Square Enix has released a selection of new screenshots and renders for Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade, and it is becoming increasingly clear that this reimagining of the JRPG classic isn’t afraid of throwing everything at the wall with supplemental games, novels, films, and more being implemented into a single, somewhat cohesive universe. It’s going to be a convoluted mess once the smoke has cleared, but I genuinely adore its bravery and willingness to go this hard, even if it means leaving fans behind who didn’t play a mediocre PS2 game back in 2006. If you’re unsure what game I’m talking about – it’s the weird, wonderful, and woefully disappointing Dirge of Cerberus.
Launching before I evolved into an edgy teenager who loved skulls, crying, and My Chemical Romance – Dirge of Cerberus places a focus on Vincent Valentine as he does battle with a mysterious organisation known as Deepground. This shadowy cabal consists of characters like Weiss and Nero – edgy dumbasses with silly haircuts and so many belt buckles they’d make River Island blush. It’s peak Tetsuya Nomura, whose design influences are bleeding into Remake as all of Final Fantasy 7’s associated universes become a singular mass of melodramatic nonsense. It’s told with conviction though, so even today, it’s easy to buy into everything. However, it remains to be seen exactly how Dirge of Cerberus’ influences will be implemented into the wider narrative.
The Remake is clearly aware of the shooter’s position in Final Fantasy 7’s wider storyline, confirming that its characters exist and occupy this world alongside our main personalities. I had a sneaking suspicion that Dirge of Cerberus would eventually rear its head when Barrett found himself trapped underground in the first chapter, hinting at Shinra’s sinister experiments with organic beings. What I didn’t expect was for Square Enix to go this hard, going as far as working the likes of Weiss and Nero into the equation as enemies we’ll likely have to fight and contend with in the upcoming remaster. Part of me feels they will simply be optional arena boss fights, acting as a self-indulgent reference for fans who put themselves through the mediocre side adventure all those years ago.
Despite ageing like chocobo meat left out in the radiated Midgar sun, Dirge of Cerberus still had a lot of charm. It took the eccentric depiction of Final Fantasy 7 that first appeared in Advent Children and expanded upon it, not afraid to carve a new vision of the JRPG classic for a new audience. Remake is essentially following in these footsteps, with some of its biggest creators confirming that Advent Children acted as the benchmark they aspired to when it came to recreating this world, its characters, and the unfolding narrative.
It explains why it’s going in such a wild direction, and how the original story is being morphed into something almost unrecognisable. I’m all for it, but I hope Square Enix is prepared to answer some lofty questions once fans come knocking. The first chapter’s ending assumes a lot of knowledge surrounding not only the original game, but also titles such as Crisis Core – with Zack’s revival acting as a pivotal subversion of that game’s entire message. JRPGs aren’t known for being straight forward, but supplemental research being required after hitting the credits is a little bit much. Dirge of Cerberus only serves to muddy the waters further, and I sincerely hope we don’t descend into Kingdom Hearts levels of needless convolution.
At the same time, I’m fully on board for wherever it goes, knowing I might end up either delighted or disappointed at the final result. The ending of Final Fantasy 7 Remake saw my jaw planted firmly on the floor, my expression a mixture of love and confusion as I tried to decipher exactly what had just happened. I’m positive that Intergrade and the inevitable sequel will be filled with moments like this, especially with Yuffie’s origins being completely overhauled alongside the unexpected introduction of Weiss and Nero. I honestly wouldn’t recommend jumping into Dirge of Cerberus for some extra context. It’s rubbish, and I think starting Intergrade ready for a few surprises is the best route forward.
As Cloud Strife once said – “fuck me up, fam.” He didn’t say that, but given where this remake is going, I absolutely cannot rule it out.
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