I haven’t heard too much about the Final Fantasy VII remake—and to be fair, there isn’t that much information about the game out right now. What I do know is that the game is meant to be released in increments, with the first one originally scheduled for later this year before it was moved back to March of 2017. This is probably for the best, as rushed games tend to be glitchy and not a whole lot of fun. Part of me is even shocked that March isn’t too soon, considering that the game makers have to completely re-render the entire world of Final Fantasy VII, and since the game opens up in Midgar, it means they need to create a whole city from the ground up, let alone all the other places the characters are going to visit.
So far, it looks pretty good, and I am more than excited to get right back into this world. Story spoilers up ahead.
For the whole three of you who don’t know the story, Final Fantasy VII is about a young man named Cloud and his band of eco-terrorist friends who are really not that great at being heroes and protagonists. On a mission to save their planet, Cloud and company face off against the evil Shinra corporation—an electric company that steals power from the lifeforce of the planet—and a man named Sephiroth, who summons a giant meteor to come kill the whole world. While the characters do eventually triumph, they lose one of their own in the process, and Aerith’s death is one of the worst things I’ve experienced in a story.
The original Final Fantasy VII game was a whole lot of fun when it first came out and had some awesome graphics and worldbuilding. By today’s standards, the game is really not that great, but back during the era of PS1, it felt huge. The game opens in Midgar, a city so large it’s divided into smaller cities called sectors. Even though today Midgar feels tiny, back in the 90’s it was massive—I had never played a game with a city so large, and even the first ten to twenty hours of gameplay take place inside Midgar. I wasn’t even aware that Final Fantasy VII had a world map until I was on it.
Recently, the quality in Final Fantasy games feels as though it has gone down. Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t all that great, and the story was very linear, quite literally. It was impossible to explore the early sections of the game, because the only place the characters could go was forward in what was more or less a straight line. There was, of course, a reason for this—the game was so big that anything else would have been too much to fit on one disc. So when I heard that Final Fantasy VII was going to be released in episodes that were each one full game long, I was nothing if not happy. I know a lot of people are unhappy about this, but as anything else would mean cutting into the story and making what should once again feel like a large game smaller, I embrace it fully. By releasing the story this way, the game developers can recreate the story so many of us already know and love while also adding to its worldbuilding and letting us learn things we couldn’t do the first time around, without losing all that much in the process. After all, a remake would be pretty boring if it was simply a rehashing of the first game with no deviation.
I do have a good number of problems with the first game—I found it to be a little sexist here and there, and even Barret’s character somewhat comes off as a token and cliché Black guy. The game’s characterization could definitely do with some work and more awareness. I wouldn’t say that these problems really ruined the game experience, but they did cut down on the enjoyability by a lot, so hopefully the remake will be able to address some of these issues. Given the problems in other recent Final Fantasy games, though, I don’t have too much hope on this front.
All in all, the nostalgia factor is what’s really getting to me here and making me excited—I’ve wanted a Final Fantasy VII remake ever since that PS3 demo came out years ago, and now that’s it’s finally happening, it seems too good to be true. I really hope that the remake can live up to my expectations and not disappoint me.