Not long before I started writing this post, I finished the Final Fantasy VII Remake…and whoa! I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, and need some time to let it sink in. But I need to get some thoughts out, so if you haven’t finished the game and don’t want any spoilers, don’t read on!
Just so you know, this isn’t a review of the game (that will come in time). As a long-time fan of the game and series, I went through so many emotions while playing through the final chapter. There was excitement mixed in with confusion. While the main story of the remake plays out in similar fashion, you may have noticed something very different and new thrown in- the Whispers.
During the game, these Whispers make an appearance and seemingly throw a spanner in the works, and I couldn’t work out why. They were cool and all..but I was constantly asking why they were even there. They weren’t in the original, so they felt totally unnecessary here. Why not just let the story play out as per normal?
But it’s not until the final chapters that they get explained, and now they fully make sense to me. For anyone who didn’t catch on, they’re explained by Red XIII as ‘Arbiters of Fate’. Their purpose is to keep things in check and keep fate on its course. But again, why throw this entirely new element to an already epic (and sometimes confusing) storyline?
I’m starting to believe the Whispers are a message from SquareEnix, a clever way of them telling us the subsequent iterations of this remake will not necessarily be the same as the original game. When you destroy the Whisper Harbinger at the end, you essentially destroy the Whispers that try to keep fate along the same path as the original story, and therefore cannot keep fate on its expected course.
This is a major heads-up from the developers saying “Things will most likely play out differently from now on, so be prepared”. There’s no other explanation as to why they were included in the first place. Perhaps that’s why they’re called Whispers, because the developers are ‘whispering’ this message to you, rather than shouting it out. From a storyline perspective, you could say that Sephiroth wanted fate to play out differently because he knows he’ll be defeated like in the original story. Does that mean he WON’T be defeated this time around? No point trying to change fate if it’s going to remain the same anyway.
There can be so much speculation as to what will change as well. We saw Zack alive with Cloud as he entered Midgar, we saw Biggs alive and well, as opposed to dead and buried like we all expected. These were possibly alternate timelines, proving that fate can be changed, as long as the Whispers aren’t around to keep things on a single path. Another thing that really confused me were that some parts that happen at the end of the original, also happen at the end of this remake. The final Sephiroth battle was very reminiscent of the final battle at the end of the original. But why not just save that for the end of the entire remake? It’s because it probably won’t play out in that way, so they had it play out in this first instalment so us original fans can experience it now.
So what does this mean for the future Final Fantasy 7 Remake titles? It could mean anything! If you’re a newcomer who isn’t familiar with the original game, any changes to the game/story won’t make a difference because there’s no point of reference for those people. But for the long-time fans like myself, we have reason to worry AND be excited. I know it would be great to replay the same great story we know and love. But maybe there were some elements that SquareEnix didn’t want to include, hence the reason for introducing the Whispers.
As far as I know, the Whispers most likely won’t be in the upcoming remake titles. I suppose their purpose has been fulfilled. Will the story play out in the same way? Surely it will still follow it, but probably more loosely than expected. If we look at another more recent remake, the 2019 release of Resident Evil 2, it still contained most of what we expected from the original, but changes were made to keep things fresh and exciting, otherwise it may have been a bit predictable. When you expected a Licker to run across the window in the reception room, it didn’t and would play on your mind. Mr X also wasn’t meant to be part of the first playthrough, but there he was!
I believe this approach could be what we should expect from the upcoming remakes, because that unpredictability is what will keep us captivated to something that is already so familiar.