FF7 Rebirth Detail An Oversight Or Incredible Foreshadowing?

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is the second game in the trilogy of games reimagining the landmark 1997 RPG, and it spends a lot of its runtime setting up plotlines it will presumably wrap up in the third entry. Some of these are worldbuilding details, such as establishing the nation of Wutai as a major player in the upcoming political conflicts. But there’s also a great deal of character work done in the margins of all its mini-games and open-world exploration. Protagonist Cloud Strife has quite a remarkable character arc throughout the Final Fantasy VII story, and while Rebirth, as the middle chapter, doesn’t totally reveal where things are going with him, fans have spotted a small detail in two scenes in Nibelheim that may be an oversight, but could also be some pretty great, subtle foreshadowing. Spoilers for all of Final Fantasy VII follow.

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In the opening hours of Rebirth, Cloud tells party members Tifa, Aerith, Barret, and Red XIII about a mission he and series big bad Sephiroth underwent in Nibelheim years before the events of Final Fantasy VII. After he tells the group what he remembers from that day, Tifa confides in Aerith that while she was there when those events played out, her recollection differs greatly from how Cloud tells the story. Cloud spends chunks of Rebirth struggling with his contradictory memories and eventually learns that Sephiroth has some control over him, But precisely what’s going on with him is never fully explained. This reveal is likely waiting in the third game, but it turns out that Cloud’s memories of the Nibelheim Incident are overlapping with those of Zack Fair, the protagonist of Crisis Core who dies in the original Final Fantasy VII timeline.

It turns out Cloud wasn’t a SOLDIER during the incident and didn’t have his iconic Buster Sword at the time. As such, fans have picked up on a difference in how he behaves in Rebirth’s flashbacks to Nibelheim compared to when he visits the rebuilt town later in the game.

Twitter user pwtizza posted a comparison between two scenes in which Cloud sits at the water tower in the center of Nibelheim. This is a place where he and Tifa would convene as kids, and it still holds some significance to him to this day. When he sits down on its perch in the flashback, he keeps the giant Buster Sword on his back like always. Plenty of video games show characters sitting down with weapons on their backs and just let them clip through the environment. What of it? Well, the fact that Square Enix created an entirely new animation of Cloud removing the sword from his back when he sits down in the same spot later in the game makes this difference potentially significant. Perhaps Cloud doesn’t remove the sword from his back in the flashback because, at the time, he didn’t actually have it.

In the actual timeline of events, Cloud wouldn’t get the Buster Sword until much later, after Zack’s death. So it makes sense that he would move through the world without accommodating a giant blade on his back. The fact that most video games have scenes that don’t adjust animations for weapons makes it entirely possible this is just an oversight, but damn, it would be real neat if Square was thinking that far ahead with this subtle change.

For more on Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, check out Kotaku’s review.

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