Spinners, guardians of destiny
And the first is to talk about spinners: these characters who look like the dementors of the Harry Potter saga are one of the novelties of this episode. These seem to appear randomly during your adventure. This is obviously not the case, and they are there for a good reason, explained to us by the character of Red XIII much later in the game: “They are attracted to those who try to change the course of fate and assure that they will not do it ”. To translate this to you in concrete terms, they do not keep the scenario of the remake similar to that of the original, but they make sure that the results of each action are the same.
Because yes, there are differences in the script at times: for example, when Jessie replaces Cloud in a mission he is supposed to do in the original game, the spinners appear, hurt Jessie, and Cloud therefore takes his place. Much later, Barret is impaled by Sephiroth, the spinners save him, because he is obviously not supposed to die at this moment of the adventure. At another time, Hojo is about to reveal about Cloud’s past that Cloud is not supposed to learn until much later in the original game: to prevent this, the spinners appear and take on the professor. There are obviously other examples, I will only give you a few.
What is interesting suddenly, is what the presence of spinners implies on the fabric of this Remake: it is not just the same game that has been redone since without the spinners, the characters would probably follow a different scenario. So this is a new game that is not necessarily meant to follow in the footsteps of the original, even if it shares the same basics. And that means above all that the basic FFVII scenario has already taken place in one way or another, which would make the Remake a title taking place in a kind of alternative reality, but which would overlap in the global universe of FF VII alongside the original game. So there it starts to get a little complicated, but the end of the game allows to clarify a part of all this thanks to the character of Sephiroth.
A new Sephiroth aware of what awaits him
In the original game, the Cloud group flees Midgar and goes in search of Sephiroth, whom he now considers to be the greatest danger to the planet. But at the end of the remake, the opposite happens: Sephiroth comes directly to confront the characters as they arrive at the border of Midgar. And if he does, it is because he is aware that if the story repeats itself exactly as in the original game, he will die at the end. It’s not clear why or how Sephiroth is aware of this, and that will likely be one of the points to be cleared up in the sequel to FF VII remake. On the other hand, the fact that Sephiroth is aware of his destiny is quite logical in terms of his words and his actions.
As the spinners arrive to keep you from fighting Sephiroth, he opens a portal allowing you to access the Spinner Herald, who controls the rest of the spinners. By defeating it, you destroy these creatures and prevent them from making the characters’ fate similar to that of the original game. This explains why Sephiroth then comes directly to confront you, because he now knows that the disappearance of the spinners eventually gives him a chance to survive. It is, however, difficult to know why he then insists that you join him rather than simply eliminate yourself: we can only imagine that he has good reasons which will undoubtedly be revealed in a future game.
And here, you may wonder why you went to destroy the spiders, because you have no reason for the fate to be changed, since it would have ultimately allowed you to eliminate Sephiroth. Except that precisely, Cloud and his group obviously do not grasp the full scope of their actions, since they are not omniscient, unlike the Sephiroth of FF VII Remake. And here we enter at least partially in the field of interpretation, because there are several gray areas: but we can reasonably think that the many flashforwards to which you are entitled during the remake are the work of Sephiroth, because they often depict the most terrible situations from the rest of the original FF VII scenario. What would have allowed to indirectly manipulate the characters, who think they are acting well by avoiding these tragedies when they ignore the most important fact: despite all the horrors that await them, if they follow their original destiny, Sephiroth will die.
An upheaval in the past, present and future scenario?
The disappearance of the spinners therefore potentially changes everything about the rest of the game, which may well have nothing to do with that of the original game. This is already clearly suggested by the very end of the remake, which changes the fate of several characters, like Biggs, who seems to have miraculously survived, or Zack. If you didn’t play the original FF VII, you surely didn’t understand who that cloud-dressed brown character you see in a flash just before Sephiroth opens a portal to the spinner. This is Zack, a former SOLDIER member very close to Cloud, but also Aerith, his girlfriend, who talks about him once in the remake, but without mentioning his name. The scene you see is the one that is supposed to precede the death of Zack by soldiers of the Shinra, and which is also playable in the spin-off Crisis Core, released on PSP.
But after defeating the spinners in the remake, our group seems to have influenced this death, because we see a new scene in which Zack triumphed over the soldiers and would therefore be alive. Which may surprise, because this sequence takes place normally before the start of the game: so has the entire timeline past, present and future of FF VII been upset by beating the spinners? Well it’s possible. What is also possible, it is that we are in another reality, what suggests the plan supported on Stamp, the mascot of Shinra, which is in this scene different from that present in the game. But again we enter too much in the field of interpretation, and only the rest will give us the answers.