Those who played the original Final Fantasy VII know that game like the back of their hand, but its 2020 remake changed things up in significant ways over the course of its runtime. Since the end of that game, there’s been plenty discussions online about what would be changed in future remakes and how those changes would occur.
Just before the weekend, Square Enix released a trailer for the next remake game , Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, to close out PlayStation’s State of Play livestream. Following that, producer Yoshinori Kitase published a message online that teased the sequel’s scope and acknowledged the big Chocobo in the room: namely, that this installment will be the one where plucky mage Aerith is killed by Sephiroth, as she was back in the original 1997 game. “The story will unfold more dramatically than ever before,” wrote Kitase, “with a rapid pace of major twists and turns. We know fans are dying to see one scene in particular.” The seeds were further planted by creative director Tetsuya Nomura, who told PlayStation that Rebirth’s locations would extend up to The Forgotten Capital, where “the greatest fate of Final Fantasy VII awaits you.”
Aerith’s death is one of those events that it’s hard to not know about in some context: either you experienced it yourself when playing the original Final Fantasy VII, or you’ve heard about it via cultural osmosis. (Brit Baron, who voices Aerith in the remake, admitted to io9 in 2020 she didn’t know much about her until she googled the character after landing an audition.) It’s an important moment across the entire franchise and video games in general, which makes it incredibly risky to tamper with in any form...and if you’re Square Enix, it’s too tempting to not try and tamper with. While it’s possible the game will stick to how the original events play out, it wouldn’t be wrong to expect a shakeup in some form.
The aforementioned Rebirth trailer gave a small glimpse of what’s potentially another timeline, one where Zack Fair (star of Crisis Core and whose death hangs over Cloud and Aerith in the original game) and an injured Cloud make their way to Midgard. Since we’re following at least two timelines, and we’ve got two Clouds, it could be that one of them ends up getting killed in Aerith’s place. Or maybe it’s Zack or someone else—that initial Rebirth trailer opened with several members of the Avalanche crew looking heavily injured, if not entirely dead.
We’ll know for sure when Final Fantasy VII Rebirth releases on February 29, 2024 for the PlayStation 5 on two discs.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.