Fans have been clamoring for years for a Final Fantasy VII Remake and it’s finally here. Square-Enix did not disappoint.
I’m nowhere near finishing the game yet but what I’ve seen so far has been great. Battle system, side quests, character development – all have been significantly improved upon. They’ve done such a wonderful job of both catering to fan service and modernizing almost every aspect of the game – aside from the character design, but I’ve decided that’s a good thing.
It would have been so easy for Square-Enix to simply do a graphically impressive version of their 1997 classic but they’ve done so much more. What they’ve come up with is essentially what my child mind wanted when I imagined the original polygonal world. I recall running around the slums of Midgar, wondering what the upper plate would look like if I could just pan the camera up a little bit. And now I know. It’s genuinely awe inspiring every time. I would wonder why this or that specific enemy was in this specific place, and thanks to the enemy intel feature, I now know.
It’s in these details that Square-Enix manages to both cater to fandom and appeal to new audiences. And this, I think, is exactly what they were aiming to do. It almost feels like a piece of high budget fanfiction, an expansion and extrapolation of an already interesting world. I was so thrilled to be able to explore sector 7 I know from my youth and meet the people who live there.
FFVII Remake boasts a wonderful battle system that I’m only beginning to get the hang of. Many of the aforementioned sidequests are “go here, slay this” but thus far have not been tedious because the fights are genuinely fun. Since it’s not the 90’s, characters don’t stand around on one end of the screen waiting for their turn. This is an action RPG and you can switch control of characters on the fly. Each one handles differently and has different abilities. I’m impressed by a game that truly gets me interested in combat, as I’m a gamer who traditionally values story and character. But there’s enough challenge, strategy and nuance here to keep me coming back and, in fact, seeking out fights.
Thus far what I appreciate most about this game is the fleshing out of the world. The sector 7 slums – the first urban centre you visit – feel like a full, vibrant community. There are people everywhere and they all have something at least mildly interesting to say, something that develops the world or characters or the greater lore. This is the first game that I have wanted to go out of my way to see what X villager is saying, and it doesn’t feel like a chore. I’m the kind of gamer who always feels the need to talk to EVERYONE, lest I miss something. And usually it’s fruitless. Here I WANT to talk to townspeople. The things they say are relevant or interesting or funny. I had some genuine laugh out loud moments and I stopped playing a couple times so I could show my girlfriend the funny thing someone said.
The combat in FFVII Remake is fast and smooth. It feels like the peak of what Action RPG combat should be. It’s fast, action – packed, and yet requires you to slow down for a moment and consider your next action. In this way it harkens back to it’s JRPG roots but still takes cues from recent Final Fantasies and other action games.
You can swap between characters and each has their own unique abilities, along with the materia you choose to equip them with. You can’t just mash away on the attack button however because the enemies have distinct moves and weaknesses that force you to act accordingly. I find hat even the weakest enemy will surprise me if I’m not paying attention.
I’ve had much more fun than I thought I would running around Midgar. Whether it’s the combat or characters or exploration or side quests, basically everything has brought me wonder or curiousity or simply a smile. I’m having a blast dipping into nostalgia, while still having a satisfying modern gaming experience. I can’t wair to dive deeper and see what else Midgar has to offer