There’s a lot of Kingdom Hearts DNA in Final Fantasy VII Remake. From its revamped combat system to its wildly out-there story, the RPG is certainly a far cry from the original PlayStation game. With its sequel coming off a mind-boggling twist, fans are left wondering how much further off-the-rails the ongoing series will go.
Sure, Square Enix could decide to take the series back down to Earth after a destiny-defying conclusion, but the alternative is much more fun: go full-on Kingdom Hearts II levels of bonkers. More specifically, the next FF7 Remake sequel should take a similar approach to its deuteragonist as Kingdom Hearts 2 does.
We’re hopping into spoiler territory both Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts 2 below, so consider this a friendly warning.
Final Fantasy VII Remake ends with a bizarre twist: Zack (Cloud's friend from his time working for Shinra's armed forces and the doomed protagonist from Crisis Core) miraculously survives a battle he’s supposed to die in. That unexpected turn gets even stranger when a visual cue in the finale implies that Zack now exists in a different timeline than Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barret, and Red-XIII. That ending has some fans speculating that the next installment of the remake will feature Zack as a playable character in some form.
That’s where Kingdom Hearts 2 comes in. The classic RPG begins with a sequence with the same amount of mind-boggling weirdness.
Rather than picking up with Sora’s story, the game puts players in control of a new character, Roxas. That puzzling narrative choice continues for two hours with only hints sprinkled throughout as to what the hell is happening. While the story eventually kicks over to Sora, it’s a sucker punch of an introduction that scoffs at the idea of immediate fan service (bold for a video game starring Donald Duck). And for lore reasons we won't dive into here, Roxas remains important throughout the rest of the Kingdom Hearts games since.
That dual protagonist setup, which was utilized to even greater extremes in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, is a natural fit for the next FF7 Remake installment.
The multi-dimensional teaser opens the door wide open for big structural changes that can build off the first remake’s momentum. As it stands, FF7 Remake already swaps the player’s party around based on the narrative, rather than letting players pick and choose their crew. Zack could extend that idea by giving players two completely separate parties that they control through the adventure.
There are two key reasons to think that a Kingdom Hearts 2 approach is entirely in the realm of possibility. For starters, Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura is also directing the Final Fantasy VII Remake series. That’s probably apparent enough from the game’s mind-boggling final boss fight and reimagined combat system. Considering that the first game employs some of Nomura’s narrative and mechanical tricks, there’s no reason to think that’ll let up in the sequel.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for a dual-hero story comes from a recent Square Enix trademark. The studio has trademarked the phrase "Ever Crisis" in both Europe and Canada. It’s unclear if that’s related to gaming at all, but the phrase shares a connection to Crisis Core. It’s clear that Square Enix has big plans for the prequel going forward, whether it plans to remake the original or integrate it into the rest of the VII series.
Whatever the reality is, Zack is undoubtedly a key player in the series moving forward. The character never quite got his due considering that only PSP players got to play his adventure. Just as Square Enix got to rewrite Final Fantasy VII’s history in the remake, it has a golden opportunity to make Crisis Core a more impactful story. That starts with Zack and giving players plenty of time to get acquainted with the hero.
FF7 Remake is so enjoyable, in large part because it takes a lot of bold chances that pay off. Rather than playing it safe and doing a straight refresh of the original game, Square Enix throws fan service to the wind in the exact same way that Kingdom Hearts 2 did. There’s no better way to keep that creative spirit alive than by opening the second FF7 Remake with a two-hour sequence of Zack eating popsicles with his friends and skateboarding, right?
Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 is currently in development.