There are a million of these going up, so why not join the bandwagon? Spoiler-free!
Before Playing Thoughts:
I admit that a full console game was not the Final Fantasy VII remake I had always wanted. After Final Fantasy X, like a lot of other gamers, I couldn’t help but wonder what a voiced version of the pre-X games would be like. But it was much in the same way that any book reader imagines a TV/movie version of a story: cool to think about, but more likely than not it won’t happen. Once Advent Children came out, though, suddenly, a voiced Final Fantasy VII wasn’t so farfetched. Plus with the later games like Dissidia Final Fantasy, we got to see “old-school” heroes and villains getting voices. And, of course, there was the PS3 tech demo that showed it was possible to have Cloud in a more upgraded style.
But as all the Final Fantasy games got ported and production of the mainline series slowed (partly because of the changing technology and the rise of gacha games), the repeated denials of a new or upgraded version of Final Fantasy VII seemed likely. After all, there are a lot of locations, and many of them are supposed to be rural and, to steal a quote from another game, “nothing else out there”. Yes, other games — including sister series Dragon Quest — have globetrotting adventures, but a lot of those were more fantastical, anime/cartoonish aesthetics versus the more realistic, steampunk style of Final Fantasy VII. And considering Square Enix couldn’t even port most of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII games, it just all seemed unlikely that a full-scale Final Fantasy VII remake could happen. After all, while many players praise the wide-open second half of Final Fantasy XIII, the party definitely doesn’t visit the whole planet. In Final Fantasy XV, Noctis and the others travel a whole region. Yet Final Fantasy VII has to have, at the minimum: a bustling megalopolis, a small village far away, and the final area which is featured as the stage in Dissidia. That doesn’t include any of the towns the other party members come from or the other key locations. So I just couldn’t picture how large a game a remake would be.
So for years, I’ve been wanting more of an enhanced port. At best, an old school-style remake. Something along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions or Final Fantasy IV DS, both of which have voiced cutscenes. I liked the idea of keeping the most of the original game and just having new voiced sequences, so I leaned toward the The War of the Lions approach, which also kept its original aesthetic.
Much has been made about the patch job Final Fantasy VII‘s coding is. So a revised Final Fantasy VII might need to be remade from the ground up in order to get rid of the many glitches in the same, some of which make the game a cakewalk. In fact, new glitches are still being found today! But things like the backgrounds and the overall game could remain mostly the same. Otherwise, Square Enix could do much of the usual enhanced port stuff they used to do and some general quality-of-life tweaks like altering damage calculations and MP costs, making certain events non-optional, adding Bosses, etc.
Personally, I wouldn’t include too much from the extended Final Fantasy VII universe, but there were certainly things they could have included — for better or for worse.
But while some of these issues have been addressed through the many PC mods available for the game, voices were my #1 wish. We’ve seen Cloud and others talking in Dissidia Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and more. Why not have him and others actually narrate their journey?
Then, you know, E3 2015 happened and we all lost our minds.
But despite the original story (and spoilers) being readily available, information dried up. And fans were left to wonder how would Final Fantasy VII Remake handle this? Or that? And that? Not to mention THAT!
Once it was confirmed that this would be a divided into parts, though, yeah, I wasn’t thrilled. Once I realized that years have gone by and it’s going to be even more years to get the full Final Fantasy VII story told — let alone if they get into post-VII content — it made me wish even stronger that my enhanced port/low-scale remake didn’t happen. The original Final Fantasy VII launched in 1997. A player who was 11 years old at the time — the lowest age recommendation/game rating for a region (UK) — is now about 34. Gaming is more of an accepted pastime than the associations it was for little kids, teens, or geeks of the past, but the gamers who were 15, 20, 30 then? Even some of the senior SE staff are getting old. And it isn’t impossible that it could be 10 years for the series to be finished. Maybe more. Yuck! I’d rather have a lesser experience that could have been finished completely in maybe five years development time versus what we got. And yes, I know about the movie comparisons (like The Lord of the Rings or even Avengers) fans have made, but this is still a long stretch of time and is more involved than most modern filmmaking.
But whatever. After scraping by on morsels of info for years, Final Fantasy VII Remake was given a more thorough reveal in 2019.
The battle system actually impressed me since it seemed like a good balance between turn-based and action. And while I was really ticked off that Square Enix dumped the voices from the early trailers and various Square Enix projects, the game was coming. Until it was delayed and then it looked like the demo was never going to happen and then places on the Internet were practically pushing spoilers in your face thanks to a database leak.
But hey, it came after all! Although we should have had the game in hand by now…
After Playing Thoughts:
I’d heard rumors, but they definitely are diving into plot details that were saved for later. I knew this, but when still actually watching and experiencing it for myself, it still comes as a shock. It makes me wonder if some locations will be skipped in order to reduce the traveling/world map aspect later on.
Graphics look great. Don’t know about framecount or anything, but it ran smooth for me on PS4 Pro. Did notice some references/world-building. Of course, that should be included since this is a AAA remake of a major game, but still seems to be nice attention to detail. And even with the padding and more modern redesign, several parts were a familiar and nostalgic trip. Plus, seeing the characters in 3D and properly proportioned? Amazing. Like, it’s easy to forget since he’s not often featured in post-VII content just how big of a man Barret is.
