The Most Overlooked Piece of Storytelling in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s Final Battle

    There's something to be said about a Limit Break.

    Final Fantasy VII Rebirth offers some of the best storytelling found in the Final Fantasy series. From the intimate character moments to the wider development found by simply exploring the world, there is no shortage of incredible worldbuilding and storytelling to be found. One of the most critical plot points is, of course, Aerith’s fate and the final climax of FFVII Rebirth at The Forgotten Capital. 

    While there has been tons of debate and discussion online regarding what everything means, there’s a key piece of storytelling that can be found in the gameplay of the final battle. With the recent release of the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Ultimania, a key piece of information was revealed that confirmed an intentional design choice within that battle. It may seem insignificant, but it paints a vivid picture of the narrative and especially of what’s to come.



    Immediately following Aerith’s death, the party then turns to face Jenova Lifeclinger. Once you’re in combat, it’s hard not to notice that everyone but Cloud has a full limit break from the very beginning. With such a powerful attack available on everyone but Cloud, something has to be wrong, right? This small omission is much more important than you think.

    The answer to why Cloud does not have a full Limit Break gauge is simple – Cloud hasn’t realized that Aerith has been killed. The other party members do as they see her lifeless body held in Cloud’s arms, with blood pooling around them both. Barret screams at Sephiroth, “I’ll kill you!” while Tifa holds back tears and shouts Aerith’s name. 

    However, in Cloud’s version of reality, Aerith is fine and okay. She tells him it’s okay, and he tells her “I got this”. Why can Cloud see Aerith? The answer is simple: he’s denying her death. Like his fractured mind regarding his ‘former position’ of SOLDIER 1st Class, Aerith is dead, and Cloud simply cannot accept it. As the scene progresses, Cloud’s broken version of reality and true reality flash back and forth, going from his POV to the POV of the party.

    Now, there’s something to be said about whether or not Aerith is projecting herself to Cloud from the Lifestream (she is), but the point here is that Cloud is willingly preventing himself from seeing the truth. Aerith likely aims to protect his mind before the events at the North Crater, which also plays into what he’s seeing. The white whispers surrounding Cloud possibly physically represent this, perhaps representing his mind being ‘protected’ by Aerith. You can get much further context of the white whispers and their purpose by reading ‘Final Fantasy VII: On the Way to a Smile’, but that’s a story for another day.

    With this context, Cloud’s lack of a Limit Break starts to make sense. The party is enraged, having lost one of their own, yet Cloud is completely unaware and perceives Aerith to be completely fine. Sephiroth even tells Cloud directly, stating, “You’ll never see the truth with such clouded eyes.” 

    In the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Ultimania, the development staff confirmed this decision was indeed intentional. While the party is overwhelmed with emotions of rage, sadness, and revenge, Cloud simply isn’t; he has not realized Aerith has died and believes he deflected Sephioth’s Masamune. This small detail tells an eye-opening story once you think about the reasons Cloud may be unaffected.

    A statement that drives the point home.

    Some of the major key themes in the original Final Fantasy VII are life, loss, grief, and identity. The ending of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth propels these higher than ever, setting a grand stage for the events following The Forgotten Capital. At the North Crater, Cloud will likely realize the truth of Aerith’s fate, spiraling his breakdown even further after he gives Sephiroth the Black Materia.

    I love games where storytelling intertwines with gameplay and combat. Many games struggle to link gameplay elements to storytelling, yet this minor detail of the Limit Break gauge makes it very clear where the third title of this trilogy is headed. With such a critical scene flowing with emotion, the party having full Limit Break gauges and Cloud’s lack thereof highlights just how broken Cloud’s mind truly is. 

    While the Limit Break is only a small tiny detail, it only gets me more excited for the final game in this incredible trilogy. The stakes have never been higher, and the developers have intently placed more baggage for Cloud to carry as he marches toward the climax of his identity crisis. Loads of scenes throughout the final few hours directly reveal he is under the belief that Aerith is alive, but it all starts with his lack of emotion (and realization) during the Jenova Lifeclinger fight. 

    Noah Hunter
    Noah Hunter
    Noah is Final Weapon’s Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded the website in June 2019 and has been writing for it ever since. In total, he has over five years of writing experience across many publications, including IGN Entertainment. His favorite series include Xeno and Final Fantasy.

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