It has been 23 years since Square Enix released the original Final Fantasy VII game back in 1997. It was the seventh main installment in the Final Fantasy series and one of the staples of the franchise in general. In 2015, Square Enix made the official announcement that they would be remaking the game from the ground up, with brand-new visuals and a completely different style of gameplay which got a lot of the fans extremely hype. Last year at E3 they even had hand-on demos of the game and made the first announcement about the release date. Since then we’ve been slowly but steadily getting teasers and gameplay footage. Although the game was pushed back a few weeks to ensure the quality is up to what the fans deserve, we here at Collider Games have high hopes for the remake of one of the best JRPG titles ever created.
Final Fantasy has always been a franchise that I hold dear to my heart. From the unique worlds to the captivating storylines, there is really something for everybody that leaves you begging for more. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sit down and play the game for about three hours. I’m happy to say it’s everything I was expecting and so much more. During our playthrough we got to experience the opening of the game, chapter 1-2, Chapter 7 including the Air Buster boss battle and the Abzu boss fight.
It’s been enjoyable watching the franchise grow and adapt over time to suit player needs. Going from their old school turn-based RPGs to evolving into their expansive MMORPGs and now we have the new hack and slash style RPGs. It’s been a long journey and I’m glad that we are able to revisit these older gems with whole new engines and play styles. The original Final Fantasy 7 has one of the best storylines of all time and is arguably the greatest JRPG of all time (my personal favorite is Chrono Trigger, back when they were known as Squaresoft) so I’m very excited to see a whole new generation experience this story for the first time and grow to love the characters the same way I did.
Check out first impressions below.
We played the game on a PS4 Pro and it was running incredibly smoothly, it was refreshing knowing that this was going to be the same experience that the consumers were going to have. The very first thing that stood out for me from the beginning was the in-game lighting. It was perfect and it really helped nail the atmosphere. I’m hoping for a photo mode in the future because it’s just that gorgeous. Once I was able to look past the beauty of the graphics and those piercing blue eyes of cloud, I noticed that the game is rather linear which is to be expected considering it’s a remake. The first 2 chapters we played were pretty much identical to the original game but just set in a 3D realm with much better graphics. I was able to find the time to play the game in both Japanese and English and to my surprise the English dub was really good and Barret made me crack up a few times. They did a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life and it felt like they were given a lot more depth. And as usual for Final Fantasy, they nailed the cutscenes.
If you have played any of the Kingdom Hearts games then you will be very familiar with the combat for Final Fantasy 7. You have your health bar on the bottom right with all your party members and your skills/items/abilities on the bottom left. The gameplay mainly consists of hitting the square & triangle buttons until you have the mp/ability points necessary to use an item or ability. But just because you’re mashing square the whole time doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, you still have to block and evade and timing is everything. Once you have the mp/ability points needed you are able to use either an item or ability by holding L1 and pressing either square, triangle, circle or X. Each button would relate to a different ability or spell or even item, you are able to customize these buttons to be whatever you want in the main menu. One of the more enjoyable parts of the game is being able to switch through party members seamlessly which helps with strategizing. It took some time to get used to not being able to use an item whenever I wanted in combat like you could in the other games. You have to either wait or hit square until you are able to use an item, which makes reviving fallen comrades a little tricky, but I enjoyed the challenge. The boss fights are a good length and use the stagger function more than anything, so make sure you know how to stagger a certain boss before fighting it.
At the heart of the game is a really good RPG mechanic involving the use of material that allows your characters to use other spells and gives them various buffs. Changing weapons on Barrett was especially fun because his whole arm would change depending on what weapon you equipped.
And last but not least, the summons. If you played any Final Fantasy game before then you will be familiar with the summons. The summons are one of the most satisfying parts of any Final Fantasy game, and this is no exception. The summons are pretty big in this game but not nearly as big as Final Fantasy 15, considering you are indoors most of the time or in a dungeon, they kind of had to make them smaller. But the use of them is still satisfying and they really help out in a pinch.
Overall we had a great time playing the game and I can’t wait to get a copy and play it the whole way through. As a long time fan I can say that they really did an outstanding job. There is always room for improvement with anything but that was the closest thing I have seen to perfection in a while.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake hits stores April 10, 2020. The demo is available now through the PlayStation store.