Cloud’s struggle is real. In Final Fantasy VII as a whole, we watch someone who has spent a great deal of his life in a military role suffer from the mental and physical aftereffects of it as he learns to adjust to life in the real world. Given the time and amount of detail that couldn’t go into the original game, this meant people could come away with the impression that he was apathetic, cold, or even “emo.” Since we get more time with the Final Fantasy VII Remake Cloud in and around Midgar interacting with people and the script is far more extensive, we also get to see him adapt to “normal” life again, be a big curmudgeon about being forced to look for lost cats, and gradually open up to people.
Editor’s Note: There will be Final Fantasy VII Remake spoilers up to Wall Market.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake Cloud begins with a mindset similar to the one from the original game. He doesn’t mince words. He’s in it for the money, not for any altruistic or personal reasons. He seems like he’d wish people would shut up, leave him alone, and let him work. (Basically, he comes across as any person who is trying to complete an obligatory class or job and wants to finish things as quickly as possible.)
However, there are new moments that throw him off and get under his skin. Jessie’s new flirty and playful behaviors catch him off guard, breaking through his cool demeanor and showing maybe part of it is trying to keep from being awkward. We see the aftereffects of his time with SOLDIER, what with his PTSD and the mako influence, causing flashbacks and hallucinations. What may have seemed like him being cool and collected starts to feel, at least to me, like more of an act. If he pretends he is in control and fine, then people will assume he is.
Once Cloud gets to the Sector 7 Slums, things get fun. Part of that is because Tifa is there and, well, it honestly doesn’t seem like either of them know what they are to each other anymore. So we get to see them awkwardly adjust and Cloud begin to realize that yes, he wants to make good on a promise from years ago to be there for her. But also, part of it is Cloud learning Avalanche doesn’t have enough to actually pay him the full amount and Tifa wants to partially pay him with “exposure.” (Ah, the plight of the freelancer or creative individual!) This means a series of small-time quests where Cloud does things you wouldn’t expect a skilled ex-SOLDIER to do to make a name for himself.
Seeing Cloud deal with these quests is glorious. Searching for cats is great, since it means full-on complaints about it as it is happening and when it’s done. (Not to mention, like, he’s not getting a big reward out of it.) It’s a fun contrast to a later quest where we get to see kids beg him to fight a certain monster king. He literally rolls his eyes, but we see him starting to soften up when he agrees to do the deed for 3 gil.
It is also lovely to see how this growth comes up with three people in particular. Biggs, Jessie, and Wedge are all entirely new to Cloud. While Jessie does get under his skin and he warms up to her first, we also see his attitude toward Biggs and Wedge change as he spends more time working with them. When the four go on an unexpected mission together, we see him have the opportunity to learn more about Jessie. We watch him work alongside Biggs and Wedge and how the two of them do their best to assist him. He learns more about all three and there’s this sense of kindness where he goes from someone who wouldn’t even acknowledge these people to one who would hold their hands and be there for them.
But really, I like Cloud’s opening up and letting loose comes to a head at the Honey Bee Inn. When Cloud is attempting to earn Andrea’s favor, he has to join him on stage, While initially reluctant, he sees it for the challenge it is and gets into it, matching Andrea step for step. If you nail the rhythm portion of the performance, he remains perfectly in sync with Andrea’s moves, showing the same level of enthusiasm, rhythm, and attention to detail. Even in its tutorial, where he’s even more reluctantly learning what will be involved, he busts out his sword and dances with it. While it would be unimaginable to see the Cloud from the opening mission doing this, his exposure to people like Aerith, Jessie, and Wedge makes all of it seem plausible. Yes, Cloud now is totally the sort of guy who would get into that once he realized the good that would come of it and he’s in the moment.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake Cloud is one who consistantly grows as a person throughout the game. When we first see him, we see someone who is capable, but also isn’t as prepared for the new life he’s about to start. He’s dealing with a lot, especially if people have gone through the whole Final Fantasy VII compilation and know exactly what he’s dealing with as the game begins. But this uncertain person who is dealing with so much gradually learns how to connect with people again. We see how this shapes his experiences with new friends, quests, and old friends. It also means, well, we get these unintentionally funny moments where someone who is “too professional for this” has to do something like attempt to wrangle cats. It’s pretty great.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is available for the PlayStation 4.