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Final Fantasy VII Remake The remake of FFVII announced at E3 on June 15th, 2015 -- OUR WHOLE LIVES HAVE BEEN LEADING UP TO THIS MOMENT!!

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Old 1 Week Ago   #1
hian
Default Cloud's loss in the remake - Cloud's mother

Being one of those sad people who replay FFVII on a near annual basis, I constantly find myself coming across set-ups in the story that either lead nowhere or get totally lost in favor of focus on the game's primary themes and story beats - however, on rare occasion I spot plot points or lore that mesh very well with both the themes and bear relevance to major scenes yet seem almost forgotten or neglected to the detriment if the game. Obviously, those would be moments or information that I'd want expanded on the most in the remake.
While I can totally understand a want and desire to flesh out the ideas on certain enemy types or the infrastructure of the world, something frequently discussed by both members of the development team, and forum members here, what I really want to see is embellishment on moments that directly strengthen the primary themes of the game and various major plot-related pay-offs of the story.

One such momemt, or plot element that has stuck out to me in recent years, is the death of Cloud's mother - indeed the character as a whole. In fact, I find it kind of baffling that this character is so underutilized in the original game seeing as how this should arguably be Cloud's strongest motivation for pursuing Sephiroth in the first place.
If Cloud's mother burned to death with Cloud either witnessing it, or being close by and incapable of preventing it, Cloud would obviously have a very strong and understandable hate for Sephiroh.
Cloud being motivated to chase down Sephiroth, usually explained as a result of a string of tenuous logical rationalizations ultimately unconsciously planted by Jenova/Sephiroth seems not only a more contrived, but also a less viscerally relateable cause than it simply being a natural desire for revenge, perhaps spurred on by Jenova/Sephiroth's influence.

Not only would this angle better humanize Cloud and create clear justification for development as a character going from cold mercenary to one ostensibly wanting to fight for the planet (after all, what real difference is there on the surface from fighting for the planet to save it from Shinra, rather than Sephiroth apart from this personal aspect?), it would also line up more neatly with the theme of the game that focuses on characters as unreliable narrators that often conceive of themselves as doing things for lofty moral reasons rather than base personal desires.
Having a subtle simmering desire for revenge tinge Cloud's persona would in many ways align Cloud's character thematically with characters like Barret, further driving home the central theme.
It would also align with the game's theme of loss.

However, that is not how the original game handles this plot point. While it's made abundantly clear by implication that Cloud's mother must have died in the Nibelheim fire, it is never really mentioned, and Cloud never makes much mention of it at all, not to his comrades nor to Sephiroth when facing him down.
This becomes almost absurd as a contrast when you consider the extremely dramatic nature of Aerith's death, and Cloud's reaction to that (and even more so in context of AC and how traumatized Cloud is shown to be there).
Is it really reasonable to believe or to imply that Cloud is more traumatized and motivated to revenge by the death of Aerith, a character he only knew for a very, very short while, over the death of his mother who raised him, and who likely burned to death in a horrible manner at the hands of Sephiroth's havoc?

I guess what I'm trying to build towards here is that I think this is a place in the original story, where the story-telling falls short, and where I believe there is potential for the remake to shine.
Giving Cloud's mother a little more exposition, and really drumming in on the drama of her death in the Nibelheim flashback could be an excellent means to build up Cloud as a character and his relationship with Sephiroth, drawing a much clearer red line between the two characters. I also think it would serve to ground the narrative and provide some of that realism that the leads have said they're so concerned about.

So how about it?
Anyone else here want a touching scene with Cloud desperately trying to fight through rubble and flames to save his dying mother? To see him fail, and to see the anger and resentment as he picks up his gun and runs for the reactor?
Maybe I'm just crazy, but I think that would make for compelling story-telling.
But that's just me - how about you guys?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
Obsidian Fire
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Cloud's Mom is really underutilized, no question about it.

