“What you Remember is the Illusion”
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video game, cultural studies, JRPG, narrative, genre

Resumé

Typically, critical writing on the topic has emphasised the hero / protagonist figure as the primary vector of player agency. However, the hero(es) of Final Fantasy VII (Finaru Fantashii VII, 1998) exhibit psychological depth in which party characters confront their self-delusion. This is particularly apt with Cloud who experiences an introspective reckoning while comatose that prefigures the game’s denouement. Beyond the narrative function of self-discovery, this essay argues that this process exists to reconcile the player with the JRPG ‘world’, a pan-mythological territory often reliant on signs, symbols and archetypes as exposition of an intricate and alien place. Through close reading of FFVII’s aesthetic and gameplay design, I aim to demonstrate that the protagonist is the nexus of player discovery, psychological characterisation and ‘lore’, and the significance of this model in the reframing and reinvention of the past common to the JRPG genre.

https://doi.org/10.5278/ojs.academicquarter.vi20.5852
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