Despite its absolutely gorgeous presentation and satisfying combat mechanics, the changes made to the original story’s plot in Final Fantasy 7 Remake left fans disappointed and, in some case, outright angry.

Fans worried about drastic changes to future remasters of classic Final Fantasy VII scenes, locations, and events can breathe a sigh of relief, as the game’s Director Tetsuya Nomura, Producer Yoshinori Kitase, and Scenario Writer Kazushige Nojima have stated in a new interview that, going forward, they are not planning on “drastically changing the story and making it into something completely different than the original.”

The producers’ statement comes from an interview in the Final Fantasy VII Remake Ultimania book, the latest release in Square Enix’s series of books documenting design details, history, and concept work from respective Final Fantasy games, with an English translation provided by Aitai Japan founder Audrey Lamsam:

In the interview, the trio speak at length and in-depth on various topics related to the game’s development, ranging from discussions surrounding how “Cloud Tries to Act Cool like an Adult but Fails” and providing reasons behind their decision to focus solely on the Midgar episode for the first game.

However, the divergent nature of the game frequently appeared throughout the interview, such as when Nomura is asked a question is about the title of ‘Remake,’ to which he explains that “there are two meanings to the title”:

“—The title for the remake is just “Remake,” which is a bit rare to put in a title. Is there any specific meaning to it?

Nomura: I am the one who decided on the title “Remake,” but there are two meanings to the title. The first being that we wanted to quell the doubt that arised when we first announced that we were doing a remake. When the first trailer was released, there were people who weren’t sure if this installment of FFVII was merely a remaster or an actual remake, which made them worry. When we revealed the trailer at E3 in 2015, the reactions were as I expected, with some even asking if this was going to be a movie. That’s why I decided to clearly express to those with doubt that this is a complete remake of the original with the title “Remake” as well. In regards to the other meaning to the word “Remake,” well, I can’t answer that right now. Ask me again in a couple of years (laughs).”

Among the differences between the original 1997 release and the Remake is the appearance of Sephiroth far earlier in the story, the swarm of phantoms colloquially referred to by fans as the ‘time janitors,’ and the entirety of the game’s dimension-hopping ending scene.

The seeming survival of Zack Fair, hinted at in the game’s ending, may be the most prominent change suggested by the Remake.

Nomura later reveals that he had always intended for the game to “be more than just a mere “Remake,” with Nojima adding that he took into consideration the incorporation of the extensive lore added to the canon by the “Compilation of FFVII” material, such as the Advent Children film and the Crisis Core PSP game:

“—How did this development come to being?

Nomura: When I requested a scenario to Nojima, I first thought, “if I am to create the FFVII Remake, I would like to do it this way.” I then conveyed my ideas to him. During that phase, I planned to make this be more than just a mere “Remake.” For example, the battle system this time around is in real timee instead of using an ATB gauge, and with that, the story itself took a turn that isn’t just the basic FFVII, but something new. That’s the kind of story I wanted to create.

Nojima: As for me, I knew that even though at the very core, this story is about Cloud, the works from the “Compilation of FFVII” have greatly increased [over the years], and I wanted to make something that takes all of those works and combine it into one. Each person who played the original version also has their own vision of the world of FFVII, and I wanted to preserve that too. The results of those feelings are shown within the Remake’s story. These were all the ideas I had, so in the beginning I would initially show it to Nomura-san, and I tried my best to explain them clearly to make sure he didn’t reject them (laughs).”

When the conversation turned to future releases in the series, Kitase and the team noted they “haven’t decided exactly how many parts [the series will be], nor can we confirm anything [about them].”

Kitase and Nojima are also asked if “the next installment might have major changes compared to the original,” prompting Kitase to assure fans that the team has “strong feelings to not stray away from” the classic Final Fantasy 7 lore and asking fans to “please assume that FF7 will still be FF7 as usual.”

“—If we follow this Remake’s story, then the next installment might have major changes compared to the original, right?

Kitase: I’ve talked about this extensively with Nomura, but I’m sure fans of the original are expecting to revisit familiar locations and scenes, so we have strong feelings to not stray away from that. From here on out, we’re not drastically changing the story and making it into something completely different than the original. Even though it’s a Remake, please assume that FF7 will still be FF7 as usual.

Nojima: For me, I create scenarios that follow the general flow of the original story but with the assumption that the way things are presented or how events occur might be slightly different.”

Concluding their interview, the team was enthusiastic about future installments and thankful to their fans for a successful launch, with Nojima asking fans to “please remember those doubts you had since you’ll probably find your answer in future installments.”

Nomura suggested that players whose first experience with the entry is the Remake to “play the FFVII original game afterwards as well,” and Kitase noted that “theories posted to the internet do reach us.”

Interestingly, Nomura also makes a point to establish the distinction between the two games, stating that “the original and the Remake are two separate entities”:

“—Lastly, do you have any messages to the fans who have played the FFVII Remake?

Nojima: I’m sure that they had a lot of fun playing it and might have doubts on what will happen from here on out, but please remember those doubts you had since you’ll probably find your answer in future installments.

Nomura: This was a very popular game in the past, and since we are remaking it, the amount of attention it had garnered even before it was released was high, and there are many who voiced their concerns about the game too. However, those concerns did not affect our staff as we put in our all to create this work, and we just hope that people will be interested in it. The base for the Remake has been successfully established with the first installment, so we hope to meet your expectations in the next installment too! However, personally, I think there might be some who think “Since this is the Remake, I don’t need to play the original game anymore and just play the Remake instead,” but I want to prevent people from doing that. The original and the Remake are two separate entities. So even if you play FFVII Remake, I would also like you to play the FFVII original game afterwards as well.

Kitase: In this first installment, I think we were able to figure out the exact direction and shape we would like to take with the FFVII Remake. Within the Remake, many hints were strewn along, and we would like fans to get excited and think about on what exactly will happen in the next installments. The theories posted on the internet do reach us, and I think that type of communication between the fans and us will help in creating a story together for all to enjoy.”

What do you make of their comments?