Journey Director Jenova Chen Explains Why He Won’t Play Final Fantasy VII Remake

The co-founder of Thatgamecompany and the director of Journey and Sky: Children of the Light is called Jenova Chen, but that’s not her real name. In an interview with IGN, Chen shared that he chose Jenova while learning English in school. The class was tasked with choosing English names, and Chen’s friend (the only other video game fan in the class) chose Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. Chen decided he needed to choose an even better character to outdo his friend, so he landed on Jenova, the ultra-powerful alien, after deciding that Sephiroth was too difficult to pronounce and spell. “Jenova is absolutely way more badass than Cloud, so I went with that name,” Chen told IGN. Chen never wanted Jenova to be his proper name, but he returned to it in college when one of his professors had trouble pronouncing his real name, Xinghan, and he’s been stuck ever since.

Needless to say, Jenova Chen is a fan of Final Fantasy VII, so we wanted to hear his thoughts on Final Fantasy VII Remake when we recently spoke with him about Sky: Children of the Light’s third anniversary. “I haven’t played it. I don’t want to ruin my Final Fantasy memories,” Chen said. “I chose to seal my memory as it was when I first played it.”

Pictured: Jenova Chen's classmate Cloud.
Pictured: Jenova Chen’s classmate Cloud.

The biggest Final Fantasy VII franchise has seen something of a resurgence recently, even beyond the Remake and the Remake’s upcoming sequels. There’s the battle royale mobile game set in the Final Fantasy VII universe, First Soldier, the Crisis Core remake, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, and more new games are on the way. Chen, however, is not interested in expanding the Final Fantasy VII universe, despite being a big enough fan to adopt a universe-named character as his own.

“Most people…their mind is most influenced by something they experience when they’re 13 to 15 years old, when their frontal cortex is developing. That’s why the things that stay there are never forgotten, because they are found in the later cells, built above.” Chen said, “And in many ways, the lives of many people, especially the lives of artists, are defined by those experiences. For me to come back to this thing, now that I’m an older person with much more cynical.? I just feel like I only see bad things coming out of it.”

For more on Jenova Chen, you can read our interview with him on Sky: Children of the Light’s third anniversary and his thoughts on the benefits of developing a live service game. You can also read GameSpot’s Final Fantasy VII Remake review and Sky: Children of the Light review by following the links.

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