Game Theory

Final Fantasy Origin could borrow a timeline twist from FF7 Remake

The ending of the very first game could be a fascinating jumping-off point.

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Is Final Fantasy about to get even weirder? Visionary game director Tetsuya Nomura has developed a reputation for complex storylines that hop between alternate realities and timelines after Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy VII Remake. Since Nomura’s serving as a creative producer on Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, it’s safe to assume the story has some cerebral twists in store.

Though Square Enix hasn’t revealed much about the game’s plot at this early stage, the demo and comments from Nomura suggest multiple dimensions and time travel twists could be in play. Looking back at the plot of Final Fantasy 1, it turns out the classic game’s ending has implications that could’ve directly resulted in the events of Final Fantasy Origin.

The original Final Fantasy’s ending, explained

The pioneering NES role-playing game Final Fantasy lacks the detailed narrative of future entries in the series. That said, it still plays around with concepts like time loops and left a lot of room for the series to explore and expand.

Final Fantasy follows four Warriors of Light as they go on a quest to restore four elements and defeat Chaos, whose true identity is the rogue knight Garland. Toward the end of the game, players learn Chaos’ scheme is part of an elaborate time loop where the nefarious Four Fiends send Garland back in time after that game’s Warriors of Light defeat him.

Final Fantasy 1 is getting a remaster for PC and mobile later this year.

In turn, Garland transforms into Chaos and sends the fiends into the future, where they can drain power from the four elements and continue the time loop. At the end of Final Fantasy, the Warriors of Light manage to travel back in time and defeat Chaos, creating a world where everything appears to be at peace.

However, the Warriors of Light’s memories are also wiped. Instead, they store the memories of what happened “deep in their hearts.” What if breaking the time loop compromised reality in ways that the Warriors of Light didn’t expect, causing the events of Final Fantasy Origin?

This idea of history repeating across alternate timelines will be familiar to anyone who’s played Final Fantasy VII: Remake. Aerith and Sephiroth’s words and actions throughout the game subtly but repeatedly insinuate that both are aware of the outcome of the original 1997 game — and are determined to change how the story plays out this time around. Could something similar be happening with Garland or the Warriors of Light?

What we know about Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

In an interview with Famitsu, Nomura claimed that Final Fantasy Origin isn’t “directly connected” to the original as a sequel or prequel and uses the first game “as a motif” and for its setting. He also touched on how Final Fantasy Origin connects to Final Fantasy 1’s ending:

“In Final Fantasy 1 at the end of the game you find out who the Warriors of Light, the protagonists, really are and where they came from,” he told Famitsu. “Jack and his allies are also “strangers”. Who are Jack and his allies? Are they the Warriors of Light? These questions lie at the heart of the story, and this idea of “strangers” is central to the plot.”

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin was revealed at E3 2021.

The cycle seems to be broken at the end of that NES game, but Chaos might still be attempting to find a way to possess Garland and restart the cycle. Now, heroes must emerge as the prophesied Warriors of Light to stop this from happening. Jack’s goal may be to break the time loop once and for all, putting an end to all of the mayhem that emerged when the Warriors of Light supposedly won in Final Fantasy.

Nomura’s comments also suggest that Jack and his friends may come from another dimension, but are somehow connected to the original Warriors of Light. In a similar vein, the official trailer description for Final Fantasy Origin mentions the companions are adventuring “With the memory of their struggle buried deep in their hearts,” mirroring a similar statement from the end of Final Fantasy.

Maybe that’s why Jed calls himself and his friends “Warriors of Light” in the game’s demo. Either these are new Warriors of Light a new timeline, or they are alternate versions of the heroes that saved the world in Final Fantasy, with only a faint memory of what actually happened. The ending of the first installment of Final Fantasy VII Remake left fans with similar questions. These alternate realities are an intriguing evolution of the longstanding series motif of discovering one’s hidden self.

With dimension-hopping already in play, adding time travel and faded memories into the mix doesn’t seem too farfetched. If nothing else, the ending of the NES classic suggests Final Fantasy Origin’s narrative will be far more ambitious than gamers could have dreamed of circa 1987.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will be released in 2022.

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