7 Apr 2024

Pursuing a date with Aerith made me a bad friend

I like that FF7 Rebirth ships Cloud and Tifa. However, I’m playing it as if I was roleplaying my 13-yo self. Just like all of the late 30-somethings that are playing the game now. Playing slowly, alone, and scared of getting spoiled when going online.

When I went to sleep that night in the Gold Saucer, the knock on the door came, and behind the door was… Nanaki. Sheesh! I went through the complete sequence, expecting some kinda joke – especially after seeing Aerith prepping the song beforehand. I expected some kinda switch-up somewhere along the road. But nope! I spent a nice evening with Nanaki and then immediately reloaded the save and went to change the future. For that one evening, at least. Some promises are to be kept, right?

I returned to the Corel landscape with a single goal — to get closer to Aerith. I immediately saw how that changed the game. I replaced Nanaki in my #1 party with Cait Sith to be safe. I started fighting not to win but to use a synergy ability with Aerith. I looked for big monsters that would fill our synergy meters and risked it all just to strike that monster with one ineffective attack. On the other hand, thanks to this I actually learned how that stuff works, after 70+ hours of playing the game. I went around the world to find any incomplete quests we had together. There were none. I went to Priscilla at Under Junon and when the quest turned out to be Yuffie’s, I refused participation in the dolphin fun. They were so sad and angry about it.

I became a bad friend and even worse a savior of the planet.

I went back to Gold Saucer once I saw there’s not much else to do. I went to sleep, skipped some cut scenes, and waited for the knock on the door. And behind the door, there was the game I played when I was 13. It worked. Just like the rest of the game, it was a pixel-perfect rendering of what I remember from back then.

I’m so glad that Nanaki, Barret and Tifa aren’t AI-driven NPCs because such a sudden shift in my behavior would probably eternally tarnish our relationship. Why are we still in the desert, Cloud. Why are we fighting the same foes again and again, Cloud? I don’t want that Tonberry knife in my back ever again, Cloud. We met all of Chadley’s requirements on the first try, Cloud. They’d be like my Spotify recommendations after I randomly listened to 6 hours of Japanese math rock.