Cloud won't be the same after Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Cloud and Sephiroth clash swords
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Cloud’s character arc in the original Final Fantasy 7 is a quest for self-discovery. Throughout the story, awkward, aloof, but well-meaning, Cloud aims to find out who he is and, in the process, to break free from the control that the nefarious Sephiroth has over him. Cloud starts as a blank slate but, gradually, comes to terms with his tumultuous past and, in doing so, can define his own future.  

However, the Cloud of Final Fantasy 7 Remake finds himself in a different position. Throughout the game, his interactions with Sephiroth are much more nuanced and two-sided than in the original. Though the silver-haired malcontent takes his rightful place as the game's final boss, he does so with a wry self-awareness; almost as if he is preparing Cloud for the trials ahead, rather than actively trying to destroy him. 

This makes for some spine-tinglingly dramatic scenes, gorgeously brought to life by Remake’s commitment to cinematic fidelity. Cloud’s first few interactions with Sephiroth in Remake have the silver-haired villain act as a foil to Cloud, prodding and poking him with menacing, cryptic dialogue. It’s gripping stuff and adds a real sense of mystery and foreboding to Remake’s story.  

However, I do wonder if this new journey that Remake Cloud seems to have started will deliver the same long-term payoff as the path taken by his earlier incarnation in the original game. This begs the question: can Square Enix have its cake and eat it?   

Through toil and Strife 

Spoiler warning for Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Remake explicitly defies the established canon of the original, to the extent that sinister shades materialize and accost Cloud and pals, attempting to “fix” the broken narrative. It’s a fascinating piece of fourth-wall-breakery from director Tetsuya Nomura. 

The Remake series seems laden with more than a little ambiguity; the “remake” in Final Fantasy 7 Remake isn’t an adjective, but a verb, signifying the characters’ defiance of fate and “canon”. Aerith, the wise, gentle, and resolute voice of reason within Remake’s ensemble, goes as far as to warn Cloud not to fall in love with her, suggesting that she is precognisant of her own death at the hands of Sephiroth later in the story. Cloud himself is treated to visions of Aerith’s death – of which he receives no such premonitions in the original.    

It’s clear that fate and its defiance are cornerstones of the new narrative that Nomura is building

The Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth trailer doubles down on this ambiguity, asking the audience: “what is fact, and what is fiction?” It’s clear that fate and its defiance are cornerstones of the new narrative that Nomura is building.

Rebirth becomes too preoccupied with its high-concept exploration of determinism at the expense of the original story. In that case, it runs the risk of overpowering the more nuanced arc of its main protagonist. However, what does this mean for Cloud? Will Cloud still have the time to find his identity while trapped in a sprawling pan-dimensional metaplot?

It can only go where the tracks take it 

Cloud and his friends look out over a Mako reactor

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Many of the events that shape Cloud’s story have yet to be touched on in the remake series. We have yet to reach the Temple of the Ancients, where Cloud’s identity almost becomes subsumed by Sephiroth’s influence, and we have yet to discover Cloud’s background as one of Doctor Hojo’s horrific experiments.   

We are forced to ask whether or not these events will have the same meaning for Cloud in the new timeline

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth may, as yet, be an unknown quantity, but given the remake’s deliberate choice to question the very notion of established canon, we are forced to ask whether or not these events will have the same meaning for Cloud in the new timeline, or if they’ll even happen at all. We already know that Rebirth won't be following the beaten path.

Perhaps the most significant change put forward in Rebirth comes in the form of Zack Fair’s survival. Zack, Cloud’s mentor and friend, is indirectly responsible for a great deal of Cloud’s initial sense of self, right down to his clothes: the uniform of a SOLDIER first class. 

Cloud was never in SOLDIER; it was a delusion he latched on to because of his admiration for Zack. 

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

(Image credit: Square Enix)

I cannot see how Zack being alive doesn’t meaningfully impact Cloud’s identity crisis, as he will be forced to directly confront the person he’s been emulating for the entirety of Remake. If handled poorly, this change could completely undermine Cloud’s character arc by forcing him to confront his past prematurely and reframing his identity crisis as secondary to the novelty of Zack’s return.   

This isn’t to say that Nomura and co. won’t be able to create something compelling and meaningful in its own way. Still, it does raise questions as to whether or not Rebirth will be able to preserve what made the original Final Fantasy 7 distinctive without compromising on the themes of fate and free will that Remake added to the mix. I remain cautiously optimistic, but, whichever way you look at it, a legend's fate rests on Rebirth’s shoulders.  

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on,, and, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.