It's been nearly five long years, but the long-awaited release date for Final Fantasy VII Remake is almost here. The hype surrounding the game reached a fever pitch in the last week with the surprise release of a demo on March 2. The PS4-only teaser of the game covers the first hour or so, and it's pretty light on spoilers. Or so you'd think.
One eagle-eyed Final Fantasy fan on Reddit spotted a fascinating detail about Cloud during the demo, which opens up some intriguing possibilities for the FF7 Remake's revised story. Massive spoilers ahead if you haven't played the original game.
Unraveling Cloud's convoluted and fascinating history is one of the most memorable aspects of FF7's bonkers and beloved story. We already know that FF7 Remake will expand considerably on the intricate tale woven by the original game, adding hours of gameplay and several new characters to the mix. Judging from trailers and preview footage, we already knew Cloud's dreamy-yet-evil nemesis Sephiroth would have a massive role to play in this retelling of the iconic JRPG. Now, it seems the demo just dropped a big clue that we might be seeing more of another major figure from Cloud's past.
If you've played FF7 before – and again, if you haven't, SPOILER ALERT – Cloud Strife, Sephiroth, and Zack Fair all worked together as soldiers employed by Midgar's Shinra Corporation. (In addition to draining the world of its pretty green life-force, Shinra also commands a formidable armed force with multiple branches.)
Zack and Sephiroth were far more advanced swordsmen than Cloud at this point, prior to the events of the main FF7 story. Together, all three of them went on a mission to investigate the Mako reactor in Nibelheim. The incident ended in disaster, as Sephiroth discovered the remnants of Jenova, went insane, and destroyed the town. Zack was killed, and for a very complex series of reasons I won't bother totally explaining here, Cloud assumes his dead friend's identity – without totally realizing he's doing so – as a result of the trauma. Cloud's spiky hairstyle and even his iconic Buster Sword are stolen from his dead friend.
If you'll remember from the original game, Cloud was never actually part of SOLDIER, despite this being a huge part of his identity for a substantial chunk of the game. When he falls into the Lifestream with Tifa, we finally learn that Cloud failed to make the cut. He looked up to Sephiroth and Zack so much as swordsmen that he quite literally became them, in a way. His two fighting styles in FF7 Remake, Operator Mode and Punisher Mode, recall the two men who most directly shaped his shattered identity.
In the original game, we don't see all that much of Zack, other than the Lifestream flashback and in various conversations with Aerith. He basically looks just like Cloud, but with black hair. He's the protagonist of the PSP prequel Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which takes place seven years before the main story.
Consistently using his friend's fighting style suggests that Zack, like Sephiroth, will be a much more constant presence in Cloud's thoughts in FF7 Remake than in the original game. We wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of flashbacks to their time together to bring the Crisis Core storyline to the broader audience of Final Fantasy fans.
Final Fantasy VII Remake comes to PS4 April 10.