Game Review - Final Fantasy 7 Remake


The Game that has Finally been Fantasized!




What have we been waiting for?

After 23 years from the original release of Final Fantasy 7 on the PS1 console, we have finally made it, Final Fantasy 7 Remake has finally been fantasized into reality and fans across the world got to enjoy their beloved characters going on an epic adventure throughout the realistic world setting of Midgar.

We can practically hear fans screaming in nostalgia as each cutscene unfolds, character traits are more fleshed out than ever before and to top it all, cloud's cross-dressing scene truly cements this game as a remake of our reunion with the promised land ;)

Or is it? Because right off the bat, the trailer shows some cinematic cutscenes that did not happen in the original game (Especially Sephiroth showing out of nowhere) and true enough as we finished our complete play-through, many story element has been changed and it goes way off from the original narrative right at the end of the chapter. So buckle up as we dive deep into the lifestream of the game and in case if you haven't played it yet, we highly recommend you do as we'll be going into SPOILER territory from this point on.



Characters

Cloud:


Let's start with our blond-thunderhead-cross-dresser main protagonist, Cloud Strife, First Class~ I mean EX-First Class Soldier now working as a freelanced mercenary for the eco-terrorist group called Avalanche. As usual from the beginning of the game, he's just doing it for the money and doesn't seemed to be interested in starting any "relationships" with his co-workers. He's first job was introduced by his childhood friend, Tifa after finding him lying around the train station in Sector 7 of Midgar.

Over the course of the game, we start to see Cloud care for those around him and begins to open himself in helping others solve their problems, for the "right price" that is (He's willing to help a bunch of kids beat up a monster for only 3 Gils!).

He's the overall main character you will be playing throughout the game. With his sword skills, slash and dash anyone that gets in your way and counter-attack with heavy damage combos once you have unlocked his Counterstance ability (the BEST move in the game as you will be relying on it when playing hard mode).

Tifa:


Cloud's childhood friend, a barkeeper at Seventh Heaven and one of the playable characters that can beat up just about any enemies with her bare fists. She's your standard "Waifu" material that's always there for Cloud throughout his journey even though she has her own problems to deal with.

Trained in the art of Zangan Fists in Zangan's Fisting Academy, she's the definition of DPS burst damage in your team but pretty defenceless when she gets upfront to a strong enemy. So if you're looking to finish off any "staggered" (enemies that are vulnerable), she's best used to deal the final "Dophin blow" ;)

Credits to SilvaMaria for the fanart: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/75938402

Barret:


The guy that's always preaching about Shinra being an evil corporation that's sucking up the planet's lifestream and turning it into a profit. On one hand, his a passionate fighter, a loving father and a resilient leader for Avalanche. On the other hand, he has a gun.

Having said that, he's basically the range shooter/tank in your team. Provoking enemies and taking damage while returning a barrage of bullets and if you want to straight up personally go upfront to deal a smackdown, he's got that cover with his end-game melee-abilities. 

Aerith:


The star of the show, instantly steals the show from Tifa when the moment she shows up in Cloud's life. At the start of the game, she's an innocent flower girl you will meet at a church in Sector 5, making quirky remarks, acting all tough and cute around Cloud and overall lightens up the mood of the game as you venture around her hometown area. 

However during the last chapter of the game, she suddenly went full meta as she pulls out her own plot twist device and explains what will happen to their fate as we continue our unknown journey to the end of the game and beyond. 



Gameplay wise, she's your standard healer/support role. You will want her to be at the far back of your team as she serves up sprinkles of magical damage, interrupting enemy attack patterns and keeping your whole team healthy throughout each battle encounter. 


Storyline 

If you have played the original Final Fantasy VII, then the plot basically goes the same route as they intended to. The Shinra Corporation has the same old dumb evil plans for making an omelet by DROPPING AN ENTIRE SECTION OF THE CITY ON TOP OF ANOTHER SECTION OF THE CITY! While Cloud with his marry band of misfits will be serving them an avalanche of justice to save the day only to find out that Sephiroth was the one that killed the president of Shinra. Thus bringing the party to go on another adventure of finding Sephiroth and beat him up as he plans to destroy the planet.


