By Rae and TheJewphin
While we’re a little late on this thanks to post-PAX insanity, TheJewphin and I got an awesome experience at PAX to check out the much-hyped Final Fantasy VII remake. First off, thanks so much to Square Enix for letting us check this out! I’ve separated our thoughts to keep things a little cleaner here.
For a long time, I was one of the only people I knew that hadn’t played Final Fantasy VII. When I started my first playthrough earlier this year, the remake wasn’t really on my radar. As I streamed more and more of the game, however, I got pretty pulled into the discussions around potential changes and what the 2019 version of this beloved classic would be like.
To start, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the remake looks beautiful. While the original game had some impressive graphics for its time, they’re pretty outdated compared to our current capabilities. The remake definitely brings Final Fantasy VII up to date with lovely, detailed aesthetics that feel on par with high-quality animated movies, and incredibly smooth animation to match.
Since our demo playthrough, we’ve learned that there will be other battle style options, but we only had the real-time battle to work with. Honestly, I’d wondered if it might be clunky. Admittedly, I haven’t played many of the non-turn based FF games, with the exception of Final Fantasy XIV (which of course, as an MMO, plays by a whole different set of rules), so I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, the real-time battle of the remake feels pretty intuitive. You can switch between characters, but the change is quite seamless. We played through a fight using Cloud and Barret, and I had no trouble flipping between them as needed, though you can also give characters commands while you’re not using them (something I had a little more trouble with, but of course it was only one boss fight to get used to everything). The action menu is fairly simple and stays visible throughout the fight – players should have no trouble figuring out how to initiate combos and special attacks. I really enjoyed the fast-paced feel of fighting overall.
Of course, we’ll likely learn more and more about the game before its planned March release (new details have come out even between our time playing the demo and now), so hold tight – whether you’ve been wanting to relive a classic experience or take the adventure for the first time, this one should be worth keeping an eye on.
The new Final Fantasy VII is taking a page out of FFXV’s book in terms of controls and gameplay. There is that wonderful mix of real-time combat with strategic breaks to set up special attacks and spells. You have a dedicated attack button, dodge button, and block button (for when dodging feels useless). Attacking fills a gauge which lets you cast spells or use items while being hit charges your limit break. Each character has their own gauge and you can issue orders to others so that special abilities fire off together.
All in all, the updated combat of Final Fantasy VII feels very fluid if only sometimes infuriating. Battles are reimagined to include flying enemies that can only be shot or cover for you to hide behind. Some attacks feel almost entirely undodgeable (like the spider-tank’s machine gun) which can lead to you being stunlocked for a little too long. While I don’t know how that combat will hold up for 60+ hours of gameplay, the demo we got of it felt fun and rewarding.
Everything else was just as polished as you’d expect. It looks great, it sounds great. The voice acting was pretty outstanding (at least the Japanese voice acting since I did not realize English was an option). There’s a huge difference between seeing a bunch of text with Cloud nodding angrily and hearing Cloud tell Barret just how much he doesn’t care. If you liked Final Fantasy VII and want to relive that magic, this looks like it’ll be a great way to do it.
Looking forward to the remake of Final Fantasy VII? You’ll be able to check out part one on March 3rd, 2020!