I'm of two minds about it. The first being that not long after Neibelheim burns, Cloud is stuck in a mako tube for five years and his memory of things before that is shaky at best. Given that most of his time spent right before the reactor was spent as a Shin-Ra MP, I could see him forgetting a lot of things about her and her not being that important of a character to him for the Main Game. If it could be made obvious that Tifa finds this really unsettling somehow, I can see this take on it being used as yet another "something weird is going on here" thing.

I can also see him remembering her, in which case, I think an obvious route to go would be a great opportunity for Sephiroth to mess with Cloud's head even more. Is the Mother Cloud remembers real or not? Is the memories he has of a mom who wants him to settle down with a girlfriend what his mom actually wanted? Did she really want him to go to Midgar? Yeah... cue angst. Or Sephiroth could go the route of "You know how you hate me for killing your mom? That's why I wanted to kill off Shin-Ra. And once I found out what my mom actually was, that's why I want to destroy the Planet/Cetra".

The thing for me in the OG is that when Cloud and Tifa are putting Cloud's memories back together, very, very few of those memories involve Cloud interacting with his Mom. Most of them involve Tifa in someway. The feeling I got was that Cloud's Mom didn't stand out to him as something important to remember through the Mako Poisoning, while Tifa was. Kinda have to wonder what other traditional important things also fell into that category.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
X-SOLDIER
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I've always felt that part of Cloud going off to join SOLDIER is that he has an incredibly disconnected relationship with his "family" as he refers to them. His dialogue with his mom is VERY distant and disinterested. It's part of the reason that I don't see her death ever serving as a motivation for him – he cared about them like other people, but they were never close in a way that he felt like he did with Aerith, which is why that connection is even more poignant.

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Speaking as someone who has a VERY disconnected relationship with my own family, I really understand this attitude he has, especially at the ages he is during those events. The fact that he didn't make it into SOLDIER, he also doesn't really feel like he has a say in anything, and she's just going on about what he needs in his life without listening to him, and he doesn't really even want to talk about that really reinforces that.

I don't really feel like any of this ought to change for the Remake, because it continues to paint a picture of Cloud being someone who's distant from others and kind of an outsider, who's playing it cool whenever he's around them, but does make a genuine connection with someone that Sephiroth takes away from him.




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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
Ryuman
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While the original scene serves its main purpose narrative-wise, there's always something to be improved regarding the characters and their relationship with Nibelheim and its inhabitants; Friends, family, etc. It feels somewhat common that seemingly critical figures for a characters personality, such as parents, are left as background details in fiction. She's brushed off pretty quickly because the event breaks apart Cloud's facade and by the time we learn who he really is the flashback doesn't really matter anymore.

Maybe it would be interesting if, as Cloud regained his true persona, we see more personal scenes that might otherwise downplay his outward "masculinity". We do get some memory skips during Cloud's visit with his mother. You could fill those with intimate moments from a more sensitive Cloud.
X-SOLDIER wrote: I've always felt that part of Cloud going off to join SOLDIER is that he has an incredibly disconnected relationship with his "family" as he refers to them. His dialogue with his mom is VERY distant and disinterested. It's part of the reason that I don't see her death ever serving as a motivation for him – he cared about them like other people, but they were never close in a way that he felt like he did with Aerith, which is why that connection is even more poignant.

Speaking as someone who has a VERY disconnected relationship with my own family, I really understand this attitude he has, especially at the ages he is during those events. The fact that he didn't make it into SOLDIER, he also doesn't really feel like he has a say in anything, and she's just going on about what he needs in his life without listening to him, and he doesn't really even want to talk about that really reinforces that.
Funny, I always took it a different way. The way I saw it, Cloud had a deep shame in not achieving in what he set out to do. Being unable to face his mother, who was so supportive to the point of instantly assuming his getup was SOLDIER (Maybe he lied through letters), simply couldn't bare to say anything to her. He doesn't want to recount the visit because it's something that puts him dangerously close to the truth that his mind rejects. Funny how different life experiences can shape how we can view these things.

