There are those mornings when you wake up and gaming news just brings you something you never expected that day. While everyone’s been eagerly looking out for Sony to announce PlayStation Meeting 2020 for the PS5 reveal, Square Enix is over here just casually dropping a new Final Fantasy VII Remake trailer. The focus of the trailer was the new theme song, “Hollow,” but the trailer itself also featured the most expanded look at the game we’ve had so far. Final Fantasy VII was a game that defined my life as a kid, so of course today’s Daily Reaction had to analyze everything about the trailer in depth. First, let’s watch it one more time:
First, that song is incredible. I’m glad Square Enix is being brave enough to introduce new elements like a brand new theme song because it really helps set Final Fantasy VII Remake on a pillar of its own. It may be recreating the beloved 1997 game, but it deserves to have its own identity too. “Hollow” is an absolutely haunting track that perfectly encapsulates the themes of the Final Fantasy VII journey.
The trailer opens with the Cloud and Tifa in Nibelheim, Cloud telling her that he’s going to be leaving to join SOLDIER. I don’t believe Cloud’s lucid flashbacks begin happening until Kalm at the earliest, which is just outside of Midgar, so either the timetable for the flashbacks has been moved up, or the game extends slightly beyond when the party escapes Midgar and this flashback takes place near the end of the game (this is going off of the information that Final Fantasy VII Remake is only part one of the stories, effectively the “Midgar chapter” of the story).
Next up is a scene of Jenova in a tank, Sephiroth in front of her, and Cloud, Tifa, Barret, and Aerith confronting him. Again, this scene was not part of Midgar, but seems to line up with the cargo ship the team takes from Junon, calling into question whether Square Enix is shifting narrative elements around or if the game will extend all the way past Kalm and the Chocobo Ranch, concluding with the cargo ship sequence just after Junon. Cloud does ask Sephiroth if it’s really him, and the cargo ship segment had Cloud hallucinating Sephiroth due to Jenova’s influence. We’ll come back to this scene shortly, because there are a few other possibilities.
Shin-Ra and Climbing the Corporate Ladder
Shin-Ra is a major player in Final Fantasy VII, and headquartered in Midgar, it’s expected to have a vastly expanded role in the Remake. There’s a scene with President Shinra (before Sephiroth murders him, of course) and Heidegger talking with Reeve, who protested the false flag destruction of the Sector 7 slums. Reeve is a very important character, later controlling Cait Sith to spy on the party, though we probably won’t see the fruits of that play out until Part Two. In the original game, the party doesn’t meet Cait Sith until the Gold Saucer, which is well after the Midgar section, and even a fair bit past the above-mentioned cargo ship portion.
This sequence also reveals Scarlet, another leadership figure within the Shin-Ra corporate ladder. She was entirely responsible for Shin-Ra’s weapons development. And of course, there’s Palmer, the leader of Shin-Ra’s failed space division. He’ll come into play later in the game, literally sending the party into space at one point. For now, it seems his appearance will probably just amount to glimpses and Easter eggs within the Shin-Ra structure.
Honey Bee Whatever Honey Be
“Welcome to the Honey Bee Inn, Cloud. True beauty is an expression of the heart, a thing without shame to which notions of gender don’t apply,” the proprietor of the Honey Bee Inn says. There was a fair amount of concern surrounding how Square Enix could handle cross-dressing Cloud and the Honey Bee Inn. It looks like the inn’s role in this segment of the game has been vastly expanded, going from just the place where Cloud gets one part of his outfit to the central location where he gets his makeover. The proprietor wants to put Cloud at ease, the spiky-haired hero uncomfortable with the plan of dressing up to rescue Tifa from Don Corneo. It’s a beautiful way to not so much entirely change the narrative of this portion of the game, but to redefine it in an inclusive and meaningful way; to be more than just the butt end of a “haha, Cloud had to wear a DRESS and he was in a hot tub full of MEN” joke. Here, the Honey Bee Inn is about people embracing their inner beauty, identity, and being who they want to be.
What follows is Cloud in his full makeover walking through Wall Market, and finally getting to see a glimpse of Don Corneo selecting his bride. What remains to be seen is if the integrity of this quest is intact, where Cloud can get different items that make him more or less likely to be selected, and the results of the quests differ based on that outcome. We’ve previously seen the squats minigame in other trailers, so we do at least know other aspects of the cross-dressing Cloud quest are intact.
