of that which is to return. The reunion. When our adversary’s scattered malignancy shall converge to plague the planet as soon as extra.

Sephiroth later repeats this, stating that Jenova is “fragmented” and shall be made entire as soon as “these errant worlds” are introduced collectively. Given Rebirth’s themes of various worlds, this is likely to be greater than only a reference to the way in which through which Jenova seems elsewhere (typically as separate physique elements that remodel into a bigger boss the celebration should struggle, as aboard the Shinra 8 ship and within the capital metropolis of the Ancients).

Sephiroth states that, basically, his aim is to “attain into infinity [to] embody worlds unbound by destiny and histories unwritten” in addition to unite the separate elements of his mom (Jenova). The top results of this, it will appear, is a few type of singular existence the place they’ll all cancel one another out into nothing—a singularity, if you’ll—through which solely Sephiroth (and possibly Jenova?) will stay for apparently all time.

Aerith tries to throw some chilly water on this aim on at the very least one event when she says to Sephiroth that “there’s no such factor as without end.” Sephiroth counters by suggesting that he’ll basically create without end via his actions. How any of this works is hard to discern, however it does carry us to speaking concerning the extra difficult facet of FF7 Rebirth, the separate timelines.

Multiverses, timelines, and different wibbly wobbly, time-y, wimey stuff

In 2020’s Remake, gamers have been launched to the concept destiny and future are actual forces on the planet of FF7. There are even guardians, or Whispers, that exist solely to make sure that occasions perform as they’re preordained.

Cloud holds Aerith as she dies.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Preordained by who or what? That’s onerous to reply proper now. And there are nonetheless far more questions past that. Remake additionally teased that some characters who’re thought to have died are actually alive in one other model of actuality. Although Rebirth offers us a a lot wider have a look at what’s happening on this remake saga, it doesn’t reveal all of its playing cards. So let’s look at the place Rebirth is most clear concerning the a number of timelines

Whereas I’m going to argue that given the malicious nature of this character, and the direct proof of his tendency to lie and twist the minds of characters, we should be skeptical of something that comes out of his mouth, let’s hear from Sephiroth on what the hell is definitely happening as he tells Cloud in chapter 14:

Behold…the true nature of actuality. When the boundaries of destiny are breached, new worlds are born. The Planet encompasses a mess of worlds, ever unfolding. Some rapidly perish, whereas others endure. But even probably the most resilient worlds are doomed to fade. However, their loss is to not be mourned. For it isn’t dying however a homecoming that awaits them. Within the Planet’s embrace, all life is as one. All born are sure to her ought to this world be unmade, so too shall her kids.

At this level, Aerith interjects by way of a voice over, saying that “[Sephiroth will] inform you that he solely cares concerning the Planet. That he’d do every part in his energy to guard and protect it. However this isn’t the way in which it’s imagined to be.” It’s that final half which is de facto onerous to know. How is it imagined to be? Sephiroth continues:

Take heed to the planet, Cloud. To her ecstatic cries. Her Rapture [Cloud states the planet is “screaming”] Oh, Cloud…I assumed you may lastly perceive.

Cloud, lend me your power. Allow us to defy future collectively. Seven seconds until the top. Time sufficient for you, maybe. However what’s going to you do with it? Let’s see. Let go of the previous Cloud, for the long run is vivid. We’re to bear witness to the reunion of worlds. [Cloud asks Sephiroth to leave him out of it]. How very cussed of you. Maybe you want a bit push.

I offer you my blessing.

So okay, let’s rewind a bit. Based on Sephiroth (a confirmed liar), modifications in destiny lead to new worlds being born (an excellent cool idea that real-world physicists have mentioned and debated for years) and the Planet is a kind of a house or host to a number of timelines individually coexisting. As talked about earlier, Sephiroth desires to carry these worlds collectively by way of a reunion and go be an enormous unhappy and lonely mama’s boy all on his personal without end.

This explains why we’ve seen Zack stay, in addition to Biggs. However, in line with the lore as we are able to finest perceive it so far, their survival creates different timelines as a result of it deviates from future. This has been mirrored in appearances of an in-game fictional character named Stamp, who, like our very personal Tony the Tiger or Chester Cheetah, is slapped on containers and packages of shopper items.

So far, we’ve seen at the very least 5 totally different iterations of Stamp (a Terrier, a Pug, a Shiba, a Spitz, after which a Beagle), indicating that we’re coping with at the very least 5 totally different timelines. So far as I do know, Stamp by no means seems within the unique FF7.

