Yup, a natural prison in the middle of the desert... surrounded entirely by quicksand. I heard that once you get in, you never get out...Cait Sith, Final Fantasy VII § "The Desert Prison"
Corel Prison is an unrevisitable location in Final Fantasy VII, with an appearance in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-. Previously the site of the town of Corel, destroyed by Shinra Electric Power Company, it has become a prison in Gold Saucer's shadow. The surviving townsfolk have since relocated to North Corel.
The prison is loosely guarded; the harsh desert surrounding it makes escape by land impossible. Corel Prison is largely self-run by Mr. Coates and a mysterious leader. Despite being largely in ruins, the faint outline of a town can still be seen. Convicts in the Corel Prison are used in the chocobo races.
Before Final Fantasy VII
What remained of the town of Corel was converted into the Corel Prison. Dyne, who survived the fall, took control of it. Between his fall and the events of Final Fantasy VII, Dyne got the same operation as Barret and his left arm is replaced with a gun-arm. However, the loss of his family and life from Corel drives Dyne insane.
During Episode 21 of Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, Avalanche attacks the former area of Corel, this time to find the Zirconiade Materia. The player Turk fights them along with an Avalanche defector named Shalua Rui. Though the player found the Materia, the Turks' leader Veld is captured by Shinra, whom the Turks have split from. The Turk barely survived the Shinra attack.
Final Fantasy VII
During "Sanctuary of Amusement", Dyne went on a killing spree while Cloud Strife and his party passed through the Gold Saucer. As a result, Cloud and his party, including Barret Wallace, were thrown into the Corel Prison, commencing "The Desert Prison". Barret, also in position of a gun-arm, was the assumed killer.
The party tried to escape the prison by speaking with Mr. Coates, but he could do nothing, being only second-in-command to Dyne. Barret told the others the tale of what happened in the town of Corel and decided to go speak to Dyne alone. Barret confronted Dyne, and tried to reason with him, but Dyne was too deranged to listen to reason, and even plots to kill Marlene Wallace so she could reunite with her mother. As such, Barret had to fight his old friend one-on-one, and won.
Barret pleaded with Dyne to come with them, but Dyne insisted Marlene might no longer recognize him, and claimed his hands were too stained to carry Marlene anymore. He entrusted Barret with a pendant that had belonged to Eleanor, willing it be given to Marlene, and lets himself fall off the cliff behind the grave markers.
The pendant served Barret as a badge of authority; he prevailed upon Mr. Coates to allow Cloud to win their freedom by winning a chocobo race up in Gold Saucer. Cloud ascends with the race manager, Ester, to the room where the jockeys wait for their respective races; Ester gave Cloud training and access to successively better chocobos to ensure his eventual victory. Dio sent a letter of congratulation to Cloud, which directed the party towards Gongaga, and as an apology of having sent them to the prison, bestowed on them a buggy.
The prison comprises several remains of the wooden houses from the town of Corel, including the former mayor's house.[note 1] In addition to this are Shinra trucks seemingly converted into a house, an empty well that leads into a pit, a vandalized billboard, and a pub used by the prisoners. The main town of the prison is surrounded by a thin metal fence, and is located in the vicinity around the Gold Saucer structure.
The fence continues long past the main prison into the desert. In the distance is a junkyard filled with abandoned vehicles, and further along is a graveyard with the ruins of a stone building.
Final Fantasy VII
Corel Prison is only visited during "The Desert Prison", and is otherwise unrevisitable. During the quest, Barret fights a one-on-one boss battle against Dyne. Before then, there are several random encounters fought anywhere in the town whenever not within a building. The enemies here can steal items from the player's inventory, and thus need to be defeated quickly.
In addition to enemies stealing items, the enemies are notable for providing abilities for the Enemy Skill Materia. The Death Claw, which can only be fought in Corel Prison, uses Laser, which cannot be learned until the final dungeon. Bullmotor also uses Matra Magic, a useful enemy skill that deals non-elemental magic damage against all enemies.
Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-
Corel Prison is seen in Episode 21.
"Desert Wasteland" (砂の流刑地, Suna no Ryūkeichi?) plays as the background theme in Corel Prison.
Behind the scenes
In the scene where Barret and Dyne look down from the mountain trail and see the village in flames, the village is located in a valley, with mountains looming close on all sides. Later in the game, Corel is actually located below Gold Saucer in a vast open desert area, and the mountains have moved to the far horizon. Also, Barret and Dyne are shown to be looking from North Corel to Old Corel, which is roughly one quarter the length of the continent.
It is never explained how Dyne got up to Gold Saucer to perform his massacre, and then down back into Corel, without anyone noticing, leading to the massacre being blamed on Cloud's party.
- The house that can be entered in Corel Prison is the same as the house seen during Barret's flashback in "Barret's Past".