FF7 Rebirth Always Needed to Stray From the Original

when Final Fantasy 7 Remake was announced in 2015, it was obvious what players wanted: an updated version of one of the most revered games of all time. Audiences wanted to revisit the same story with modern graphics and some new content. That desire was precisely the reason Final Fantasy 7 Remake always needed to deviate from its source material, and the reason its sequel, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirthis certain to move the story even further away from the original game.

The most prevalent change from the original story in FFVII Remake is the introduction of the Whispers. These ghost-like creatures intervene nearly every time Cloud and his friends do something which would seriously alter the events of the original game. They preserve the sanctity of the timeline — think final-fantasy‘s take on Loki‘s Time Variance Authority. Red XIII describes these creatures as “arbiters of fate,” who seem to take a particular interest in Aerith. Narratively, they serve to clue players into the fact that FFVII Remake is gearing up to do something different from the story they’re expecting, but thematically, they serve a different purpose: The Whispers are the closest thing FFVII Remake has to a true audience surrogate.

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The Whispers’ role in Final Fantasy 7 Remake is to ensure that the game never strays too far from the original. Cloud can go on a couple of extra side-quests and meet some new people, but nothing about the story can be fundamentally changed. The Whispers are, in a sense, the exact fans who wanted FFVII Remake in the first place. They want to guarantee that the story they are experiencing is the exact story they’re expecting. Cloud and his party of him, naturally, do not take very kindly to this, revealing one of the most important themes in the FFVII Remake series: defiance of destiny.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth looks set to move even further away from the events of the original game. The recently-released trailer for the sequel features Aerith confidently asserting that “the future can be changed.” Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII star Zack Fair, who is dead by the time of the original Final Fantasy 7, appears to have a fairly significant role. There’s little doubt that the next entry in the series will push back even harder against the restrictive ideas of a “remake” — there’s a reason “remake” was dropped from the title entirely. “Rebirth” signifies something very different, the opportunity to tell a new story from the foundations of one that’s been heard before.

RELATED: Rebirth Totally Changes the Meaning of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s Title

the Final Fantasy 7 Remake series is not actually a multi-part remake of FFVII, at least not exclusively. It lovingly recreates and expands on iconic sequences from the original game, but it’s also a response to the climate that demands a remake of FFVII. It’s a game about characters who resent the fact that they are expected to play along with an established story, and it only makes sense that the game itself would seemingly resent that fact as well. Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth can’t just remake FFVII, specifically because so many people want the games to be faithful remakes. The themes of the story expressly demand that the narrative breaks out of the confines set for it.

In some ways, the FFVII Remake series is an anti-remake. The story refuses to play into the tired loop of endless remakes of perfectly good video games. Instead of polishing up the widely accessible and beloved Final Fantasy 7, the remake series asks why it should need to tell the same story twice. Why do we need another new way to play Resident Evil 4, a game that everyone can basically agree is already fantastic? Why, exactly, is there a remake of The Last of Us coming to a platform where you can already play The Last of Us? Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a big, flashy remake of a game that everyone loves, and its most important assertion is that there’s no real reason to remake Final Fantasy 7.

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