- System: PlayStation 4
- Developer: Square Enix
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Release Date: Mar. 3, 2020
- Genre: Action, JRPG
Final Fantasy VII is a name that almost any video game player knows, even if they haven’t played it before and are not interested in the genre. And as for fans of Japanese RPGs, well, its one of the most famous games in history. Beloved by thousands around the world, FFVII has gained a massive fanbase in the last 23 years since its initial release in 1997. It has also spawned sequels, prequels, a movie and even a short anime based on its lore and characters. As Final Fantasy games have continued to evolve with the times, fans have been demanding a remake of arguably one of the most famous titles in the series.
Square Enix heard them. And the Final Fantasy VII Remake slated for a March 2020 release is their answer. We had the chance at Tokyo Game Show 2019 to demo the game for 20 minutes, and we weren’t disappointed with the results so far.
About Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII is set in the land of Gaia and begins in the capital city, Midgar. Midgar is composed of two cities - one above the plates that lives in luxury, thanks to a huge power plant, and one beneath the plates suffering from that same power plant and the world above them. You step into the boots of a young man named Cloud Strife who is part of a terrorist organization called AVALANCHE which is trying to bring the power company down in an effort to save the planet. Cloud comes over as very cold and distant, a soldier with a mysterious backstory that even he does not seem to fully understand, who is just along for the ride and using his skills to help AVALANCHE achieve their goals. But when an accident happens on their big strike mission, Cloud ends up on a journey not only to save all of Gaia but to learn about who he really is.
Final Fantasy VII has a story that a lot of gamers already know as many people have played it over the course of the last 23 years, either on its original PlayStation format or its many re-releases for mobile and newer consoles. But no one has seen it in the full glory that technology can now give us until this remake. Taking the familiar story and setting, and even some of the same gameplay elements and minigames, Final Fantasy VII Remake is promising fans a total rehaul of the original game that improves it and brings it up to speed with modern games while still retaining what made it special in the late 1990s.
The gameplay portion that we got to try out at Tokyo Game Show 2019 featured a party of Cloud and Barrett fighting through a building in Midgar. All of the enemies were robots, with a few small fights at first to get used to the combat system and then a difficult boss battle against a huge robot at the end. We got to see just a teaser of the story as well as Cloud and Barrett were on a mission to blow up one of the power plant’s reactors. We could open a few chests as well, some of which were hidden behind boxes that had to be destroyed first, and made use of ladders to move around the world. The portion of the Final Fantasy VII Remake we were able to play was completely linear, with a set course of catwalks that you had to follow to progress in the game. Our prediction is that, much like the original version of the game, the story might be mostly linear while in Midgar and open up more after you get far enough in the story to leave the city. We will have to wait and see to know for sure when the game releases!
A New Combat System
The original Final Fantasy VII had a turn-based battle system where each character waited their turn to attack, use an item, or use magic or a special ability. The Final Fantasy VII Remake has updated that system, bringing the game into the modern gaming world were turn-based systems are becoming a thing of the past. It uses the successful elements of the combat systems in both Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV and has created a new action-based fighting style. You can control any character in your party while the others behave through AI, but they can be switched between at any time. While you don’t have to switch away from controlling Cloud, we used Barrett to take down enemies that were out of range for Cloud’s reach because Barrett uses a gun. You enter combat seamlessly as you explore the map, and can see the enemies ahead of you before you engage them, so the random battle encounters are a thing of the past. Combat happens in real-time, and you can use your base attack at any time to attack the enemy.
All characters have a waiting bar that fills up in real-time as well, and when the bars are full, you can use special abilities, items, and magic in combat. Enemies can also use special abilities, as we saw in the boss battle that made up most of the gameplay available at Tokyo Game Show. When an enemy uses a special ability, the name of the ability comes up on the screen first to give you a chance to try to react and either block or getaway to a safe distance. Staying true to other Final Fantasy titles, taking damage also filled up your own limit break meter. When it was full, you could unleash a very powerful limit break attack that dealt massive damage to the enemy. Like Final Fantasy XIII, enemies also have a stagger bar under their health bar, and the more you attack, the more it fills up. When it is completely full, the enemies become vulnerable and you can attack freely. This was the best time to unleash special abilities, especially limit breaks if you could time it well, and how we were able to bring down the boss! Despite being only a demo of the final game, the boss battle was very challenging and took around 10 minutes to defeat while using plenty of items to survive. It really did feel like a modern Final Fantasy game using the classic characters we fell in love with years ago.
When playing the demo, some of the response times for the buttons were a little delayed, which made it slightly frustrating especially in the fast-paced boss battle. However, keeping in mind this was just a demo made for TGS, we are hoping that those bugs will be worked out before the final release of the game next March.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake seems like it will appeal to fans of both the original game, as well as fans of newer Final Fantasy and other JRPG titles. It has a very action game feel to the combat and gameplay, with fast-paced fighting and great graphics. But it hasn’t lost the charm that Final Fantasy VII is so famous for having, and has kept its same characters and settings from the original game. Even the music is the same tunes, just with a modern sound to them. Whether gamers played the original game or are brand new to the series, the Final Fantasy VII Remake has the potential to be a great final game when it releases. There’s undeniably a lot of pressure on Square Enix for this game to be absolutely perfect, so let’s hope they can get as close as possible to that goal. From the 20 minutes, we were able to play at TGS along with the new trailer released there, it seems like they are on the right track!
Did you get a chance to play the FFVII demo either at TGS or at another gaming event near you? What did you think of it so far? What part are you the most excited about playing yourself? What scene from the original game are you really hoping will make it into the final cut of this remake? Let’s share the love for FFVII in the comments below!