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Dirge of Cerberus is one of the most unique titles in all of the Final Fantasy library. They decided to take Vincent Valentine, the vampire-like character from Final Fantasy 7, and build an entire universe around him. The result is one of the strangest games you could imagine that manages to grasp some story and gameplay brilliance from time to time, even though the final result is one of the most uneven experiences out there.
My experience with Dirge of Cerberus came a few years ago when I decided to go on a Final Fantasy spinoff rampage that included Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy: Type 0 (must play), and the ever divisive Dirge of Cerberus. It’s so different, so bizarre, and ultimately gripping because of its off-the-wall story that adds a ton into the lore of Final Fantasy 7 and has even managed to peak its story into the Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
There is a ton to know when it comes to exploring this game, so we’re going to give you a complete Dirge of Cerberus Overview and explore everything from the characters that appear to the gameplay and story beats that make up this truly wild ride.
The gameplay of Dirge of Cerberus will definitely seem a bit strange to those expecting another jaunt similar to Final Fantasy 7. Instead of turn-based fantasy action, you’re instead treated to a full-on third-person shooter.
You play as Vincent Valentine, who is armed to the teeth in this game and also has access to melee attacks as well. You’re also treated to playing as Cait Sith, another character from Final Fantasy 7.
The combat in Dirge of Cerberus is actually pretty fun, as it channels some Devil May Cry aspects and mixes it with your typical over-the-top Final Fantasy magic insanity to create a thrilling blend that was pretty innovative for the time.
You have access to a targeting system for your multiple gun weapons here as well as the ability to use Vincent’s famous Chaos Limit break as well. You can also attach Materia to your weapons and change the effect it has, which leads to a bunch of variety in the approach you take during the combat. You will come across multiple weapon types throughout the game, giving you the option of taking on foes up close and hanging back and lighting them up from afar.
Once you transform into your Galian Beast Form, you will get more attack power and defense and gain the ability to launch fireballs that will home in on your enemies. This would be temporarily usable, although, in the Japanese version, you are able to switch back and forth at the expense of using some MP to do so.
As you progress throughout the game, you will gain access to an additional form of the limit break called Chaos, which transforms you into the most powerful form Vincent had access to in Final Fantasy 7. However, this form is only accessible in the ending parts of the game, and it triggers automatically rather than manually.
Your guns have a solid level of customization available to you here, as you can get various gun barrels that change up how you will be approaching your enemies during combat. There are also accessories that change the way your guns work, such as the sniper scope, which gives you a long-range attacking ability.
Stealth also plays a part in this game, and that’s where Cait Sith comes into play. Most of this involves some basic sneaking around, but there is the occasion rail-shooting moment that changes things up a bit.
While it’s not a role-playing game per se, Vincent Valentine still needs to get stronger throughout his journey, and at the end of every level, you will have the option to use the EXP to level up Vincent or change it into Gil, which you can use to purchase things such as equipment upgrades or to purchase items.
Vincent Valentine only has to worry about his weapon when it comes to equipment in Dirge of Cerberus, and the result is only one piece of equipment mattering when it comes to things like armor rating and other stats. Your weapon is the only thing that matters oddly enough here, so you have way less to worry about when it comes to item customization compared to older games in the series.
The multiplayer mode in Dirge of Cerberus was actually ditched for the US version but is still playable in the Japanese version and also playable through conversions available on things such as PS2 emulators.
The Multiplayer mode has a full storyline that takes place prior to the events of the main story and follows the rule of The Restrictors, who led Deepground before Weiss and Nero took over. The story follows you as an anonymous Tsviet whose memory has been erased and who has a younger sister who was kidnapped with them.
The gameplay has you joining with your other Tsviets in order to overthrow the main leader, The Restrictor, who is a mysterious figure that doesn’t show their face yet clearly wields immense power and fighting ability. Your character is the only one not under the mind control of the Restrictors.
At the end of the multiplayer mode, you discover you’ve been lied to and that the memory of your sister was created by Shelke and that you were being led to take over the Restrictor’s place, but in the end, your character apparently dies, never to be heard from again as Weiss and Nero take over command at Deepground.
The plot of Dirge of Cerberus takes place following the events of Final Fantasy 7. When last checked, the world had been struck by Meteor despite the best efforts of the iconic original party, and this game’s story takes place years later. It surrounds the mysterious nature of an organization called Deepground, who is plotting to use a monster called Omega to destroy the world.
Vincent Valentine then takes up arms after being attacked by a group of strange soldiers who attack him while he’s living peacefully in the Town of Calm. He then joins up with the World Regenesis Organization, which is a group that is created to help the planet recover.
