Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Is Never Afraid To Let Its Characters Cry

Many tears fall in Rebirth, and all of them help its characters feel more human.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Is Never Afraid To Let Its Characters Cry

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is one of the most emotionally resonant games in recent memory. It strikes a tone between serious drama and balls-to-the-wall hijinks with a perfect balance that only Yakuza can match. One second you could be watching a character cry over the sudden loss of a lifelong friend, and the next you’ll be riding away from sarcastic thugs in suits in the most unnecessary turret section in gaming history. There are choreographed dance numbers followed up immediately by presidential assassination attempts, and somehow, it all works.

Much like Yakuza, time is taken to develop each character as a person to be taken seriously, each of them possessing harrowing yet engrossing backstories and realistic motivations that see them involved in the fight for the planet. Barret Wallace fights for his adoptive daughter, while Yuffie Kisaragi is desperate to recoup supplies and restore honor to her home country. Aerith Gainsborough is the last of her people, in possession of an ancient power capable of saving and destroying the planet. But all of them are determined to stop the forces of Shinra and Sephiroth, two individual superpowers who are slowly wiping out all of humanity.

The 1997 original takes time to develop each character and dedicate specific moments and locations to their plight, such as Barret at Corel Prison or Red XIII in Cosmo Canyon. These sequences have grown iconic in the decades since, drawing smiles and tears aplenty when I recall them from memory. But in the days of the first PlayStation, many of the emotions were drawn from limitations. The expressions of the archaic 3D models were minimal, and so how they moved and where they were placed in the scene was paramount. The iffy localisation — done by a single person, so I’ll let them off — also meant it wasn’t until years after the fact that all the true circumstances behind the narrative were unveiled.

Remake and Rebirth present an opportunity to not only revisit these scenes, but reimagine each one with new ideas and a clearer execution of the emotions at play. Through my 66-hour journey I was brought to tears on a number of occasions, largely thanks to excellent performances and strong writing that help to turn this convoluted mess of anime melodrama into something digestible and compelling.

After all, Final Fantasy 7 tells a tragic story at its core. A motley crew of outcasts are joined together due to circumstances outside their control, and, thanks to the hands of fate, must do everything they can to save the world. Throughout Rebirth, we see Aerith, Tifa, Barret, Red, and even Cait Sith openly weeping during certain scenes, even if the bravado of particular characters has them eager to hide such obvious displays of emotion.

They lose people, or are forced to confront past events where trauma and grief are the only defining factors. It’s a pilgrimage of past mistakes, where confronting personal demons is equally important as banishing those who threaten to destroy everything. Our heroes are never given enough time to grief or deconstruct their emotions, so the best and only solution is to just cathartically let it all out. Even Barret, a man hardened by years of loss, cries the most out of anyone, hastily putting his sunglasses on to hide any falling tears.

The world is tinged with melancholy, with the majority of citizens existing under the boot of a corporate superpower intent on turning the planet into a threadbare dystopia. It can be easy to feel hopeless about everything, to look out upon the decaying landscape and wonder just what the point of it all is. But through expressing emotions, we also conjure hope. Letting our tears run reminds us that we are living for not just ourselves, but the people we care about.

One of the few ways to avoid letting these feelings consume us is to keep on fighting, scrambling for a final destination where we can make something of ourselves. Whenever tears fall in Rebirth, it always comes from a place of loss or confusion, but when they cease, our party strides to an unknown future they know is worth sticking around for.

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