Only somewhat related but I always found it to be kind of messed up that upon returning to the rebuilt Nibelheim there wasn't a more hostile reaction to the cover-up. There's this woman in Cloud's house pretending she lives there and Cloud is almost comically shoo'd out upon questioning it. Like, shouldn't there be some anger here?

Of course, wouldn't it be great if they just expanded on everything?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
Theozilla
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I definitely would welcome extra attention given to Cloud's mom (and the Nibelheim inhabitants in general), it's definitely an opportunity to flesh that aspect of Cloud's character and what he lost during the Nibelheim incident.

*on a more tangentially related thought, this topic reminded me of the TeamFourStar FFVII Abridged series, who took the opportunity to emphasize Sephiroth killing Cloud's mother as being a much more emotionally significant element to Cloud's motivation during the narrative.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
hian
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Yeah, and to address some of the points raised here -
I think, as I was trying to illustrate, is that my concern here is for writing in terms of execution on the themes of the game. Of course, you can find justifications, intended for by the author or not (though I tend to chalk these kind of things down to carelessness on the author's part - humans are fallible and all that, and really, with some creative effort almost any lacking in a work can be accounted for if we try hard enough), for why Cloud's mother is so sparcely employed - however, I'm of the mind that if you're not going to utilize something as big as the death of a relative in a story for dramatic, thematic or plot related reasons, then you shouldn't put it in your story at all.
Doing so without the above mentioned is meandering writing and is generally not considered to be a good thing.

In either case, to address some specifics :

I think it's worth nentioning that Cloud remembers his mother and her death prior to the memory fix. It's in the first nibelheim flashback you first get the option to see here.
Following the torching of the village, if you run into the house Cloud comes back out, shakes his head, and nothing. This always felt extremely strange to me.
You'd have to be extremely distant from your mother if finding she's been consumed by a fire only moments earlier, that's the extent of your reaction.
It's even more strange that no-one listening to the story reacts to this.

As for the idea that Cloud is distant from his mother -
The scene in question is a very common picture of Japanese son/mother relationships. It's a massive trope and cultural norm in Japan;
The doting country-side mother whose concerned about her son and his life in the big city, and the son thinking if his mother as an annoying, fretting busybody, and shutting her out.
I'd go out on a limb that the vast majority of boys in Japan, and as far as I know in my generation of Norwegian boys, had a similar relationship to their mother from early teens to their late 20s.
That however is not indicative of a lack familial love for the mother though.
As a person who was just as cold, if not colder, towards my parents from a very early age til my late 20s, I can still say with confidence that if someone burned my parents to death, I'd probably blow a lid or two and be bereft with anger and grief.

What's more, when Cloud confronts Sephiroth, he does mention what Sephiroth has done to the village - it's just very general. This is pretty baffling because again, you'd think his mother, distant or not, would deserve mention as a particular, not just someone you'd lump generically in with the rest of the villagers.

No, I think the more likely answer here is simply a fluke - a result of the organic nature of game development.
The flashback of his mother is optionl after all, which means it wouldn't make sense for Cloud to mention it as players who didn't see it wouldn't be able to make sense of it.
Why wasn't it mandatory?
I'd reason the flashback was probably added late development to flesh out Cloud's past. However, since other parts were already in and set in stone, they made it an easter egg kind of affair, like many if the other optional flashbacks in the game.
Basically, I think someone went "wait, so this is Cloud's hometown right? Where is his family?", and then someone else went "oh crap, you're right. This feels wrong. Let's give him a flashback and a mom."