The soldiers are revealed to be members of Deepground, and Vincent just happens to be a big target on their hit list due to his possession of Protomateria, which is what he uses to perform his Chaos limit break.
It is then revealed that the Chaos entity and Omega have a relationship and that Vincent essentially holds the key to summoning and controlling Omega. Slowly, we are told that Vincent inherited the Chaos gene after being injected by Hojo’s assistant, Lucretia, many years ago. Vincent, of course, has been in love with Lucretia all this time despite her apparent death and experimentation on him.
From there, things start to get completely nuts as the consciousness of Hojo is revealed to still exist and possesses Weiss, the leader of Deepground. Omega is then discovered as a WEAPON, one of several that the planet can activate if it senses its in a large amount of danger. Omega’s purpose is to absorb the lifestream and move to another planet.
The rest of the story introduces some fascinating twists that I won’t spoil here, but it’s safe to say that the story of Vincent Valentine and, more so, the story of Final Fantasy 7 is far from over, as several major players are still very much in play and the planet is far from safe.
Dirge of Cerberus will take you to several locations that will be familiar to those who are veterans of the Final Fantasy 7 games.
You will be returning to Midgar, of course, but you will also see places like Shinra Manor, the place where Sephiroth lost his mind and Vincent was initially discovered by Cloud. Vincent also will travel to the Nibelheim Sewers, the Shinra Building, Sector 0, Junon, and Lucrecia’s Cave as well.
In addition to these locations, you may know from prior games, you will explore WRO Headquarters, the Midgar Wasteland, the town of Kalm, and also the city of Edge, which gets explored in Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children.
Vincent is the star of the game and one of the most mysterious characters in a series that is chock full of them. He refers to the various traumas of his life as sins and carries with him one of the coldest personalities in the world.
He has a deep hatred for Professor Hojo for his experiments on him, and it’s this that spurs him on through the events of Final Fantasy 7. He initially was a member of the Turks, leading him to find out about the horrors that Shinra hid behind closed doors and eventually launching him on his path towards Hojo and, eventually, Deepground to complete his revenge.
Vincent is infused with Chaos tainted Mako, which gives Vincent the ability to transform into Chaos, one of the most powerful beings in existence. His lack of control over the entity has plagued him ever since it was injected into him by Lucretia in an effort to save his life.
One of the most bizarre characters in the Final Fantasy universe, Cait Sith, is a cat that controls a massive stuffed Moogle robot. If that isn’t confusing enough, the robot is controlled by Reeve Tuesti, one of the Turks.
He initially arrives on the scene to help Cloud and co in Final Fantasy 7 and eventually continues his support of that party by aiding Vincent Valentine during the events of Dirge of Cerberus.
Weiss is another victim of Professor Hojo’s experiments and harbors a deep hatred for humans. He is an uninhibited maniac in his actions and regularly sends his cohorts to their deaths, acting gleefully as he does it.
The only person in the world Weiss cares for is his younger brother Nero, who he believes is the only person in the world that cares about him. Weiss first makes an appearance in Crisis Core- Final Fantasy 7 as one of the mysterious figures that take away Genesis Rhapsodos following his defeat.
Weiss is an incredibly confident character, believing he cannot be defeated by anyone. He uses two large swords during battle and rarely wears anything protective, speaking to his cockiness and overall confidence.
Professor Hojo is the only character in Final Fantasy 7 that you could say is purely evil. He is a mad scientist in every way possible, and his horrific experiments put everything into motion for the entire story.
Hojo is the lover that Lucretia took after leaving Vincent and, with her, fathered Sephiroth. It is highly likely that Vincent is the actual father of Sephiroth, though due to his immense power and similar disposition.
It’s highly implied throughout Dirge of Cerberus that Sephiroth is the son of Vincent and that Hojo is just a power-mad scientist who is willing to listen to anything Lucretia says as long as her son could be experimented on.
Hojo uses his various experiments to eventually make his consciousness fluid and able to possess people such as Weiss. His goal in Dirge of Cerberus is to merge with Omega, granting him supreme power.
He is responsible for Vincent’s mutations as well as Zach and Cloud’s and is pretty much the worst character in all of Final Fantasy 7, driven by the thrill of power that his experiments grant him.
He is also basically immortal, able to upload his consciousness onto networks and print it on other people’s minds.
Nero The Sable
Nero is the brother of Weiss and one of his main adversaries of Vincent in the game. He is always at his brother’s side and is just as powerful as Weiss. He frequently is a pain for Vincent and Shelke to deal with.
