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May 182020

By now, you probably know that the Final Fantasy VII Remake ending caused a lot of controversy among players.

Some fans like it and some despite it, but above all, no one is entirely certain what it means.

Sure, you’ll see people who think they have the whole thing figured out, but there are just as many theories going in other directions. Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 could follow the path of the original game or it could introduce entirely new elements. Right now, we just don’t know.

So let’s take a closer look at the controversial ending and discuss what happened to cause such arguments, speculation, and confusion.

There will be unmarked Final Fantasy VII Remake ending spoilers from this point on, as well as spoilers for the original Final Fantasy VII.

For the majority of the game, the Final Fantasy VII Remake is a faithful expansion of the Midgar segment of the original game. There are some changes here and there, but it generally stays true to the original. The most notable difference is the appearance of strange ghost-like entities referred to as “mysterious spectres” and “enigmatic spectres,” which we knew from pre-release content are called the Watchmen of Fate or Arbiters of Fate.

They show up at certain points in the plot, sometimes attacking characters but other times helping them. Their role creates a new mystery not present in the original.

Near the end, Red XIII refers to them as “Whispers,” from knowledge Aerith seemingly conveyed to him when she touched him. The Whispers, we’re told, are responsible for keeping destiny on its proper course. If a character survives who died in the original Final Fantasy VII, the Whispers do their best to kill them. If a character dies who survived in the original, the Whispers revive them.

Things still stay more or less on track until the end of the motorcycle chase. There, Sephiroth appears on the highway, seemingly not a hallucination or one of the clones this time, but the real deal. The Whispers swarm the area, screaming, and Cloud remembers the moments leading up to Zack’s death. Sephiroth opens up a dark portal and steps through, at which point Aerith somehow purifies the portal and says they’re at “destiny’s crossroads.”

They cross through into a strange area where you fight a massive Whisper known as Whisper Harbinger. To defeat it, you also need to fight three unique Whispers called Whisper Rubrum, Whisper Croceo, and Whisper Viridi. The enemy intel claims they’re trying to preserve their own future, and they match up with Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo from Advent Children.

When you finally defeat Harbinger, Sephiroth arrives and you have to fight him.

After that battle, Cloud finds himself facing Sephiroth again. This Sephiroth asks Cloud to defy destiny with him, but Cloud refuses. Cloud refuses, they fight, Sephiroth says there are “seven seconds til the end,” and then Cloud is alone.

Back in Midgar, we see scenes of Rufus as president and Hojo laughing as he sees Jenova is gone. Then it cuts to the Zack flashback again… except it seems as though Zack has won, and he sees what appears to be the Whispers exploding. Back to Midgar, where people are rebuilding, Biggs is alive and recovering, and Marlene senses that Barret is thinking of her.

It then goes back to the main cast, where Barret promises he’ll be home to Marlene soon, and the party sets out on their journey to stop Sephiroth. But wait, it’s not over yet! We briefly see Zack carrying Cloud, which Aerith in the present appears to react to, and then the game ends with the promise that “The Unknown Journey Will Continue.”

Phew. So, what the heck is going on with that ending?

Let’s get the simplest part out of the way first. The Whispers trying to preserve a fixed destiny and being defeated, together with the message at the end, strongly suggests the Final Fantasy VII timeline is no longer set in stone for the Remake. It opens up the possibility that anything can happen from here.

This has led some fans to believe the story will be completely different from here. However, the producer said the opposite. According to Kitase, fans should “assume the story of FF7 will continue as FF7 always has.”

Now the general feeling is that the story will follow the same basic beats, but certain things will change. Many fans believe there is a good chance that Aerith can be saved. Others think changing destiny will have dire consequences.

But what about Zack?

This has probably become the most central question after the ending. What are those Zack scenes showing? Some people think it means Zack is alive, and that defeating the Whispers destroyed them all throughout the timeline, allowing Zack to change his fate. This raises many questions about Cloud.

Others think it is an alternative timeline, especially since a poster blows by to prominently show Shinra’s mascot, Stamp, with a much different design than he has in the main game.

Some are convinced we’ll be teaming up with Alternate Timeline Zack, but there’s really no evidence for that.

Sephiroth’s role in the ending is another mystery. A popular theory is that he is a future Sephiroth (since he has his Advent Children design) attempting to change the course of destiny so that he wins. The Sephiroth at the very end, however, seems calmer and more like Sephiroth before he went insane.

In other words, all we really have right now are theories.

I am very conflicted about the ending. On one hand, I want to see the original Final Fantasy VII story remade. Watching moments from the original Midgar section get fleshed out in the remake was fantastic, and I love the original’s story. On the other hand, the concept of a remake where an in-game force is actively trying to keep it in line with the original is… fascinating.

My biggest problem with the ending is that I don’t think the Whispers are handled well. They seem almost arbitrary in what parts of the timeline they enforce, and it’s not clear why destiny is not following its natural course. Zack being alive in the same timeline would cause major issues, too, so I don’t believe that can be the case.

I have a convoluted theory about how this might not be at all what it appears to be on the surface, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Regardless of how things go from here, I have to give Square Enix credit for remaking the opening hours of Final Fantasy VII in such a way that everyone is speculating about what will happen next. If the rest of the Final Fantasy VII Remake stays true to the original story, I’ll be happy. If it stays mostly true with some notable changes, that could be good or bad. If it deviates wildly, that could be interesting, but it’s probably not a remake at that point.

And if they stay true to the original while working all of this naturally into the story, I’ll be thrilled.

What did you think of the Final Fantasy VII Remake? What do you think it all means? And what do you expect to happen in the next game?

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  13 Responses to “Let’s Discuss the Controversial Final Fantasy VII Remake Ending”

  1. Oh geez, that sounds awful. I don’t trust them to handle something like that well at all.

    • It’s definitely a bit wild, for sure, and it felt all the more bizarre since the plot was pretty much true to the original up to the very end. I think we need a look at the second game to give us a better idea of what they have planned, because right now it could go anywhere.

  2. I find the Whispers (and your explanation of them) to be absolutely fascinating.

    Has that ever been done in the history of remakes? It’s potentially brilliant.

    • I see you decided to read the spoilers after all.

      I don’t think anything like this has been done before. The closest thing I can think of is the Kingdom Hearts mobile game, which is presented as a remake of the Japanese-exclusive browser game for the first half but is actually a sequel with a canon reason for remaking those events, but that’s still not quite the same.

      It’s also led to theories that the reason “remake” is actually Final Fantasy VII Remake’s title is because it refers to the characters remaking the timeline (which is supported by Square Enix saying in an interview that “remake” has a second meaning they can’t talk about yet).

      I’m conflicted about their implementation, since as I mentioned above, it feels a little arbitrary when it comes to what they enforce. The concept is fascinating, though.

  3. […] weeks ago, we discussed the controversial Final Fantasy VII Remake ending and what it potentially means for the future of the […]

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