By G.S. Luthra
Final Fantasy 7 Remake has set the new standard with a beautiful presentation that combines art, poetry, music, and philosophy while retaining the original story’s essence. To describe it in one word, it’s beautiful. Like many great games, FF7 contains various themes that reflect the real world so it sheds light to some of our challenges. FF7 takes place in the city of Midgar, which is ruled by Shinra, an electric company, that mines the planet’s life force energy and utilizes it as Mako for fuel. Shinra has absolute power over Midgar and has ties with the government. However, Shinra has its own army of bio-enhanced soldiers. It also keeps the population in line with AI monitoring and running ID scans in public transportation. There are also armed soldiers on the streets with massive “Sweeper” machines programmed to fire any threat on sight. Midgar’s situation can be a warning to where our world is heading. The alliance between corporations and government these days is becoming clearer as they function as one entity where both parties scratch each other’s backs. This level of high scale corruption is expressed in the game among others.
Corporations Controlling the Resources
Midgar is divided into sectors separated by giant walls called Wall Markets. The skies are covered by Shinra’s steel plates for those who live in the slums while the upper class, who lives above, enjoys a higher standard of living with freedoms the lower class doesn’t have. While the people of Midgar toil away in the slums, Shinra continues growing richer while broadcasting cleverly cloaked lies to sway the masses into believing they need them. Avalanche, an eco-group of warriors consisting of three main characters Cloud Strife, Barret Wallace, and Tifa Lockhart, tries to stop Shinra by blowing up their Mako reactor, but it backfired as Shinra made the explosion much worse by causing a chain reaction destroying Sector 7 which is where Avalanche based its operations. Shinra orchestrated events to make Avalanche appear as terrorists and responsible for the destruction of Sector 7 and thanks to Shinra’s control of the media, the people believe it.
It’s a theme that we can argue is happening in the real world today where we also have eco-groups and individuals who are blowing the whistle on corporate greed at the expense of animal life, abuse of employees, and exploitation of the environment, yet their voices are not taken seriously. So in the future, it is not far-fetched to one day expect multi-billion dollar corporations having their own military in the name of “safety”, and using advertisements to recruit new soldiers to fight for the corporation’s ideals much like Shinra.
Those who Serve Corruption are also Part of the Problem
A common belief is you are responsible for your actions whether conscious or not. However, many people who do questionable actions under the guise of duty, like to respond with “I’m just doing my job”, or some other selective phrases to trick themselves and others to pardon their wrong actions. Incidences such as Occupy Wall Street clearly show that the government backs the corporations over people, and there are other examples.
Shinra is the representation of how corporations dominate people while pretending to be for their well-being.
When Avalanche infiltrates the Shinra corporate building on a mission to end their tyranny, Tifa comments that the interior is “incredible” after seeing its sleek floors and advanced technology. Barret is not having it because he knows Shinra profits while the rest of Midgar is in the slums. While riding the Shinra elevator, the gang notices some Shinra employees. Tifa says,
Whole lotta normal people with families and friends work for Shinra. People just trying to support their loved ones as best they can. I know it’s not exactly a revelation, but…It’s easy to forget.
The narrative that Shinra employees are people too, and that this somehow excuses them from moral liability, does not fly with Barret. He sees through the illusion and sheds the light,
A good man who serves a great evil is not without sin. He must recognize and accept his complicity. He must open his eyes to the truth – that his corporate masters are profiting from the planets pain. Only then can he redeem himself.
He then tells Tifa, “I know you know this.”
“I do,” Tifa responds realizing Barret is right.
Employees of Shinra have bought a false narrative about the company in order to convince themselves that what they do is good and helping the planet when it is actually sucking the planet’s resources dry.
How many people in the real world today are doing just that all in the name of a paycheck?
The Economy is Rigged
The work hard mentality preached by businessmen who yell at people at their overly priced seminars isn’t working. Other financial “gurus” like to blame people, but the reality is that most people do their “stupid” financial decisions because they simply have no choice. This is expressed in the original FF7 game by the main character, Cloud, while riding on the train –
No one lives in the slums because they want to. It’s like this train. It can only go where its rails take it.
In the remake version of the game, the dialogue is modified a bit where during the same train ride, Barret tells Cloud that the people of Midgar don’t have the luxury to leave their horrible situation to which Cloud then compares it to the train in that it can only go where its tracks take it.
The Chosen Few Rule the Masses
Sephiroth, the super villain in the game, believes it is his birthright to rule the world because he has the genes of Jenova, an ancient life form that arrived long ago on a meteorite that is supposedly the superior being. There are people and groups today who share that belief, and unfortunately, some of these people hold powerful positions in business and government.
This planet…is my birthright. – Sephiroth.
It’s also interesting to note that Sephiroth’s eyes in the game is lizard like, coincidence?
The Lost Connection to Nature
Aerith is another character in the game who is a descendant of the ancients and she has the ability to communicate with the planet and see the metaphysical realm. In our world, it feels we have lost or neglected nature and how our actions effect the planet. We don’t need telepathic messages from flowers to see that industrialization has polluted the crops, waters, and skies. Nikola Tesla once said, “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” However, today people seem more preoccupied with just the physical part of existence, and there is a sort of disconnection with nature as we are focused on the “I” culture.
It’s all about Humanity, not Money
In the beginning of the game, Cloud is cold and only interested in getting his paycheck. He was a former solider as he didn’t like the ruthless killing, so he quit and is now a mercenary. However, his stiff uncaring nature is similar to what some military and police personnel have today. More are waking up to what the military really is and Cloud is an example of someone who has witnessed the brutality under the name of patriotism and heroism, and has woken up to the truth.
Through his adventures with Avalanche however, he goes through a transformation and becomes more human.
Destiny can be altered
Fate sucks, and that is why we strive to create our own. It is not easy, but in the end of the game, the gang fights the Whispers, mysterious cloaked beings that are arbitraries of destiny. Avalanche defeats them, and this alters events as people who were supposed to die now live. While the story is romanticized to suggest that we do have the power to shape our future, there is truth in that by making honest efforts, good things are likely to eventually flourish. In the real world, we can also steer the course in a brighter direction.
While there are a few odd things in the game like Cloud cross-dressing and some weird dialogue about how beauty is beyond shame and notions of gender (possibly a transgender agenda), the game still has relevant themes about corporate corruption and what direction the world is going in. Game developers might know what’s going on, and some are possibly giving players hints. Regardless, FF7 Remake has such richness to its plot, characters, and delivery that it has redefined the gaming experience by bringing a new dynamic to storytelling, breaking all sales records despite the circumstances with 3.5 million copies sold in 3 days.