Cloud has a mom now though, and given the themes of the game, and how tenuous the logic of Cloud's pursuit of Sephiroth feels at time, I think using her to fuel a personal revenge motivation early on would improve the narrative.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
JBedford
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hian wrote: Following the torching of the village, if you run into the house Cloud comes back out, shakes his head, and nothing. This always felt extremely strange to me.
You'd have to be extremely distant from your mother if finding she's been consumed by a fire only moments earlier, that's the extent of your reaction.
It's even more strange that no-one listening to the story reacts to this.
Cloud is 100% Zack in that moment. The grunt passed out next to the house is true Cloud. So in reality, Cloud presumably was in his house when it was razed, or maybe passed out after going in to save his mother when it was razed. This could have been commented on by someone else in the party but there's isn't much interjecting by the other party members at this point in the flashback.

I don't think Cloud's mum was an afterthought. The optional scene, though optional (as everything is: there are various optional things you can do Cloud will recount later when Sephiroth tries to convince him and Tifa he was never there), is too significant for the player as it is the events that took place in that house that contradicts his new persona, hence its fragmented nature. It's also something that only makes sense if Cloud was actually there.

Cloud does say "My family! My hometown" and "What about MY sadness!? My family... friends?" when confronting Sephiroth. Really, the strange thing is that he says "family" when he had just 1 family (EDIT: in the Cloud's subconscious flashback, Cloud says "Mom... Tifa... My town... give it back...").

Last edited by JBedford; 1 Week Ago at 05:44 AM.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
hian
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I'll reiterate a thought I've made multiple times before -
Cloud being 100% is not really a thing, especially within the context of the original game's lore.
Cloud replaces his role with Zack within the context of the flash-back, but generally Cloud is merely acting out what he thinks is the appropriate mode of being for a SOLDIER. The fact that Cloud acknowledges the existence of his actual mother, and has recollections of his childhood, shows that Cloud's post Nibelheim persona is still Cloud - just Cloud with partial, convenient slices of Zack, or what he thought Zack would have been like.

Secondly, I am well aware that part of Cloud's memory is one were he's replaced his relative position with Zack's. I think however, as an objection that's a red herring, when within the same flash back he also establishes a part of Cloud by referencing his mother in the first place.
It makes little sense, and is incongruent for Cloud to remember his mother's death, but react to it with his imitation of Zack's persona.
The options for how this scenario could play out are threefold -
1. Cloud is fully Zack, therefore isn't the son of the woman in the house and therefore doesn't react to her death.
2. Cloud is fully Cloud, in which case he should be knocked out on the ground and probably react in horror to what's happened to his mother.
3. Cloud is a mix of his old self and Zack's persona, and we'd expect him, under the influence of Jenova/Sephiroth, to spin a tale that makes as much sense of events as possible.

The first two are obviously out - 1 because Cloud does remember his mom, and 2 because we know he wasn't actually the SOLDIER that ran into the house. That was Zack.

This leaves 3, and my argument is that in the context of 3, it makes sense that even in putting himself in Zack's shoes physically, the fact that he acknowledges his mom in the flashback justifies Cloud projecting his natural response to her death onto the SOLDIER Zack version of himself. After all, how do you think Zack would have reacted if his parents burned to death?

There's no discrepency or issue in terms of Cloud maintaining his false narrative in acknowledging this, and if anything it would only serve to further strengthen his conviction in his primary account being true, and the need for him to track down Sephiroth.

There are no contradictions between Cloud's SOLDIER persona and having been in the house, and in fact you could say that a failure to acknowledge true Cloud's reaction to his mother's death in that situation post having acknowledge her in the first place is a larger dent in the narrative than the fact that Zack never went into that house prior to the fire, and didn't have family in Nibelheim

The fact that there aren't many inerjections by the party during Cloud's story in general doesn't excuse the lack of interjection on this point - if anything it just reaffirms the issue and draws attention to the fact that the scene has certain lackings in terms of execution. Tifa's lack of interjections especially, and her later flimsy excuses for not giving any, is a very common critique made by people who're not huge fans if the game's story, so I think it's worth addressing.