He is able to summon darkness to attack with as well as transform his physical being. He is able to transport Vincent into a world of pure darkness and faces him there in a nightmare form called Arachnero and then Gorgonero.
He eventually fuses with Weiss after being thrown aside by his beloved brother. Both Nero and Weiss become one in order to free themselves from the hold that Hojo has over them. Nero is the more human-like of the two brothers simply because of his affection for his brother.
He is incredibly powerful as well, able to affect the very being of Omega after he’s been absorbed.
Reeve is one of the most interesting characters in Final Fantasy 7 lore and Dirge of Cerberus. Initially a lackey for Shinra, he turns on the company he once pledged his life to and instead plays both sides, allowing Cloud and company access to Shinra meetings while he controls Cait Sith from afar to help in battle.
In Dirge of Cerberus, Reeve once again controls Cait Sith but also heads the World Regenesis Organization in order to restore the world to its prior state before Meteor hit. He is an ally of Vincent’s yet again in Dirge of Cerberus and helps spearhead the assault on Deepground towards the end of the game.
Shelke is a member of Deepground that is assigned to find Vincent and the Protomateria he carries. She’s a member of the Soviets, a special sect of Deepground, but soon comes to find out that she herself is targeted for termination by them due to her not being of use to them anymore.
Shelke then joins up with Vincent as the two are hunted by Deepground. Shelke absorbed some of Lucrecia’s data in her mind, which quickly endears Vincent to her and eventually takes on her form multiple times as well. Shelke is a very standoffish character, often refusing to acknowledge her emotions and expressing bewilderment over how someone could sacrifice their life for another.
Shalua is Shelke’s older sister and dedicates her life’s work in the WRO to helping her sister escape Shinra, where she has essentially been enslaved for the past 10 years. Her reunion with Shelke eventually comes, but much to her dismay, she no longer resembles the sister she once cared about.
Despite that, she sacrifices herself to save Shelke, causing Shelke to wonder what would drive a person to do such a thing. Her sacrifice lands her in a coma, but she is unable to be awoken and remains in the ruins of Midgar somewhere, with her fate unknown.
Rosso is a sadistic member of Deepground’s elite army known as the Soviets and one of the most dangerous ones at that. The training the group undergoes at Deepground leads to many of their members losing their prior personalities and adapting cold and psychopathic ones instead.
Rosso gains the name “the Crimson” due to her obsession with bloodying her victims. Rosso is an antagonist to Vincent during the events of Dirge of Cerberus and faces off against Cloud during the battle of Midgar. She’s incredibly proud and refuses to be defeated unless it’s on her own terms.
Azul The Cerulean
Azul is a hulking member of the Deepground Tsviets and uses a massive gun as a weapon. He is of superhuman size at 9’5 and has Mako energy coursing through his system to give him his terrifying appearance.
His goal is to simply test his strength and, because of that, allows himself to be experimented on by Deepground. He looks down upon the weak, at one point shaming Shelke for having such a weak body compared to his.
Azul has the ability to transform due to the experiments on him, and the result is a terrifying monstrosity resembling the Behemoth enemy found in many Final Fantasy games. He is the one given the order to kill Shelke and retrieve the Protomateria and encounters Vincent on several occasions. Azul finds his match in Vincent, as the Chaos beast within him matches his own strength for the first time.
This is the elite sect of soldiers from Deepground. As the story unfolds, it is discovered that their genes are all spliced with those of Genesis Rhapsodos, who is recovered by Weiss and Nero at the end of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7. Only a handful of them are known to still remain, and they include Shelke, Rosso, Azul, Nero, Weiss, Argento, Usher, and Pullum.
Lucrecia is one of the main catalysts for all of the events in the world of Final Fantasy 7 and Dirge of Cerberus. She is a scientist that worked for Shinra alongside Vincent’s father, Grimoire, and initially discovered the weapon of the planet known as Chaos. She then worked on the Jenova Project with Vincent and Professor Hojo as well.
Vincent became her bodyguard, and Lucrecia made sure he did not find out she knew his father as well. After a falling out in her and Vincent’s relationship, she became involved with Hojo and mothered his child, but not before accepting his request to use the child as a way to test Jenova cells. This led to Vincent discovering what Hojo was doing and attacking him. Hojo killed Vincent, and Lucrecia made a last-ditch effort to resurrect him using the energy from Chaos.
Lucrecia is a character writ with guilt over what she did to both Vincent and Sephiroth and finds herself crystalized in Mako in Lucrecia’s Cave, where Chaos and Omega were first discovered.
