After 15 years of being a video game enigma, Final Fantasy 7 Remake became a reality on April 10. We don't have official sales yet, but GameStat estimates 2.3 million people have bought the game. And critics love it; it stands at 88 on Metacritic, buoyed by a rare 10/10 score from GameSpot, our sister site. ( ) But, as you know if you've played 7 Remake or read much about it, this is just the beginning.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is part one of Final Fantasy 7, taking the story up to where Cloud Strife and company leave Midgar. Just as Hollywood turned The Hobbit book into three movies, Square Enix is taking Final Fantasy 7 and turning it into... we don't know how many, but many parts.
So now that we've played Final Fantasy 7 Remake, know how it works and how it ends, we have some questions about the sequel. Warning: major spoilers below.
Can multiple timelines not suck?
At the end of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, it's revealed that there are at least two timelines. A previous timeline, in which the original Final Fantasy 7 took place, and the timeline we play through in 7 Remake.
A super quick recap: The Dementor-like creatures that swirl around throughout the game are called Whispers. They're "arbiters of fate" -- beings that keep the story progressing in accordance with the previous timeline aka Final Fantasy 7. (They save Barret when he's impaled by Sephiroth, because Barret doesn't die in the original, among many other examples.) You eliminate these creatures in the penultimate boss fight, meaning everything from here on out is not bound to the story in the original game.
After you beat Sephiroth in the final boss fight, you're shown a small montage. Biggs is seen recovering, Rufus becomes President of Shinra, the Sector 7 Slums are being rebuilt. But you also see Zack Fair, Cloud's mentor, defeating a hoard of Shinra infantrymen. In the original's story, this is where Zack dies (more on this later).
As Zack collects himself, a chip packet blows by. It's adorned with Shinra's Stamp mascot. But instead of the helmet-wearing Beagle we saw throughout 7 Remake, it's a Border Terrier wearing a green hat. A canine Fidel Castro, basically. This means that Zack survives in a timeline different from the one that 7 Remake took place in, where Stamp is a Beagle.
So this all raises a few questions. Are there only two timelines? Do these timelines interact and cross over with each other now that the Whispers were punked out? And most importantly to you, the gamer: Does this mean the story in 7 Remake's sequel will suck?
Like time travel, multiple-dimension stories are very tricky to pull off and often lead to ruin. Fans of Kingdom Hearts know this all too well.
The Kingdom Hearts franchise, like the original Final Fantasy 7, had a complicated story. But it was one that made perfect sense if you took a moderate amount of effort to understand it. Then Dream Drop Distance came around in 2012 and introduced time travel and different dimensions and similar risky business. The franchise's story has been more or less incomprehensible ever since.
Both 7 Remake and Kingdom Hearts are directed by Tetsuya Nomura. After loving Kingdom Hearts intensely until Dream Drop Distance, and absolutely hating Kingdom Hearts III for its nonsensical story, I, like many others, am uneasy with the new direction.
Hopefully 7 Remake's sequel plays with multidimensionality very carefully.
Will Aerith die?
As mentioned, 7 Remake progresses up until the point at which the gang leaves Midgar. So we've yet to hear about Sephiroth's plan to cast Meteor or Aerith's attempt at countering with Holy. Perhaps, most importantly, we've yet to see Sephiroth impale Aerith with his Masamune.
But now that 7 Remake's story isn't bound to the original, will we ever?
Cloud and company defeat the Whisper Harbinger (imagine the king of all whispers, as the rest are destroyed after it's destroyed) at Destiny's Crossroads. How the gang get here is unclear. Sephiroth slices open what looks like an interdimensional warphole, but then Aerith seems to augment it with her own magic before they enter. She tells Cloud, Tifa, Barret and Red XIII that, stepping into Destiny's Crossroads, they'll be changing more than fate itself. They'll be changing themselves, too.
It's all very JRPG. But it looks as though both Sephiroth and Aerith are aware of the whole "multiple timelines" thing. For Sephiroth's part, that would mean he knows that, if events go as fate dictates, he'll ultimately be defeated, as he was in Final Fantasy 7.
That means he'll be doing things differently. Perhaps he'll spare Aerith -- or perhaps he'll take Tifa or Barret instead.