Is That… Demyx?
Though seen in previous trailers, we get a bit of an extended look at the new character, one who appears to be an antagonist to the party. Having just come off of Kingdom Hearts III Re:MIND, I can’t help but think that this SOLDIER looks a heck of a lot like Demyx, one of the members of Organization XIII. Is it just a symptom of similar character design, or is it time to bust out our tinfoil hats and start some conspiracy theories?
The secret episode in Re:MIND does hint at connections between Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy worlds. Would it be so far-fetched to think that the appearance of a character who looks like a slightly older version of Demyx is, in fact, the same character, and this is setting up some kind of broader story arc that will carry into future Kingdom Hearts games? It sounds almost too crazy to be true, but at the same time, I entirely wouldn’t be surprised if it came to fruition. Either way, I’m very curious to see what this character adds to the Final Fantasy VII plot. Is he just here to expand the game’s playtime, or does he play a new crucial role within the narrative?
We get our first look at Red XII, or Nanaki, as the true fans know him. He looks amazing. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
Anyone who has played the original Final Fantasy VII knows that it’s Hojo’s experiments that are kind of at the center of things, but those discoveries don’t come until much later in the game. It seems like Final Fantasy VII Remake is laying it all out on the table early here. Remember that scene I said could be from the cargo ship? Well, here we return to an extended version of it where Cloud attacks Sephiroth then plummets down into a pit, and from these angles, it seems a bit more like Jenova’s tank is possibly inside one of the Reactors in Midgar? It’d be a pretty huge change from the original narrative, but I think there is ample evidence to show that the party doesn’t make it all the way to Junon in this game.
Hojo watches all of this play out on some monitors and comments on Cloud, probably due to the fact that he “saw” Sephiroth, who I’m guessing wasn’t actually there. One of my biggest questions is, if you move all of these narrative elements into (or close to) Midgar, what then takes their place elsewhere in the game as we move into the later episodes? Or do they just get expanded on and fleshed out more? As a huge fan of Final Fantasy VII, it even took me a while to understand the full context of the story in the original game, and I’m hoping that’s being taken into account when presenting the narrative in the Remake.
The trailer shifts directions to gameplay here and the music switches over to the Remake’s new version of the Final Fantasy VII boss theme. We get to see a couple of new environments (Sector 7 slums wreckage from where the plate came down, perhaps?) and the Leviathan summon. It then shifts over to a practically Metal Gear-like infiltration of Shin-Ra Headquarters, a sequence that should be quite expanded on from the original game. While it’s been revealed before, we see more footage of Moogle & Chocobo battling against some Shinra mechs.
There is then a massive boss battle with Jenova after some kind of force breaks out of a glass cage (presumably in Shin-Ra HQ). This could be the culmination of that previous sequence that I presumed was on the cargo ship, but too many elements feel off. These feel like two separate encounters. Cloud did encounter Jenova’s headless body in Shin-Ra in the original, part of the sequence where Sephiroth has rampaged through and murdered almost everyone in the building and they find President Shinra dead with the iconic long sword stuck in his back, however, significant interactions and full-on battles with Jenova don’t happen until much later.
The trailer concludes with a variety of shots from various parts of the game: the sewers as the team escapes a Reactor, the blue truck and Cloud’s motorcycle as they flee Midgar, a Reactor explosion, and a swarm of dark spirits around the Shin-Ra Building, which definitely didn’t happen in the original game.
Plugging the Leak
The trailer seems to cover nearly every element from the recent datamined leak, which makes me wonder if it was specifically created with the intention of putting context around the leaked images. However, it seems odd that so much of the trailer seems to include moments from what one can only presume is near the end of the game. The infiltration of Shin-Ra, Jenova, and truck/motorcycle were all scenes that occurred just before the party left Midgar. No footage has conclusively indicated that the game will go beyond the walls of Midgar at all (aside from flashbacks in Nibelheim), so it seems an odd choice to let a trailer play out what could be the final moments of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
No matter what, this deep analysis simply comes from my own deep excitement for Final Fantasy VII Remake. It’s still a while to wait, but getting today’s trailer has made that long wait just ever so slightly more bearable.
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