The lights are on
The best game in the Final Fantasy series is a point of contention, but almost every fan acknowledges the significance (though not necessarily the superiority) of Final Fantasy VII. With its mixture of 3D graphics, amazing cutscenes, and cool characters, Final Fantasy VII created a story that set the RPG standard for the PlayStation era. At the center of the tale was Sephiroth – and who could forget the moment that we first saw him in action?
Upon reaching the town of Kalm (shortly after escaping Midgar), Cloud takes the opportunity to explain his history with Sephiroth – a character who has only been ominously mentioned up to that point. Cloud tells the story of his fateful mission to Nibelheim, in which Sephiroth turned from elite soldier to power-hungry maniac. In the flashback, the character that had only been referenced with fear and awe suddenly takes shape as a silver-haired, sword-wielding badass. He is powerful, intelligent, and efficient – all great traits to have in an ally. But what about an enemy? Sephiroth discovers that he is essentially a living experiment, so he goes crazy and burns down Cloud's home town of Nibelheim, then begins his quest to eradicate life.
Considering the whole flashback is about 30 minutes long, maybe it doesn't technically qualify as a "moment," but the brilliance of this sequence doesn't come from any one scene. Sure, Sephiroth walking through the flames of a burning Nibelheim is awesome, but the real art of the Kalm flashback comes in the way it slowly pulls back the curtain while building on a foundation laid in the opening hours. Characters talking about Sephiroth before he is introduced creates a sense of mystery and anticipation around the character. The game essentially starts spinning Sephiroth's legend right away, leaving players to imagine the details.
The move could have backfired if Sephiroth didn't surpass expectations. However, when we had an actual character to the name, Sephiroth's actions and dialogue in Nibelheim established him as even more competent and terrifying than anyone had guessed. The tragic angle of a good guy turned bad also serves as a cool hook, and a nice change from previous and less nuanced Final Fantasy villains.
I would have been content if the significance of the flashback stopped there, but it becomes even more interesting later in the game. The story loops back to the events in Nibelheim, and some crucial information drastically changes the players' perspective on the memories that Cloud initially conveyed. Kind of like the second viewing of a movie after you've seen the twist ending, this whole section of the plot must be seen differently after you've completed the game. However, even when seen in a new light, the events surrounding Sephiroth and Cloud at Nibelheim are among the best in the whole Final Fantasy series.
If you've got some time, you should re-watch the whole flashback and relive Sephiroth's introduction and eventual breakdown.
[Credit to YouTube user Xenomic for the videos]
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I'm one of the straightest guys anyone could meet. That being said, Sephiroth was my first (and only) man crush.
Still one of the best. It may not be anywhere near my favorite Final Fantasy game, but it still just incredible. I'm lucky my dad got it when it first came out so I've basically grown up with this game. Probably gonna start another playthrough here soon. Love it!
Sephiroth! I remember that moment, *sigh* Sephiroth... U_U
The first time I played this game and got to these cut scenes and learned the truth about Sephiroth... it made my blood run cold and caused me to shiver for a few minutes. I've never forgotten it and their have been few games that have had that affect on me to this day. ^_^
I went through FFV11 a couple years ago and it's story was so amazing. I think they could do a good job with a remake, but I don't think it actually needs one. The story was there and eventually you were so immersed in the game that you didn't care that it could have "new and flashy" graphics. I would say that it has stood the test of time, and this scene from the game was fantastic.
Wonderful feature Joe! This was such a great moment, although I didn't understand it's significance right away when I first played the game as a kid. My 2nd playthrough, much of the game started to make more sense. And seeing Sephiroth in that light was truly amazing.
Love it Joe! There are a couple moments that could have been in this. Hard to pick just one. What about the moment you realize it wasn't actually Cloud doing those things in the flashback..!
With so much of FF7 based on FF6, I always wondered if this particular scene was inspired by how Celes torched the town of Miranda, which we never got to see (in a game with plenty of flashbacks), nor for which she was ever held responsible for.
Very cool, especially the part where you actually get to fight and see seph in battle. Casting high level spells and doing normal attacks for a few k hp.
If your an "FF7" fan, have the original game on your PSPGo or PSVita, have played "Crisis Core" and want a little more story. Drop by AnimeHere.com and checkout the FF7 anime short, "FF7: The Last Order". Watching the glass crack in front of Sephiroth's face made me smile just a bit.... ^_^
I only played this game for the first time a couple of years ago, and instantly fell in love with it, even becoming my absolute favorite FF! And this moment stands as one of the reasons I fell in love with it.
This is definitely one of the best moments in final fantasy gaming. All of FF VII is a head-trip. And seeing the good guy go bad, then threatening to do the same to our hero, well, that was insane. But my favorite moment in final fantasy is still Cecil becoming a paladin. I love FF VII, but FF IV is my absolute favorite.
Best Final Fantasy game ever.
The game that introduced me to RPGs back in 2002.
wooo that awesome
Final Fantasy VII is still by far my favorite game of all time. I've probably played through it at least 20 times growing up and I still love to go back and dabble in it all over again.
Kudos to Square for making a game that stands the test of time for a lot of gamers.
My friends built this up for me as the greatest game ever so I feel almost nothing but disappointment when I play through it.
It is a great game and a very significant one in gaming history but it is nowhere near as good as some people say it is.
One of my all time favorite RPG's.
I pulled out my original PS1 disks and played through the game in anticipation of FFXIII release. This game made XIII's skill & combat system feel really limited and boring when that game finally came out.
Still one of the best storylines in any game currently in my library.