In 7 Remake's end section, Sephiroth suggests that, if events follow the previous timeline (Final Fantasy 7), he ultimately loses. Presumably, that means he'll be doing things differently. Perhaps that means he'll spare Aerith -- perhaps that means he'll take Tifa or Barrett instead?
Will Zack not die?
Zack Fair rocks. He was the main character in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7, an excellent prequel released on the PSP. As Cloud's mentor, he gets the spotlight for a few moments in the original. He's seen saving Cloud from Hojo's research lab (Hojo was experimenting on Cloud Mako and Sephiroth cells) and, carrying a comatose Cloud, making a run for Midgar. But he's also seen gunned down by Shinra infantrymen.
If you played Crisis Core, this scene is etched into your mind. That game ends with you as Zack taking on waves of Infantrymen only to be eventually taken down, and Cloud slowly coming to as he crawls to Zack's corpse.
Parts of this scene feature, almost frame for frame, in 7 Remake. Except, as mentioned above, Zack totally lives. Hero status confirmed. Except he appears to be in a different dimension than the rest of the gang, as evidenced by the different Stamp mascot.
However, there's a brief moment where Zack is seen walking toward Midgar as he carries Cloud. At the same time Aerith, in the same spot but in a different timeline, walks away from Midgar. She senses his presence.
So Zack will surely be a part of the sequel. But to what extent? He's a major character in the lore of Final Fantasy 7, even if he's not a major character of the original Final Fantasy 7. So seeing him again would be nice, but some fans will surely see it as robbing Zack's original death scene of its tremendous emotion.
When will this game come out?
Going into 7 Remake, there were two key questions about its sequels. First, how many would there be? And second, when would they come out?
We have neither answer. A naive part of me hoped that 7 Remake would contain some kind of secret ending that, at the end, would contain a release window for the sequel. That was never going to happen, but it's hard having no clue when part two will launch. With franchises like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, sequel release dates are known ahead of time.
Considering how beautiful 7 Remake was -- which is to say, how many manhours likely went into its creation -- it's hard to see a sequel coming out anytime soon. This is especially true since, presumably, it'll launch on the PlayStation 5 (and possibly the Xbox Series X).
All we can do is cross our fingers Square Enix can develop faster than George RR Martin can write.
7 Seconds 'till what?
The most cryptic part of 7 Remake's ending came when Sephiroth transports Cloud and himself to Edge of Creation, an area that looks strikingly similar to the location of Cloud and Sephiroth's showdown.
Here, with the Whispers eliminated, Sephiroth beseeches Cloud to join him. Sephiroth's plan in the original is to hit the planet with Meteor, leading the planet to heal itself by opening up the lifestream. From there, Sephiroth will jump in, immersing himself with the planet's energy and make himself a god. Maybe he thinks Cloud and he himself can be God Bros?
But Cloud says no, bro, and they duel. Sephiroth gets the upper hand, knocking Cloud's sword into the distance. He then slithers up behind Cloud. "Seven seconds till the end. Time enough for you, perhaps. But what will you do with it? Let's see." He disappears.
There's no real way to know what this is in reference to. But if I was paid to guess, and I am, I would say this has something to do with the ending of the original Final Fantasy 7.
In that game, Sephiroth has many forms. You fight him as Bizarro-Sephiroth and then Safer Sephiroth. The actual last battle in the game, though, is just regular ol' Sephiroth -- shirtless, for some reason. It's Cloud versus Sephiroth in an unloseable battle: The game prompts you to hit him with the Omnislash limit break, you do, he dies.
In between Safer Sephiroth (who's much harder to beat) and Shirtless Sephiroth, you see Cloud travel through some light tube thing. It's implied and speculated that after defeating Sephiroth's physical form (Safer Sephiroth), Cloud traveled into the lifestream itself to kill Sephiroth properly.
He needed to do this because Sephiroth was mortally wounded by Cloud before Final Fantasy 7 (thus why he's presumed dead during the first part of the game) but survived by submerging himself in the lifestream.
Some theorize that Sephiorth's "Seven seconds till the end" is a reference to this, that the entirety of 7 Remake and subsequent games takes place inside Cloud's mind during the time we see Cloud descending into the lifestream in the original.
More likely, it's complete gibberish that might only makes sense in seven years' time.