The roaring ‘90s saw not only the birth of slap bracelets and Tamagotchis, but also the dawn of a gaming icon: Final Fantasy VII (FFVII) on the PlayStation.
The tale of Cloud, Aerith, and the metropolis of Midgar wasn’t just content with conquering our gaming consoles; it subtly wormed its way into the heart of modern fantasy literature. Here’s how.
Midgar and the Megacity:
Midgar, a city divided between the haves and the have-nots, feels eerily familiar.
Think of the multi-layered metropolis in China Miéville’s “Perdido Street Station.”
The gritty, mechanical feel, the sense of a world both ahead and behind its time.
A reflection of Midgar’s gleaming topside and shadowy slums?
Shinra sucking the life out of the planet with Mako reactors is a bold eco-warning.
Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl,” set in a biopunk future, delves into the consequences of unchecked corporate greed on the environment, echoing the struggles between AVALANCHE and Shinra.
The Amnesiac Hero:
Cloud’s tangled memories and mysterious past have become something of a trope in fantasy literature.
Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora from “The Lies of Locke Lamora” has a similarly clouded (pun absolutely intended) history, creating an intricate dance between what’s real and what’s forgotten.
The chilling, silver-haired Sephiroth set the bar for antagonists.
His influence might be traced in characters like the Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s “Shadow and Bone” series.
Charismatic, with unclear motivations and a penchant for the dramatic?
Sounds about right.
The delightful system of materia in FFVII, gems granting abilities, isn’t too far off from the ‘grisha’ powers in Bardugo’s Grishaverse or the skill rings in Joe Abercrombie’s “The First Law” series.
The magic system, once a tool, now becomes a character in itself, defining hierarchies, personalities, and plot twists.
Unlikely Group Dynamics:
FFVII’s motley crew, from the fierce Tifa to the wise Red XIII, is reminiscent of the band of unlikely heroes in ensemble cast novels.
Think of Kaz’s crew in “Six of Crows.”
They’re all from different walks of life, united by a common goal, leading to an interplay of quirks, past traumas, and, of course, humour.
By weaving in the essence of FFVII, modern fantasy hasn’t just borrowed aesthetics or plot points but embraced its soul.
The journey from Midgar to the Northern Crater is more than a game—it’s a legacy.
And just like Cloud on his Hardy Daytona motorcycle, this legacy speeds forward, blurring the lines between pixels and print.