After Playing Final Fantasy VII Remake

Okay… So it’s been a couple of weeks since I started a post with the intent of sharing my thoughts on Final Fantasy VII Remake. And then I just went on a tangent about how I feel about the entire Final Fantasy franchise altogether.

I did mention in that post that Final Fantasy VII Remake has been a much anticipated game among fans of the series, particularly fans of the seventh installment, which was first released in 1997 for the PlayStation. There have been rumors of the remake for well over a decade, but it wasn’t officially announced that Remake was coming until 2015.

Even with that, it’s taken five years to finally get that game on our consoles.

Now, as I stated in my previous post on this subject, I have no idea how many of my readers are gamers. I don’t know how many of you actually care about Final Fantasy or this game specifically. However, I do want to warn that there will be SPOILERS for the plot of Final Fantasy VII Remake mentioned in this post. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The first thing I’ll say about Remake is that it might be the most beautiful video game I’ve ever played. Growing up with video games, I know with each console generation I’ve made the outlandish claim that “there’s no way they can ever make graphics look better than this!” Yet, they do… and they have.

Not to sound like the old man who has watched the world grow and evolve over the course of his life, but I can remember the PlayStation 2 being released and thinking the graphics were leaps ahead of the original PlayStation. Now I compare the PS2 to the current PS4 or the upcoming PS5 and just shake my head. Amazing.

Anyway, it’s a gorgeous game. It’s not perfect… There are backgrounds that some critics have pointed out that they claim take them out of the “reality” of the game because they are not rendered as well as they should be. Personally, I never noticed anything that was bad enough to take me out of the game I was playing just to complain about something that seemed that superficial.

From the beginning of this game, the player is aware that the story is intended to be slightly different than the story we are used to from the original game. That is because, first and foremost, this is not the complete Final Fantasy VII. Remake is being split into several separate games.

The Remake we have at the moment only covers the first 10ish hours of the original game. A game which I’m told took between 50 and 60 hours to complete.

Does that mean we’re not getting a complete game with this first part of the remake? Absolutely not. This first section of the game takes place in the mega-city of Midgar. And in the remake, they’ve expanded on a lot of the little things you can do in Midgar, as well as expanding the back stories of minor characters in such a way that none of it is boring. And suddenly, you’ve been playing the game for 30 hours before reaching the end.

Believe me, it’s a complete game.

That said, the game’s story only covers the first bit of the larger saga at hand. So a lot of the game’s big twists can only be hinted at in this portion, whereas the big shocks will come much later, in future installments.

But that doesn’t mean that the creative team got lazy. And here’s where the spoilers really kick in.

Throughout the game, our main characters are confronted by mysterious beings that look a lot like Dementors from Harry Potter. Throughout the game, we eventually discover that these creatures are called Whispers and their purpose is to keep destiny on course.

Having played through Remake and having begun another play through, it is much easier to see that these Whispers appear whenever something from the original story has the potential to be altered.

And, for the most part, Remake is able to hold steady that course of destiny, staying true to the original story. However, as the end of the game approaches, things seem to become more and more unstable.

The antagonist of Final Fantasy VII is a character named Sephiroth. Throughout the beginning of the original game, our hero, Cloud Strife, is of the belief that he personally killed Sephiroth years ago. Eventually, in the original, Sephiroth returns and is clearly the big bad.

In Remake, Sephiroth seems to be somehow manipulating certain events, particularly, those pertaining to Cloud, even though Sephiroth really never showed up during the Midgar section of the original.

Am I remembering that right?

Anyway, at the end of this first remake installment, Cloud and the gang face off against an entity that is basically the embodiment of fate itself. And when the good guys emerge triumphant, fate no longer seems to play a role in how this story is told.

So the end of the game has been somewhat controversial amongst fans of the original, at least as far as I can tell from what I’ve seen already on the internet. Personally, I love it.

Would I have been okay with a shot for shot remake of Final Fantasy VII but with updated graphics? Of course I would have. But I would probably feel the same way about that as I do about Disney’s constant need to make live action remakes of animated classics. Why should I spend $60 to play Remake when I can still play the original for free?

Remake is different enough to be interesting. And we’re left with so many things up in the air as the credits roll in the end. With fate out of the picture, Remake leaves the player with the impression that things moving forward could be vastly different than what we experienced 23 years ago. The game even implies that past events from within the game have even been rewritten and could possibly lead to alternate timelines.

It’s weird and it’s different and I dig that.

Kids, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a fun game. It is a review of all things familiar with characters that fans have grown to love for decades. It is also an attempt to try something different. I love that the creators of this game decided not to repackage what came before, but took a risk on a different and even more complicated way to tell a familiar story.

The battle system is constantly active and I found it easy to pick up. It’s way different than the battle system we were used to back in the day, but it falls more in line with what players expect from RPGs these days.

If you like playing games and have a chance to check this one out, give it a shot. Personally, I cannot wait for the next installment to be released. Which is going to prove difficult because a release date has yet to even be announced. I just hope it doesn’t take another five years to get what’s coming.

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