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Final Fantasy VII review
by Pandsu

I'm gonna be honest; I set myself up for disappointment with this one. A lot was riding on me loving this game, when it comes to my personal ability to still get hyped for upcoming games. Most of the franchises I used to be hyped for have, either permanently or temporarily, become huge disappointments and, in some cases, simply weren't enjoyable for me anymore.
Silent Hill is dead. Resident Evil 4 wasn't Resident Evil anymore and anything after, including Revelations, failed to be engaging or scary anymore (though RE was back for me with 7 and 2 Remake). Zelda has been going downhill for a while and ended in Breath of the Wild becoming something that I feel like I'm just about the only one who doesn't really like it. 
And, well, Final Fantasy has also lost its luster with every new game following the phenomenal ninth main entry, ending in Final Fantasy XV which, after many years of absolute hype for FF Versus XIII, was an absolute snoozefest for me. Even Kingdom Hearts, which I used to love, became a bit too over-indulgent and ultimately ended up in pure, distilled disappointment once Kingdom Hearts 3 finally came out.

The fact of the matter was that I simply wasn't as hyped for new things anymore and didn't enjoy the franchises, that used to drive me to tears back in the day, anywhere close as much as I used to. If at all, really.

Now, I obviously understand that this is simply part of growing up, getting older, things becoming more predictable, you become more jaded, things feel less big, less special anymore. But still... the fact that Resident Evil came back for me and that plenty of surprises outside of my usual go-to franchises still gripped me as much as those proved to me that not all hope was lost and that it wasn't a simple matter of me just being a bit tired of Video Games. 

So I allowed myself to get hyped for this one. I loved Final Fantasy VII, which, as someone who grew up in Europe, was my first Final Fantasy ever and one of the first non-action RPGs I ever played (with the others being Mystic Quest Legend and Pokemon) and as someone who really enjoyed the majority of the Kingdom Hearts franchise and someone who still wonders what Versus XIII could have been if that was ever finished, I also didn't necessarily mind the fact that Tetsuya Nomura was directing this one. And when we saw early Gameplay, I honestly didn't mind the way they were adapting everything into a more action-oriented direction than what we saw back in the day.

And well, as you can see by the rating I gave this game, I do not regret my hype.

First of all, I, like many others, was just as bummed out and concerned by the announcement that this game would not be a full-on remake of Final Fantasy VII, but instead would just be a more in-depth, full-length retelling of the Midgar portion, with more to follow at a later, unspecified date in multiple further parts, how many of which note even Square-Enix was sure about at that point.
After beating the game, it now makes sense to me why they did it this way and why they don't even know how many more games they will release within this project. Still, it's not entirely without issue.
To reach a length of somewhere around 30-40 hours on a regular, first playthrough, Square added a lot of new characters and story elements. Some of these are great and add a ton that helps really convey what kind of place Midgar was supposed to be. They fully fleshed out characters that originally were mere quirky side-attractions without much substance and the way Square delivered these additions was, for the most part, masterful. There's just the right mix of 90's cheese and serious character that I just couldn't help but love.
Honestly, there is enough here to work with that Square could easily make DLC or a Spin-Off that explores even more of the city.
I do have to say that I wish the game was just a little more open. They make certain parts of the world feel so much more like places you'd return to more than you actually do and when Square announced that the game would only take place in Midgar, yet have the length of a full-on mainline Final Fantasy (which is honestly debatable), I was picturing an even more open, more fleshed-out version of the city, which could be fully explored, both below and above the big Pizza in the Sky.
I thought, with how they showed an earlier motorcycle segment in some of the trailers, you'd be able to get on your bike and drive around Midgar to all the different sectors and do quests that partake in new side-stories not seen in the original game.
I thought I would have more reasons to return to Cloud's apartment because of the way they build it up at the start. I thought I would spend more time in the bar (7th Heaven) and get to listen to the music discs I find throughout the game; in peace, without other background music or sound effects interfering.

What you get instead, however, feels more like a Final Fantasy VII: The Movie: The Game. So it feels more like a licensed tie-in. Or like an Uncharted with Final Fantasy flavor. Basically a game where you go through different gorgeous set-pieces in a fairly linear fashion, flavored with plenty of banter between the characters and flowing mostly like any other well-made, linear, 'cinematic' game experience and less like what you expect from an RPG.
Though then again, it's not like this part of the originally was any more open, though that would only take up about 10-ish hours of the whole 40-50+ hour experience or whatever. Still, JRPGs tend to be fairly linear and I, personally, tend to prefer such design over open-world stuff... so, you see, I am a bit conflicted. All I can say, really, is that it just didn't FEEL like a full-on RPG in the way it was designed and I kinda hoped to see even more of Midgar, people's daily lives, and the way things are structured and hoped the different sectors would feel more similar to different regions of other RPG worlds.

