If you need the Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending explained, you’re not alone. I sat slack-jawed during the last hour or so of the game, and I’m still perplexed as to what’s going on. However, I’ve had time to reflect on the ending of FF7 Remake, including the unexpected appearance of Zack Fair alive, and I’ve got a theory on what transpired.
Things get a bit like Kingdom Hearts at the end of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, so don’t take my theory as law or anything. It’s entirely possible that part 2 will come out, and the plot will do another 180 into some other direction.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Ending Explained | What are the Whispers?
The big difference between the original FF7 and the remake, at least at first, is the presence of the Whispers. These ghoulish entities are sent by the consciousness of the planet to… Wait, let’s back up a bit.
Okay, so, Final Fantasy 7 Remake really assumes you’ve played the original game. If you haven’t, none of the last hour and a half or so of FF7 Remake is going to make any sense to you. So, I’ll break down a bit of the lore of the original game before we get to what the Whispers are and what they’re trying to do.
The planet Final Fantasy 7 (and Remake) takes place on is called Gaia. The soul of each creature that lives on Gaia is born of a gathering of concentrated energy beneath the planet’s crust called the Lifestream. When living things die, their souls return to the stream. The Lifestream is both a source of great power and the collective consciousness of the planet. This consciousness can react to dangers to the planet with a multitude of tools, one of which is the Whispers.
According to information in FF7 Remake, the Lifestream perceives all space and time experienced by all the souls that ever comprised it simultaneously. This means Shinra’s use of Mako energy was even direr than it seemed. If Shinra had extinguished the Lifestream via extraction of Mako, it wouldn’t have only doomed the planet in the present, but in the past as well.
The Lifestream’s perception of space and time seems to also extend to parallel timelines. The Midgar we play through in Final Fantasy 7 Remake is likely not the Midgar seen in the original, but an alternate Midgar in another timeline. For whatever reason, the planet seeks to ensure the events that occurred in the original FF7 happen across all timelines. To do this, it utilizes the Whispers, arbiters of fate who “correct” events when they start to stray from the script.
If you look back at the events of FF7 Remake, the Whispers appeared to change any significant events that would have pushed Cloud and the party away from their journey to the Shinra building and subsequent pursuit of Sephiroth. Sometimes these actions are subtle, and other times the Whispers act forcefully to protect the timeline.
Here are just a few instances where the Whispers intervened to ensure the events seen in the original FF7 transpired:
- Chapter 2: Ensured Cloud and Aerith meet in Sector 1 and chased Aerith away when Shinra soldiers appeared.
- Chapter 4: Injured Jesse so Cloud has to go on the Sector 5 reactor mission.
- Chapter 8: Held Cloud back from killing Reno in the church and dragged Cloud and Aerith towards their escape.
- Chapter 13: Ensured the Turks can drop the Sector 7 plate when the party wins the fight.
- Chapter 17: Kept Hojo from revealing that Cloud wasn’t in SOLDIER.
- Chapter 17: Healed Barret when Sephiroth stabbed him.
However, Whispers seem to be limited to robotically attempting to preserve the original FF7 timeline. They don’t try to actively aid the party in obtaining a better outcome than they do in the original timeline, and their behavior seems reflexive instead of conscious. It’s possible that the Lifestream can only program the Whispers instead of actively controlling them, and that they may be a sort of automated defense like the WEAPONS are.
Why do Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barret, and Red XIII decide to change the timeline in FF7 Remake?
So, why would the party want to change fate? Sure, Aerith dies, but in the end, Sephiroth is defeated, and Meteorfall is averted. Other than Aerith dying, the world isn’t too much worse for the wear besides a chunk of Midgar being destroyed. In the aftermath of the events of the original FF7, Sephiroth is dead, Jenova has been eliminated, and Shinra is shattered. Pretty much every goal the party set out to achieve has been accomplished, and aside from some loose ends, Gaia is at peace (at least until the events of Advent Children).
You’ll notice throughout FF7 Remake that Cloud and Aerith see flashes of events from the original game. Most of these center around Meteor striking Midgar, but we also see Aerith’s death. My theory is that Sephiroth influenced the party’s decision to take on the Whispers and change fate by only showing them what he wanted them to see of the original chain of events. Although Cloud and Aerith have some prescience in FF7 Remake, as far as we know, they never see the whole picture of what fates await if they allow the Whispers to guide them.
Somehow it seems like Sephiroth has obtained the power to channel himself into the world like a Whisper and can see through space and time as the Lifestream can. However, it looks like he can’t directly influence the Whispers for some reason. Because of this, he manipulates the party into thinking that they’re headed for failure and ruin if they don’t eliminate the Whispers’ influence on them.
It’s possible Sephiroth has discovered that as long as he remains dissolved in the Lifestream, an event that occurs at the end of the original FF7, he won’t be able to destroy the planet. When the party removes the Whispers from the equation, Sephiroth mostly gets to hit the reset button, at least in one timeline.
So, the party defeats the Whispers thinking that they’ve avoided a terrible fate. Instead, they may have doomed the planet to destruction.
Is Zack alive in Final Fantasy 7 Remake?
In the original FF7 timeline, Zack Fair dies defending Cloud during a Shinra ambush on the outskirts of Midgar. However, when the party defeats the Whispers, it seems to have some sort of resonant effect throughout time. In the ending, we see that Zack lives and makes his way toward Midgar with Cloud.
What we don’t know is whether or not Zack is alive in the same timeline we experienced in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. We see a chip bag blown in the wind that sports the image of Shinra’s dog mascot, Stamp, but he’s a different breed wearing a cap instead of a helmet. This might mean that Zack lives on in a different timeline, or that for some reason, the temporal resonance from the Whispers being defeated caused Shinra to pick a different design for Stamp randomly.
What we do know is that Zack is alive somewhere. Also, he’ll likely factor into the second part of the story. In fact, if he reveals Cloud is not a SOLDIER and that he was experimented on, Cloud could reconcile the events that occurred earlier on and stand a more substantial chance against Sephiroth during the party’s first visit to the Northern Crater.