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This article contains major spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake and Rebirth

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Ultimania, which was released on 12 April 2024, includes interviews with the developers who worked on the game. Due to the length of the interviews, this article is split into multiple parts.

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In this part of the first interview, Iwaki Hiroaki (scenario), Nojima Kazushige (story and scenario), and Toriyama Motomu (co-director) discuss the game’s story.

The interviewer begins with asking how the story was written, and Nojima says that he wrote the plot based on requests from the scenario team, which included creative director Nomura Tetsuya and Toriyama, and then made adjustments to it based on feedback. Toriyama adds that the general plot for the entire Remake Project up to the end was already completed in the early stages of development for the first game, and that Rebirth’s story was mostly based on this as well.

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When asked about the theme of the game, Toriyama says that he and Nojima would have different answers. Nojima says that since the first game was about learning about the characters, Rebirth was about learning about the world that they are in, and how the story as a whole (including Zack’s world) works. For Toriyama, however, the big theme of the game was balancing story with the freedom to adventure.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth - Zack

It is next mentioned how the game starting with Zack left a huge impact, and Toriyama says that they knew that players of the original would expect to see the game start at Kalm, and they wanted to subvert that, and it was also in Nojima’s script that they should tell the player that Zack’s world is different from Cloud’s at the start of the game.

The interviewer asks about why the story for Rebirth ends at the Forgotten City, and Toriyama says that the idea to have the second part of the trilogy end there was something they had considered since the very beginning. There are many locations to visit between leaving Midgar and reaching it, and Gongaga, which is optional in the original FF7, is part of the main story in Rebirth, giving it more volume: They thus even had the idea to have the game end before reaching the Forgotten City at a point. Nojima was against the idea of the game ending there for some time, wanting the game to end with Tifa falling into the mako reactor in Gongaga, saying that he did not like the idea of using Aerith’s fate as a hook, thinking it would be better to use Tifa in such a way instead. In the end, they went with the original plan, with Toriyama saying that they would not be able to fit everything into three games otherwise.

Next, it is pointed out how most of the towns from the original FF7 appeared in Rebirth, and the interviewer asks if this was always the plan. Nojima says that it was: Fans looked forward to seeing things from the original game, and they made a promise to keep as many of the original game’s elements as possible. Iwaki adds that the sheer number of towns meant that they had to make a lot of quests and small stories for each, and while this was very difficult, it also meant that they had the chance to have lots of characters appear and give them attention.

The story being changed so that Cid had met Ifalna before is brought up next, with Toriyama saying that this was inspired by Nojima’s novel, FFVII Remake: Traces of Two Pasts, which followed Aerith as a child in the Shinra headquarters. Since Cid was with Shinra at the time, it would not have been strange for them to have met, and that led to this idea. Nojima says that he wanted to do the cliche of having Cid talk about how small she was, and also add an event to give weight to his past: Given how Cid was there at that age, he must have been involved in many big events, and this was done to hint at that.

Vincent’s involvement with the Queen’s Blood card game is also discussed. Iwaki mentions that Queen’s Blood was originally a much smaller-scale minigame, but it grew bigger and bigger, which resulted in them getting the idea to give it a story. At that point, they got the idea to incorporate legends of Jenova into the story, with the conflict between the queen and the witch being based on urban legend-like stories of the war between Jenova and the Cetra. Toriyama got the idea to add Vincent after that, saying that having unique opponents is important in a card game, which is why the latter half of Queen’s Blood has stranger participants, and suggesting Vincent was part of this. Additionally, Vincent did not have many chances to do anything in the main story in Rebirth, so he wanted to give him more attention with the card game.

Next, the interviewer points out how the date events in the Gold Saucer are even more impressive than in the original game, and asks if this was always the plan. Toriyama says that it was: While Remake also had events based on affection, the biggest thing tied to that system in the original FF7 was the Gold Saucer dates, so they wanted to pay particular attention to them. Nojima adds that in the Rebirth date events, the characters grow closer to Cloud than they did in the original, and Toriyama says that while in Aerith’s case they wanted to replicate what happened in the original, changing it for the other characters was a conscious decision: For example, with Barret, the event was more comical in the original, while in Rebirth they made it about his past after considering the attention given to events with Dyne in Corel. As for the version with Cait Sith, Vincent and Cid, Iwaki says that they only decided to add this after the events for the other five characters were done. When he was told they would be making it, his first thought was that there was no way it could be a date, and that was what he had in mind when writing it.

The interviewer brings out how Tifa and Cloud kiss if Tifa’s affection is high, and Toriyama says that since it was something that was left to the players‘ imagination up to this point, so they had to be very careful about considering how to handle that scene. Nojima adds that he was very worried about the affection system and how it might affect the main story, and Toriyama acknowledges that when the player can choose what to say, this can result in a gap between what happens and what the writers want the characters’ emotions to be. Nojima says that in the end, however, the affection system was something that players were looking forward to, and hopes they enjoy it as a game-like element outside of the axis of the main story.

Next, the interviewer asks about why Loveless was use for the stage play in Rebirth, and Toriyama says that while the play in the original was a comical one about a fantasy world, they wanted to make the play in Rebirth a spectacle representing the Gold Saucer, and so decided on actually showing Loveless, which had only existed in an abstract form up till now, for the first time.

Regarding the song No Promises to Keep, which Nojima wrote, he says that in-universe, Aerith wrote the lyrics in the Gold Saucer’s hotel, so he tried to write them while getting into the role of being her. The lyrics are about meeting someone for the first time, but they are not about Cloud or Zack or any particular individual, but about the emotions of that topic in general. Aerith wants to feel that meeting other people is not fate, but chance, and this is because of the fate she bears as a descendant of the Cetra and what it has brought her up to this point. She wants to get away from fate, and just be surrounded by people that she loves that she only met by chance.

Part 2 of this article is available here:

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Post-Release Interview (Part 2) – Devs Discuss Side Characters, Dialogue, and Sequel

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