On top of that I did find that there were quite a few things, both mandatory and optional, that vastly overstayed their welcome and simply felt like padding to reach that 30+ hour playtime goal. Some of it feels utterly pointless, adds only little to either the world or its inhabitants and other things feel like they are building up to something but never actually go anywhere (like Roche. What was the point of him?).
I think they could've easily shaved 10+ hours off the regular playtime without losing anything of substance. And I didn't even do all the side-stuff.

The battle system used to look a lot like Kingdom Hearts in early gameplay, just like Versus XIII used to. I would have been okay with that but surprisingly I feel like I prefer what we ended up with in the final game, which is a bit of a mix of KH-esque real-time combat and the classic ATB system seen in the original, plus some experiments from other Final Fantasy games as well.
Basically, each character has a regular attack, block, evade and a character-specific extra function activated with the Triangle button. The game differentiates between mashing the attack button or holding it down for a different kind of attack and when pressing Triangle, each character does something different. Cloud, for instance, changes stances which changes his attacks to a more powerful variant but makes him move around very slowly. It also initiates an automatic counter-attack after a successful block. 
On top of this, each character has an ATB-bar split into two parts. On top of these regular real-time moves, each character can acquire a multitude of extra abilities and spells that can be picked out of a menu. By pressing X, the game slows down to an absolute crawl to give the player enough time to pick an action of of a drop-down menu, which consumes either one or two pieces of the ATB-bar and then queues up to be used, which sometimes can take a few seconds. This menu can be opened for the other two characters as well, who otherwise do basic attacks on their own, though the player can switch between them at any time and actively control any character in the party.
There's also Limit Breaks, though I am a bit disappointed that either these never change or only do so at a level much higher than what I got to when playing through the game at a normal pace.

With this kind of battle system, I really did feel like I was playing a real-time version of Final Fantasy VII instead of a Kingdom Hearts with a Final Fantasy VII mod applied. Though I found it a bit too easy and didn't think it encouraged the use of all of its systems nearly enough. For instance, I barely used any items (none outside of Potions, Ethers and Phoenix Downs) and only felt the need to block during the last few fights.

Also, there is a stagger system. This is very interesting and the basic idea is that you're supposed to exploit enemy-specific weaknesses, which usually can be learned about when using the Asses skill on them, in order to stagger them, which stuns them for a brief moment while making them take extra damage with each hit.
I enjoyed that system a lot, though I felt like I stumbled across staggers a bit too often and was very rarely all that encouraged to make use of this system since the same, mostly brute-force, approach works for the majority of the game. And I wasn't even playing on Easy, nor do I think I'm particularly good at the game.

The game's presentation, for the most part, is fantastic. As I said above, the way the characters are portrayed and performed is super charming, adding just enough new nuance without fundamentally breaking their original vision.
The game also looks great, though I did have to get used to how flashy it can be, with tons of sparks and effects littering the screen.
Character customization, unfortunately, doesn't go beyond what you would see in Kingdom Hearts, so all you can really see on the actual character models is which weapon you're currently using.
Facial expressions can also be a bit janky, especially when it comes to mouth movement.

The world also looks amazing. I got goosebumps at the size of the scale of Midgar and seeing certain places and events with this tech gets awe-inspiring at times. However, the visuals need a bit more polish, as there are some texture-streaming issues. Most of the time these are pretty brief and forgivable, but at times they get distracting and some assets, including certain textures that take up a majority of the frame during specific cutscenes, are sup-par PS2-level assets that are super out of place.
It's not pushing the Unreal Engine forward and there definitely are other games on the system that look better, but still I found myself stopping at many places to really take in how great the majority of this game looks, while some of the worst-looking parts could even slightly ruin some important and otherwise powerful moments.

The music is also a bit of a mixed bag, though I thoroughly enjoyed a majority of the songs, especially within the context of the game itself. I doubt I'll get back to these songs nearly as much as I do with some other Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts OSTs but while playing, most of it was truly beautiful and worked incredibly well to build the kind of atmosphere Square was looking for.

Now, to wrap this up, I want to talk a little bit about the game's biggest narrative departures and the ending. I'll keep things vague and avoid spoilers as much as possible, but still. Consider this your spoiler warning.

I left this game incredibly conflicted and all I could think during the last 2-ish hours of my playthrough was that this game now has Tetsuya Nomura written all over it. Now I alluded before to Kingdom Hearts being among my favorite franchises, so I like the man's work but by god can he be... a bit much and as things were unfolding I was looking on in disbelief, telling Nomura to get his head out of his own ass a bit.
Though when everything was said and done, and especially now, on the next day, after ample contemplation, I can't really blame him for what he's done and found myself a bit "got" by the metanarrative that was going on.

