Continuing with another Final Fantasy VII cast member, this week we wanted to look at Vincent Valentine. As one of the optional characters for Final Fantasy VII, he is unfortunately easy to miss and doesn’t have a huge amount of story in the game. However, thanks to additional titles like Dirge of Cerberus and Advent Children, we are able to see clearly the character Tetsuya Nomura created. His story is more intertwined with the game’s story than you might think.
Vincent grew up as the son of Grimoire Valentine. While the majority of his childhood was relatively normal, as he got older his father became more focused on his work rather than Vincent. Grimoire and his lab assistant Lucrecia were researching the discovery of Chaos and Omega as part of Shinra’s science department.
His father died protecting Lucrecia from a blast that resulted from a failed experiment. In his dying breath he asked Lucrecia to tell Vincent he was sorry. He felt regret that he did not spend much time with Vincent while he could.
After his fathers death, Vincent grew curious of what he had been working on. Lucrecia never passed down his father’s message which no doubt made him even more curious. Probably from wanting a deeper understanding of his father and the company he worked for, Vincent ended up joining Shinra’s department of administrative research AKA The Turks.
Time With The Turks And Shinra
During his time with the Turks, he became a security detail to scientists like Professor Hojo and Gast as well as others working on the Jenova project. This ended up including Lucrecia as well, who was shocked when she saw Vincent. Despite having a history with his father, these scientists kept that information from Vincent, including Lucrecia.
Lucrecia was overwhelmed by Vincent’s presence but eventually got a hold of her emotions and the two even grew fairly close. That all changed when Vincent read a file on Lucrecia’s computer detailing her history with his father and confronted her about it. He wanted to know more about his father, but Lucrecia was still filled with guilt and regret about Grimoire’s death. Ultimately deciding that dealing with that would be too difficult, she pulled away from Vincent and became romantically involved with Hojo.
This definitely didn’t set well with Vincent but what came next was much worse. Later he learned that the couple was pregnant and decided to use the fetus as a test subject in an experiment that was part of the Jenova Project called Project S or Project Sephiroth. When he became a part of the Jenova project, he was unaware of the kinds of experiments they were doing so finding this news out horrified Vincent.
Having cared for Lucrecia and finally grasping how diabolical Hojo could be, he voiced his concerns about this experiment to Hojo. He expected Hojo to be unwavering in his decision, but he did not expect Lucrecia to meet his concerns with such a cold heart. After he realized she no longer cared for him and his feelings for her, he decided he would not continue to get in their way of the experiment.
Experiments On Vincent Valentine
Having seen the toll Project Sephiroth took on Lucrecia, Vincent finally decided he had had enough and confronted Hojo. In turn, Hojo shot Vincent in the chest, then used his body for more of his experiments. He wanted to see just how much the human body could endure and even experimented with metamorphosis.
The experiments yielded some results and strengthened Vincent’s body, but his initial gunshot wound prevented any of Hojo’s experiments from being truly successful. While Hojo deemed Vincent a failure, Lucrecia began to try and save him. Through her suffering of Project Sephiroth and Hojo’s outlook on her just being an experiment, she realized that her true feelings were for Vincent.
Out of desperation, she thought that she could use the power of Chaos to save Vincent. Infusing the Mako she and Grimoire found during their studies with Vincent’s body, she had hoped that it would save him. Because of Hojo’s previous experiments on Vincent, his body was able to become a vessel for Chaos, but this left Vincent with no way to control it.
Once Lucrecia placed the Protomateria into Vincent’s chest, he was finally able to gain some control over Chaos. Overtime the combination of Hojo’s experiment’s and the Protomateria lead to Vincent being transformed into an immortal super human being. This meant that he stopped aging all together.
Life After Shinra
Once Vincent regained full consciousness and saw that everyone had left him behind, he saw his new body as punishment for his sins. Vincent regretted letting Project Sephiroth transpire. He blamed himself for what happened to Lucrecia. As a result, he decided that as a way to atone for his sins, he would lock himself in a coffin in the basement of the Shinra mansion. This was where he planned to sleep for the rest of time.
He was woken up once by the Turks who were looking for support Materia, and then again when Cloud and his party stumbled upon his coffin. Vincent immediately asked them to leave but mention of Sephiroth peeked Vincent’s interest. After learning of Sephiroth’s evil actions, Vincent once again felt his guilt for not stopping Project Sephiroth and wanted to retreat back into his sleep.
He eventually came to the realization that the time for action was long overdue and decided to join Cloud and his party. This would be his opportunity to seek vengeance for all that Hojo had done to both him and Lucrecia. It is here that the player gains Vincent as a party member, and just a small bit of his backstory.
Time With Cloud
Throughout Final Fantasy VII we get a little insight into Vincent Valentine’s origin. One of these particular moments exists when they find their way to the Crystal Cave. Vincent is surprised to see Lucrecia here and she explains that she tried to commit suicide but the Jenova cells inside of her prevented her from being successful. Seeing the pain and sorrow in her face, Vincent decided to spare Lucrecia the truth of what had become of her son Sephiroth, and instead told her that he had died 5 years prior in Nibelheim. This location in Final Fantasy VII serves as both backstory to Vincent, and a way to acquire his Ultimate Weapon, Death Penalty and his Level 4 Limit Break, Chaos.
When the party catches up to Hojo, Vincent can’t help but become enraged. Hojo couldn’t be bothered to even acknowledge Lucrecia, referring to her only as the woman he used in experiments. This brought upon Vincent’s realization that it wasn’t him who needed to repent for sins, but rather Hojo. This is definitely a more powerful scene with more knowledge about Vincent’s backstory.
Vincent had spent years in isolation because he felt responsible for what Hojo had done. Cloud and his party were able to wake Vincent of his slumber and set him on the path that would lead to his redemption. It would also allow Vincent to forgive himself and place the blame rightfully with Hojo.
Optional But Not Forgotten
Vincent has become quite a popular character despite being able to overlook him in Final Fantasy VII. With a rich backstory that gets fleshed out in other titles, it is hard to imagine him not being a character of Final Fantasy VII. However, this was almost the case. Instead, they decided to make him an optional character like Yuffie, and continued to breathe life into his character in other Final Fantasy VII projects.
Vincent’s story in intimately entangled with that of Final Fantasy VII’s story and I think that’s what makes him so interesting. His story sheds more light on Sephiroth’s origin, Hojo’s cruel capabilities, and Shinra as a whole. It is also a story full of love, despair, and loss. To skip over Vincent is a huge mistake, as he is extremely vital to the party and to the story.
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