I’m one of those gamers who have never played the original Final Fantasy VII. Thus, I was happy to play through Remake and judge it as a new game — without any feelings of nostalgia, hampering my genuine experience. Final Fantasy VII Remake is a 3rd person action-roleplaying game; the gameplay is a mix of real-time action and strategic elements. The game follows the story of Cloud Strife — a gene mutated ex-soldier with severe memory issues – as he teams up with a group of eco-terrorists to challenge the leaders of the ultra-industrialized city of Midgar.
The visual and narrative elements primarily stand out when I think about Remake. Visually the game is breathtaking. Character models look unique and ultra-detailed yet authentic, from Cloud’s picture-perfect angular blade Buster to Aerith’s elegant and bohemian look. Environments are imaginative and varied, oozing realistic lived-in sensations. Cutscenes and cinematics appear as straight-up movie quality. Furthermore, the great characters, believable dialogue, hilarious banter, and superb voice-acting truly resonate with the beautiful visuals engaging players to sink hours into the game. Lest not annoy fans of phenomenal game music, I feel obligated to state that Remake’s score is one of the best I’ve ever heard.
It’s not a Final Fantasy game without a significant amount of combat and grinding, and the game delivers on that department. The combat varies from the older games of the series (and from the original FF7) in that it is not a turn-based but action-packed with pauses, where everyone — your party and enemies — attack each other in real-time. However, it’s not a mindless bashing and button smashing but a tactical approach to build each team members’ action-gauge, allowing them to do special abilities and spells. There are plenty of different elements, weaknesses, resistances, and status effects, increasing the game’s tactical aspects. Yet I feel that the game could have taken more risks because even with all the possibilities, the progression and combat seem pretty simple and straightforward.
The only major issue with the game is that it very much feels like a fragment of a bigger story — which the game essentially is. Remake contains only about the first 10-20 percent of the original Final Fantasy VII’s content. Although I love the storytelling and gorgeous cinematics of Remake, the plot itself seems relatively vague, leaving tons of unanswered questions in the air after the completion; hence the game resembles only a separate part of something bigger. It isn’t necessarily a serious concern, especially when Square Enix has already started developing the next installment of Final Fantasy VII Remake — except that they expect players to pay the full 60-70€ price for every part of the following games.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is a fantastic mix of gorgeous graphics, authentic narrative, epic sound design, and fun combat — yet it feels incomplete. Still, the many great features and qualities make it a no-brainer for fans of JRPGs, RPGs, and action-adventures.
Pictures: screenshots from the game. Fig. 2. taken by Moe Wanders @MoeWanders on Twitter. Rest of the screenshots taken by the author.
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: April 10, 2020.
Genres: Action role-playing
PEGI: 16 – depictions of realistic looking violence towards human-like characters.