While its title may suggest something a lot more straightforward, Final Fantasy VII Remake is nothing short of a complete reimagining of the classic JRPG with some interesting changes to its core story. Although Square Enix’s most recent spoilerific pre-release trailer may hint at what to expect, Final Fantasy VII Remake’s story improves on its source material in almost every way.
From here on out there will be spoilers for the original Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Remake. So if you haven’t played them, we don’t recommend going any further, unless you’re fine with spoiling the experiences for yourself. If the title didn’t give it away, there will be spoilers galore. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
One of Final Fantasy VII Remake story’s most compelling aspects are the Arbiters of Fate or Whispers as they’re called. They’re a swarm of spectral beings that exist to ensure the passage of time and destiny is maintained. They rear their ugly heads early on in the game’s second chapter during Cloud’s chance meeting with Aerith, seemingly trying to keep the two apart.
Later in Final Fantasy VII Remake’s eighth chapter which sees Cloud fall into a church and reunites with Aerith, the duo are chased by the Turks — a special organisation within Shinra in charge of administrative research. The Whispers aka Arbiters of Fate make an appearance, preventing Reno and his men from nabbing Aerith and Cloud by acting as invisible barriers.
Yes, not all of those in the world of the Final Fantasy VII Remake can see the Whispers. Initially only Aerith and Sephiroth can see them. Cloud, Barret, Red XIII, and Tifa gain this ability seemingly after coming into contact with Aerith.
In later chapters, these Arbiters of Fate ensure the death of Jessie, prevent Hojo from telling Cloud of his origins (that he was not in Soldier), and bring Barret back from being impaled by Sephiroth’s blade, all to ensure the events of the Final Fantasy VII Remake mirror that of the original and ensure the flow of destiny as intended.
Nonetheless, the full extent of their connection to the overall events of the Final Fantasy VII Remake story is revealed when you hit the game’s last chapter. Fittingly, Square Enix doesn’t let you take any screenshots or record anything from it. Titled as ‘Destiny’s Crossroads’, the team battles the manifestations of their destinies. These encounters are filled with flashbacks of iconic moments from the original like the death of Aerith and Red XIII’s pack running in the wild.
Also, this chapter has visions of Zack Fair — Aerith’s ex-boyfriend and Cloud’s comrade, that suggest he’s alive. In the original game Cloud and Zack escape Shinra’s clutches in Nibelheim after being experimented on by Professor Hojo. Rather than Zack being gunned down outside Midgar by Shinra soldiers like in Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII Remake’s take on Zack Fair has him besting all before him before carrying Cloud back to Midgar.
Although, this could have happened in an alternate reality. Reason being, a packet of chips in this scene has Stamp — Shinra’s dog mascot on it. However, Stamp is a beagle in every piece of signage we see in the game, now though he’s seen to be a terrier.
The liberties Square Enix has taken with Final Fantasy VII Remake’s source material are interesting. On one hand, the use of spectres to keep its characters in line feels like forced, hokey plot device.The Whispers or Arbiters of Fate serve the narrative equivalent of an invisible wall that many video game worlds and levels incorporate to this day, existing solely to keep you on track.
At the same time, they also seem like an inside joke from the writing team on Final Fantasy VII Remake for fans, allowing them to make the connection that the Arbiters of Fate are here so that we can get an accurate approximation of the original Final Fantasy 7 plot with modern day gameplay, visuals, and tech.
That said, it’s refreshing to see Final Fantasy VII Remake end with line ‘The Unknown Journey Continues’ implying that the events of the original Final Fantasy VII may not make their way into Final Fantasy VII Remake Episode 2.
Instead of Aerith dying, perhaps Cloud would (and Zack subsequently taking his place maybe?). In lieu of Sephiroth tricking Cloud and friends to give him the all-important Black Materia, he may just simply go for full-frontal attack to claim it or just devise a scheme that doesn’t require it.
All of the possibilities as to where the story can go from here are boundless. Granted the means to doing so are crude what with Whispers acting as barriers before eventually morphing into Final Fantasy VII Remake’s penultimate boss and meeting their demise, wiping the slate clean and killing off the burden to keep Final Fantasy VII Remake’s subsequent episodes mimic 1997’s Final Fantasy VII can only be a good thing as it will make for bolder and hopefully, better stories.