Basically, Square was trying to make it clear that while our whines, and screams for a Final Fantasy VII Remake weren't falling on deaf ears, this project isn't fully gonna give us what we are asking for. The characters in this game, as well as the devs of it, feel trapped by the rigidity of the established story that many of us hold so dear. And once Square decided to split this game into multiple parts, I immediately wondered how effective that would ultimately be, as, say, two years down the line, when part 2 would come out, and even longer away for the rest, that "new remake smell" will have worn off a bit and all that time, effort and money that went into the other parts would perhaps not be worth it as each part would inevitably lead to diminishing returns as we wouldn't really learn all that much new, with minimal surprised to get excited for.

The way they wrote this game, the way it ends, makes it clear why this won't work and that they simply don't want to do it. They break free of these restrictions by the end and now it's becoming Final Fantasy VII UNLEASHED, unchecked, where ANYTHING can happen. Anything from the original that you could spoil for those who are now diving into this story for the first time might not actually be a spoiler in this version and old and new fans alike are now staring at a blank page where previously you had a synopsis for the rest of the story.

The characters want to be the builders of their own fates, as Square wants to explore these characters and this world without any restrictions as well, turning this into a vast, Alternate Universe, playground for the devs and audience to explore.

Am I bummed out that we might not see some of the quirkiest, most amazing, most epic and iconic scenes in Video Game History in a new light? Of course.
But I can't help but be excited to see where things will go from here, as the step out of Midgar at the end of this game feels not unlike the first time I did so in the original, oh so many years ago, with a vast new world in front of me. They are bringing back a sense of wonder that, honestly, I haven't felt in a while and I can't believe how much of a 180 I my mood made from when I experienced that ending to now, less than 24h later.

I just hope, though, that Nomura will show SOME restraint and keep his Nomura-isms in check a bit and doesn't invalidate everything that happens by switching realities all the time. I hope we are now in one of two realities and don't even jump between those too much.

So, great game. Highly recommended. Not exactly what anyone expected but still great and I wasn't wrong to be hyped. It might not be my favorite in the series, it might not replace the original and it might not even quench the thirst for an actual full-on remake, but it still was very enjoyable and left me cautiously optimistic for the future of this series. And its gameplay lets me hope for an eventual Final Fantasy XVI to not be trash again :^)
«That ending!»
«OST on repeat»
Ísak Agnarsson
Yeah i agree, such a great game yet leaves too many things to be desired like freedom around Midgar - That could've been one of the new changes, instead of Roche and Leslie the japanese anime marketing boy, the stupid whispers in every scene (i feel they could've done without it) and all that filler in the end, just to get a proper end to Pt1 which i felt was highly unessecary.
Ísak Agnarsson
Such a great re-imagination of the original FFVII nontheless but i cant help but wonder how Nomura is gonna screw us over with KH time travel, Zack and the gang revived etc - To me that would be a damage undone, kinda like how he ruined Kingdom Hearts with every single KH game after 2010. The guy just cant get alternate timelines,time travel and stupid shit like that outta his work

Other reviews21

«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
Final Fantasy VII Remake PC - Finished on 01/31/2022
I am afraid to admit that I missed FF series when I was a kid. I tried to get into it much later through the ones that are available on PC: FF XII, FF X, but none struck me as hard as this one. The visuals are what mesmerizes you from the start of the game, but the lovable characters and classic plot are what make this game a true Final fantasy.
P.S. Struggle through Intermission to experience true ending of the game.
«Sit back and relax»
Fun, gorgeous, engaging, relevant
Platform: PlayStation 4

Playtime: 36h 08m

Completion Date: Aug 17, 2021

Popular Review: "Final Fantasy VII Remake is the best JRPG from Square since Final Fantasy VII. It takes a classic, carefully builds on it, and although certain changes made to the story may not be as well-received by all players, overall, there's no denying that it's a massive success." - GameSpew

My Review: This game is phenomenal. Square Enix has knocked this game out of the park. There are minor issues that will be fixed such as low-resolution textures on rusted metal or wood. This was my only complaint while playing the game. The other things have been brilliantly and breathtakingly recreated. The battle system is so fun and fairly challenging on normal. The music is gorgeous. It's everything I wanted out of a remake in more.
«Blew my mind»
«That ending!»
Genuinely blew me away with how well they did. Can't wait for future installments.
«Blew my mind»
«Beaten more than once»
I cannot believe this game is actually a real, existing thing. Somehow even better than what I would have made if the job were up to me. Waiting for part 2 is actually causing me physical pain.
«Blew my mind»
I want to be able to play this but I can't for any length of time as it triggers motion sickness in me.
I was able to tweak some settings and calm the player camera down but the over the top camera movement and shaking during cut scenes meant they were unwatchable. What was the director thinking? The long awaited remake and they've made it unplayable for a large number of people. Absolutely gutted.
«Disappointment of the year»
I never played Final Fantasy before and this was absolutely epic. A game of magnificent scope, beautiful graphics, and a compelling narrative, with gameplay that feels good to play. Definitely understand why this franchise is as popular as it is. 
«Just one more turn»
«That ending!»
Was a big fan of the original so might be a bit biased but I am in love with this remake, it’s a pretty faithful adaption so far and it expands in the lore and world so much, it’s so cool to see the same places I’ve played over so many times in the original in high def glory and it really doesn’t disappoint at all. 

