Final Fantasy VII Remake is a reimagining of the classic PlayStation JRPG. Unlike the original 1997 release, Remake offers a revamped version of the original battle system offering many new options. Final Fantasy VII Remake retells the storyline of the first arc of the original game. In doing so, it features new perspectives to accompany the additional plot and worldbuilding to the game.
As such, Final Fantasy VII Remake takes place entirely in Midgar. However, that does not stop the game from building a grand world and 50 hours of narrative within that timespan. For what it’s worth, I daresay that the world-building in Remake is among the best of any game I’ve played. Comparable with the likes of Sega’s Yakuza series, Remake brims with real-world scenarios, side-quests, developing characters, and a world that makes you feel like you’re a part of it.
I honestly struggled to put the game down the further I went in. Relating heavily to Cloud’s personality and the story at large, I loved the way everyone connected in a meaningful way more than what was possible to be told in the original release. In addition, Final Fantasy VII Remake seemingly redefines the JRPG genre with its exceptional detail to visuals, audio, narrative, and polished gameplay. If you’re looking for perhaps the ultimate RPG experience for your PS4 or PS5, then I cannot recommend this game enough.
For the record, I’m reviewing Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, the PlayStation 5 release. As it offers reduced loading times and optimal framerate, I recommend this release foremost. However, if you do not own a PS5, I strongly consider buying this title for PS4 regardless of whether or not you plan to upgrade.
Final Fantasy VII Remake retells the story of the original game. It involves the eco-terrorist group, Avalanche, attempting to take down the imperial Shinra Electric Company. It details the story of saving The Planet from Shinra absorbing its Mako which is largely similar to the concept of Mana featured in other RPGs. As such, you play as the mercenary and ex-Shinra SOLDIER, Cloud, as he fights with Avalanche to take down Shinra.
The level of character development among the party and NPCs along feels virtually unsurpassed. It pays attention to detail with the characters’ lives, their relationships, motivations, and accepting consequences for their actions. It breaks down the first half of the original game’s Disc 1 into a 50-hour adventure that breathes new life into the city of Midgar. If you’ve never played Final Fantasy VII before, you’ll find yourself thrown into a huge city with many side-quests to do and people to meet.
If you’re a fan of The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, including Crisis Core or Advent Children, you’ll surely recognize a number of callbacks. But moreover, to avoid spoilers, it blows away all of your expectations and challenges the meaning behind a Remake when you enter the game’s final chapter. For the record, if you’re a new fan to the series, you’ll feel right at home embracing the game’s original story and creative direction.
Final Fantasy VII Remake feels unparalleled audiovisually. For starters, I was never a fan of the map character models in Final Fantasy VII. While other fans were charmed by the hooves, I found them disturbing in a way. On the flip side, just as VII presented its best visuals through CGI, VII Remake features breathtaking layers of detail into the characters and environments alike.
The soundtrack features numerous Final Fantasy VII remixes from veteran composer Nobuo Uematsu. However, he is accompanied by Final Fantasy X and XIII composer, Masashi Hamauzu, who brings in dozens of fantastic new tracks. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned titles, you will surely fall in love with his familiar style which expands across multiple styles. At times it’s pleasant while at other times it’s haunting and melancholic. I was quite fond of the many area themes such as the Collapsed Expressway and its accompanying battle music.
The sound effects also feel next-level. Just pure energy with every hit that connects or magic spell you cast feels rewarding. It keeps combat fresh and satisfying at all times. If you enjoy wonderful and convincing voice acting, you’ll surely fall in love here. Also, you’ll find some retro-sounding music from the various CDs you collect. You can take a break and enjoy some of these tunes while you rest on the many benches scattered throughout Midgar.
I can’t say enough good things about the gameplay. To put it simply, it’s a JRPG that invokes both real-time and turn-based action. The exploration involves running around, crawling through crevices, hopping across platforms, swinging over gaps, and so forth. The controls feel smooth and engaging like you’re energetically moving around your destinations. The game wastes little time getting you from point to point and does not encourage fetch quests or needless backtracking. Yet the game rewards you for going out of your way to explore and gain new weapons or Materia. In a way, it reminds me a bit of the environmental interaction you would get from Super Mario RPG, Square’s 1996 masterpiece for SNES that preceded Final Fantasy VII and, in many ways, influenced their future games.
The combat feels wonderful and some of the best I’ve played in any game. I played the default real-time combat which included the ATB gauge. But when I wasn’t hacking and slashing enemies to build up the gauge, I could use unique abilities or switch party members to cast buffs and healing. The ATB gauge implementation wisely encourages balance so you can’t spam the most broken possible setups to end your enemies while rewarding you for smart defensive play such as blocking, rolling, and switching members. Plus you can equip Materia, link it, and utilize various combinations for boosting your party members. All-in-all, I never found the game too difficult and if you ever find yourself stumped, switch to Easy mode or the turn-based combat mode.
You’ll also find plenty of side-quests among the Midgar sectors. Keep in mind no two side-quests are the same and many will have you fighting battles including against unique enemies such as Tonberry. You truly feel rewarded helping others and clearing off quests for various treasures.
It’s hard to find a bad word to say about Final Fantasy VII Remake. The only real problems I encountered came from a few spots of slowing down around cutscenes. Walking slowly to the next part when I could be running felt a little cumbersome. But in terms of everything else, it went above and beyond my expectations.
Just a little bit about me: I always valued Final Fantasy VII to be a great game but not the “best game ever” many people lauded it for. I found it to be around the level of Chrono Trigger and surpassed by Final Fantasy VI, IX, and X. My favorite JRPGs were always the original Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario, Dragon Quest XI, and Persona 5 Royal titles. Persona 3 FES, 4 Golden, and Fire Emblem titles also number among my favorites.
But Final Fantasy VII Remake goes above and beyond with its seamless polish and pacing. But rather than just say it’s better than everything else, I would prefer to say it’s another wonderful JRPG that accompanies the many enjoyable titles you may have enjoyed in the genre. So instead of exaggerating a favorite because I risk sounding like a VII fanboy, I will simply say that VII Remake, as a standalone title, surpassed my every expectation.
If you’re looking for one of the best experiences you can get on the PlayStation 4, you owe it to yourself to try this game. Even better, if you can get it on the PS5, you will avoid loading times and play an optimized version of this amazing game. With that said, I hope Final Fantasy VII Remake goes above your expectations as well!
Product Release: Final Fantasy VII Remake (US, 04/10/20)
Originally published at https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com.