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The truth about Chadley: Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s strange new character

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Final Fantasy 7 Remake has added a memorable character to the series

Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s Chadley prepares to explain Summons Image: Square Enix via Polygon

My name is Chris Plante and I’m a Final Fantasy troglodyte. I missed the series on NES and SNES. As a kid, I invested my Christmas and birthday money in the Sega Saturn instead of the PlayStation. I tried playing Final Fantasy 7 a few years ago, but found Cloud’s tough-boy attitude insufferable. And yet, I am in love with Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

It’s weird and warm and surprising, and Cloud goes from grump to lovable goof in a mercifully short sprint. It also stars Chadley, my current favorite video game character — and who I am nearly certain didn’t appear in the original version of Final Fantasy 7.

Chadley is an intern at the evil Shinra corporation, but he’s also an undercover spy, supporting Cloud and friends’ eco-paramilitary movement. In the game’s dystopian city of Midgar, his colorful street style shines like a beacon.

I must know everything about him. So, I’ve asked Polygon’s resident Final Fantasy expert, Julia Lee, to answer my questions.

Chadley explains the Assess materia in Final Fantasy 7 Remake Image: Square Enix via Polygon

Chris Plante: Is Chadley new to Final Fantasy 7 Remake?

Julia Lee: Yep!

What exactly is Chadley’s purpose in the game?

He serves as a hub of sorts for an ongoing side quest. Throughout the adventure, you can use the Assess ability in combat to learn about monsters. In exchange for this info, Chadley will give you rare materia.

Chadley lets me unlock summons (humongous god-beasts that deal tons of damage) by fighting them in virtual reality. How does this compare to summons in the original game?

Normally summons are found in specific places, created by nature. In the original, they’re rare and are often given as rewards for beating a hard sequence. In Remake, after you do enough research for Chadley, he straps a portable VR goggle set to your head and you fight a data-version of the summon. After beating it, you get the summon materia.

So instead of summons being natural, they’re seemingly developed by a summer intern. Does this mean Chadley has god-like powers? Is Chadley secretly one of the most powerful characters in this game?

I … think so, but only when paired with Cloud. We know for certain he needs somebody to fight enemies and collect data in order to make the materia. What’s unclear is how powerful a summon he can create from how little data. If he can make Leviathan, Shiva, and Bahamut, who’s to say that he can’t just make a Knights of the Round summon materia? It’s not that Chadley is a god, so much as he creates gods.

Chadley has a fashion sense unlike anybody I’ve met in the game. Why does he look so different? Why is he wearing a scarf on his shoulder the way a pirate wears a parrot? And does his look borrow from any other Final Fantasy characters?

I thought he had a weird parrot or a butterfly on his shoulder at first! He’s truly unlike anyone else. Even folks living on the Midgar plate don’t wear bright colors the way he does. While I’m guessing Square Enix put him in a bright get-up so he’d be easier to spot, I’m going to just pretend that he’s a fashion expert.

Why do you think Chadley is so memorable?

Because he’s everywhere! Because he is a Shinra intern who is feeding the company false info and using all this data to aid the resistance! Because his name is Chadley? Because he can wield the power of gods?? He’s a powerful, weird little kid, who shouldn’t fit in the world of Final Fantasy 7, yet he just … does.

There’s so much bizarre stuff happening in this world that, “A teenager who can craft orbs that allow their holder to control a god” isn’t that outlandish.

[Spoiler warning: The following questions pertain to the final acts of Chadley’s story in Final Fantasy 7 Remake]

Does the game resolve Chadley’s story?

After completing all the Shinra Combat Simulator fights, Chadley lets you in on a little secret: He’s actually a cyborg created to be Professor Hojo’s assistant. He sought out Cloud’s help to essentially free him from being confined to the mind of a robot. Once you’re done with all the combat, he dips out, thanking Cloud for helping him free himself.

How do you think Chadley will factor into future entries of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake?

The lore buff in me says that Chadley likely won’t make any appearances outside of Midgar and he’ll be replaced by a different non-playable character or feature. The Chadley fan in me hopes he’s still around. While I can’t imagine him just popping up in Junon or The Gold Saucer, I … wait.

Wait just a minute.

Actually, upon thinking about it, I can imagine him outside of Midgar, at all these far-away, magical places just to explore. Now I hope Chadley shows up with zero explanation in Wutai Village. Maybe he’ll make it so unlocking the Knights of the Round or All Materia is less painful.