Finally, I think the quotes you provide fuel my case even more. The fact that in the first telling he uses family rather than mother generically while his unconscious mind later uses mom seems consistent with the idea that they were writing to account for people who didn't enter the house the first time around. After all, it's established immediately that Cloud has family in Nibelheim, it is not however established what kind or who unil you enter the house.
I'll agree that Cloud mentioning his family and later mom when confronting Sephiroth shows at least a tepid acknowledgement of what has happened and how Cloud feels about it, however I think again that it serves to exemplify how underutilized this is as a plot element.

Cloud clearly knows Sephiroth killed his mom, Zack persona or not, and he clearly isn't okay with it - my point is simply that the extent to which he is not is underwhelming, and again, a clear example of a missed opportunity at further humanizing Cloud, strengthening his motivations for chasing Sephiroth and strengthening the themes of the game by aligning his background and reasoning more closely to the trend of the other characters like Tifa and Barret.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
Minato
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hian wrote: I'll reiterate a thought I've made multiple times before -
Cloud being 100% is not really a thing, especially within the context of the original game's lore.
Cloud replaces his role with Zack within the context of the flash-back, but generally Cloud is merely acting out what he thinks is the appropriate mode of being for a SOLDIER. The fact that Cloud acknowledges the existence of his actual mother, and has recollections of his childhood, shows that Cloud's post Nibelheim persona is still Cloud - just Cloud with partial, convenient slices of Zack, or what he thought Zack would have been like.

Secondly, I am well aware that part of Cloud's memory is one were he's replaced his relative position with Zack's. I think however, as an objection that's a red herring, when within the same flash back he also establishes a part of Cloud by referencing his mother in the first place.
It makes little sense, and is incongruent for Cloud to remember his mother's death, but react to it with his imitation of Zack's persona.
The options for how this scenario could play out are threefold -
1. Cloud is fully Zack, therefore isn't the son of the woman in the house and therefore doesn't react to her death.
2. Cloud is fully Cloud, in which case he should be knocked out on the ground and probably react in horror to what's happened to his mother.
3. Cloud is a mix of his old self and Zack's persona, and we'd expect him, under the influence of Jenova/Sephiroth, to spin a tale that makes as much sense of events as possible.

The first two are obviously out - 1 because Cloud does remember his mom, and 2 because we know he wasn't actually the SOLDIER that ran into the house. That was Zack.

This leaves 3, and my argument is that in the context of 3, it makes sense that even in putting himself in Zack's shoes physically, the fact that he acknowledges his mom in the flashback justifies Cloud projecting his natural response to her death onto the SOLDIER Zack version of himself. After all, how do you think Zack would have reacted if his parents burned to death?

There's no discrepency or issue in terms of Cloud maintaining his false narrative in acknowledging this, and if anything it would only serve to further strengthen his conviction in his primary account being true, and the need for him to track down Sephiroth.

There are no contradictions between Cloud's SOLDIER persona and having been in the house, and in fact you could say that a failure to acknowledge true Cloud's reaction to his mother's death in that situation post having acknowledge her in the first place is a larger dent in the narrative than the fact that Zack never went into that house prior to the fire, and didn't have family in Nibelheim
There is a contradiction, Cloud is on the floor hurt by the fire trying to save his mother because that's what he would do. Zack is progressing speedily to the Mako Reactor thanks to not being covered with burn wounds and it's his POV Cloud is following at that point in time.

I believe it's option 3, SOLDIER!Cloud is a mix of both Zack and Cloud but not a perfectly constructed mix with all resulting holes in his story covered up. His initial conversation with his mother in Nibelheim shows this. OG!Cloud's not self aware that he is making it up enough to come up with a answer for every problem in his story before hand. Though in the Remake he might be as he felt neccesary to go to some lengths to distinquish his Buster Sword from Zack's. But we've had that conversation.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
Clement Rage
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Hmm. Interesting how differently this can be interpreted.

There's so much else going on in the Nibelheim flashbacks that it would be tricky to reconcile it.

