Tetsuya Nomura has made it clear that the story of the Final Fantasy VII Remake project is not beholden to the original game. With the fate of Zack Fair seemingly changed and the possible return of a long-dormant villain, there is no telling what other changes the plot may undergo. With the reveal of FF7 Rebirth, fans are foaming at the mouth over one particular line from the trailer.
Tifa responds to Cloud saying, “What are you implying? That I died, that I’m an imposter?” This could set up a drastic change to a key moment in the original game.
Major Final Fantasy VII spoilers follow
The past is catching up — One of the key moments in the original Final Fantasy VII is the mystery surrounding Nibelheim, Cloud, and Tifa’s hometown. Throughout the game, Cloud has flashbacks to five years before the main game, when he returned home. Zack (who Cloud later models his personality and memories off), Sephiroth, and Cloud are sent to investigate the Nibel Reactor for Shinra.
Tifa joins the group as their guide (sporting an awesome cowboy outfit) but does not recognize Cloud, as he hides his face to avoid any embarrassment at not becoming a SOLDIER. When Sephiroth goes crazy and rampages through the town killing Tifa’s father and Cloud’s mother the group follows him as he enters the reactor. In a fit of rage, Tifa picks up the sword Masamune and rushes at Sephiroth but is disarmed. As Cloud enters the room, he witnesses Sephiroth cut down Tifa.
“How bad was I after Sephiroth stabbed me?” asks Tifa when Cloud recounts this story to the party while at Kalm. “I thought you were a goner,” replies Cloud. This sounds a lot like what Cloud says in the Rebirth trailer directly before Tifa’s mysterious line. He says, “I saw you lying there, I figured it was too late.”
What does the future hold? — A block of text asks “What is fact and what is fiction?” during the trailer. This is something players and Cloud must figure out. Players know the original game and need to parse what is true for this new incarnation of the story. Cloud is trying to figure out who he is and what lies his history holds.
FF7 Rebirth may change the story of the Nibelheim Incident in some way. Cloud could have been scared for his friend's life and not able to confirm if she survived before he passed out, like in the original. Or Sephiroth could be messing with the timeline as he already has in FF7 Remake. If Tifa was killed by Sephiroth, then perhaps the Whispers saved her just like they did with Barret.
Remake’s Sephiroth wants to change the future, in hopes of avoiding his demise. The game implies several times that he has knowledge of how events are supposed to unfold and is testing the bounds of how he can affect change in this world. He constantly teases Cloud about not being able to save anyone he loves, and Cloud has flashbacks that look to be about events from the original game. Cloud’s struggle to uncover his true self could go even further, revealing that he must reconcile the two different paths his life is on: the plot of the original and Remake.
The remake project has made it clear that nothing is set in stone with these games. Characters who died can live again, but the opposite is also true. Tifa’s mysterious line from the Rebirth trailer emphasizes the possibility of these changes and is a message to players that everything is not what it may at first appear to be.