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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth makes one impactful change to Barret’s story

Barret talking to Dyne in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.
Square Enix

This article contains story spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

Ahead of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth‘s launch, fans were buzzing about how the sequel would tackle Aerith’s story. The holy healer was a major focus of Square Enix’s marketing, making it clear that one of gaming’s most iconic moments would be pivotal to the adventure. But for me, I was more curious about how another tragedy would play out: the tale of Barret and Dyne.

Final Fantasy VII will forever be a special game to me because it’s the first one I played in which the characters felt like real people instead of avatars. Prior to that, characters in games seemed to only exist in the context of your main character interacting with them. When I first played it, I never once questioned why Barret had a gun for an arm or asked if there was a story behind his daughter Marlene. Once I reached Corel and then the prison below the Gold Saucer, I started to realize that Barret had an entire life before I met him that informed every part of his character.

Those two threads come to a head with a confrontation with Dyne, one of his old pals who turns into a sub-boss in both the original release and Rebirth. While I don’t know that a remake could ever replicate how that character-defining moment felt at the time, Rebirth‘s take on the Dyne saga winds up being one of its best moments. That’s thanks to one small tweak that makes it all feel that much more real.

You’re gonna carry that weight

The setup for Barret and Dyne’s confrontation is nearly identical in both releases. We learn that Barret pushed to allow Shinra to build a Mako reactor in their town while his friend Dyne opposed the idea. Dyne is overruled with tragic results. A few years later, the reactor blows, Shinra comes in to cover it up, and Barret and Dyne lose their arms in the process. Barret assumes Dyne is dead and takes it upon himself to look after his daughter Marlene as his own.

Dyne doesn’t die, though; he survives and goes mad while seeking vengeance against Shinra.

The story doesn’t change much leading up to their reunion and subsequent battle in Rebirth, but one subtle change leaves a lasting impression. Looking back at the original scene, Barret tells Dyne Marlene is alive, and they can go see her right now, but Dyne knows that isn’t true. He is lucid enough to know that he’s done too much to be a father anymore. He gives Barret his wife’s pendant to pass on to Marlene and tells him never to make her cry. In all ways but outright saying it, Dyne forgives Barret and gives him his blessing to care for Marlene — to be her real father. With nothing left to live for, he commits suicide by leaping from a cliff.

Dyne angry at Barret in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.
Square Enix

Rebirth does not give us such a clean and tidy conclusion; Dyne does not forgive Barret. He explicitly blames him for everything, and not without reason. It was Barret who invited Shinra to their town, leading to both their families being lost, save for Marlene. Dyne had no idea that Marlene lived, paving the way for him to become consumed by hatred, rage, and revenge. By the time he realizes she is alive again, he knows there’s no going back. She wouldn’t recognize him anymore. His right to be a good father was stolen from him, and in his eyes, Barret was the thief. Before he passes away, he lets him know as much. He puts the weight of the life he may have had with his daughter on Barret’s shoulders.

He doesn’t commit suicide this time, at least not directly. Instead, he knowingly makes a final stand against overwhelming odds. He knows he can’t go on, and the only way he can allow himself to die is by fighting. It’s a more nuanced conclusion for the character that feels deserved.

Both of these men are forced to grapple with being the best father they can at this moment. Barret, despite knowing Dyne is unstable and maybe even thinking Marlene would be better off with him, is still willing to give that all up to try and atone for his greatest sin. Dyne has to reconcile with the fact that he isn’t fit to raise his daughter anymore. Any relief and joy he may have had discovering the one person in the world he cares for most is still alive is buried beneath the dark realization that he can’t allow himself to enter her life again.

By making that small change, Barret’s entire motivation and outlook for the remainder of Final Fantasy VII is completely recontextualized. Barret isn’t facing down impossible odds to save the world just to protect Marlene. That’s still a major component of his arc, but now he has an obligation to Dyne, too. Marlene now represents his unending burden to atone for the unforgivable.

Barret and Dyne’s arc already stood out as one of the more fleshed-out sections in this chapter of FF7, but the way Rebirth is able to build upon and highlight this and other character moments is what makes this entire remake experiment worthwhile. It isn’t just the fantastic performances or enhanced graphics that elevate these characters from mere avatars to flesh-and-blood characters, but the small ways the team changed their stories or how they’re delivered that make them resonate so much more.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is out now on PS5.

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