Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Choices and Cloud's Mental Disorder

Did I mention this was going to be a multi-blog series? It kind of has to be. There's a lot to talk about in this game, and curiously I'm not sure if this has all been said before.

Early on I needed to make a decision, and make it consciously: Tifa or Aeris? I mean, sure, I suppose I could go for a Barret or Yuffie run, but that's a route tinged with uncertainty. No, better to choose from the two obvious targets.

Really, for me, the choice is usually clear: between busty girl-next-door fan service and the more modest doomed girl, I'll take modesty every time. Fan service has always made me uncomfortable, even before I knew to call it fan service.

That said, there's nothing really wrong with Tifa personality-wise, and Cloud ends up with her anyway by process of elimination, so to speak. So, rather than fighting the inevitable, I decided to actually see what aim for Tifa... for a while. After giving the flower to Tifa instead of Marlene, I started second-guessing myself. So now, instead of gaming the system, I decided to act as feels natural, being nice to both equally and treating them like people. I'm not sure at this point which one is going to ask me out at Gold Saucer later.

I spent a bit of time trying to figure out what's with Cloud's panic attacks, hallucinations, and the voices he hears. At first, it seems a bit like PTSD, with flashbacks and a bit of acting out. In fact, I believe that may be the cause of some of his episodes--especially any time they happen in a mako reactor.

That doesn't explain the voices and hallucinations, though. I believe that's actually caused by a severe dissociative identity disorder, brought on by the same trauma that caused his PTSD. Basically, after the events of Nibelheim 5 years ago, Cloud suffered severe trauma, both physically and mentally. Afterward, he was apparently put through years of tests that, though they healed his body, never addressed his mental state, which was basically that of a vegetable.

His mind latched onto an identity that seemed capable of coping with the stress--that of his friend Zack. So, he created a new personality that's the amalgamation of the Zack, the hardened SOLDIER, and Cloud, the eager, honest kid. Most of the time Cloud remains in the Zack personality, still incapable of dealing with his past. However, the internal, comforting voices, the second-guessing of his actions, and the vision of himself in the #!$% Room at the Honey Bee Inn are all manifestations of Cloud's true self.

This condition leads to headaches and memory loss, both of which affect Cloud frequently. This is most apparent when Cloud relays the story of what happened 5 years ago: if you enter Cloud's house, you can hear parts of his conversations with his mom... but only parts that don't contradict the past he's created for himself. In particular, there's this one part in which his mom says, "So, this is the uniform of SOLDIER?" Cloud can't seem to remember how he responds since, really, he was wearing the blue armor of Shinra's infantry. He had to explain at that point that he never made it into SOLDIER, but that didn't fit with his invented past, so he blocked it out.

In fact, very little of the conversation with his mom could be remembered. I imagine that Cloud's failure to qualify for SOLDIER was something he talked to his mom about at length, and his mother spent a lot of that time reassuring him, the way mothers do.

It must be rough to be able to barely remember your last conversation with your mother.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, realizing how fragmented Cloud's mind is from the beginning makes that scene where you're literally putting him back together way more awesome.