Despite that, she cares for people, though she can be stubborn at times and is willing to risk anything to further her research, which to her is a way to further the human race rather than just a twisted power fantasy that Hojo clearly has.
Genesis is an incredibly powerful member of SOLDIER who once fought alongside Angeal and Sephiroth as heroes of the Shinra army. From there, he would slowly lose touch with reality after discovering his flawed origins as part of the Jenova Project G.
He was an inferior product to that of Jenova Project S, which created Sephiroth, and because of that, was shut down. Deepground then took Genesis’s body and continued research on him.
After finding out his genetic structure began to degrade, filling a sparring match with Sephiroth, he slowly went crazy, discovering his origins as a failed experiment. He then begins to seek out a cure for his condition, of which there is none.
Weiss and Nero, the leaders of Deepground, rescued him following a final battle with Zack Fair and attempted to get Genesis to join them, but he declined and instead sealed himself under Midgar in case he was needed to protect the world one day.
He returns at the end of the game to take Weiss away following the final battle with Vincent, sprouts a singular black wing, and then flies away with Weiss in tow.
Sequels and Prequels
There have been no sequels to this point in the Dirge of Cerberus lifespan. However, characters from the game appeared in other games. In Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intermission, you play as Yuffie and encounter Nero the Sable as the main antagonist during this short, optional section of the game.
You also can face off against Weiss in a digital battle recreation, suggesting that there are further plans for the two of them in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake games coming up.
There are several prequels to Dirge of Cerberus besides the iconic Final Fantasy 7. There is also Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7, which follows the path of Zack Fair and his time in Soldier and ends with the first appearances of Weiss and Nero, as well as the spinoff game, Before Crisis: Final Fantasy 7.
This game centered on the Turks, and you got to play as an unknown member of the Turks and explore the little-known group to see how they fit into the bigger picture in Final Fantasy 7. The game was strictly released in Japan and never received a US localization.
Dirge of Cerberus is one of the more unique games in the world of Final Fantasy 7 and remains an incredibly divisive one to this day. The third-person shooting mechanics certainly threw longtime fans of the franchise off guard, and the odd pacing of the game certainly didn’t do it any real favors as well.
Dirge of Cerberus carries a 57 percent Metacritic rating, but surprisingly, the fan score on the page is at 7.9, suggesting players had more fun with the game than you’d expect. Regardless of your thoughts on the game, the story presented here is a very intriguing one that lends a ton to the lore of Final Fantasy 7 and even sets up events for future games in the series as well.
Dirge of Cerberus is technically the only sequel to Final Fantasy 7 that exists, and although it isn’t the kind of sequel most fans were hoping for, it is respected for simply trying something different with a well-known property.
Other Final Fantasy Spinoffs
- Final Fantasy: Type 0
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7
- Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
- Final Fantasy: Tactics
- Dissidia- Final Fantasy
- Kingdom Hearts
- Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Similar Third Person Action Games
- Devil May Cry
- Remnant: From the Ashes
Question: Is Dirge of Cerberus a True Sequel to Final Fantasy 7?
Answer: Dirge of Cerberus takes place immediately following the events of Final Fantasy, so yes, it is a true sequel in that regard. It does not let you play as anyone other than Vincent Valentine and Cait Sith, though, so it’s not exactly what fans might’ve been looking for when it came to a true continuation of the story from Final Fantasy 7.
Question: Is Vincent Valentine Sephiroth’s Father?
Answer: Although we’re told time and time again that Hojo is Sephiroth’s father, it is more or less confirmed in Dirge of Cerberus that it is, in fact, Vincent. Sephiroth has features extremely similar to Vincent’s and shares a similar personality and disposition to him as well.
Question: Will Vincent Valentine Appear in Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2?
Answer: Due to him being one of the most overwhelmingly popular characters in Final Fantasy 7, Vincent will surely make his appearance in Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2 and join up with the party as a playable character as well. In Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intermission, both Weiss and Nero appear in the story, making it almost certain that Vincent will appear shortly as well.
Dirge of Cerberus, to me, is just one of those games that you have to pay if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy 7 in any way. Yes, the third-person shooting is a bit ancient for today’s standards, but if you can push through it, there is actually a great weapon customization system and various methods to engage in combat, including melee attacks, so while the initial offering might feel pretty barebones, you’ll soon get a ton of cool weapons and magic attacks to play with.
You’ll also get an awesome story that expands upon the story of Final Fantasy 7 while introducing several intriguing enemies into the fold who will surely be part of the franchise’s future. It’s not the longest game, so it won’t take you too long to get through this one, and I strongly recommend that you give it a shot.