WARNINGS: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN WILL. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN CAUTION
Spoiler alert? You’re probably thinking “What is there to spoil if it is just a remake of the original FF7? Doesn’t everyone know what happens already in FF7?”
What defines a remake? Recreating the same work by keeping all of its core elements? Or changing it up slightly quite a bit? Both answers are correct, however, Final Fantasy 7 Remake does a tremendous job by keeping its core element intact, but added a bold twist to its future installments.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake was first announced back in E3 2015. It was during Sony’s press conference during the reveal, and it was one of the biggest reveal yet. I mean, there were Youtube videos on the fan’s reaction towards the reveal, and it was freaking crazy. Fast forward 5 years later, we finally get the game. Does this game live up to its hype and expectation?
If you’ve played Final Fantasy 7 back then, then you’ll be in for a surprise at the end. It follows closely to its original title, but it has a little surprising twist in the end. If not, I’ll quickly sum up the game. You play as former SOLDIER member Cloud Strife throughout the game. He comes into many problems with different factions such as the Turks, Yutai, and mainly the Shinra. Cloud teams up with a well-designed and memorable team called AVALANCHE, who comprises of Barret, Tifa, Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie. You meet a special lady named Aeris/Aerith, who is one of the Ancients. Shinra is after her, along with another former SOLDIER member Sephiroth. That’s basically the gist of the story. I’ll go into depth for the story later on, for it’s way too much to mention here.
Right from the start, FF7 Remake abandons its well-known turn-based RPG gameplay for a more action hack-and-slash gameplay. Something more of a modern take which I think many fans will enjoy. It still has its core elements of the ATB meter, which works differently by instead of waiting for it to fill up; you fill it up yourself by attacking with the characters in your party. You can switch from playing as 3 different characters at all time. It is a very smooth and polished gameplay that I think many fans will get used to it quickly. You’ll love the ability to switch from many different characters at once. Fighting a flying monster and Tifa can’t attack it? Switch to Barret, as he can attack enemies off ground and on ground due to his literal “hand” gun. At first, I was very skeptical on switching over to an action based gameplay, but Square Enix took the risk and it paid off very well.
The voice acting on every character in this game was well done. Every character was done perfectly. It gave me more depth and feelings towards each character because of the amazing storytelling and voice acting. I felt attached to almost all of these characters, and I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel to bring all of these characters back together. The little things where, e.g. Aerith picks up Marlene to bring her to safety was one of the small details where I actually adored the situation. Aerith was able to portray a much more caring and supportive Aerith prior to the originals, and this is by far one of the best portrayal of her. None of these characters felt bland here (except one which I’ll mention later).
Most of the game’s presence takes place in Midgar. You’ll soon realize that Midgar is one of the most beautiful cities to have ever surfaced, and that is due to Square Enix’s devotion to detail. If you remember the original FF7, you weren’t allowed to visit many locations within that game. In the Remake however, Midgar alongside its numerous Sectors are free to explore and wander around. You’re able to take on side quests throughout the game. You can buy and listen to original music (yes, the electric chocobo theme is back) from shops. Yes on some occasions, Barret will even hum Final Fantasy’s iconic victory theme after defeating enemies.
Don’t get me started on the graphics. The graphics on this game is insane. And by insane, I mean freaking good. One of the best-looking games that I’ve played in a minute. Every character models in this game looks great. Character models from the original literally went from looking like Minecraft characters, to something that’s more realistic. The cinematics in this game are just breathtaking. It’s what everyone wanted since Advent Children.
The original FF7 takes around 25 hours to complete the game. Is that how long it’ll take you to beat the Remake? The answer is no. FF7 Remake does a fantastic job at taking their own game, but enhancing it and extending it in a meaningful way. As mentioned before, you’ll have options to complete side quests throughout the game. You don’t remember who Jessie, Wedge, and Biggs are? In the Remake, their story is enhanced and you’ll get to know each of them better than the original. Every character in this game has depth. Although many fans will say that 60% of the game is mostly fillers, I never thought of it as a problem. I saw it as another chance to build up character dynamics whether it was between Tifa, Aeris, or many other characters that have sub plots throughout the game. Many of these “fillers” help you get to know the city much better. Finding new places to explore and new people to talk to, Midgar felt like a real world with real people. You will feel that you are part of this community. Every character that you remember from the original has their presence lovable and enjoyable.
Reliving the main quests also breathes out a breath of fresh nostalgia. Remember that mission where you had to rescue Tifa from Don Corneo? It’s back here. Remember when you had to carefully and quietly sneak out of Aeris’ house? It’s also back here. There is so much relieving nostalgia in this game that I think fans will enjoy and be happy to see again in the big screen. Remember that squat off mission during Tifa’s Rescue? That segment is also back as well.
