Final Fantasy has always been a magical franchise. Fantastic stories and a soundtrack so great you’re nostalgic upon first listening. Nothing encapsulates this more than Final Fantasy VII. Luckily for us, a surprise hour-long demo has just dropped ahead of its release on April 10th. Has it managed to hone this further in the 23-year wait or ruin the pedigree set way back in 1997? Here are our first impressions
Final Fantasy VII remake opens in much the same way as the original. It contrasts the dark revolutionary actions of Cloud, Barret, and the team against the bright flower at the heart of the city that is Aerith. If I weren’t a cynical, jaded critic, I’d probably shed a tear. The beautifully rendered reimagining of Midgar paired with the swelling symphony of music pulls at the heartstrings organically and beautifully. Its homage to the original in its choice of shots works incredibly well in its favor. Forcing you to contrast and compare the two by association is a strong move out of the gates, and it follows this up with its combat
The combat in FFVII Remake is as expected from the trailers. It has been pushed even further into real-time than XIII back in 2009 and feels distinctly different from the recent XV. It features a similar combat system, but its HUD and implementation of special moves is a delightful throwback. The hud is that classic blue and white theme from the original, and the contrast between this old design and the new gameplay systems is a real sight to behold. It’s quick, much quicker than turn-based combat, and has a very natural flow between your exploration gameplay and fighting gameplay. Rather than a windows movie maker level fade into battle, it transitions smoothly, replacing your stance and giving you a new roll mechanic
New additions to Final Fantasy VII Remake:
Along with this is a plethora of new mechanics. If you don’t find yourself utilizing the roll, You can tank a small amount of damage by blocking instead, a nice risk-reward system. With a press of the triangle button(please don’t argue about what the buttons are named), you can switch to a heavier mode, which offers more deadly attacks for slower movement. The entire philosophy of the game seems to be based around this opportunity cost. You can use one ATB for a special move, but in return, you don’t have the option to use it on items or magic. You may attack heavier but will be slower in return, You may dodge to avoid all damage but will take more if you miss the window. This is what fundamentally makes RPGs work. You have microdecisions constantly making your Cloud Strife feel just a little bit different.
The entirety of the demo is admittedly fairly short, but it does an excellent job of grabbing people in. As someone who has played the original, I found joy in its reimagining of the Mako reactor, but someone with no experience with the franchise could pick it up very quickly. Every character is established. Cloud, the jaded ex-soldier. Barrett the hot-headed revolutionary and Aerith the pious angel-like figure. Luckily the story of Final Fantasy VII is so strong it fleshes these into loveable 3-dimensional characters, Ironic given their polygonal form.
I don’t intend to give any score or overall critiques as such as of right now. The game is subject to change, so minor nitpicks aren’t of value. Of course, major issues would be, but I didn’t have a single one in my playtime. If nothing is changed until release, I’ll be very happy. I’d be even more pleased with a free copy, wink wink. All jokes aside, give it a go, it’s absolutely free and available right now
Are you excited for Final Fantasy 7 Remake? Have you played the original? Did you play the demo?