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Revisit Aerith’s big Final Fantasy 7 scene before playing FF7 Rebirth

One of the biggest fan theories going around Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is that Aerith – famous for his death in the original Final fantasy 7 – can escape her fate this time. Square Enix’s remake trilogy is getting to that point in the story, and… well, honestly, we have review code and I could ask someone how it turns out, but then I wouldn’t be able to sit here and speculate with the rest from you, free from embargoes and spoilers.

So I’m typing this, with my head in the sand, remembering how Aerith died in 1997. That provides a convenient excuse to re-promote a story we published in 2017.

At the time we were running Final Fantasy 7: An oral history, a recklessly extravagant behind-the-scenes look at what happened before, during and after the development of the PS1 game. And one of the chapters of that story was about Aerith’s death and how it came about behind the scenes.

“Did you know that people have been coming up to me for years and saying, ‘You killed Aerith!?’” said FF7 character and combat visual director Tetsuya Nomura.

“The theme of Final fantasy 7 was ‘life,’ and we sacrificed Aerith to give weight and depth to that theme,” Nomura said. “Her death is a tragedy, but if we were to suddenly kill everyone else afterwards, it would dilute the meaning of her death.”

“When a character dies in a video game, no one thinks it’s that sad,” Nomura added. “After all, they’re just characters in a game: you can just reset the game and try again, or you can always revive them somehow. I felt like their lives didn’t carry much weight. With ‘life’ as the theme for FF7I thought we should try to portray a character who really dies for good, who can’t come back. For that death to resonate, it had to be an important character. So we thought killing off the heroine would allow players to think more deeply about that theme.”

However, that doesn’t mean Nomura hasn’t second-guessed his decision.

“Long after we made the decision to kill Aerith and development had progressed significantly, I (composer Nobuo Uematsu) went to visit his room. Just to hang out and talk about random things. One day, near the end of development, I visited him to ask him, “Do you think we did the right thing in killing Aerith?”

“He said, yeah, that’s what he thought,” Nomura said a moment later.

“I was relieved when I heard it.”

What does this mean for Rebirth? Whatever happens, it seems like a safe bet that it won’t go exactly like last time, as player expectations are now part of the equation. You can’t surprise people by doing the same thing twice.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirthon which Nomura was creative director, will be released on February 29.