Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited Chapter 12: Fight for Survival

We’re taking a deep dive into the twelfth chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake with the wonderful development team who brought the game to life!
By Sunil Godhania

This year is Final Fantasy VII’s 25th Anniversary - and the celebrations have begun!

As part of the ongoing festivities, the development team behind Final Fantasy VII Remake have graciously agreed to dive deeper into the game than ever before.

We've been revisiting their thoughts, memories, and anecdotes from the creation of the game. Check out the first and most recent chapters here:

If you've yet to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, go and play it now, and if you read on...

...please beware of spoilers.

With that warning out of the way, let’s mosey…

By Chapter 12 it has become clear that the Whispers are intent on preserving the timeline of the original FFVII, but why do they appear at the beginning of this chapter and block Cloud, Tifa and Aerith from progressing? Have the trio arrived earlier than expected?

With Avalanche taking the fight to Shinra, the plan to drop the plate has been delayed here. If Cloud and the team were to link up straight away, there would be a danger that the plot would fail entirely, so the Whispers appear to obstruct their progress and preserve the destined timeline.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Aerith, Cloud and Tifa approaching the Sector 7 pillar

The cut scenes in this chapter, such as the gunfight scene, use lots of different camera work to add dynamism. I would imagine that these scenes are initially planned out using storyboards, but how do you decide on the camera movement at this stage?

We do work out the scene direction and camera work when we put together the storyboards, but we also further refine everything to improve the quality when the pre-production visuals are created. At this stage we fix down all the things that you cannot express through storyboards, such as the intensity of camera shake, feelings of motion, the speed and tempo of the cuts etc.

There are often many changes made at this pre-production visuals stage, in order to achieve the best quality we can.

Hidekazu Miyake (Cutscene Director)

Barret and Jessie run up the Sector 7 pillar

Why did Biggs used to visit the Leaf House Orphanage? The fact that he cares for the kids so much even as he loses consciousness really made us love him that much more.

Biggs was also an orphan and was raised at Leaf House himself. Even after growing up and leaving the orphanage, he continued to support their work from the shadows.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

A wounded Biggs gives Cloud a thumbs-up

The helicopter approaches the plate support pillar in the original game too, but it would probably look quite odd if it arrived in the same way in the remake, with its more realistic style. It seems like there was a lot of thought and innovation put into this scene, so could you talk about the design decisions here?

When we started work on Remake, we re-assessed the scale of the city of Midgar, and set the height from the slums to the city level as 300m. Considering that the general height that helicopters fly at is around 500m, we felt that this was a restriction that we could show what we wanted to within.

On top of that, having Shinra helicopters regularly appearing from the Train Graveyard onward was done to give the player a sense of the encroaching threat from Shinra. The helicopter arriving during the battle with Reno and Rude atop the pillar was put in for the same reason.

Naoki Hamaguchi (Co-Director(Game Design / Programming))

An aerial shot of the central support pillar

It is a small detail, but in the gunfight scene where the Avalanche members are fighting with Shinra soldiers, it feels very realistic how they take cover behind the staircase pillars and only expose their heads and guns while they open fire. How were these kinds of subtle movements created. I do not imagine that the team get into many gunfights in real life, so where did you get inspiration and references from?

When making these kinds of large-scale cut scenes, most of the time we start by creating storyboards, and the overall flow of the action and how it will be presented comes together at that stage.

Some of the detailed movements and sequences are depicted in the storyboards from the beginning, but most of them are created together with the actors during motion capture, achieving a sense of reality as we imagine the actual scene in a real space. In addition, animators also need to have the ability to express things that they could not experience for real, and this comes in at the brushing up stage too, not just for gunfights but all kinds of things.

Thus, the final stage of the process sees the animators putting themselves in the shoes of the characters and adding the finishing touches to create a tense and thrilling scene.

Yoshiyuki Soma (Animation Director)

Shinra Security fires at a man hiding behind a pillar

It feels like the tense scenes in this chapter are differentiated from the more sedate ones through clever use of flame motifs. Was this done deliberately and if so, how did you approach tweaking the volume of fire shown and the intensity at which it burns?

The rooftops see the fiercest fighting here, so we created a gradation as you move up through the different levels, increasing the intensity of the flames, smoke and sparks the closer you get to the top. This effect increases the sense of urgency as the player climbs.

Shintaro Takai (Graphics & VFX Director)

Cloud ascends the Sector 7 pillar, surrounded by flames

The boss battle with Reno incorporates attacks from the original FFVII, such as Pyramid. How difficult was it to incorporate these old moves into the new combat system?

It was actually the opposite, and these elements fit really well with the character changing and real time action mechanics.

The situation changes greatly when one character is tied down, so in this battle it is important to address that quickly when it happens.

Teruki Endo (Battle Director)

Cloud caught in Reno's 'Pyramid' attack

In this chapter there are many scenes (such as when Aerith saves Marlene, parting with Jessie, and Reno and Rude after battle) where we see several characters looking different to their normal appearances, with bruising, scars and grime.

What do you take particular care with when applying these kinds of alterations and what difficulties are there in doing so? (One small detail was how Jessie's skin looks more drained of blood than normal)

We change the scars and grime depending on what kind of scene the character will feature in. For example, if a character is caught in an explosion, then they will be given burns, but if they are caught in falling rubble then they will be coated in dust instead.

A lot of the time we keep the scars and injuries fairly restrained, as showing them too graphically would violate the restrictions set by the rating for the game.

As you pointed out, we dramatically changed the colour of the character's complexions here in order to depict scenes like this where they suffer serious injuries, while still staying within the restrictions.

Dai Suzuki (Main Character Modeler & Lead Character Artist)

A pale and wounded Jessie talks to Cloud

Fans were delighted by the surprise cameo of Cait Sith during this scene! How did the idea of his introduction in FFVII Remake come about? I didn't think we would see him until later.

Was there a concern that this might be confusing for players who had not played the original FFVII and was there ever a point where any of the other main characters from the original FFVII were going to make a cameo appearance in FFVII Remake?

We wanted to show that even within the Shinra company, not everyone agreed regarding the plot to drop the plate, but I think that probably only the most dedicated fans will understand why it was Cait Sith who was used here.

Motomu Toriyama (Co-Director(Scenario Design))

Cait Sith watches the devastation from the collapse of the Sector 7 plate

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake Revisited and are looking forward to learning more from behind the scenes of the game over the coming months.

Make sure you share this article with your friends on social media and we hope you’re looking forward to Chapter 13 next week!

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is available on PS5, Steam and Epic Games Store while Final Fantasy VII Remake is available on PS4.

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