The promise was made 5 years ago that we would get a Final Fantasy VII Remake, and in those past years, it has seen some development hell just like many other SE titles in the past decade. Changing hands from CyberConnect2, engines and ideas, FF7R became an in-house project to release to the masses as a slither of the full game, in the hopes they could whet our appetites for the full series of FF7R titles. With so many people trapped indoors due to the lockdown, plenty have had ample time to run through this game, but was the promise fulfilled or did it leave us wanting more?
FF7R starts off almost exactly like the original back in 1997, a train rolls into a mako reactor, eco-terrorists on-board to blow it to smithereens. Small dialogue here or there reveals our character to be Cloud, an ex-SOLDIER and highly trained mercenary, tasked with helping AVALANCHE take down Shinra. Led by Barret, whose arm is replaced with a gun, we move deeper into the reactor. Met with resistance by human, beast and robot alike we eventually blow up the reactor. Getting out before it explodes, retreating to the local hideout and planning the next step.
FF7R hits most of the original notes of the first game, though adds in some half-baked mercenary work that is hyped up a bit more than it really should be. With talk of reputation and better missions it just boils down to a linear path of quests that unlock one after the other without much in the way of stats or menus. With cleaning up the local town, alongside your childhood friend Tifa, Cloud accepts the job of taking down the next reactor.
The story continues on, diverting from the original story pretty quickly, though keeping a thin thread alive to keep in track with the normal storyline. Lasting around 25 hours for the story itself, with around 10-20 hours of extra side-missions and unlockables. If you’re going for 100% with all trophies you can extend that up to the 60-70 hour mark. With a story of that length, FF7R is actually one of the shortest FFs to date, only really beating Crisis Core and FFXV’s main story in duration.
There are plenty of issues with the story which are stated below, but cannot really be in-depth without spoilers, so warnings for those. A few things I can say is that the true antagonists aren’t explained very well if at all, Sephiroth is just dropped in with only the fans truly knowing who he is, all newcomers will have no clue as to why Cloud hates him or why Sephiroth does the things he does.
With the remake, the story has the new additions of the whispers, or arbiters of fate, dementor-looking creatures that aim to keep the game’s timeline to that of the original. Whenever something is happening differently the whispers aim to fix it, either through breaking a leg here or reviving a dead character there. They feel like a lazy writing crutch to lean on to explain some of the more outlandish story segments, or to allow creative freedom when it comes to the plot. However, they just end up being disappointing as well as seemingly dropped into the story.
I am fine with them changing the original story, just not in such a lazy way, or changing it so drastically while still calling it a remake.
Making a drastic change in gameplay, FF7R swaps out traditional turn-based combat for a more modern action combat system with filling up bars for special attacks, spells or item use. Combining elements of their previous games, yet feeling wholly different, FF7R keeps to a hack-and-slash style of gameplay with square for attacks, holding it for different variations and triangle for special moves or modes. You can dodge around with circle, though these are more for repositioning as they lack any invulnerability frames, requiring pinpoint accuracy to dodge most attacks.
As you fight, your ATB gauges will fill, maxing at 2 gauges. A single bar is used to activate an ability, spell or use an item. Each action can be interrupted by enemy attacks, so tactical use is suggested. As you progress further into the game with new weapons you’ll learn new abilities that take 2 bars or even increase the bars to 3 for the fight. With such a limited action economy, item use is hardly ever that useful, as the same resource used for items is used for spells that do much better effects or attacks that have much more damage, items falling off into the early hours of the game. I only found myself using Maiden Kiss to remove frog and the occasional ether.
Defeating enemies will reward you Gil, EXP, AP and items, as mentioned before the items aren’t really that important. Gil can be spent on buying new gear and Materia, whereas EXP will level up all your characters. Each level your stats are increased, alongside gaining more SP to upgrade your weapons, weapons providing much bigger benefits in the form of massive bonuses to attack and health or more slots for Materia.
Returning from the original release, Materia makes a grandstand in FF7R as one of the most powerful mechanics. Granting access to new spells, attacks and abilities, Materia opens up the combat system so much than if you used none. As you fight you will gain AP for your Materia, levelling them up to the next variations which unlock higher tier spells for more damage or increased effects like resistance to immunity.