One problem I had that I figured I would: my fingers operate like this is Kingdom Hearts. Several times I thought to myself block, press square, and then be all confused when my character would attack… and then wind up on the ground or with low HP from an attack. My playthrough was full of oops. Oops. And oops again! There are three types (sort of levels) of difficulty, and I played on Normal, which would be the hardest of the three. I blew through nearly all my Potions, and the game gives you quite a few. Especially since you can’t wait until whenever to use items since you need to spend an action to use an item. It’s going to be hard to get my mind in the groove that square is the primary attack button while triangle is your character’s special ability. Maybe there will be an option to remap buttons?
The Boss was also surprisingly challenging because of his different phases and some fast-paced and wide-damaging attacks. It took a good amount of time considering the game lets you know this is the opening portion of Final Fantasy VII Remake, making this the first Boss. (Although there’s an encounter that could be considered a Miniboss.) I know I need to get better at switching between characters regularly, as the main action (ATB) gauge fills up so much faster when you’re in control versus the AI, which is how you deal most of your damage and also keep them going. That’s going to be hard for me since I’d rather stick to the characters I like the best in personality and playstyle, whoever that may be. (Just kidding, it’s totally Tifa.) I started getting it more towards the end, so I will be replaying the demo in order to see how much better I can do. I almost ran out of Potions here, as I said before. I wouldn’t call it hard necessarily, but you do have to be actively involved in the fight.
Still, overall, I think the battle system will be well-liked. (It already seems to be from other’s impressions.) Pure turn-based fans and pure action fans may be upset, but the system balances both well, and you can skew it one way or another. Getting overwhelmed? Slow down time. Going well? Keep on truckin’ and issue orders without stopping. Seems to be a lot of room for some advanced techniques and/or personal challenges as well. Makes me wonder if Square Enix might use this as a basis for, say, Final Fantasy XVI and beyond or if they just wanted to make sure they didn’t turn away too many original game fans and will go back to more action-y battle systems. Final Fantasy VII Remake already blends aspects of the PS3 and PS4 era Final Fantasy games, so it will be interesting to see how future Square Enix games will take cues from VII Remake.
I can’t wait to play around with our equipment setups. I sooo wanted to switch the characters’ Magic spells! The demo’s setup seemed so unnatural to me considering their base stats!
The camera got in my way a few times (mostly on ranged enemies), and I can see issues with targeting monsters in general. A couple of times, I didn’t even realize the battle was over because I couldn’t see any enemies. Turns out they were way above me. Not so much here in this installment, but in the future, I wonder if you’re going to essentially be forced to always have a ranged character. I mean, that would be smart to do anyway, but otherwise, it might be slow-goings as you could only defend until you are finally able to use a spell.
I also wish the font on the ability descriptions were a little bigger. Also had a similar complaint in Kingdom Hearts III, so I wasn’t too surprised by this. The game also has the usual “let’s make this so much cooler!!” localizations found in Kingdom Hearts and elsewhere, which means I can see many of the throwbacks/references being missed in the English (and perhaps other international) versions. Barret’s special ultimate attack (Limit) is called “Fire in the Hole” here, while it’s グレネードボム (Grenade Bomb) in Japanese. This was also the name of one of his Limits in both the Japanese and English versions of Final Fantasy VII. The original game has some bad and outright incorrect translations, but in this case, it isn’t a case of trying to be accurate this time around, unlike the name of a future Boss fight. I can see a lot of these things later blowing my mind, just like when I found out a character from Final Fantasy XIII‘s special ability shares its name with a character’s special from Final Fantasy VIII.
Not having the jump ability does seem weird at times. But I did have fun knocking down all the signs and stuff in my way. I had Cloud wandering around just pushing down all the construction or whatever signs. Nothing getting even with your former employers by making a mess! #pettyrevenge
For some reason, the text where it says something like, “You found two potions” bothered me. I wanted to see the item names capitalized. Makes it easier to jump right to the part of the sentence where you see what the item actually is.
The various character banter — both in and out of battle — is excellent. Sometimes dark, sometimes annoying, and sometimes humorous — all like it should be. And it’s actually useful in battle as a reminder if you’re getting low on HP. Although it seems to trigger fairly early — about 50%? Have some reservations on the dub, but seems good overall. But honestly, I’m going to listen to the Japanese version so that, among other things, I can compare the scripts. That, and again, just seems dirty to hire Burton/Billingslea for trailers and then dump them. No offense to the new cast, of course, but it’s just ridiculous to me that they’re going to have a Remake cast and a legacy cast, which is what they’re supposedly doing.
Meanwhile, as for the music? I’ll definitely have to add the OST to my collection whenever it’s released. Ah, so wonderful! So glad the original composer could come back and remix/redo the tracks.
So am I excited for Final Fantasy VII Remake? Well, yes and no. Yes because it looks like a solid game but no because… I DON’T WANNA HAVE TO KEEP WAITING TO SEE AND PLAY AS EVERYBODY!!! I mean, it looks good and feels fun, but after almost five years, we’ll get the opportunity to go play through Midgar and then… go back into Wait Mode*…
*Which, by the way, is the name of Tactical Mode in Japanese. But I need some Tactics for the long wait until Part 2 info, let alone Part 2!