Game Theory

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Theory Reveals a Shocking Truth About the Trilogy

What’s the deal with Zack?

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Zack
Square Enix

Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s climactic finale opened up a whole can of worms about where the story is going. Square Enix took some wild swings in the climax that set up some massive changes moving forward, despite multiple developers stating the rest of the story would follow the same outline as the original Final Fantasy 7. However, the latest trailer for Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth might give us a vital clue as to how both of those things can be true, with a new fan theory that turns the entire series on its head.

In Rebirth’s latest trailer, we see clear as day the larger role that Zack Fair will play in the game. Of course, in the original game, Zack has long been deceased, and his still being alive is one of the major lingering questions. The prevailing, and most probable, theory is that Zack is alive in a parallel universe, or an alternate timeline. But there are a few interesting details in the new trailer that could explain that further.

Sephiroth’s goals are still the biggest unanswered question going into Rebirth.

Square Enix

During a segment with Zack, we see him at Elmyra Gainsborough’s house, discovering Aerith in a sleeping coma-like state. During this scene, Barret’s daughter Marlene tells Zack that when she wakes up, a scary man is going to end her life.

This is obviously in reference to the shocking scene of the original FF7, where Sephiroth brutally brings an end to Aerith’s life. But what Marlene says could also be a bit of a red herring, and both could be true.

The basic idea of this theory is that Zack’s timeline isn’t another universe, but actually a purgatory that stops people from entering the Lifestream — a kind of afterlife combined with the wheel of life. For those who don’t know, souls of the departed enter the Lifestream where they’re reborn as a new being. Of course, the Lifestream also has some degree of sentience, as at the end of Final Fantasy 7, Aerith saves the world from within the Lifestream, by using it, and the spell Holy, to stop Meteor.

Sephiroth may have created this purgatory realm as a way of stopping those events from happening, using the world as a tool to keep people like Zack and Aerith out of the Lifestream. After all, if Aerith isn’t in the Lifestream, then nothing is preventing Meteor from destroying the planet. Events in Rebirth will follow the original timeline with the big Aerith moment still happening, but then she wakes up in Zack’s purgatory. At this point, there’d be a parallel story running alongside the main story, revolving around Zack and Aerith trying to put a stop to Sephiroth’s new plan.

Certain characters may be able to appear in both worlds, like Marlene and Cloud.

Square Enix

There are multiple facets to this theory, and a lot of it makes sense. One question is how Marlene would know about what Sephiroth does to Aerith, to begin with. However, that’s explainable by the connection the young girl shares with Aerith, and perhaps Marlene could even be an Ancient herself. In Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the first time Marlene meets Aerith there’s a clear connection. Aerith whispers something to the girl, that we never hear, and it immediately calms her down. Fast forward to the film Advent Children, and Marlene is the one who knows to take everyone to Aerith’s church for healing, telling Cloud “She’ll be there.” Marlene is somehow in tune with Aerith or the Lifestream, or both.

Another scene in the trailer shows Zack talking to Biggs, who says he’s the only living member of Avalanche as everyone else has been eliminated, Tifa, Barret, Biggs, Jessie, and more. At the end of Remake, a post-credits scene shows Biggs recovering in Elmyra’s house, presumably alive. Yet again, though, that could be a red herring, like how The Last of Us Part II made sure to show a certain character alive in its trailers, although that character is offed early in the actual game itself. What if Jessie and Wedge survived events but Biggs didn’t, and he’s waking up in the purgatory world? It certainly seems suspicious that everyone from the main party has been eliminated in Zack’s world.

This all sets the stage for what will, presumably, be one of the major moments of the third game, when Cloud falls in the Lifestream. In the original, this event causes Cloud to go into a vegetative state, and Tifa has to enter his subconscious to repair it. During this time, Cloud could be straddling the line between worlds, his subconscious entering the purgatory where he has to help Zack and Aerith put an end to the bizarro-world Sephiroth has created, thus enabling Holy and the Lifestream to stop Meteor.

The ending of Remake shows Biggs waking up, but it seems increasingly likely that happened in Zack’s world, not the main timeline.

Square Enix

All of this is a way of shaking up the story of Final Fantasy 7 with new events and developments, while the main narrative still follows that path. Creative director Tetsuya Nomura has said events of the trilogy will “link up” to Advent Children, so we know the “canon” timeline can’t deviate too much.

While this theory is pretty convincing, there are still plenty of questions to be addressed, like what Sephiroth’s ultimate goal is, or if Vincent Valentine’s backstory might player a bigger role. Whether things play out exactly like this or not, though, it’s clear Square Enix has something big in store for us.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth launches on February 29, 2024 for PS5.

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