Mixing something so iconic and legendary into a new product is certainly not an easy job. Several industries have experienced this kind of process to fulfill fan demand, which sometimes ends up being a product that is far different from what they requested. So the product maker fell into a vicious circle, fulfilling fans' requests for a remix product but failed to live up to their high expectations. This dilemma is Square Enix's biggest risk when they, after being pushed for years, finally officially announced Final Fantasy VII Remake at E3 2015 ago. Now, after five years of waiting, we are among the gamers lucky enough to try it out and finish it for the first time!
Controversy has indeed surrounded the name Final Fantasy VII Remake since it was first introduced. Together with the many more elements that he presented in the first months after E3 2015, many original gamers came with skeptical perspectives. Objections were raised regarding the change in gameplay from turn-based to action RPG, the transfer of development responsibility to CyberConnect2 (although it was eventually canceled and moved to the internal studio), the decision to divide it into several parts, to the size of the data space that had to be loaded on 2-discs separate blu-ray. Even before Final Fantasy VII Remake found its final form, Square Enix was confronted by a "high wall" that seemed impossible to pass. Fortunately, armed with the talents of the original team, they still didn't give up.
So, what does Final Fantasy VII Remake actually offer? Why do we call it a project that has succeeded in reaching the impossible? This review will discuss it more deeply for you.
Released for the first time in 1997 and culminating in becoming the first three-dimensional RPG game for gamers who even managed to make them fall in love with this one genre, the plot of Final Fantasy VII is certainly no longer something foreign. As if it was timeless, it has become one of the series whose discussion has never failed to come up on several occasions. So with the name "Remake" that he carried, you can anticipate the plot outline that is more or less the same.
You play the role of Cloud Strife - a former special force under the banner of Shinra who now plays a mercenary. Who hired you? An eco-terrorist organization called "Avalanche", one of which is headed by Barret with a giant gatling gun tied to his arm.
For a high fee, Cloud is asked to help Avalanche to destroy one of the Mako Reactors which is the source of energy for Midgar - a giant metal city shaped like a pizza layer that divides social class into two large areas. Midgar itself was built by the Shinra Electric Power Company - a massive corporation that acts like a state and government, complete with their own military power. Like a mouse about to "kill" Goliath, Avalanche believes that their mission is a sacred mission that will save the planet where they live. Avalanche doesn't want any more Mako - the energy that plays a role as the planet's life - to be pumped out.
As can be predicted, Cloud's first mission together with Avalanche is not going as smoothly as imagined. Not only because of the variety of challenges they had to go through, but also the fact that the level of destruction they had just triggered caused death, distress, and panic for other innocent residents of Midgar. In the midst of a lurking moral dilemma, they also have to deal with Shinra's massive military and intelligence powers that not only hunt them down, but also turn them into "pawns" for a much bigger mission and vision.
On the other hand, something "strange" happened to Cloud in this precarious condition. A condition that even he himself could not explain. Cloud continues to hallucinate about a man named Sephiroth who is believed to be a war hero against Wutai in the past and is believed to have died. Sephiroth went on to talk about things Cloud could neither remember nor understand with “Reunion” as the keyword. As if the problems he faced weren't enough, Cloud et al also now had to deal with a new entity called "Whisper" which sometimes played a helping role, but also sometimes fought whatever mission they wanted to achieve.
Then, can Cloud et al successfully execute Avalanche's holy missions? What challenges did they have to face during this process? What is the relationship between Sephiroth, Whisper, and Cloud itself? All the answers to these questions you can find, of course, by playing Final Fantasy VII Remake.
When Square Enix first announced that the first chapter of Final Fantasy VII Remake would only take Midgar as a setting, many gamers were surprised. How come? Because for a "small portion" of the original version of the story, it requires two blu-ray discs which incidentally indicates a data requirement of about 80 - 100 GB. At that time, Square Enix argued that the amount of this data occurred because of the many unique assets they injected, from just objects that you can find, cut-scenes, animations, to the NPCs you meet. We are proud to announce that they are not bragging about that. Welcome to the "supposed" Midgar!
Coming with a more modern visualization thanks to the solid implementation of Unreal Engine 4, Square Enix managed to build a charming Midgar for Final Fantasy VII Remake. For gamers who had tasted the original version, rediscovering the iconic locations of the various Midgar sectors in the proper proportions, complete with various details from interior design to the dramatic lighting that he carried out left his own emotions. That for the first time ever, you can finally feel the Midgar that it should be. Details like this also make the story presentation better, because you can feel firsthand the actions that revolve around the action of the battle between Avalanche and Shinra. This modernization gives you an idea of what scale it should be, which the Playstation 1 graphics certainly could not represent in 1997.