Besides giving other minor characters a more major role here in Remake than the original, what else is new in terms of the storyline? Well, it is kind of confusing but bare with me, director Tetsuya Nomura mentioned that this game was going to have a sequel. So technically this game is incomplete? Yes and no. You’ll still get your $60 worth in this game no doubt. In fact, this game took me roughly 45 hours to finish (including side quests and other stuff), so you’ll definitely get your moneys worth in the mean time. The world of FF7 is split into two games as of now.
One of the major difference in terms of the story line in this game is that -spoiler alert- Sephiroth is not the main antagonist until the last chapters of the game. You do get to fight against Sephiroth in a cataclysmic background. In this game, Shinra is portrayed as the major antagonist of this game and not Sephiroth. I believe Nomura is setting up Sephiroth to be the main antagonist in FF7 Remake Part 2. Sephiroth appears from time to time throughout the game, clouding Cloud’s thoughts and haunting him. Throughout the game, you’ll see these mysterious cloaked ghosts flying around called Whispers, which is something new that was never mentioned in the original.
Near the end of the game, FF7 Remake begins to shift towards a new narrative. An expanded FF7 world, but with time paradoxes and multiverses. In my opinion, I thought this was really done well. I know a lot of fans will be either shocked or displeased with this new story, but it is indeed a “REMAKE” so it had to be something different. Remember Sephiroth? Yeah, so this Sephiroth is apparently not from the FF7 world, but from a different timeline. Yep, MCU and the X-MEN Universe aren’t the only IPs getting a twist of multiverses.
Remember who Zack Fair was? Cloud’s best friend and the main protagonist of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7. This game served as a prequel towards the original FF7. In the end of the game, Zack dies and hands over the Buster Sword to Cloud. Moments after, the introduction of FF7 is recreated and the game ends. In FF7 Remake, which something that I thought was bold, the team at Square Enix decided to can the story and bring him back alive. I didn’t like the voice actor for Zack Fair. He sounded way too childish as compared to his original voice actor. On the other hand, FF7 Remake did a fantastic job at re-creating a shot-for-shot remake of Zack’s last standoff before his death. Yep, this will create a lot of time paradoxes, which is something I hope would get answered in the sequel.
After the credits roll, you unlock Chapter Selection and Hard mode. It’s great that you’re able to go back to various chapters to complete Odd Jobs and more. Also, alongside chapter selection, you can now skip those annoying mini-bike scenes.
A problem about this game was its choppy camera whenever you’re fighting enemies. It gets annoying sometimes and I wish Square Enix would’ve fixed this. My main criticism in this game is that there are way too many boss battles that didn’t really need to be bosses. In the original game, the monster Hell House was a regular monster that you could find before heading into Sector 7. Now in this game they turned it into a main boss that is required to beat before proceeding with the mission. Most of the bosses in this game are bullet sponges and just waste a good amount of time. If they were regular monsters, then I’d enjoy that but making them bosses that are essentially bullet sponges just take up a lot of time. Also, one of the third to last boss where your party consists of Barret, Aerith, and Red XIII is one of the most annoying bosses to face. I think I wasted a good amount of time trying to get through this boss. A small thing that I didn’t really like as well with the game was the Mini-Bike Boss battle near the end of the game. Wasn’t necessary at all in my opinion.
Overall, Square Enix did a tremendous job on FF7 Remake. Its attention to graphics and details are just icing on the cake. It is one of the best-looking games since Red Dead Redemption 2. Giving life to the community of Midgar made you felt like you lived there. Giving Wedge, Jessie, and Biggs more characterization than before made you cared for them. I’ve never wanted to do all of the side quests in this game more than ever. I just had a thrill of nostalgia and something new when playing this game. Its new gameplay overhaul felt rewarding and fresh; something that most fans will soon to enjoy. I hope to see this new overhaul gameplay in the future Final Fantasy installments. Every character in this game connects with you. I had a great time being around Barret and Aeris/Tifa throughout the game. I felt attached to Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith and when the credits rolled; I wanted more. FF7 Remake did a bold move by switching up the ending on this game and turning it into something completely different. I would say it is a huge risk that paid off for now.
If this is your first Final Fantasy game, then this game would be a great introduction to Square Enix’s beloved series. If you’ve been a long time fan of the series before, I think you’ll also enjoy this fresh take. This is still the same FF7 that you remembered playing back then, just with an updated and modern twist that I think you’ll enjoy. FF7 Remake is probably one of the best remakes I’ve played since Resident Evil 2 last year. The wait for this game was definitely worth it. Now the hard part is waiting for the sequel to come out. The game basically ends with you exiting Sector 7 after its collapse. That’ll take you approximately 5 hours in the original FF7 to get to that part. It took me roughly 45 hours to get to that part. Imagine the total length of the game? FF7 Remake has to be episodic because there’s no way they’re gonna leave us with a massive cliff hanger. I’d expect at least 2 more parts to the game, so I’d assume a total of 150 hours for the entire game if it were to be remade like this.