I like Final Fantasy VII Remake. Since the game was released in 2020, Remake polarized fans of the PS1 classic due to its uncanny qualities and, at times, apparent simplicity. Square Enix has been particularly suspicious of the direction the planned trilogy is heading, but when pushed, the show’s director and producers lose a few clues that Renaissance will stray even further from the original narrative. Bold and unusual additions to RemakeThe tale was generally well received by the general public and the fandom, but others weren’t so happy; some decried the revisions as a lazy shortcut to breathing new life into the story, while others hoped the game would go even further with its changes. I fit precariously between my group of friends, who either unapologetically love the game or think it’s lacking, superfluous, or otherwise loaded with storytelling.
“It’s not a reMAKE, it’s a reSEQUEL,” some Redditors claim. The further I go Remake, the more I agree with that sentiment; that doesn’t mean that I necessarily think it’s a good decision. “The original could get away with leaving [things] to the imagination…with modern graphics, you see everything in much more detail,” says co-director Motomu Toriyama. Although he’s talking about the recontextualized segment Honeybee Inn (which itself received nearly universal praise initially before receiving its fair share of scrutiny for towing the line), Toriyama’s thoughts on the challenge of modernization FFVII got me thinking about my initial theory of how the series would play out.
In fact, reinvent FFVIIThe Midgar arc – a story told entirely within Remake– is not so difficult. The original game’s Midgar section is widely considered to be the best and tightest narrative section in the game, and a fairly easy aspect of the game’s overall setting to extrapolate and expand upon. Remake‘s Midgar is a fine synthesis of the Midgar we know from FFVIIbut also the Midgar of crisis core, Advent children, and more. We see how workers live their daily lives in zoned suburbs, just as the tech workforce has claimed the neighborhoods of New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. RemakeSurely Midgar’s greatest triumph is Midgar’s actualization as a veritable technopolis, where bureaucracy, political smoothness, and income inequality reign supreme. It’s the first step in establishing the vertically oriented metaphor repeated throughout the series – first in Midgar, but followed by the Golden Saucer and Corel’s prison, Juno, and the impending dichotomy of Aerith. as Earth’s herald, his ear pressed to the ground to hear the whispers of the planet rumbling beneath its crust, and Sephiroth, harbinger of an ecological apocalypse from the destructive reaches of space. Final Fantasy VIIat its heart shines like a union between modern myth-making and municipal regulation, the meeting place of the unknowable and the intensely dull.
I was always more worried about how the narrative would handle after Cloud’s party left Midgar. Once her crew exits the capital city of Gaia, the story becomes much more scattered, fractured, and often bizarre. As Toriyama notes, a lot of the game’s weirder moments are left to the imagination; FFVII carries a certain gravity not just because of its technical limitations, but because of its rather sloppy translation into the West, an issue made all the more acute by the fact that many of its fans played the game when they were very young. In Tim Rogers FFVII series of translation videos, it emphasizes the mystical nature imparted by the game due to its incompleteness. Many fans, perhaps, fear the debunking inherent in the act of reconsidering a game’s narrative for a remake. There’s a lot going on in FFVIIIt is the half of the back that, perhaps, blossoms best in the minds of those who experience it.
Seemingly the only answer to make those moments that exist as valuable suggestions in the memories of FFVIIThe fanbase of is to play it as safe as possible, so as not to threaten the fragile essence of nostalgia that is so cherished in our current media climate. It seems, however, that Square Enix has opted for another option: stalling the trilogy as a pseudo-sequel, so as not to overlap with the original. After all, but killing a representation of the purist fanbase at the end of Remake, RenaissanceThe trailer for involves a leaning into the meta-narrative aspects presented so far. Aerith opens the trailer by stating that “the past is eternal,” but “the future…can be changed.” This supports the popular fan theory that Aerith has some kind of memory of the original. FFVII and gets involved in the party to try and prevent some of the more disastrous things that happen in the game’s original narrative. The trailer’s most interesting tidbit, however, is noticeably left out in the trailer- English ad.
In the Japanese trailer, Cloud addresses Zack, his former classmate and Aerith’s ex-boyfriend, directly by name. It’s odd, given that much of Cloud’s arc involves him remembering Zack and parting ways with the character he built due to a bout of amnesia. I’m all for changes in the series, but these quotes, as vague and truncated as Square Enix is used to being, scare me Renaissance follows the path of restorative fic. In the nearly three decades since FFVII, there has been a tendency, almost an obsession, in stories that lead to a “golden” ending, a true “canon” ending, often among other things, lesser endings, where the least possible consequences are incurred. The popularity of this ending can be attributed to several things, from the increase in fanwork readership, to the growing popularity of visual novels and adventure games that tend to have multiple branching paths, to the demand for upbeat stories. and happy that contrast with the brutal reality. we live (which, at times, has led to vitriol for stories that are difficult, messy, or deemed unsatisfactory).
Despite my relative pleasure in Remake– somewhere between hesitant fun and pure love for writing the characters – I wonder who the show is really for. Writing to film critic Kent Jones, director Oliver Assayas notes his philosophy on remakes versus his film Irma Vep, a metatextual story about a fictional remake of a silent French film. “The fact is, the world is constantly changing…if we don’t invent our own values, our own syntax, we will fail to describe the world.” If a remake can only rationalize its existence by telling a story through a new lens, then what perspective is Remake and its representative sequels? If it doesn’t communicate how our world and how its creators have changed in 25 years, then it may morph into what many other remakes over the years have represented – a lukewarm attempt to recapture the joy the original once had. achieved while existing as a manifestation of the demands of his fans, though he was unable to please any of them beyond temporary satisfaction.
Austin Jones is a writer and a fragrance enthusiast. His unfiltered thoughts are available for free on Twitter @belfryfire.