The remake focuses mainly on the early chapters of Midgar from the original right til the end where they leave the city. The game is rumoured to be a trilogy (similar to how they did it for Final Fantasy XIII) and the narrative plot progression will be changed in future titles as the end of this remake has allowed our characters to deviate from their original timeline. 

The most notable difference of this remake is when they introduced the Dementors from Harry Potter that act as the whisperers of fate. These new entities exist to ensure the end-game of the plot stays the same to the original timeline, preserving the fate of the characters to experience the same plot points from the original. However, since Sephiroth and Aerith are "somehow" aware of this whole shenanigan, Aerith decided to open up a portal and have her party deviate from the path of their intended fate by beating up the "big boss of destiny" himself.

This creates an unexpected outcome which divided the fanbase as this series will not be expecting the same ending as the original title. We now have a civil war between those fans that wishes to play a remake version of the game that stays true to their original storyline with their favourite characters seen in realistic high definition while the other side hopes to experience a new ending with these lovable characters as they journey into a different outcome that can stop Sephiroth without having to lose any team members (You know who we're talking about, yes, the flower girl).


Gameplay 

For the first time in JRPG history, NO FISHING GAME! Majority of the side quests revolve around Cloud and his team running up, down, left, and right throughout Midgar doing annoying errands to build your reputation as the "best merc" for hire in town. And just to make sure you get really familiar with all the routes throughout Sector 5, 6 and 7 with your legs, fast travel only gets introduced in another side quest right near the end of the game where everyone's favourite fantasy bird, the Chocobo is used as a means of transportation.


The main quest is where the action begins and decisions made in the game could affect how future cutscenes are played out. Especially during Cloud's crossdressing scene, there are a total of 3 dresses for Tifa, Aerith and Cloud you can see based on the actions and character interactions you make in the game. Thus making you to play through this game at least 3 times in order to experience all the glory of this wonderful cinematic blessing. 


Most mini games are pretty enjoyable and you can score some Playstation trophies if you are aiming to beat the best record set by their respective NPCs. There are times we would feel damn good to see our characters making a smug face when they beat a high score in a simple mini-game (like throwing darts XD)


Boss fights are when the game gets interesting especially when you're playing in hard mode. To start off, most bosses in the game are standard big mechanised robots taken from the original and they are pretty simple to beat regardless of their difficulty because all of their weaknesses are LIGHTNING! So make sure to have Lightning Materia equipped for all your party members and watch them spam the power of Zeus upon their adversaries.

This gets easier when Aerith is in your party as her stats holds the most MP (Mana Points) and her "Soul Drain" ability allows her to restore a small amount of MP from enemies while damaging them in return. This makes her the most O.P. character to be used against any mechanised robot encounters.

Although there are some boss fights that gets on our nerve with their ridiculous abilities especially the "Reflect" from all the ghost enemies (I'm looking at you, Eligor!), there are boss encounters that gets our heart pumping on excitement when they introduce a "human" boss fight (Such as the final battle against Sephiroth). 


This begins when Reno storms into the church and encounters Cloud, they talk shit for a while and the boss battle begins. You would most likely start off with a direct frontal assault like your usual attack patterns against all your previous enemy encounters, only to realised he's dodging it all and in return, he's counter-attacking whenever you try to get in close for a slash.

To top it off, ALL bosses have 2 or more battle stages with new attack patterns added to each stage, you would have to change your play style every time when the fight transitions into a new stage. This gets us to constantly have Cloud on his feet in dodging, blocking and counter attacking as making a false decision between these 3 choices could lead you on depleting your health bar very fast. Your only clue of when the bosses are about to go into a new stage with different attack patterns is when they show a mini-in-game cutscene that displays their new abilities and how Cloud deals with it (This was beautifully shown when we fought against Rufus Shinra).


Battle Mechanics


The battle combat system is the gem of this whole game. Square Enix has somewhat created a turn-base plus real-time action combat with weapons, abilities and spells being customisable according to the player's preference through the use of Materia (the colourful orbs shown in the pic above). 

