I think I love Final Fantasy XV more than anyone else in the world. While this attachment might mostly be attributed to the ten years of my life I was excited for the game to come out from its original incarnation Final Fantasy Versus XIII. When it released, its emotionally ingrained narrative and earnest cast of characters resonated with me. I will remember Noctis, Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto’s journey of brotherhood for as long as I live.
Yet, even I can’t ignore the major design flaws when the game first released. Its ambition managed to get the best of itself, and it was at the detriment to the game’s overall focus. Making story and gameplay feel largely unfinished. However, after playing the spellbinding demo for Final Fantasy VII Remake (which you can check out our extensive preview here), it’s become evident that Square has been learning from the feedback from XV‘s release.
Finding the Midgar ground
Final Fantasy VII Remake’s combat was the first thing that impressed me. It has obviously had a massive overhaul from the original game by adding an action-based system that allows you to switch between characters on the fly. This is also the fullest realization of Final Fantasy XV‘s multiple party system and action gameplay. During my own experience with the demo, I was happy to notice that you didn’t have to default to holding down a guard button then holding down an attack button like in Final Fantasy XV. Final Fantasy VII Remake is instead more demanding full of kinectic action that demands strategy. There were many moments that I had to think three or four steps ahead of enemies. Tactically changing between Cloud and Barret for different situations.
A lot of time has evidently been taken into making sure each of the character’s have unique gameplay. Cloud has flashy hack-and-slash gameplay that feels reminiscent of Crisis Core. While Barret is largely behind him in fights whittling away at enemies with his machine gun and casting spells. Thankfully I was still able to freeze time (an addition made in Final Fantasy XV) to make important decisions in battles if things got too hectic. If the other party members are this different in their playstyle, this bodes well for how engaging the Final Fantasy VII Remake is as an action-RPG.
Square is casting Focus
The humor and writing is also utilizing the various touches that Final Fantasy XV included. In XV, the party member Prompto would hum the victory fanfare song that was regularly found in the other entries of the Final Fantasy series. During instances in the demo, Barret also whimsically hums the song after finishing a fight. Yet among these moments of humor that pay tribute to series’ nostalgia, there are thrilling action encounters that properly define the stakes of situations. Tone has been a difficult thing for Square Enix to balance with their titles since their effort to make more bombastic titles. From the small section of Final Fantasy VII Remake we’ve seen so far it seems that they’ve hit a calculated balance of camp and cinematic exhilaration.
There’s a lot about Final Fantasy VII Remake still needs to do, and it’s mostly reliant on communication. There’s now baggage Square Enix has to deal with regarding what the final product really is. I’m not particularly let down by the episodic structure and the fact that the game will largely take place on Midgar. As it allows the developers to focus more on a polished experience. Plus, after the 33 million loss that the company posted for XV it might be best to have a more intimate RPG title. However, many feel confused by how many entries this remake of the beloved RPG will be. Overall, the game itself seems to be going in the right direction when it comes to both its gameplay and narrative. Square has to still figure out its own transparency.