Whether or not these realities or timelines at all times existed or we’re to imagine they solely existed after the celebration challenged destiny on the finish of 2020’s Remake isn’t clear. And neither is the rationale why Zack and Biggs “survive” and transfer into totally different timelines whereas others don’t. Cloud refers to those different timelines as “one other world,” one which exists alongside others. Upon listening to this, Barret states, amusingly, that he doesn’t need to hear about it.

This alternate within the forest, I believe, is an efficient place to finish hypothesis on the a number of timelines: They exist, it’s doable to journey between them, Sephiroth is making an attempt to merge all of them collectively. Something past that must wait till the third sport the place, hopefully, we’ll study extra.

Aerith watches the Tiny Bronco soar into the air.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Unresolved FF7 Rebirth questions and meals for thought

Arguably, Rebirth introduces as many questions because it solutions. I’ve gathered up just a few fascinating observations and what I discovered to be unresolved questions. To that final level, it’s doable that this very dense script (the video of the sport I used for researching this information is 21-hours lengthy) does in actual fact reply a few of these questions. I’ll replace this information ought to future research reveal that.

The place does the unique FF7 match into all of this?

Based on Sephiroth (an unreliable narrator if there ever was one), alternate timelines are created when deviations from destiny occur. Is the unique FF7 one among these alterations? Is it the unique timeline? Did it occur earlier than Rebirth and Remake or is it present concurrently?

Rebirth doesn’t seem to straight reply such questions. This lack of readability leaves various unanswered questions: How did Sephiroth study of this? Did he undergo defeat in FF7 and in some way survive (Creation Kids suggests so) to study concerning the totally different timelines and has thus concocted an excellent grander plan to enact his objectives?

Is that even Sephiroth to start with?

This can be a query that’s arguably been in play since 1997. After going mad upon studying the reality of his origin after which murdering everybody in Nibelheim, Sephiroth is defeated by Cloud and thrown into the Lifestream.

Sephiroth is believed to be lifeless, however then reappears in the course of the occasions of the unique sport, Remake, and Rebirth with numerous robed males assuming his look. He in any other case solely seems in unusual visions and moments in between area and time.

Sephiroth faces off against Cloud and Aerith.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Is he even who he says he’s? Who he seems to be? It’s clear that Jenova can assume the type of “these we hate, these we love, these we worry.” For Cloud, Sephiroth has been all three of these at totally different factors in his life. Is Sephiroth even the precise antagonist of Rebirth, or is he merely the proper avatar for Jenova to enact her objectives?

Why don’t we see totally different variations of the characters?

Although we’re instructed and do see a number of timelines, we by no means see a number of variations of the identical character work together with each other. We do see Kyrie, Elmyra, and Marlene in at the very least one of many different timelines, however not others. And when it looks as if characters like Cloud and Aerith bounce to totally different timelines, they occupy physique duplicates that have been in any other case completely asleep.

Are there different timelines the place the characters we all know are acutely aware and actively combating Sephiroth or Shinra? Are there unique variations of those characters? Can they exist in the identical timeline collectively?

What precisely occurred at Cosmo Canyon?

I’ve watched Rebirth’s Cosmo Canyon sequence various occasions and nonetheless battle to make sense of it. Tifa’s assertion of what’s taking place within the Lifestream doesn’t land too effectively with the adherents of Planetology, and all the narrative beat of Cosmo Canyon is wildly totally different from the unique sport.

Within the unique FF7, the Cosmo Canyon sequence is a vital revelatory second, one the place sure truths of the world are revealed. In Rebirth, that’s not the case. Cosmo Canyon’s residents are depicted as of us caught in inflexible, conservative views of the planet and aren’t open to listening to issues that problem their views.

Tifa appears to recount a narrative that paints a distinct image of the Lifestream and urges of us to take motion to guard it. The parents at Cosmo Canyon appear completely content material to let the planet do its personal work and shield itself and should not too joyful by Tifa’s story and name to motion.

I’m not clear on why these variations exist or what they’re really about within the grand scheme of issues. Regardless, I believe repeat research of the Cosmo Canyon chapter in Rebirth will probably present extra solutions, or at the very least extra fodder for thought.

Did Cloud mislead Yuffie about what occurred with the Black Materia?

Because the celebration searches for Aerith, Yuffie asks Cloud what occurred on the Temple of the Ancients, saying:

Yuffie: [Aerith said] Sephiroth kicked the ever-livin’ crap outta you again within the Temple of the Ancients.

Cloud: You heard fallacious. Didn’t go down like that.