The cutscenes are beautiful as usual for final fantasy games, same goes with the soundtrack obviously. The game does stumble a bit three quarters in with pacing I feel, the game stopped keeping me immersed for a bit and I was just in zombie mode through it but then it picked right back up and I couldn’t put the controller down. 

I’ll most likely replay it before part 2 :) 
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
The 40 hours flew by. The story was a great trip down memory lane with more depth. The combat has been spiced up to have a little more action and the graphics have been ever so slightly improved. There's not much of a sense of exploration but I'm okay with that. Instead, my biggest concern with this game is that Square Enix is going to milk this series long past when it should end.

Date Completed: 2020-05-26
Playtime: 40h
Enjoyment: 9/10
Recommendation: Fans of Final Fantasy or RPGs in general should definitely play it!
My first playthrough on normal difficulty was fun, touching and challenging for most of the time, but there was always certain things that I was hoping to overlook when making a 2nd playthrough on hard mode, for better or worst I do believe hard mode is the "better" way of playing FF7R although those certain things that I was hoping to overlook were stronger also.

As a general overview I think FF7R is a good game, great also but it certainly has its flaws, my favorite aspect by far was the combat system, similar to the one in XV but polished to the point that it truly feels challenging and fair, at first I was trying to main a character and the game also gives you options to play like that but when the combat truly shines is when you play your party as if they were a unit, is really mesmerizing to end a boss battle when everything clicked. Although the problem with the combat is that it feels that you don't fight as much as you like and this is where things get a little too rocky. My main problem with this remake is that its rhythm almost never manage to get a good balance between gameplay and cutscenes or even liberty to explore or things to do, a typical hour in this game goes almost like this: watch a cutscene of several minutes, advance some steps, watch a little clip of your party discussing something, advance some steps, have 3 or 4 fights, cutscene, advancing, etc. except for a few action driven chapters, you're gameplay is always interrupted by a cutscene or a clumsy mini-game, its difficult to grasp all the fighting mechanics when the game keeps you from fighting. Side-questing can be a good option when doing well... extra things, however, the catch is that there are just few side-quests for just a few chapters, and when you finish them don't expect to do a lot more, even the enemies doesn't seem to spawn after you clear them.

The story is great, if you know the original you know more or less how this goes, the difference is that this time they added a lot of things and backstories to fill the runtime of 40 hours or so and at times it feels a little like they were padding and stretching things a little too much, don't get me wrong tho', the characters are charming than ever and for the most part feel well scripted (aside from some notable localization choices but may is just me), but maybe cutting some content or making some scenes shorter certainly would do it better, I didn't mind the padding that much on my first play-through but when kicking in the 2nd round, I was skipping a lot of chunks of the game that certainly didn't add that much.

Graphically, the game is beautiful and it certainly does look like a final cycle PS4 game, Midgar looks massive and full of life, I love how things are quite different when is day or night, even when is the same place, more often than not I was fooled of what things were real time and what things don't, in reality a lot of the things were real time, no wonder how my PS4 sounded like a rocket.

The music was a little mixed for me, overall is good, I'm not sure how difficult is to screw over the amazing original tunes to begin with, but my problem with a lot of the songs is that they sound too "Hollywood blockbuster" generic, I do like some of the rearranged versions better than the original, but when they pick the more active or battle theme ones they tend to sound a little tamed, they're still good but not as much as the original source. Speaking of original source, I highly recommend that you play this with the original Japanese audio, every actor manages to capture the charm of all the cast, they sound like they should be, the dub cast, I definitely stay away from that one, it sounds too "saturday cartoon show" for its own good.

As my lasting impression, even with its pretty noticeable flaws I do like where this is going, I didn't like some of the narrative choices and there's a lot of room of improvement for the next chapter, I know that this section on the original game was not exactly "open world" but it hurts that you can only play like in FFXIII in a just one way corridor, hope the next one gave us the freedom to explore and do whatever thing we feel to do. If you played the original and don't mind the gameplay shift, most probably you'll like this game, if you haven't played it, I do recommend that you play the original first, since this game expect that you know some of the story (similar to Rebuild of Evangelion). Overall I enjoyed my time with this game, so I surely but not strongly recommend it, I'm aware that maybe a lot of people prefer a cinematic experience over a gameplay experience so maybe this can be your cup of tea if you're more in the former group, so give it a go.
«That ending!»