And now for a moment of truth.
We can’t call it the moment of truth, because Final Fantasy VII is really still getting under way, and this is just the first time we get some insight into what really happened in Nibelheim five years ago.
After getting the buggy fixed and their mission to save the planet elaborated on, the party continues from Cosmo Canyon across the river to Cloud and Tifa’s hometown.
The first surprising thing about this is that when we enter Nibelheim, we find that it’s totally unchanged from how Cloud described it way back in Kalm. That’s kind of a problem, because Cloud told us that Sephiroth burned the place to the ground when he found out that he had been a lab experiment. Cloud’s highly confused about this turn of events, and he kind of flips out when the party asks him what’s going on, insisting that this isn’t right and he’s not a liar.
Sure you aren’t, Cloud.
If Tifa’s in the party, she’ll also comment that this is strange, since she remembers the town being burnt down as well. She’s also disturbed to see her house standing pristine and untouched, right down to the last detail. In fact, the entire town’s like that. Every area that we saw in Cloud’s flashback is exactly as it was then.
Of course, there’s also all the guys in black cloaks wandering around town talking about ‘Reunion,’ Jenova, and Sephiroth. They definitely weren’t here five years ago (neither were all the normal townspeople who insist they’ve lived in Nibelheim their whole lives). It’s more than a little creepy to have all these black cloaked figures wandering slowly around talking about Sephiroth and mentioning the mansion on the hill.
Naturally, that’s where the party should go next to investigate (though if we wander around and look at all the stuff in the town proper, Cloud will have some choice words with all the townspeople who say nothing happened here five years ago). Inside, we find that the mansion’s just like Cloud left it, except in the basement we run into Sephiroth who’s standing around literally just waiting for Cloud to show up before chucking a materia at him and flying away.
After Sephiroth leaves the party alone to explore the ruins of the mansion’s basement lab, we can find some more clues as to what happened here after Cloud’s confrontation with him in the reactor. There are a couple of glass tubes labeled for specimens C and Z with scratches in them indicating the two former inhabitants came up with a plan to escape at some point. In the back of the lab where all the notes are stored (the place is clearly a mess with papers and books strewn all over the place) is a series of records about the specimens (here labeled A and B). Both specimens were captured after the Sephiroth incident and exposed to Mako energy and injected with Jenova cells. The first, a SOLDIER, showed no reaction to the therapy while the second, a regular Shinra serviceman, did respond to the Jenova cells. At some point they apparently escaped and made their way to Midgar, where they were finally caught. The first specimen was shot, and the second, who was in a near catatonic state, was left for dead outside the city.
It’s a mystery for now what happened with these two guys, but their capture doesn’t jive with Cloud’s story. He told us that he and Sephiroth were the only SOLDIER operatives who went to check out the Nibelheim reactor, but the reports say that the SOLDIER who was captured was shot dead. Cloud’s still very much alive, so unless he’s lying about being in SOLDIER then he can’t be either of these poor unfortunates, which leaves us with another mystery to pile on with all the others about what happened five years ago.
See, only a moment of truth.
Anyway, Sephiroth said more answers await beyond Mt. Nibel.