Aerith’s Fate in ‘Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’ Is Causing a Rift Among Fans

There’s no extra necessary loss of life in video video games than that of Final Fantasy VII’s flower woman, Aerith. In the 1997 sport, Aerith meets her finish by the hands of Sephiroth, who brutally stabs her in entrance of the sport’s hero, Cloud Strife, and by extension the gamers.

It was a permadeath that stayed with followers. “I felt it was imperative for us to show the gravity and rawness of loss,” Tetsuya Nomura, the sport director who has labored on a number of Final Fantasy titles, together with this 12 months’s Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, not too long ago advised The New York Times. It was a formative second for a lot of gamers, who bear in mind the scene beat for beat, together with the second its iconic musical theme kicks in. When Square Enix introduced it was remaking Final Fantasy VII in a trilogy of video games, followers braced themselves to observe Aerith die yet again, rendered in additional fashionable, extra actual graphics—till the sport supplied up a twist: in-game phantoms known as whispers and the power to presumably stand in opposition to destiny.

In different phrases, when Final Fantasy VII Rebirth hit consoles late final month, gamers had been confronted with the likelihood that Aerith might be saved—or that Square Enix may be about to drag off the largest troll in historical past.

(Spoiler alert: Major spoilers for Aerith’s destiny in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth to comply with. No, actually, the entire scene, spoiled.)

Rebirth’s recreation of the collection’ most notorious scene begins out acquainted. Cloud approaches a kneeling Aerith within the Forgotten Capital, the place she’s run off to wish for a option to defeat Sephiroth. Cloud, overtaken by Sephiroth’s affect, almost kills her himself. When that fails, Sephiroth seems from the sky, comically giant sword in hand, to shish-kebab everybody’s favourite flower woman.

For a second, Aerith’s destiny appears locked into the identical one players knew so nicely in 1997—till Cloud breaks free and deflects the blade on the final minute. It falls harmlessly to the facet, and Aerith lives.

Or so it appears, till the scene begins to glitch between moments of Aerith unhurt, after which bloodied in loss of life. What?

From there it solely will get extra complicated, as Rebirth evokes a multiverse it has been enjoying with all through your entire sport. When the solid finds Cloud and Aerith, it’s clear they’re seeing their buddy slaughtered. Cloud, lengthy established as an unreliable narrator, nonetheless treats her as if she’s alive—and he or she performs the half nicely, presumably as some type of specter.

Reaction to this scene in on-line fan communities has been one in every of nice bewilderment. “Why make it so complicated?” wrote one Redditor in a publish asking for an evidence to the ending. “What was even the point?” wrote one other within the thread.

Square Enix’s twist on Aerith’s loss of life additionally signifies that the scenes following her homicide play out a lot in a different way. In the unique Final Fantasy VII, the sport’s solid individually mourns Aerith—Red XIII howls in sorrow, Tifa gently pats her hair, and so forth—earlier than Cloud carries her out to the lake and lets her sink into the water. It’s these scenes that drive her loss of life dwelling: There is not any magic remedy, no plot twist that may assist her. She’s simply gone.