The soundtrack of FF7R is excellently crafted, reimagining old tracks into new versions, often with several variations to split up the phases of boss fights. With a wide variety of genre, from techno/trance to pop and rock. While the OST does keep to the original closely it does add in some new tracks, that are hit and miss at points, with some feeling a bit out of place, especially the trance-style, though are still of high quality. Over the whole soundtrack, I only had issues with 2 or 3 songs in total.
Moving onto difficulty, FF7R keeps a steady pace of ever-increasing difficulty and levels. This balance is shaken up at several parts however due to the missions giving you elite monsters who spam stun/sleep or interrupt your actions, breaking up the action economy and vastly weakening your teams. Whilst not overly difficult, the bosses are incredibly padded out with thousands to tens of thousands of health, making boss fights a slog. What makes bosses even worse is the overuse of health gating, forcing your damage to stop at 50% and 25%, towards the end-game stopping at every 10% of the bosses max HP. Gone are the 1-shot builds, instead being forced into multi-action kills. Going back as a max level character, I could 1-shot Scorpion, if he didn’t have his health gates. The health gates are also used as a mechanic to allow phases to have prevalence, throwing in cutscenes to make the fights more cinematic.
As an aside to the difficulty, an unlockable difficulty mode, hard mode, is too overtuned, with enemies have higher levels, stats, new attacks or repeated attacks, benches only giving hp and no items being allowed at any time. It would have been more fun to have this difficult split into 2 modes, with half of the mechanics in each, especially when so much of the post-game content is locked behind hard mode that goes too far into 1 extreme. Some players have been able to do no-hit runs of bosses in hard mode, but for the average player they will feel somewhat uneasy going into hard mode, as well as frustrated at bosses who can summon teleporting 1-shot enemies in trios.
I don’t normally write about the graphics of a game, mostly keeping it for talking about the style and any errors. For FF7R there are plenty of errors with the graphics, while it looks breath-taking for the majority, with in-game cutscenes looking beautiful, there are several lazy areas. Here is a collection of some of the low-res and poly textures in FF7R. Blurry terrain and objects, low-res drawings and vistas and just poor effort put into too many areas of the game that sully the beautiful art that it accompanies.
Now for the part of the review that goes into the misleading parts of the title and the game as a whole. Calling this a remake was a mistake and is false advertising at best. Instead of explaining the difference between remaster, remake, reboot and reimagining you can read this Reddit post that explains it well enough. FF7R is more of a reboot or reimagining, it could even constitute as a spin-off of the original FF7. It changes the story drastically, adds in time travel, alternate timelines and shifts the concept too far away from the original design. It has even been stated in interviews that is was meant as a reimagining, yet this still marketed it as a remake. A better name would have been FF7Z or FF7Reimagined.
With talk of expanding Midgar, it is a shame to see that most of the expansion was put into padding out dungeons. Sewers that took 5 minutes in the original are now full of slow valves, climbing ladders and finding keys. Graveyards that were a breeze are now full of backtracking, slow walking and maze movement. Instead of a proper expansion like exploring new buildings or sectors, we’re forced into longer corridors without much in the way of innovation. A lot of the length from FF7R comes from its slow animations, “puzzles” and health-boosted bosses who stop you every minute to have a cutscene.
Overall, Final Fantasy VII Remake gets a 7/10, for the majority it is a blast to play, evolve and get immersed within. The story falls apart too quickly due to retcons and writer crutches, alongside missions becoming mostly “kill this”. Improving your characters and changing gear feels rewarding, especially when you specialise a character into a specific area like healing. It is far too expensive right now for me to suggest picking it up, even more so when the title is misleading to what is inside. For a water-tight story, you will be disappointed in FF7R, but if you want some great action gameplay then go right on through.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is avialable on the PlayStation 4 and be purchased here https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP0082-CUSA07187_00-FFVIIREMAKE00000
Final Fantasy VII Remake is developed and published by Square Enix.
Enjoy the review? want to read more of our reviews? then click right here to be whisked away to the realm of our opinions.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is a reimagining of the iconic original with unforgettable characters, a mind-blowing story, and epic battles. The story of this first, standalone game in the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE project covers up to the party’s escape from Midgar, and goes deeper into the events occurring in Midgar than the original FINAL FANTASY VII.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 59.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut