Note: This feature contains some spoilers for a very old game and a remake of this very old game.
All Final Fantasy fans could stop reading at this point. That’s right, the first sentence. Reception Time: I’ve never played Cloud Strife’s original adventure on the original PlayStation, or any other Final Fantasy title. The closest thing to me was watching my cousin play Final Fantasy IX; I remember being fascinated by it, but I would be lying if I said I understood what was happening on the screen. In essence, I have zero attachment to the franchise. Not that I think the games are bad, I just never went into them. Recently, however, something has changed: Final Fantasy VII Remake has been made available to PS Plus members.
At first I thought I would ignore it, but how could I use the chance to play it for free? This is a remake of a game that (more or less) promotes a single JRPG in the West. This is a game often recognized as All Timer, one of the great masterpieces. The request for a remake has been strong since 2005 and how could you no do you feel the excitement when it was finally announced at E3 1
Before I started, though, I thought it would be fun to involve my Push Square colleagues. They know full well that I’m not a big fan of JRPG, so I was wondering how far in the game I think I’ll get before I call it a day. Robert Ramsey had the greatest faith in me, betting I would live to see it. Sammy Barker was less sure, giving me his money so I could drop out around the second time you went down the drain. Liam Croft was the least optimistic, saying he wouldn’t start the game at all. Okay, guys, the challenge is accepted.
Spoiler: I started the game. Without nostalgia for the original and without any starting point, I began to look for curiosity. All I knew I was coming in after swallowing leftover information over the years was that you were playing as a man named Cloud and someone named Aerit was killed in the middle. I saw the video. Absolutely creamy crushed by nasty guy with a sword. Just completely ground.
Anyway, the first impressions were very good. The wide opening cut is fantastic; it has this amazingly large scale, scaling straight to show you the ridiculous scale of Midgar. The cinematic quality is there and at first it really grabbed me. Introduces the Avalanche team with Barrett, Biggs, Wedge, Jessie and, of course, Cloud Strife. I’m afraid to say that the Cloud somersault on the train to land on the platform didn’t seem great to me. This is not a cool person. Like who does this? It immediately stuck in my mind that this guy was a little shower. Still, I couldn’t write it all off.
Unfortunately for Final Fantasy VII Remake, the characters open their mouths and talk. Sorry, all the fans are still reading despite my initial warning, but I didn’t like much of the dialogue. Of course, some of them are perfectly fine, but I was amazed at how predictable the characters are – they immediately fall into classic archetypes. I found it impossible to be attached to Biggs and Wedge, who felt unique from the start, but personally I couldn’t get on board with the features and the dialogue in general. I understand that Remake is just part of a bigger project, but they all felt very one-dimensional to me. I also understand that this is a retelling of a 1997 game, so of course there will be some awkward or cumbersome dialogue. Even with that in mind, I struggled with the script and the characters most of the time with the game.
One aspect I enjoyed was the battle. For starters, I found it too complicated. It presents itself as an action game hack-n-slash, but it’s not; the main attacks are just a way to load your correct moves, available in the ATB menu. It’s a strange hybrid of real-time action and command selection, but after wrapping it around in my head – as well as changing characters often – I found it quite satisfying. In particular, fights with bosses became an accent for me, understanding their weaknesses and using them to the best of my ability. I also liked the overall flair of the battle, with great animations and effects as you cast magic and cut with big swords.
I think the focus for me was actually the crazy mission with the bike. I had to look for his name, and it’s Roche. Cloud and the gang ride motorcycles to get to Jesse’s old house and start an avalanche business, but this man is swinging, spinning his wheel like he’s a rope rider, and it’s just so ridiculous. Fighting him while driving was one thing, but he reappears and it’s a sight to behold. I think I liked the game the most in those moments when he wasn’t afraid to accept the absurd. Another example would be the case where you are literally fighting a demonic house. I had never seen this before.
Unfortunately, things started to run out for me by the time I got to the Don Corneo section. The game is extremely inconsistent in its pace and even just in its visual quality and I found that everything is quite annoying. I’ve almost given up on the part where you have to control robotic weapons to move shipping containers – so cumbersome and, more importantly, completely unnecessary. The game is far longer than it should be because of sections like this and really, I think it was they who prevented me from winning the game.
That’s right – not only was Liam wrong to start, but Robert was wrong to finish. In the end, Sami won the bet, but I didn’t get to the second sewer section (one was a lot). Where did I call him to leave? The ghostly yard of the train. To be clear, it wasn’t so much this particular part of the game that made me leave the controller, it just ended up where I left it. I think I got to the point where I just got tired of the whole thing.
The little things were starting to shred – you had to hold the triangle to pull levers (but not all the time!), The forced walks, the dialogue, some seriously bizarre scenes, and more. Besides, the things that were obviously meant to make longtime fans were completely lost to me. Things like the Sephiroth, which appear sporadically, for example, have lost their impact because I didn’t understand (and still don’t understand) why it’s a big deal. I appreciate that people love the original and love the remake, but I’m just tired of the nonsense of the game. I loaded my PS5 and thought about what I should play. Final Fantasy VII Remake would have crossed my mind and I sighed. I couldn’t keep going – especially knowing that there were so many hours left.
I accepted that it was not for me and that was good. I can live with that. I’m glad I tried well, but I think it will probably be between me and Final Fantasy. As funny as it was, Liam hadn’t played the original before playing Remake, and he absolutely liked it, so don’t let me put you off if you’re in the same boat. I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, to be honest. I mean, trust your instincts, but at the same time, if you are given the opportunity to try new things, you should. Do these messages contradict? A kind of. I stop the function now.
Do you sympathize with Stephen’s assessment of the Final Fantasy VII Remake? Have you struggled in a similar way with a favorite game? Sprinkle a little Phoenix Down in the comments section below.