Final Fantasy VII Remake is arguably the most anticipated RPG reboot in videogame history. The original was responsible for popularizing Japanese RPGs in Western markets. For many gamers, it was the first Japanese RPG they played and holds a very special place in their hearts.
As for me, I enjoyed the original FFVII, but not nearly as much as some of my gamer friends. At that point in my game life, I already loved Japanese RPGs, including a few Final Fantasy games. I liked it, but played better Final Fantasy games before and after it.
However, I came to love the world of FFVII through the outstanding PSP game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and the great anime Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. They really fleshed out the world of FFVII, making sense of some things and expanding on others.
Like millions of gamers, I was thrilled for Final Fantasy VII Remake when the trailer dropped in 2015. Now that I’ve beaten the game and replayed several chapters, here are some random thoughts, using the trusty RPadTV binary system. [Time to equip your spoiler materia!]
Final Fantasy VII Remake is Visually Amazing (Good)
The graphics in Final Fantasy VII Remake are impressive. It truly feels like an interactive version of Advent Children. The protagonists’ character models are amazing, which was expected after seeing the various trailers. What surprised me was all the little environmental details. If you look around one of the game’s rooms, you’ll find all sorts of details that bring each set piece to life. The art direction in this game is spectacular.
The Side Quests Can Get Tedious (Bad)
Final Fantasy VII Remake has a few chapters that are chock full of side quests. While the early ones help explain the game’s basic mechanics, the later ones can feel repetitive. Your tolerance of the side quests depends on how much you enjoy level grinding. While you can skip them, you’ll miss out on some trophies and certain narrative paths.
No matter the case, the banality of most of the quests takes away from the story’s scale. Yeah, you’re supposed to be saving the Midgar, but let’s take a few hours to annihilate some (admittedly large) rats or find some (normal sized) cats.
The Dance Sequence is Glorious (Good)
Some of the tepid side quests can be forgiven thanks to an amazing dance sequence at the Honey Bee Inn. Cloud busts some moves that would put Yuna and Rikku to shame. It only lasts for a few minutes, but watching the stoic Cloud execute an incredibly fae dance number is just…perfect.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake Combat System is Delightful (Good)
Some people have compared Final Fantasy VII Remake’s combat system to FFXV’s, with a sprinkle of FFXIII thrown in. I see it as an utterly delightful evolution of Crisis Core’s combat system. It’s a nice blend of modern(ish) action-RPG gameplay, with the classic Active Time Battle (ATB) system mixed in.
Furthermore, it’s versatile; it can be as fast or slow and as shallow or deep as you want it to be. You can pause the combat any time you want and assign shortcuts to your companion characters or simply switch between them. As a gamer that was raised on turn-based RPGs and has spent hundreds of hours overthinking battle strategies, I loved pausing the game whenever a character’s ATB gauge filled up so that I could ponder my next move. Those accustomed to modern games might find it sluggish, but for me it was perfect.
The Character Customization is Better (Good)
One of the biggest criticisms of the original FFVII was that the characters were too versatile. For some, they stopped being characters and simply became materia slots. Final Fantasy VII Remake allows a fair degree of versatility through materia use, weapon choice, and weapon upgrades. However, the character roles are clearly defined.
It worked well for the game’s four playable characters. I’m anxious to see if it will be as effective as the cast grows larger in future games. (On a related note, I can’t wait for Yuffie!).
The New Story Elements Work…For Now (Good…For Now)
As you may have heard, Final Fantasy VII Remake is really more of a reboot. This game does not follow the exact events of the original, due to some timeline manipulation by Sephiroth. Timeline f*ckery is a tried and true nerd tradition that has been used in countless comics, television shows, and movies. In regards to FFVII, it allowed the developers to update a 1997 story, incorporate elements of the related games and anime, and add some genuine surprises. The device absolutely works in Final Fantasy VII Remake, but I’m mildly concerned about the future games.
Director Tetsuya Nomura has a reputation for making stories that are unnecessarily complex. He’s had moments in the Kingdom Hearts series where he confounded gamers more than he entertained them. Many longtime FFVII fans are concerned that he’ll convolute a story that needed several sister titles and an anime to finally make sense. That said, a small part of me hopes that he’ll screw with some gamers by making “Aerith lives!” a thing.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Has Decent Replay Value (Good)
Most gamers will complete Final Fantasy VII Remake in 35 to 40 hours. That’s a good value on its own, but there’s more fun to be had for completionists. Beating the game unlocks “chapter select” and “hard mode.” You’ll need to make use of both if you want to get all of the game’s trophies.
There are also alternate scenes and outfits to see, depending on choices you make earlier in the game. Chapter select lets you experience them all without having to replay the entire game.
Barret Still Sounds Funny, But it Works This Time (Good)
Another big criticism of the original game was the english translation of Barret Wallace. At best, he read like a Mr. T pastiche. At worst, it was a completely racist localization. While his new voice actor often sounded like Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder and seemed to spend more time in the game yelling than talking, it’s a much better interpretation of the character. Unlike the original Barret, this one has nuance and depth. It was nice to see the big man’s caring and fatherly sides in the game.
Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie Finally Get Their Due (Good)
Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie were Avalanche scrubs in the original FFVII. I distinctly remember not giving a sh*t when they died. While their fates are a bit different in the reboot, you spend a lot more time with these characters. They’re well written and voiced by talented actors, so you actually care about what happens to them.
Also, Biggs sounded like Charlie Sheen. In my head, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn became an eco-terrorist in an alternate universe.
It Will Be Years Until the Next Chapter (Bad)
After years of starts, stops, and flirtations, Final Fantasy VII Remake went into full production in 2015. While I don’t expect the next game to have a five-year development cycle, I don’t anticipate it being released any time soon. Square Enix hasn’t officially set a date yet, but I imagine it will be at least three years until the next game in the series is released. I’d love to be wrong about that so that we can all play it sooner.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Conclusion
From story to graphics to gameplay, Final Fantasy VII is pretty much everything I wanted. Most people will think it’s a good to great game. But if you were a big fan of Crisis Core and Advent Children, and were raised on turn-based RPGs, it’s just about perfect.