Back in the original series, this was the core combat system that allowed players to create roles for their characters. This meant if you wanted Aerith to be a pure support character, you would give her Materia that focuses on healing spells, Increase in MP stats, Increase in MP damage where as Cloud would be given Materia that boost his "close-up combat" play style such as increase in HP, increase in physical damage, deadly dodge and etc. You could also linked certain Materias that can protect your characters from certain elemental damage or even boost your base attack with extra elemental damage (In Cloud's case, we gave him a sword that deals LIGHTNING DAMAGE!).

Cloud freezing in mid-air while "Za Warudo" is active

In the remake, the turn-base RPG combat element has become a "Za Warudo, Tokio Tomare" mechanic (Tactical Mode) which allows the player to go into a super-slow motion gameplay as a small menu on the left pops up for the players to choose and coordinate their attack patterns with their teammates. In this "time-stop" world, you can slightly predict what your opponents are about to do, strategize your next move through the "commands" of your abilities, spells, summoning and limit break (an ultimate move that's available after the player has taken enough damage). With the Tactical Mode added into this real-time battle system, we're basically Dio from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and all our battles could played out much better than we have ever hoped for. 


Replayability 

Just when you couldn't get enough of the remake, players are rewarded with a "Dark Souls" hard mode after finish their first playthrough. In this difficulty, you cannot use items, resting spots ONLY recharge your HP, MP only gets refilled at the start of each chapter (No more spamming lightning magic :/ ), enemies are way stronger and you better learn to dodge, block and counterstance as you will be relying on these move sets a lot.


The good news is your character levels, Materia, weapons, equipments and items (even though you cannot use them) gets retained. And to finish it off with a cherry on top for your dedication in playing this "Sekiro dies more than 200 times" mode, they added a secret boss challenge where all the strongest bosses are revealed in Chapter 17. 

In case if you want to get your Platinum trophy for this game (100% completion), you will have to face your fears in a 5 round survival match against this secret boss challenge known as the "Pride and Joy prototype" (you will literally feel pride and joy after completing this challenge). What awaits you after completing this boss challenge is a very blissful equipment that will come in handy on your journey to fight Sephiroth (Even with this equipment on, we were barely able to beat him in hard mode).

Just a sneak peak on one of the Secret Boss challenge


Conclusion


This may not be a true remake of our beloved original Final Fantasy VII but even so, It is still an amazing experience to be able to watch our childhood polygons made into a game that's still enjoyable in this day and age. 

We find ourselves hooked to this game just as much as we did with the original. Partially was because of the soundtrack played in each section of the game which adds a feeling of nostalgia whenever we explore a different area. Even during all the boss fights, the background music changes accordingly to each boss battles, making every fight refreshing with a whole new remix from the original series. 

Even though the last chapter shows the timeline deviating from the original plot, indicating Square Enix will not follow the exact narrative of the story from their predecessors. We believe a new timeline showing a different narrative route could be just as enjoyable as the original. With new stakes and new challenges for our memorable characters to face, Square Enix has somehow subverted our expectations to the ending of this "new" game. Imagine if everyone knew Aerith is going to die in this remake, newcomers would easily get spoiled by the ending as well since the original narrative dictated her death and with so many Aerith fans out there showing a strong dedication to her fanbase, these first-time players are going to get spoilers on this remake without even knowing why. 

With this unknown journey that the group will have to continue, all bets are off, a new fanbase can be born thanks to this remake and long-time Final Fantasy fans can have something new to look forward to by the end of this saga. To be honest, we are pretty excited to see how this "new" plot of the game will turn out as we won't have to suffer the traumatic experience of seeing Aerith getting stabbed by Sephiroth in high definition :D


Until that day comes, we could only fantasize about the finale of this new remake. Overall, we would give this game a 9/10. Definitely a worthy title to keep in your collection. If it wasn't for the annoying side quests and the "Ghost" chapter (still looking at you, Eligor!), this would have been our game of the year :)



Written by AA

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