When Final Fantasy 7 Remake was announced in E3 of 2015 people were very excited. Finally, a remake to what many considered one of the best games ever made. What we didn’t know back then is that the game would not release until April of 2020, giving fans a long wait for this highly anticipated remake. However, does this game live up to the expectations given to it by fans? Let’s find out.
The first thing you are greeted by in FF7R is an incredible recreation of the opening scene from the original game. The sweeping orchestra accompanied by the wide shot of the game’s iconic location of Midgar gives a great first impression. Once the game starts and you enter combat you’ll notice one big difference, however. In the original FF7 the game used a turn-based battle system, which meant that you would choose your character’s move, they would preform their action, and then the enemy would strike back with their own move. This was a slow but satisfyingly strategic way of playing. In this new game however, we see an action combat system being used. This means you control your character directly and there are no turns; instead it combines both reflex and strategy to really test you. This makes FF7R an excitingly challenging game, and makes the combat feel more dynamic as you balance various elements. This new system was carried on from FF15 and improved upon in this remake. There are 4 controllable characters in this game, Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aerith, each with their own unique way of playing. Cloud is the main character and will be who you use for most of the game; he has a pretty simple move set with his comically large buster sword you can alternate between lighter yet swifter attacks and attacks that do more damage but come out slower and leave you more vulnerable. Barret is a good long distance character being able to shoot enemies with his gun hand while each shot is small in damage the consecutive attacks from the arm can build up quickly to get rid of long distance enemies. Tifa is a complete 180 from Barret, using her fists she is quick nimble and is an up close fighter which is good for certain situations but can also leave her somewhat vulnerable. Finally, there is Aerith who unlike the other characters is a healer; she does not focus on attacking but rather supporting the other characters. While she can use magic for long distance attacks it is not as effective as other characters. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, however, in a big chunk of battles I find myself sticking mostly to Cloud. While the other characters are great, Cloud seems to have pretty much anything you would need if you equip him with the right material. I only find myself switching to other characters when I either need healing or during boss fights.
Now that we have gone over the gameplay I would like to talk about story. The story for FF7R may seem like the same thing at first, but if you have played the original you will quickly see differences. For one this game only covers the first section of the original FF7 with the other parts of the game to be released later. Since this game only covers a short aspect of the original it can sometimes feel stretched out with parts that seem unnecessary to be in the game. At points it almost felt like we were taking a random break from the story to do some weird required side mission that breaks up the story and just seem to happen out of nowhere. There are also some add inclusions for new characters here, the original cast was fine as is but they introduce multiple side characters that get fully developed backstories and then disappear not long after. I feel as though this time could be spent better fleshing out our main characters. While Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa get a fair amount of screen time Barret seems only left out. Its a shame considering how much I enjoy Barret as a character. I would enjoy getting to spend more time with him to flesh him out more but instead we get a whole backstory for some random guard in a single section of the game. On the topic of characters, let’s talk about this game’s main villain, Sephiroth who has become an iconic video game villain since his debut, and is just as intimidating here. Or rather he would be if he didn’t show up every other scene only to do nothing and leave. One thing that made Sephiroth so scary was how illusive he was he didn’t show up until a good amount into the original leading into a grand reveal, but here he is all over the place it makes him feel less intimidating seeing him show up so often. One thing that makes a good villain is that sense of mystery but it is somewhat lost here. One last gripe I have is the voice acting; while at times it can be natural and compelling even as often it will be stilted and awkward to listen to and watch. Despite all my criticisms with the story the core plot is still Final Fantasy 7 which has stood the test of time even if we only get a fragment of the main game’s plot here.
While Final Fantasy 7 Remake is bogged down by a bloated story that loses some of the magic from the original it is still an amazing game. I look forward to seeing the next installment and hope to see improvements from the criticisms I had for this game. Overall I would give Final Fantasy 7 Remake a 7/10 a game with some incredibly fun gameplay but a so and so plot. I hope you will come back for some more game reviews hopefully for titles more recent than this.