Warning, Final Fantasy 7 Remake spoilers ahead.
Breaking the 4th wall is fun, and FF7 Remake showed us how to do it via story!
How FF7 Remake broke the 4th Wall
Starting off as a mystery creature that randomly appeared at certain intervals, it took us a while to realize what exactly these ghostly creatures were up to.
The “Whispers”, as they call them, were a marvelous plot idea to change up the story of the game. One thing to remember was, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is labelled “Remake” and not “Remaster”. What that means, is they have full liberty to change things up.
But they didn’t just change things up and left us saying “okay, they’ve decided to change this”, instead, they did so using the Whispers.
At certain moments of the story, these ghosts appeared to make sure things would stay on course with the original Final Fantasy 7 game. Meaning, those who needed to die, would die, and those who needed to live, would be saved (by the Whispers) to keep on living, just like how the original game was.
The cool part about it was, the Whispers then became something to overcome.
Breaking the 4th Wall in your story
The entire story of my book, The Portal, is a massive 4th Wall break. My villain found out the reason he was a villain and why he had such a tragic backstory: because us writers created him for the sake of everyone’s entertainment. He then swore vengeance against us humans for that.
There’s fun little ways to break this wall by throwing in a snarky comment like…
“I’m hungry,” she said.
“No you’re not, you’re just a character in this book. Your hunger is decided by the writer.”
But that’s, well, sometimes amusing, but other times lazy. You can feel free to include it in your work but know that it should just be for the joke and not for the plot. Usually, you want to end it at the joke and not continue the conversation further, because if your characters dwell on it and grow a conscience that would be rather awkward.
Doing it right
Lots can be learned from Final Fantasy 7 Remake. They’ve done something not a lot of media industries get into because it’s a tricky environment. Notice how, in the game the Whispers know that there’s a future that they must strive to, but the characters themselves don’t. This is what makes this possible. Keep it contained within your story.
In The Portal, my villain swears vengeance on the writers and producers, but he still swears vengeance upon the writers and producers of that world! It’s all still contained. If it was against us humans, it could still be quite fun – you could have dialogue like,
“Oh you petty humans reading this book, how my sorrow entertains you? How you long to see the drama of life unfold, yet be you in my shoes, you would wither instantly.”
He’s a bit poetic.
The last point to mention is, there’s no real format to this. Unlike with my other blogs where I describe certain things in steps, this one ended up being more of a general explanation. Breaking the 4th wall is something I love doing, subtly.
“I wish we got to Lickalot fastr,” said Bubblegem.
“Fastr? Don’t you mean faster?”
“Sorry, typo,” he replied.
This kind of stuff I adore adding, but subtly is crucial. Unless you make it your entire plot just like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, then I’d highly suggest you prioritize being subtle about breaking the 4th wall.