There was a massive worry that came over me when it was announced though. Final Fantasy VII holds a special place in my heart. I still remember getting it for Christmas when I was kid, and I had no clue what it was. Yes I have been gaming since the Nintendo Entertainment System days and had heard of the previous installments of Final Fantasy, just had never played them (no worries, I have now). I opened the jewel case the game came in, and was flabbergasted that it had more than one disc. The moment I fired it up and saw the opening scene I was hooked. I didn’t see how graphics could get better than that moment right there, and the story actually had me invested in the characters. I cared about them. So when Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced I was beyond hyped, but I also didn’t see how they could live up to a gamer’s memory of what the game was for us as a whole. I’m happy to report that all my worries went out the window as I played through the Remake. That being said, if you are truly worried about spoilers, which I tried to keep at a minimum, know that the game is worthy of getting. It is a game that both fans of old, and new, will love. I will do my best to keep spoilers to a bare minimum during this review.
The Remake begins exactly where the original began, in Midgar. Players take on the role of Cloud Strife, a mercenary, employed by Avalanche. This is a group of people trying to save the planet from the evil corporation of Shinra, which is harnessing Mako energy for literally everything. The game allows you to control Cloud Strife, Barret Wallace, Tifa Lockhart, and Aerith Gainsborough. Yes there are many other memorable characters that you will interact and encounter on your journey through the great city of Midgar, but these are the main characters that will be at your disposal during your journey. Both Cloud and Tifa offer up close and personal attacks with your various enemies, and Barret and Aerith specialize in ranged attacks. Yes setups can be altered via the menu, but overall these are their specialties. Each character has a different background that contributes to the overall story and progression of the game.
- Cloud Strife - mercenary and Ex-SOLDIER First Class
- Barret Wallace - Leader of the Avalanche group
- Tifa Lockhart - Manager of Seventh Heaven Bar in Seventh Heaven
- Aerith Gainsborough - the Flower Girl from Midgar
There is so much more to each of these characters that this review will not do it justice, especially if spoilers are left out. There are also countless other characters that you will interact with throughout your playthrough of Final Fantasy VII Remake that add not only depth to the story, but will also have the player being emotionally attached to them. You will find yourself genuinely caring for the NPC’s just as much as the main characters, which is even more so than the original game. Remake expands in every way possible with character depth.
Players will progress through many chapters throughout the massive city of Midgar. This city is separated by a total of eight different sectors, and that also includes under the city as well, which is a whole other environment to traverse. Many of the sectors that you will visit offer a large variety of exploration for the player. Each sector that you will visit is different in sometimes subtle ways, but other times massive ways. As you progress throughout the game you will find yourself marveling at the sheer massive scale that has been brought to Midgar, especially players that have experienced the original. Everything has been enhanced upon in every way possible. There will be both Main Quests and sidequests for players to complete. While the sidequests are not required to complete the game, they often are worth pursuing for the rewards alone. Often aiding in player progression, as well as materia and items to be used in battle.
The original game had players take on enemies in a turn based combat system. While this is still available with the “Classic” mode, the game defaults to the “Normal” mode when you begin. This puts players in charge of anywhere from 1-3 total characters per “battle”, varying throughout the story. This “Normal” mode allows players to attack with both regular attacks and heavy attacks. Given the different enemies will require different approaches. Take the wrong approach, you will find yourself at a “Game Over” screen rather quickly.
There are over 70 different enemies within the game to encounter, some of which will be encountered more than once. Each having their own individual strengths and weaknesses during battle, some even having no weaknesses. It is up to the player to adapt for the wide range of enemies that they will encounter, even adapting on the fly will have to happen at times given the state of some enemies/bosses. Making sure you know what you are encountering is key at times while progressing through the game.
While playing through the game you will find yourself setting up your characters in different ways. This is due to the Weapons available to the characters. They are found sometimes in Midgar via chests, but also can be purchased at Weapons Vendors throughout the many sectors. Each weapon acts differently, and has different abilities that can be unlocked by becoming more proficient with that weapon. Stats can also be boosted by heading to the “Upgrade Weapon” section in the menu. Here you can boost your stats and abilities, allowing you to be much more effective in battle. Each weapon will have different Skills to choose from, and it is up to the player how they want to set it up. Besides weapons, characters can be equipped with both Armor and an Accessory, both offer different advantages for characters depending on the setup players want. Just like with the weapons these can also be found in chests, but also Vendors throughout the city. Now let’s talk about the thing known as Materia.
Materia is various orbs that can be equipped by characters to allow for not only magic, but also something as simple as an HP Boost. The amount of Materia that is available throughout the game is quite impressive, and it should only improve as more chapters for the Remake are released in the future. In the original game there were over 80 different Materias to collect, and hopefully with the Remake it will be even more. Especially true with the “Summons” where you call for assistance in battle from an elemental creature, which ends with a powerful attack when they leave from aiding you. There is so much mixing and matching that can be done, that not only allow for players to attack more effectively in battle, but if set up properly it will allow for aid defensively in battle. The Materias will be one of the following distinctive colors:
- Green - Magic Materia
- Blue - Support Materia
- Yellow - Command Materia
- Purple - Independent Materia
- Red - Summon Materia
Just like with the weapons the Materia can be leveled up, which allows players to use new magic, boost their stats, and use new abilities. The various Materias can be found in chests, given to players by NPC’s, or purchased at Vendors. There is one major difference original players will notice is about the Summon Materias, and it needs to be mentioned. In the original game you could use the Summon Materia as long as you had enough MP, but in the Remake it seems to be completely random whether or not you are able to call forth your attached Summon Materia. Also you can only have one attached to each character, in the original you could put as many as you would like.
It is worth noting that the game also features a blocking system, as well a full array of items to choose from that can not only aid your individual characters in battle, but also attack the enemies that you will encounter in battle. It is up to the player to effectively implement not only equipment, but also Materia and various items available throughout the game. Doing so will allow you to succeed in maximizing the effectiveness of playable characters. There is quite a bit of depth to the game that a player might not experience if they only played the “Classic” or “Easy” modes, and it is taken to the next level even further once Hard mode is unlocked upon completion of the game.
Speaking of completing the game, there are a few things that become available to players once you finish your first playthrough. Both Hard mode and Chapter Select become available. There are several choices you make in the game that can be changed by simply revisiting the chapters, as well as new items in Hard mode to earn. Continuing to level up your characters is also a huge plus with the Chapter Select. This is great that you don’t have to play through the entire game again, when there may be only a few chapters that you need to redo.
Graphically the game is stunning. Square Enix spared no expense in detail, and ensured that every bit of Midgar that you encounter is fully fleshed out. Many times I found myself simply admiring the surroundings, and appreciating the depth they went into making not only the characters in the game, but also the environment as well. Midgar itself feels alive, it feels like a massive city that is split into the multiple sectors that I mentioned earlier. The same can be said for the audio. The music in the game fits perfectly, and are all improvements over the original, which was already amazing in it’s own right.
Simply put, Final Fantasy VII Remake is perfect. It expands upon the original game in every way possible, and makes it’s own mark in what will be a fantastic journey for gamers. Square Enix went above and beyond to make this a memorable experience, to where the game feels familiar but fresh at the same time. As a returning player there were several moments where I was on the edge of my seat. Every gamer needs to experience this game, whether they played the original or not. Needless to say, I cannot wait for Part 2 of the Remake.
THE GOAT HOUSE SCORE: 10/10