After playing the demo for Final Fantasy VII Remake, I figured I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. In some ways, I was correct. The released game’s battle system is the same, unexpectedly-satisfying fusion of action and the classic ATB system. It’s also continuing to take opportunities to expand on things that were just glossed-over in the original. These things were expected. What I wasn’t expecting though was just how much more real the city of Midgar feels, that and the extra liberties FFVIIR is taking with the story.
Alright, no need to worry. I’m not here to spoil things for people that haven’t played the game yet. I normally wouldn’t tip-toe so much when it comes to a remake, but FFVIIR is not your average remake. There are actual differences between this game’s story and that of the original, and I don’t want to rob anyone of the chance to discover those differences for themselves. With that out of the way, let’s talk about the biggest, non-story surprises.
I mentioned earlier that the world of FFVIIR more real than that of the original. It’s might sound like an odd thing to point out at first given that this is a modern version of a game that originally relied on pre-rendered maps and extremely primitive character models, but this really is something worth mentioning. With FFVIIR, Square Enix did not just extrapolate and update the old maps and environments so that they would make sense in a modern, third-person perspective game. No.
What they actually did is build a whole city from the ground up. Some locations are obviously inspired by the old maps and models, but this version of Midgar really feels alive; it’s a place you can actually believe people would live in. The difference in quality of live between the upper-saucer and ground-level is clear, but it’s also clear that people are able to make their home on both levels. It’s a far cry from the shiny street vs. literal, bombed-out mud pit seen in the original game.
The other major difference here are the characters. Final Fantasy VII had good characters, I’m most certainly not denying that. We got to see what made them tick and we got to see them grow as people. The game did a good job the first time around. This is still true in FFVIIR, but I feel like I’m seeing even more now. There’s actual nuance in the voice work and animations, enough that I can actually tell a little bit about these characters just by watching them interact. I honestly wasn’t expecting to see that.
Further, we’re getting a much closer look at the side-characters this time around. I’m still early in the game so they haven’t had much time to develop yet, but even so I’m still feeling like I getting a good sense of who each of these characters are thanks to the excellent voice acting, writing and animation here. These guys are a far cry from their extremely forgettable counterparts in the original.
Alright, I better wrap it up here since I’ll wind getting sorely tempted to talk about story-beats if I go much longer. All I really wanted to say is that the attention to detail in Final Fantasy VII Remake is absolutely impeccable. Square Enix could have taken the easy way out and just done a more basic update that didn’t deviate at all from the original, but that’s not what they did here. Instead, they took the opportunity to actually produce this game as if it were a modern product, but with even more care and attention than we’re accustomed to. The city of Midgar feels alive, and even its side-characters are presented as real people. It really is incredible!
What’s your take on Final Fantasy VII Remake? Are you going to give it a shot? Why or why not?
Lede image from Amazon Store listing