I've always been a Tifa girl. Maybe it's the confidence, or the fact that she's probably the most selfless person in the whole party, or that she always has Cloud's back. Maybe it's the fact that while everyone else hides behind a weapon, she enters battle with nothing but her fists. Even in crude polygonal shape, Tifa was always the girl for me; my unexpectedly sheepish date waiting for me at the Gold Saucer.
...Until Final Fantasy 7 Remake, that is. Now, I'm rethinking my options.
Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake up until Chapter 14.
The original Final Fantasy 7, while featuring a love triangle of sorts with Tifa and Aerith, always seems to urge you in one direction in particular when it comes to the main story: to Aerith. (Er, "Aeris.") Final Fantasy 7 Remake, contrarily, seems to leave it more open to choice. Both Tifa and Aerith get fairly equal footing in terms of relationship building, and the pair spend a good deal of time together in Cloud's party. They even form a cute friendship, one that'll inevitably have fans shipping for something more.
"[W]e have been very conscious about the player's amount of time with Tifa and Aerith and keeping it equal," Final Fantasy 7 Remake co-director Naoki Hamaguchi told us in an interview. "Additionally, we would make sure their representation in-game is balanced as well; for example, if there is a special event scene for Tifa, then we would prepare something similar for Aerith as well."
As a loud and proud Team Tifa Lockhart fan, one thing in particular has caught me by surprise in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake: The mad lads of Square Enix made Aerith cool. Aerith is sassy, relentlessly mocking Cloud in an endearing way. She swears sometimes; she's clumsy. While she remains joyful, she's not annoyingly joyful like in Final Fantasy 7 proper. It actually makes sense for her to wear a grungy cropped leather jacket and combat boots with a dainty maxi-dress now. (The '90s fashion influence in Final Fantasy 7's character designs is even more apparent in this remake.) Her stubbornness, seen in how she just refuses to leave Cloud alone and insists on helping wherever she can no matter the danger, shows that she may be flawed, but she always has the best intentions.
Crisis Core, a spin-off that follows Soldier-comrade Zack's tragic life up until bequeathing the Buster Sword to Cloud, does its own part to shine a different side of Aerith—albeit, with some downright silly additions, like him giving her the iconic pink ribbon she wears in her hair. (Something that Final Fantasy 7 Remake subtly backtracks in the canon, thankfully.) Still, Crisis Core was very much Zack's story rather than Zack and Aerith's story, even if we got to see the more playful side of Aerith during her time with Zack.
Most importantly, in Final Fantasy 7 Remake she has more of a personality now than she did in the original game—as does Tifa, to be honest—even as characters like Barret remain unfortunate caricatures. She's more likable because of her no-nonsense attitude, coupled with her generally sweet and goofy demeanor. She complements Cloud's stiffness which only the women of Final Fantasy 7—Tifa, Aerith, and Jessie—seem to be able to break through. Aerith's fresh coolness has made me rethink my Tifa allegiance.
Despite realizing that maybe I'm Team Aerith now, I did end up with the Tifa-exclusive bonus scene in Chapter 14, although I did watch Aerith's alternative scene on YouTube. Both sequences are sweet and sad, showing Cloud's bond with each of them, as the women in his life have broken through his icy, Soldier-fied exterior. Even Jessie, already a fan favorite online, gets more screentime in the remake, which makes her fate all the more impactful. (The poor girl's endless flirting with Cloud sadly going nowhere.)
It's all leading me to be way sadder in Part 2 (or Part 3, or whatever) of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I'm in Chapter 14 of Final Fantasy 7 Remake at the time of writing this, so I have yet to roll credits. Final Fantasy 7 Remake isn't being subtle in telegraphing Aerith's inevitable demise, with Cloud experiencing a number of flashforwards signifying her death—like an early glimpse of her ribbon falling, which causes him to cry. It's a confusing moment for Cloud in the present, unsure of what he's feeling or experiencing.
In the original Final Fantasy 7, Aerith's death is undoubtedly a shocking and sad one, but mostly, it had me mourning the loss of my best healer. In Final Fantasy 7 Remake, I'm invested in her more than just being my party's clutch support and ranged fighter. She's a character I want to see live and not get killed by the gray-haired man with mommy issues—or at least, I can see her demise being even more gutting. And that, perhaps, is Final Fantasy 7 Remake's greatest strength.
Major Game Releases: April 13 to April 17
Here are the major releases for the week of April 13 to April 17. Want to see the complete list? Check out our full list of video game release dates for 2020.
- Fallout 76: Wastelanders Update [April 13 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One]: Fallout 76 is finally becoming a Bethesda RPG with its big Wastelanders update, which is bringing NPCs to Appalachia. Like, actual NPCs that you can get quests and whatnot from. No longer will the only humans players see just be other players. A more populated world in Fallout 76 is bound to be a welcome upgrade. We'll have additional thoughts when we play for ourselves later this week.
Five Things You Should Know Heading Into This Week in Gaming
- Everyone's playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake right now. With everyone on lockdown, more people are playing games than ever, and judging from social media, it seems like most folks are currently head down in Cloud Strife's adventure through Midgar in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
- A new Crysis may be on the way? Much like that one Cyberpunk 2077 tweet after years and years of silence perked up everyone's ears, so has Crysis' latest tweet. The Twitter account has been silent since 2016, and the last Crysis game released in 2013. Developers Crytek are currently working on the live-service games Hunt: Showdown and Warface, as it's also undergone heavy restructuring in the past few years. Perhaps we are overdue for a Crysis comeback, whether it's a sequel, a remaster, or whatever else.
- Fallout 76: Wastelanders launches this week, with a goal of making Fallout 76 more, well, Fallout-y. The Wastelanders update is bringing in NPCs to the world, so now the only characters other players see won't just be fellow players. In more ways than one, this really feels like Fallout 76's last shot. We'll see for ourselves if it's able to reinvent itself into a better game.
- Speaking of remakes, Resident Evil 4 is reportedly getting its own rehash. From the team behind Resident Evil 3's remake, Resident Evil 4 is allegedly the next game in line to get its own big remake according to Video Games Chronicle. (My condolences to Code Veronica.) How do you feel about it? For us, we're a bit mixed.
- ICYMI: Last Tuesday, Sony Interactive Entertainment unceremoniously revealed the two-toned controller for the PlayStation 5. Here's what we think it tells us about the mysterious next-generation console we have yet to see with our own eyes.
Axe of the Blood God for April 13, 2020
Axe of the Blood God is our official RPG podcast releasing every single Monday. You can find subscription info and listen to this week's episode here. We also put out an Axe of the Blood God newsletter every Wednesday, which you can subscribe to here.
Special guests Steve Bowling of GameXplain and Alex Donaldson of VG247 join Kat to discuss Final Fantasy 7 Remake's unique ending, and what might come next [10:35 to 57:00 if you want to avoid spoilers]. Then Nadia returns to ponder whether Xenogears and Suikoden 2 should get remakes, talk about quests that can be completed without violence, and compare the Switch's current RPG library to that of the 3DS.