My impression of the lack of focus on Cloud's mom is that she's a continuity error, one of the subtle things that's off about the first flashback. His time in her house is a rush of disconnected flashbacks because she's asking him all about his career in Midgar, which won't add up if he thinks about it too much. There's already a mild continuity error in his memories from being present both in his house and in the Inn for that night, if he pulls that thread too hard everything unravels.

Cloud's underreaction seems like another of the things that was supposed to be off about the flashback, so that when we get to the second one and see Cloud get up from being passed out in front of his house, it's meant to hit us. I don't remember my first reaction because it's so long ago, but I am pretty sure it hit me when I saw Cloud get up from in front of his house. You could put in more from the second flashback, but then the pacing changes from 'we have to find out re the reactor.'

The second time around in the Lifestream, Cloud and Tifa are trying to prove the memories are real, and for that to work, it has to be a memory they both share and remember.

I mean, it could work, but it would be difficult to work in without distracting from the narrative unless a separate flashback. Maybe something like the Zack/Cloud escape when you go back to Cloud's house after the second lifestream sequence? But that's probably too late. Maybe separate flashbacks at intervals through the rest of the story, a la 'skinned knees'.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #11
Mr. Ite
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An irl mother’s death heavily shaped the course of FFVII’s story development, I don’t think that the trauma is absent, I think it’s quite tasteful. Cloud runs into his house to check on his mother. We don’t see what happens in there, but Cloud comes out alone.

“Sephiroth, this is too terrible.”

I was quite shaken by that line. I for one wouldn’t appreciate a lengthy cutscene (or worse, a lose-to-progress minigame) showing me the horror. I can imagine the horror. It’s horrific.

I agree with what Clement said above. If FF7R were to expand on Mom, I would like a pleasant memory of his mother to appear on Disc 2 (or the 2026 DLC whathaveyou) perhaps if you revisit Nibelheim (to further complement Tifa’s final limit and the Zack flashback). At that point it won’t spoil the mystery, and pulls at the “I miss you” heartstrings, rather than putting more violence against women on screen.

Last edited by Mr. Ite; 6 Days Ago at 04:47 PM.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #12
leadmyskeptic
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I agree. While I definitely think there's room for their relationship to be elaborated upon later on (perhaps on return to Nibelheim? Optional? Post flashback? I dunno), I actually was quite effected by the understated presentation in the original flashbacks. Both during the actual fire, but especially the 'wooshing', flashing light scenes of Cloud's mom being a mom and firing of all sorts of queries that get clipped before coming to a head with "I will always be your mother, Cloud". And then quickly Cloud cuts in with "...Let's stop this." To me, it summed up all the things a mother would become as a memory, especially to someone as young as Cloud--a bunch of memories of what is actually concerned affection but is received as annoyance/nagging, unsolicited personal and romantic advice, wanting to take care of you, and then ultimately the more deep-seated bond that is unique to mother/child, or father/child...bonds that can't be replicated. The signal to me was always that there was something painful there, something Cloud was afraid to look at, and those feelings got transmitted to me as the player. But in any case, I certainly think there could benefit from being some more scenes of 'actual' Cloud later on, perhaps in particular his mother, but I personally feel the original flashback should be delivered in a similar fashion.

Also, on a side note, this seems to move into similar territory as the "How to deal with the Zack flashback?" conversations we were having some time back. Some people feel having it be so minute/quick/etc downplays how important Zack is and the drama of his death, and needs to be considerably beefed up. Others feel the more you drag it out the more you take away the mystery, distract from the core story of the main game, and perhaps dip over the cliff into hamfisted melodrama. I've always been fairly firmly in the second camp on this particular issue, so maybe that's just my personal trend.
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Old 2 Hours Ago   #13
sy2pie
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Wow. So many interesting and exciting ideas being explained on the issue here. Whatever the writers intended, it certainly is going to need to be explained more in the remake.
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