By AAOG’s Community Manager Matt Turiano
So I finally finished Final Fantasy VII Remake, timely I know. Final Fantasy VII wasn’t my first Final Fantasy, that honor goes to 6 on the SNES but it was one of my first. 6 through 9 will always be the height of JRPGs to me the more simple graphics allowed for a focus on storytelling over HD graphics in a way that I feel like Final Fantasy has lost in the most recent games, 13 and its sequels being heavily on rails playable movies. And while I did enjoy 10 it suffered from a lot of the same, I came for the story but I want to explore the world not watch a 15 hour cutscene. But Final fantasy VII, oh just a few notes from Aerith’s Theme or the Main Theme is enough to bring a manly tear to my eye. So you can imagine I’m sure how I reacted to that tech demo recreation of the opening of Final Fantasy VII when the PS4 first dropped, of course that wasn’t planned to be a remake at the time but it got us thirsty for it again. When the actual Remake was announced oh man did I get excited.
I have put about 40 hours into completing Final Fantasy VII Remake so I feel like I have experienced most of what the game has to offer. I did miss a few missions in one of the chapters but it was mostly helping out around sector 5 so I don’t think I missed any story. So where to start?
Gameplay:Perhaps the biggest changes in this whole remake is how combat is done. Third person over the shoulder with some great touches to call back to the turn based roots. The new ATB system of building up charges to use actions and spells works great most of the time and the battles feel dynamic. It feels a bit like Kingdom Hearts sometimes which isn’t bad, Though I hope some of that influence goes back the other way because I would love to be able to switch control of characters in KH or at least tell Donald what to cast.
On a less positive note I don’t particularly love how enemies change their focus almost instantly onto who ever you have control of. It can make it very hard to to say switch to your healer to build up ATB. I know this is mostly intentional since the member with the most ATB is the highest threat, but the man wolping on you with a sword should be the higher threat.
Another minor complaint is the game really wants you to stop and look at the thing it wants you too sometimes. There are these moments where they slow down your walk and lock your camera to get you looking in the right direction to see something or listen to a conversation. And personally I hate that, ether take full control of my character or let me move around normally. Please don’t frustrate me by giving me movement control but limiting it.
Graphics: This game is gorgeous there really isn’t another way to put it. This is the best these characters have ever looked. Midgar in all its grungy glory is beautifully rendered, and seeing some of the scenes from the original game rendered in the new engine was really something special. I think part of the reason for changing parts of the story up did have to do with the high level of realism in the game, it’s one thing to see blocky polygon cloud do something impossible because your brain fills in the gaps, its harder to see a realistically rendered human doing some of the stunts from the original.
Music: The music in Final Fantasy VII Remake is frankly amazing. Remixes and new recordings of classic songs from the old game. Around the world you will be able to collect music discs that have songs from the game as well as songs for areas of the game not included in this part of the Remake. Nobuo Uematsu knocked it out of the park the first time and he came back for this one and it shows.
Story(Spoiler Free):I’m gonna break the story section into two parts because it’s hard to talk about the things that were changed without spoiling other parts of the story. The remake tells the story of the first ¼ of Final Fantasy VII very well. There were things I knew were coming that still hit me hard because of the execution. And while things deviate from the original story at times with the exceptions of things closer to the end its mostly in the name of expanding the scope of the story. You spend a lot more time in the Sector 5 slums for example then you did the original, but this largely serves the purpose of endearing you to Aerith and making her feel like a more well rounded character, the same goes for sector 7 and Tifa and Avalanche. All around I really enjoyed the story of this game and I highly recommend it to new and old fans alike.
Story(Spoilers): Alright let’s get into some of the things that were changed. In the game you encounter hooded figures that seem drawn to Aerith and later to the rest of your party, You later learn that these creatures are arbiters of fate there to make sure destiny isn’t changed. Which implies that something has changed history right? Game doesn’t explicitly tell you who, but there are two characters that seem like good candidates. For most of the game they are a weird thing that happens sometimes, and its not till the end that they really come into play. Some of the events in Shinra Tower play out a little differently, the version of Jenova you fight is different, the way the president dies is different, and the fact that your party encounters president Shinra alive at all is different.
At the end of the game you face off with this arbiter of fate and defeat it, freeing the future of the remake series from having to follow the same story as the original. If I had to guess its still going to follow the main beats of the Final Fantasy 7 story but different. My fear is that this is going to get a little kingdom hearts when I think what was great about this game was how it was a grounded gritty fantasy story. I am curious to see where this goes and I can’t wait to play the second installment in 5 years.