※ There may be slight spoilers in this review.
When Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children premiered in 2005, there would have been gamers who thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to play Final Fantasy VII with that graphics quality? Would that day come?’ That day has finally arrived.
The remake of Final Fantasy VII, what gamers considered as the last bastion of Square Enix, has finally become reality. There were many issues such as Square Enix’s stocks soaring when they announced the remake. All news related to this game attracted the eyes of the gamers and fans. Most likely, gamers from all around the world would be paying attention. The Final Fantasy VII remake was without a doubt, amazing, and an awesome experience.
“What you hoped for, the fantasy you dreamt of spreads ahead of you.”
※ This review has been written through the review code provided by SIE-Square Enix. Screenshots and videos were taken based on the review code; it may be different from the actual release.
As much as the game was remade, there are several areas where it changed according to the progress of time. The Avalanche group and Shinra Company’s characteristics also were changed slightly to make it more natural and directed towards the story they suggest. It’s a flow that reflects the world that appeared after the game.
These changes don’t start a completely new story from before. The big picture is the same, but the detailed flow and portrayals changed slightly. To those who play Final Fantasy VII for the first time through this remake, the story approaches naturally. To those who know the original, it would be interesting to notice what has been changed.
The additional sub-stories and extra stories can control the tempo of the game flow, allowing the players to meet new stories; like a story expansion. There are a few sections that may be rather dull. The maps that are too straight and the interaction points could earn negative reactions, but the story that continues is quite satisfying. As a result, Final Fantasy VII has strengthened and expanded its story and world.
Within this flow, the main and supporting characters’ characteristics are emphasized. Aside from Cloud, the supporting characters clearly display the change of their mental state through several interactions and stories. The interaction with NPCs have been diversified and the conversations of the surroundings have the characteristics stand out more, supporting the story delivery and extending the background.
The era of expressions that could only be shown through simple conversations now have been extended through the faces and the actors voices along with cinematic production. The change of characters’ mental states have more impact. Production has developed over time and this has been applied to Final Fantasy VII, granting more uniqueness to the characters. These characters melt in naturally in the expanded world, providing strong appeal and immersion.
The changed battle system is excellent. The turn-battles that you needed to wait for the ATB to charge has been reduced and live action has increased to bring more tension to the game. Battles progress by guarding enemies’ attacks surely, penetrating through their weaknesses stacking up your burst, and evading unblockable attacks. Guarding well, hitting well, and evading well; the fundamentals of action games have been applied well into the Final Fantasy system.
It’s essential to use magic or items by switching to party members that have their ATB stacked. Time getting slower when using abilities or magic has been properly brought from turn-based games. Players would need to be careful about this as well because if the casting action is canceled through a strong attack, the ATB is burned out.
When one person summons a summon, all can use the summon ability. The limit gauge that fills in individual speeds are utilized well, adding more color to the battles. As Final Fantasy VII was remade, it transitioned from a simple turn-based RPG to a great mixture of turn and action.
If you don’t want to be stressed from the battles, I suggest playing the classic mode or easy mode. Even from normal mode, you have to mid the battles more and pay attention to the characters’ growth. If you want to have easygoing play in normal mode, it’s necessary to do all the little sub-quests, collecting SP, AP, equipment, and money. The difficulty can be controlled whenever, so you can change as you wish.
The characters' growth and management has also become modern. The ability gained from weapons can be used with other weapons, so you don’t need to insist on using just one weapon. The system has been set to grow the main stats on weapons, so you can change it according to the weapon and how you would fight in battles.
You can also grow the materia on one character and move it to another. Many limits have been released and the game aims for free growth. There are points where characters leave the party, but you can still manage that character’s growth and equipment as well.
Pursuing action with more freedom. The individualities of the characters are alive and like the original, you can grow a character to specialize in a certain ability. Obviously, there are abilities that stand out for each character, so there’s a general guideline for the growth. However, you are free to explore outside of the guideline.
The remade battle system and growth system blends well and doesn’t affect each other too much. It’s difficult to find a flaw. You can play both classic turn-based mode or play with more action. Just some extra care is needed in boss battles. However easy the difficulty is, boss battles can’t be beaten with just one button.
The tempo of the game is controlled well with all the changes so the play time is decent. To complete all sub and main quests, some effort is needed. Various mini-games refresh the gameplay in some situations so you would find yourself playing the game for hours without noticing.
Most of the mini-games aren’t tiresome. They’re designed to draw the challenging spirit of the players. It’s not that difficult, but if you play without thinking, you won’t get high results. Low results mean low reward. So the mini-games are structured for the players to do their best. One small tip: even if you don’t use it often, grow at least one ‘restore’ materia. Not ‘heal’, but ‘restore’.
One thing that fans were worried about was the length. Unlike the original, the game has been divided and the remake only covers the game until the escape from Midgar. It’s only about 1/3 of the original story, but the play time feels enough. Those who want to conquer all the sub-quests, missions, mini-games, and hidden elements would have to invest quite a lot of time. Playing just the general quests with a easygoing mindset, you’ll hit 30 hours without much trouble, so the length wouldn’t be something to worry about.
The Final Fantasy VII remake that I played throughout the weekend without taking a break was really fantastic. The characters that were transformed into modern graphics have colorful acting, production, and interaction to bring liveliness. The world was expanded as well. The parts where it was slightly different from the original drew interest from a long fan. The OST flows from old to new, harmonized well with the remake.The world fans longed for has finally come upon us.
There weren’t many inconvenient areas while playing the game, but to pick a few, I would say graphics and the camerawork.
The extraordinary graphics that extended PS4’s ability to the maximum limit has some parts where it’s really awkward. I met some textures that seemed it hadn’t been fully loaded. It may be the limit to PS4 Pro’s specs and it may simply be not loaded yet. It doesn’t happen often so it doesn’t interfere with playing the game too much.
The camerawork compensations can be shut off through the settings, but there were a few actions where it’s forced which is bothering. Even if it’s set off, sometimes the camerawork is changed according to the topography. At first, I tried to control this and almost got sick. This can vary by person, so it would be necessary to find the right settings.
When reviewing a game, I think of two main things. First is how good of an experience this game gave me and the second is would willingly recommend this game to another person. As mentioned above, the Final Fantasy VII remake will give an amazing dreamy experience to long fans. To those who first play through the remake, I’d say they would have a top-tier experience compared to other blockbuster titles.
So, would I willingly recommend this? If you have a PS4 and you don’t play this game, you’re wasting your life. If you have to buy a PS4 to play this game, you may hesitate, because it’s nearly the end of the console’s prime. It’s understandable.
A masterpiece. The Final Fantasy VII remake is enough to represent the era of PS4. As the original was a masterpiece of the PS era, it lives up to its name. It’s a bit unfortunate that the game was divided, but Final Fantasy VII will show what you expected, what you longed for for 23 years. The time when gamers waiting for new games with great evaluation is a very happy time. The Final Fantasy VII remake can transition that wait into a pleasant experience.
23 years, it was worth the wait.