For anybody of their 30s and 40s, discussing any matter round Final Fantasy VII comes with compulsory baggage. This applies even should you weren’t into video games in 1997 and had no thought what Final Fantasy was — that’s weight that needs to be carried into the subject.
I used to be recent of highschool when Final Fantasy VII debuted. I performed it. I appreciated it. I didn’t end it. I didn’t really feel like I needed to to be able to “get it,” as a result of the rampant fandom of the time spoiled many of the sport for me.
But since then I all the time felt like an outdoor, informal viewer of the entire Final Fantasy phenomenon. Final Fantasy is cool, however I’m not invested in it — positively not sufficient to decide to something after Final Fantasy VII.
For some people, this may make me criminally unqualified to go take a look at the Final Fantasy VII Remake. But I’m not right here to symbolize the die-hard fanatics. There will likely be loads of think-pieces, podcasts, and streams devoted to these views from people that had been on the hands-on.
I walked into the play session with a self-check in my head: Will this imaginative and prescient of the sport make me wish to revisit Final Fantasy VII, not to mention have interaction in it additional in 2020?
Above: Welcome Back
The artwork course
Coincidentally, the identical day I received to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, I additionally performed Capcom’s Resident Evil 3. Both are full reworks of unique PlayStation video games, roughly launched across the identical time (Resident Evil 3 was in 1999, Final Fantasy VII in 1997). And with that, each have up to date and barely altered artwork instructions.
But what’s the intent behind a few of the visible choices? Does it have to simply be up to date artwork belongings for the sake of progress in know-how?
With Resident Evil 3, the intent is to frighten. There’s extra there, and I’m not attempting to counsel its targets are shallow, however let’s agree that worry is the bottom Resident Evil 3’s visible context is working up from.
Final Fantasy VII’s visible intent is ranging from someplace extra complicated than simply to scare, and this factor hit me a little bit bizarre whereas taking part in the Final Fantasy VII Remake. I believe I do know why.
Above: Everything’s ruined
You see, within the unique Final Fantasy VII, the artwork course and tone was that of an enthralling journey in a chilly industrial surrounding, with cute PlayStation puppets enacting scenes hinting on the horrors of their dystopian existence. It’s a world being devoured by company fascism and ecological catastrophe.
In 1997, the problems of company exploitation and environmental spoil had been very a lot alive and effectively, however their affect on the true world nonetheless felt largely reversible. Yes, firms might be irresponsibly reckless and heartless. Yep! We’re punching a large gap within the ozone layer and ramping up extinction on the planet. But we had been naive in considering the underlying warnings in media like Final Fantasy VII had been unrealistic extremes. These points would certainly derail lengthy earlier than issues felt that determined, proper?
But as I performed the Remake, I felt an acceptable — and admittedly presumably unintentional and purely in my head — flip of how the message is being utilized. And even perhaps what that message even is anymore. In the yr 2020, the company and ecological disaster in Final Fantasy VII isn’t some far off warning. It’s what we’re in now. And the much less stylized, extra realistic-looking characters really feel just like the evolution of that.
Why visually sugarcoat the scary message with cute representations of characters, when it’s not a warning? Why try this once we’re residing that message now?
The realistically rendered Barrett being overbearing in expressing his heartfelt conviction for saving the planet, his mates rolling their eyes but lovingly supporting him, the little bit of good-hearted ribbing between comrades in a nerve-racking state of affairs, or a celebration member’s try to point out reassurance to others whereas the world round them is slowly crushing them. It felt like humanity and empathy are the brand new underlying message that the “realistically” rendered characters can convey clearly. Things on the planet may be going to shit, however you’re not alone in being afraid — all of us are afraid.
Granted, this can be actually reaching. Especially primarily based off a pair hours of play, and the ultimate launch could have a completely completely different intention. But it positively received the gears in my mind turning.
Above: Oh, crap …
How Final Fantasy VII feels as an motion sport
Battles in Final Fantasy VII Remake are in actual time. You transfer the sport’s protagonist, Cloud, round with the left stick whereas adjusting the digicam with the suitable. Every character has a standard assault (Square) and a particular potential (Triangle). For Cloud, Triangle has him swap to a slower, extra defensive stance, offering for extra highly effective assaults and a particular counter towards blocked melee strikes.
The D-pad Left and Right inputs allowed me to modify between characters in my get together in actual time, whereas X would gradual the motion right down to a crawl and permit entry to the Commands menu. From there, I might entry talents, spells, and gear.
Above: Come at me, bro. Including your canine. I don’t give a F*#@!
The battle system finally creates this fascinating emphasis on continually gear-shifting the motion from excessive to low, then again to excessive once more. So I’ll execute a combo with Cloud in actual time, shift to a different character with the left arrow, hit X to gradual every thing down, and entry a spell. And then, the motion goes again to actual time, you’ll swap to a 3rd character, hit X to shift to the menu system, and have the brand new character throw a potion at Cloud. And then you definitely swap again to actual time, hit left arrow to return to Cloud, swap Cloud to mode swap to dam and parry, execute a combo, then swap to a different character whose Limit Break is prepared.
At first it felt daunting, however like using a motorcycle, it turns into simpler the extra you do it. What it doesn’t do, nonetheless, is make battles boring.
You have to grasp that my prejudice in direction of Japanese RPGs relies on an period of repetitive menu selections. Battles had been simply grinding by means of the identical picks, to the purpose the place you don’t have to interact within the sport totally. You might be studying a ebook, doing laundry, watching one thing on one other TV, and simply sometimes search for … make your assault choices … then tune out till it’s your flip once more. That received’t occur with Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Above: This is gonna be huge
Final Fantasy VII additionally breaks from the Japanese RPG trope of semi-random encounters. Battle occasions within the demo took on a really motion sport construction, with waves of enemies hanging out in sure components of the extent, ready on your get together to finally method. I’m undecided how this may impact grinding, or if that’s even vital anymore.
Maybe every thing I’m describing is previous hat for contemporary Final Fantasy titles, however I discover it intriguing that that is the course issues have gone (a lot in order that I wish to backtrack and examine the older titles). And should you’re solely returning to Final Fantasy for this remake, as I’m, be ready to be rather more engaged than earlier than.
I’m coming again to the Final Fantasy sequence
I walked into this play session with reservations. Final Fantasy didn’t create a lot of a blip on my radar after VII, and the one Japanese-RPGs that actually dug into me had been random Shin Megami Tensei related titles. I didn’t even have plans to take a look at the Final Fantasy VII Remake on launch.
But now Final Fantasy VII Remake could be very a lot on my radar. The attainable intent of the artwork course and narrative message, coupled with the motion design choices have saved the sport intruding my ideas for the final couple of days.
I really feel like if I actually was the fallacious particular person to be in that play session, then who was the suitable particular person? Someone already bought on Final Fantasy VII? Someone that was already invested? But there are lots of people like me that simply haven’t interacted with the Final Fantasy sequence in any important manner for the reason that unique Final Fantasy VII. If that sounds such as you, the Final Fantasy VII Remake could also be a great spot to leap again into the sequence.