Yuffie: Okay…Then how precisely did he get the materia from you?

Cloud: Uh…

Yuffie: You don’t at all times need to play the badass, y’know.

Cloud: Alright, superb, you win. He beat the shit outta me and took the materia.

It’s not clear to me that Cloud is telling the reality right here, or telling what he thinks to be the reality. When he equips the Black Materia to his sword in the previous couple of scenes of the sport, he does seem like stunned that he nonetheless has it. Did he misremember what occurred on the Temple? Or does he know and chooses to not disclose that he has the Black Materia?

Did Cloud understand the long run?

This can be a bit speculative, so bear with me. After Sephiroth offers Cloud the lore dump about a number of timelines, he shoves Cloud via a cutscene that’s similar to the one which takes place earlier than Cloud’s last showdown with Sephiroth within the unique 1997 sport.

That unique sequence ends with him seeing and combating the ultimate type of Sephiroth. After all, in Rebirth, he opens his eyes to land within the Sleeping Forest. It’s definitely some foreshadowing, however I’m left to surprise what precisely Cloud is perceiving right here. It feels, primarily based on his facial features, that he’s nearly anticipating to reach on the level the place the 1997 sport sends him, however that he’s stunned to seek out himself elsewhere.

Hojo talks to someone off camera.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Beware, Hojo

One other key distinction between Rebirth and the unique sport is that Hojo stays below the make use of of Shinra. Within the unique, Hojo resigns from the corporate and goes on to trigger hassle in several methods. In Rebirth he hangs round Shinra and his last line within the sport is a chilling one:

Rufus: Inform me, professor. How would you clarify the phenomena we witnessed on the temple?

Hojo: It will be untimely to attract any scientific conclusions. However one factor is abundantly clear: We at Shinra may stand to dream far greater.

Rufus: I agree

Shinra, as an antagonist drive, creates issues by harvesting and exploiting the very nature of the planet (the Lifestream) and its historical past (Jenova). That Hojo is now impressed to do much more after witnessing the difficult phenomena on show on the Temple of the Ancients may foreshadow Shinra’s plans within the third sport. What may an organization that’s prepared to reap the Planet’s non secular vitality, experiment with harmful entities like Jenova, and way more do if it understood even a fraction of the multiverse nature of the Planet?

Suggestions on your personal FF7 research

As said earlier, Rebirth is dense. However there are some things to bear in mind should you’re trying to perceive it extra deeply and do some theorycrafting.

To begin, it is best to take note of any scenes that debate the character of the Lifestream in addition to Jenova and the Cetra; the phrase “Calamity” can also be of word. Scenes with Sephiroth in it are all important. Pre-rendered cutscenes are additionally necessary: You possibly can inform these other than different scenes by the prettier graphics, slight modifications within the facial shapes of the characters, and the presence of their beginning weapons even should you outfitted totally different ones.

It might even be necessary to contemplate scenes that cope with themes of selection. The date with Cloud and Aerith within the alternate timeline is one instance: Right here Cloud, and the participant, are allowed to decide on particular issues from distributors, however every time that selection is overridden. For a sport that’s coping with destiny and selection, that strikes me as an necessary element to contemplate.

Aerith and Cloud choose candy from a vendor.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

Additionally, dialogue in fight and through exploration is equally necessary to cutscenes the place you don’t have any management over the characters. Whereas trying to find movies of all cutscenes, attempt to choose ones that embrace these moments. This video from Gamer’s Little Playground appears to comprise every part.

Lastly, transcripts and different fan-created supplies may assist in analysis. Proper now probably the most correct and full transcript of Rebirth I’ve been capable of finding is this one from the Fandom wiki. On the time of this writing, it’s nonetheless lacking sure chapters. For cross-references with the unique sport (allowing for the problems with the 1997 model’s English script), I advocate this script.

One other very useful software is that this helpful visible information created by Reddit consumer Recklessavatar. It seems to be an correct depiction of the cross-timeline occasions that occur all through Rebirth, although it appears to invest that there are “Final” variations of sure characters. On the time of this writing, I’m not completely positive the textual content of the sport helps that assertion, however it’s not a really outlandish one.

Remaining Fantasy VII Rebirth is a colossal sport that’s trying to inform an impossibly complicated story and almost breaks the fourth wall and outright acknowledges that it’s a online game. It may be onerous to sift via at occasions, however the materials I’ve offered right here ought to offer an excellent basis for extra nuanced ideas and discussions about this epic story.

And, sure, in case you have been questioning, it’s my opinion that the sport’s ending is glorious.

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