The only thing that can be heard is the sound of silence. The stars are shining brightly in the night sky. All is peace and quiet.
In an alleyway, a young girl is kneeling, her hands locked together in prayer. Then she looks up, smiling at something only she can see. Struggling slightly with the flower basket she is carrying, she stands up and walks out into the busy streets of Midgar. She has to stop to avoid being run over by a motorcycle.
Her name is Aeris. The story that will unfold from now on is entirely hers.
Let us move away from this part of Midgar. As we pull back we can see the sparkling Mako reactors spewing life energy into the void of night, and in the distance a train is arriving at its final station. As it pulls to a halt, a blond young man jumps out and slashes a nearby soldier. He is followed by a black man with a gun grafted on his right hand. They are Cloud and Barrett, respectively, and the story that will be told can be seen as theirs as well.
Why am I talking about this game? Well, there are many reasons. First and foremost, when it was released, Final Fantasy VII was the most involving RPG experience me and my childhood friend had ever been a part of. Second, the music in the game is pure magic and possibly Nobuo Uematsu’s best work (after VII he just got worse – don’t even get me started on the muck he threw together for IX and X). Third, I have many positive memories associated with it.
That’s not to say that the game is – was – without its flaws. The graphics – incredible for their time – still look decent today, but not nearly as impressive as they once were. Even though the soundtrack rocks you have to ask yourself what the heck the sound programmer was doing (some of the synths used in this game are horrible to say the least). The random battles were many and occurred way too often. Some gameplay mechanics just didn’t work that well (take the submarine challenges for a good example of this).
But when I listen to the soundtrack from Final Fantasy VII, all the positive things just flow back to me. The creepy, well-written story, the deep and involving characters, those moments in the game where you just wanted to cry… and, well, Aeris. Let’s face it: She is one of the best game characters ever created. She isn’t one of the soppy ”oh-please-save-me-my-hero”-girls. She can hold her own. She even dresses Cloud in a woman’s outfit at one point of the game (something I still laugh myself silly about when I play it). Aeris knows what her mission is and what she has to do, and as such she is a deeply tragic and yet extremely powerful person. It is up to her whether the planet lives or dies, and even in that awful situation she is able to stop and smile. Square(Enix) have tried many times to duplicate Aeris’ personality in other Final Fantasy women (Rinoa, Eiko, Yuna and Ash, to name a few), but she stands on her own as the most convincing of them all.
So, is this an Aeris love letter? Not quite. It’s actually about ”Final Fantasy VII – Voices of the Lifestream”, a completely free album by various talented remixers on OCremix.com. Listening to this album will very probably bring back fond memories for those who have played the game. And even those who don’t know anything about Final Fantasy VII should still give it a listen. It’s simply that good. Oh, and did I mention that it’s completey free?
You can get the torrent from this site.
Listen, relax, and remember what it felt like to be able to finally kick Sephiroth’s ass. How it felt to say good-bye to Aeris. How the planet was saved by one person alone. And the feeling you get inside when something has finally solved itself in the best possible way.