Final Fantasy VII Myth & Materia: “Prelude”


Myth and Materia header

The worth of the myth is that it requires all the items we know and restores to them the wealthy significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’ The youngster enjoys his cold meat, otherwise dull to him, by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his personal bow and arrow. And the youngster is smart. The actual meat comes back to him extra savory for getting been dipped in a story… by placing bread, gold, horse, apple, or the pretty roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it.

-C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature



What I propose to do right here, in the following series of essays, is to inform the story of Final Fantasy VII in such a way as to unfold anything accurate about the roots the game has in other fantastic works–myth and literature and art–while also acquiring at the nature of storytelling in our time, in this age of video games it is helped to define. 

We every single bring to the discussion our personal practical experience with Square’s 1997 smash hit, a host of associations that accompany us like the prelude music playing in the background. Soon after all, what have you been up to the previous twenty years? College, travel, jobs, relationships… and now and then returning to FFVII, hoping to get dunked into some Mako and bear in mind who you are, and who you wanted to turn into. Although with no realizing who you are just before diving into the Mako, probably it becomes even tougher to figure out.

Final Fantasy VII cover art PS1

There’s just so considerably to analyze and to appear at in any game beyond the text of the story alone, even leaving aside the private freight of memory. In this specific case, for a single, there’s the name, Final Fantasy VII. Sort of a contradiction in terms–it’s not final, mainly because there’s a quantity immediately after it, and lots of sequels immediately after that and it is virtually extra like a science-fiction game than a fantasy. From the title, then, we stand just before a paradox and a guarantee. Distinctions involving them are blended in approaches we’ll want to discover. 

In terms of gameplay, there are endless other items to assume about: the style of function-playing game, the leveling up characteristics, the menus that you have to access, maintaining track of counters like hit points you fight enemies in a pretty distinct way, and bosses who need added technique you have sprites as nicely as CGI… Exactly where do you get started?

The ins and outs of the technologies are not my experience. Other folks can go into a lot of detail and clarify some of the mechanics and improvement elements of the game. With the release of the remake, these style components extra than ever will come in for renewed focus as points of comparison. What I attempt to do with the game is to study it, virtually like a book. There are nevertheless way as well numerous items that take place in FFVII to go into all of them, but there are points at which the game highlights specific items which it thinks are crucial. In most instances, but not all, these will correspond with these memories and associations we have playing the game, the items that we will have to have believed have been crucial, and the items they pointed us towards: science and art, philosophy and politics, like and the loveless and all manner of transcendence. Bridging these, drawing the connections involving them, will be our aim. 

The most daunting element of all will be how to account for the visual, musical, ludic elements of the game.


How do you analyze these in words?

They’re unique categorically. And it is extra than a film mainly because of the player’s interaction with it, and the freedom of movement by means of the planet. As you get started to interpret the game, at after the interplay involving these subjective and objective elements confronts you. On the a single hand, there is the game that everyone has the shared practical experience playing, sort of like you have a shared practical experience reading a text on the other, there’s constantly that subjective practical experience mainly because you are the a single generating the options (even although they’re relatively prescribed). You discover oneself switching involving these two modes, the playing mode inhabiting a character getting borne along by the story, but also the objective mode, exactly where you are attempting to see what it is that is taking place, to derive some facts, to distill some expertise from it. 

So how to be each a player and a commentator at the very same time–this is a single of the most fascinating items that playing games, even extra than reading books, does. It teaches you, if not a process, get in touch with it an attitude or viewpoint, exactly where you see the distance involving these two items. And you get started to notice, nicely, if I see that distance, then other folks have noticed it, as well, and they’ve almost certainly believed about this a lot. Then you get started to enter into the conversation on that extra reflective level. The game is this fantastic challenge mainly because it seriously prioritizes the playing, the subjective flow of getting in the moment of it. That is what’s exciting about playing: you shed oneself. And that is difficult to speak about in a way that does not sound so banal or just wan and slippery, but it is surely critical. 

That is the energy of the narrative of Final Fantasy VII

…and of narrative itself: it can suck you in, and you can go down the rabbit hole. Nearly like watching a playthrough, or getting watched a buddy play this game back in the day, there is this third or hybrid aspect of getting capable to view oneself getting pulled in in the course of the game, becoming capable of essentially striking that balance involving the myth and its matter. As considerably as we take on Cloud, the ex-SOLDIER suffused with it, we are also Aeris, pensively beholding the glow of Mako in the gloom. 

Aeris FF7 opening original



Wesley Schantz (the Bookwarm Mage) coordinates Signum Academy, writes about books and video games, and teaches in Spokane, WA. FFVII Myth &amp Materia comes out of his podcast series with Alexander Schmid and Vincent Reese.


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