Final Fantasy 7 (Video Game)

Inciting Event: An old flame, Tifa, has asked Cloud to join Avalanche, a group trying to stop mega-corporation Shinra from draining the planet’s lifeblood to extinction. After two missions, he stumbles upon and then protects Aeris, a flower girl in trouble with some gangsters. He becomes involved in a much bigger plot when President Shinra kills thousands of Midgar citizens just to wipe out Avalanche. These events culminate in Aeris being captured after all, and Avalanche along with her. They find themselves freed the next morning by an unknown hand. They follow a trail of blood to find that a mysterious man, linked to Cloud’s shaky memories of the past, has killed {resident Shinra and made off with the disembodied head of Jenova, a foreboding humanoid monster.

First Plot Point: Cloud recounts how the mysterious man, Sephiroth, once his hero and idol, betrayed him and massacred his hometown. He regrets being unable to stop him and being so weak against him. The group trails Sephiroth to the temple of the Ancients (a race known as the Cetra, of which Aeris is a member), where he reveals his plan to wound the planet with an incredibly destructive spell called Meteor, using a black materia stone. The group fights off Sephiroth, and obtains the stone, but Cloud’s dissonance about his own identity allows Sephiroth to manipulate him into giving it back.

First Pinch Point: Aeris rushes off to stop Sephorith herself, praying to the planet for aid. The group follows her, but Sephiroth kills her, devastating Cloud, who believes himself to have known and loved her since long ago.

The group follows Sephiroth to the Northern Crater, where Jenova collided with the planet in ancient history. It is revealed that the man they are pursuing is not the original Sephiroth but a shape-shifting clone of Jenova, as are many others gathering together to be killed and absorbed into one being. Cloud finds out he is also a clone and can’t reconcile his existence or his past. He is once again controlled by Jenova/Sephiroth, enabling the latter to summon Meteor. The planet responds by summoning gigantic creatures that serve as its immune system, called Weapons. Sephiroth makes the Weapons think the source of destruction is not him, and they disperse in search of it.

The forces at work crack the ground open and swallow Cloud. The group is arrested by Shinra.

Midpoint: Cloud’s friends escape Shinra and try to protect the people from the Weapons, who have turned on them in an effort to try to return energy to the planet in preparation against Meteor’s arrival. The group later finds Cloud in a small town on the opposite end of the planet, rendered catatonic by his psychological breakdown and being overwhelmed by the planet’s lifestream.

During a battle with one of the Weapons, Cloud falls into the bowels of the planet once more, and Tifa with him. While there, they straighten out his memories. He remembers now, that he actually defeated Sephiroth, almost killing him, after his town was massacred. He also saved Tifa. He hadn’t failed at all. He had actually dissociated from his own identity and taken on the identity of his friend Zack, who was accepted into the elite Soldier program of Shinra, which Cloud had failed at accomplishing. This resolves the confusion about Cloud thinking he was Aeris’s first love from long ago, because it was actually Zack. Zack and Cloud were later experimented on by the evil scientist Hojo, who brought back Jenova, and Zack died protecting Cloud on their way to Midgar, which is when Cloud decided to become a mercenary for hire and join Avalanche.

The group also learns that Aeris was successful in summoning Holy, the antithesis of Meteor, but it is being blocked by Sephiroth and Jenova. The group must destroy them both.

Second Pinch Point: The group sets out to destroy the Weapons and winds up facing off against the mad scientist Hojo (Sephiroth’s father), who channels an enormous amount of lifestream energy (called Mako) into Sephiroth to help him against the heroes. The group kills Hojo, but Sephiroth and Jenova are more powerful than ever.

Climax: The group returns to the Northern Crater, descending into the core of the planet, and fight Jenova and Sephiroth, destroying them in multiple incarnations, until Cloud and Sephiroth are isolated in the lifestream and fight a duel to the final death.

Climactic Moment: Cloud defeats Sephiroth for the last time and is saved from dying in the core’s collapse by the hand of what he first thinks is Aeris, but then realizes is Tifa. An epiphany dawns on him, and he sees how all their lives and that of the planet are intertwined, and how the souls of loved ones continue onward. The group escapes the cave in time to witness Holy emerging from the Planet to stop Meteor. It needs help though, and the life force of all the beings on the planet come to its aid, finally saving the world. This is also part of Cloud’s epiphany.

Resolution: Five hundred years later, we see the planet has healed, the forces of evil vanquished.

Comments: There are many side quests, supporting and impact characters, and subplots, some of which are mandatory, but this analysis follows the main story arc. The game in its original form spans three CD-ROMs and seems to take most people between 16 and 30 hours to complete, depending on how much of the optional content and gameplay they want to explore.

(Submitted by Aaron McCausland.)

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