Cloud Strife (
Cloud was designed by
Cloud has garnered a primarily positive reception from critics. Described as "iconic", Cloud has been cited favorably as an example of complex character writing in video games and as one of its first
Cloud's character was made to contrast the cast of the previous game,
Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima developed Cloud's backstory and his relationship to Sephiroth. The idea for Cloud's false persona arose after Nojima saw event planner
In early drafts, Cloud would act as an
Nojima has explained that the relationship between the player and the main character in a Final Fantasy title is a dynamic he has always been concerned about. With VII, Cloud's subdued nature led him to write scenes with the character in such a way that the players would be placed in the position of deciding for themselves what the character was thinking. Cloud's foggy memories served both to help players "become" the character, and to introduce them to a world which other inhabitants would otherwise share common knowledge of. Nomura believes that the reason Cloud has become so popular with audiences is due to the impact his personality made in Nojima's scenario.
In retrospective, the Square Enix staff commented that Cloud is a "dorky" person in contrast to being a serious character. As a result, the former will be more focused on in the remake of Final Fantasy VII. His design was briefly altered but Square Enix stated it will be close to the original design Nomura created for him. In an early event from Final Fantasy VII, Cloud crossdresses in order to find Tifa. Nomura noted fans found this event was popular within the fans and reassured the remake will keep this part. On the other hand, the character designer stated that their final design was not decided yet.
Nomura redesigned Cloud for his appearance in Kingdom Hearts. He is depicted with a claw and a crimson cape, and the blade of his sword is wrapped in bandages. Stating that Cloud's left arm was inspired by
For Advent Children, Nomura agreed to direct the project largely because of his attachment to the character of Cloud. Although Nomura stated that Cloud was a more positive character in Final Fantasy VII than in Advent Children, he did not believe that such an "'upbeat' image of him is what stuck in the minds of the fans", and the script was written to explain why Cloud returned to a state of mind "consistent with the fans' view of him." Nomura describes Cloud's life as peaceful but, hurt by the losses he experienced during the original game, one which he grew scared of losing. Blaming himself for things outside of his control, Cloud, Nomura elaborated, needed to overcome himself. In contrast to other heroes, who, in Nomura's view, typically possess character defects amounting only to quirks, Nomura believed Cloud's weakness to be humanizing. Nojima viewed the theme of the story as one of forgiveness, which he believed required hardship. Cloud, by taking up his sword and fighting, struggles to achieve it. Nojima sought to establish Cloud's withdrawn personality by depicting him with a cell phone, but never answering any calls. He originally intended for Aerith's name to be the last of those displayed while the backlog of ignored messages appears as Cloud's cell phone sinks into the water, but Nojima altered the scene because it "sounded too creepy". The wolf which Cloud imagines "represents the deepest part of Cloud's psyche" and "appears in response to some burden that Cloud is carrying deep in his heart", vanishing at the film's end. Nomura cites one of the film's final scenes, in which Cloud smiles, as his favorite, highlighting the lack of dialogue and Cloud's embarrassment. The scene influenced composer
Nomura sought to make Cloud's design "distinctly different from the other characters." About thirty different designs were made for Cloud's face, and his hair was altered both to give it a more realistic look and to illustrate that two years had passed since the game's conclusion. The staff attempted rendering Cloud based on the game's original illustrations, but concluded that doing so left his eyes unrealistically big, which "looked gross." Further revisions were made to Cloud's face after completion of the pilot film, which featured a more realistic style. In contrast to his hair, Cloud's clothes were difficult to make in the film. Deciding to give Cloud a simple costume consistent with the concept of "clothes designed for action", the staff began with the idea of a black robe, eventually parring it down to a "long apron" shifted to one side. Cloud's weaponry was based on the joking observation that because his sword in the original game was already enormously tall, in the sequel, he should use sheer numbers. Referred to as "The Fusion Swords" (合体剣 Gattai Ken) during the film's development, early storyboard concepts included Cloud carrying six swords on his back, although the idea was later modified to six interlocking swords. While the idea wasn't "logically thought out" and the staff didn't think that they could "make it work physically", it was believed to provide "an interesting accent to the story." Cloud's new motorcycle, Fenrir (フェンリル), was designed by Takayuki Takeya, who was asked by the staff to design an upgraded version of Cloud's "Hardy-Daytona" motorcycle from Final Fantasy VII. As development continued, the bike got bigger, with Takeya feeling its heaviness provided an impact that worked well within the film.
Themes expanded in the
For Advent Children, Nomura wanted to contrast Cloud and Vincent's voices given their similar personalities. As a sequel to the highly popular Final Fantasy VII, Sakurai felt greater pressure performing the role than he did when he voiced Cloud for Kingdom Hearts. Sakurai received comments from colleagues revealing their love of the game, some of them jokingly threatening that they would not forgive Sakurai if he did not meet their expectations. During recording, Sakurai was told that "[n]o matter what kind of odds are stacked against him, Cloud won't be shaken." Sakurai says that while he recorded most of his work individually, he performed alongside
According to Sakurai, Cloud's silence conveys more about the character than when he speaks. While possessing heroic characteristics, Sakurai describes Cloud's outlook as negative, and says that he is delicate in some respects. A fan of VII, Sakurai had believed Cloud to be a colder character based on his original impression of him, but later came to view him as more sentimental. After the final product was released, Sakurai was anxious to hear the fans' response, whether positive or negative, and says that most of the feedback he received praised him. While recording Crisis Core, Sakurai felt that Cloud, though still introverted, acted more like a normal teenager, and modified his approach accordingly. Cloud's scream over Zack's death left a major impression on Sakurai, who says that he worked hard to convey the emotional tone of the ending. Sakurai has come to regard Cloud as an important role, commenting that Cloud reminds him of his own past, and that, as a Final Fantasy VII fan himself, he is happy to contribute.
In English adaptations, Cloud is voiced by