But remember, Final Fantasy VII Remake is not a super wide open-world game regardless of the size of the data it carries. Following the story of the original series, the place you will stop by will dwell only on a few Midgar Sectors, which of course are influenced by the actions of Cloud et al. But as we talked about earlier, the key is in the details. Each sector that was once filled with only one two-character NPC and this not-so-charming location, was remixed to present Midgar on the scale it deserves. Each sector you visit acts as a separate hub, each containing its own life, where side missions are also available in it. Each sector is also usually strengthened by several locations that act as "dangerous zones", usually outside the city, where you can fight against monsters which sometimes become demands for certain side-missions. Of course, your movement to new locations, as in the original series, will be determined by how far your story goes. Again, this is not an open-world game.
Combined with detailed high definition character models that will always accompany you, which is also followed by changing the weapon model according to the equipment you are using, your eyes will be spoiled while enjoying this FF VII Remake. Unfortunately, the high definition texture is arguably uneven. There are several locations within Midgar and some objects, even when they are rendered in an essential cut-scene, which still seem to have low-resolution textures. The most interesting? There are visual decisions that can leave gamers of the original series excited and newcomers confused. Like in the original series, Final Fantasy VII Remake also combines two-dimensional images as backgrounds and three-dimensional objects to create the illusion of a Midgar scale, without having to overload a lot on the performance side. An old technique that is rarely found in today's gaming industry, which, on the other hand, can also be called "homage" for the first Playstation era.
So, why did we take the subtitles “Advent Children V2” for the subtitles above? Believe it or not, from all sides of the presentation he is carrying, the cut-scene is one of the parts that makes you fall in love with Final Fantasy VII Remake. That it is no longer just appearing bland due to the limitations of past technology, Square Enix appears all-out. They built so many cut-scenes and cinematic animations, especially on the action side, that are ready to spoil your eyes. Fast sword fighting, acrobatic action, effective dramatization to build hype, to a more "calm" to build emotional attachments are executed nicely. The style they present? You are looking at Advent Children, in a more interactive format.
So those of you who have enjoyed Advent Children in the past seem to be able to get an idea of what kind of cut-scene class we are talking about here. You will meet Cloud action that truly represents his status as a 1st Class Soldier, in fast action, full of explosions, collapsed buildings, and Buster Sword slashes here and there. What's cool again? Not only presented in cut-scene form, these actions sometimes dissolve into the active battles you are doing, especially when fighting bosses. This new approach, for indirect reasons, makes the scale and variety of actions that Cloud et al took on Advent Children, which incidentally was released in 2005, more acceptable. There is an extra sense of appreciation and the fact that you can't help but admit that the visual presentation of the game you are currently enjoying is at a better and more capable level than the CGI films from 15 years ago. Amazing!
This side of the presentation was increasingly perfect along with the execution of the voice acting which was also fantastic, even for the English version that we used throughout the game. Not only because of Square Enix's success in selecting and using voice actors / actresses that feel right for each character, but also because of their ability to bring these characters to life through intonations that feel right with facial expressions which, of course, can now be presented. in much more detail via more modern engine implementations. We also have to give two thumbs up for anyone who writes dialogue between characters or ends up translating it into English. It didn't feel awkward at all, the dialogue writing which of course was changed a lot from the original version, managed to do its job well. It builds up feeling right in the middle of the situations these characters face, while helping to build up each other's unique personalities that used to feel vague. You, for example, can now assess and compare what kinds of personalities and expressions define who Tifa, Aerith, and Jessie are, and start waging your classic Waifu war on a higher scale.
Meanwhile, from the musical side, the return of Nobuo Uematsu as the "head" for the OST Final Fantasy VII Remake which incidentally was legendary in the past, is the sweetest decision Square Enix can make. You will find new tracks that are no less likely to give you the goosebumps of Nobuo Uematsu, while enjoying new compositions for some classical music that are still familiar to your ears. One interesting thing is the surprising variety of genres. That you are no longer fixated on the old music, together with the implementation of the Jukebox feature that allows you to search for in-game music pieces and play them at any time, you will meet a lot of music with a more modern approach, from jazz to rock though.
So from the presentation side, Final Fantasy VII Remake looks like it deserves to be staying as one of the best remake projects available on the market. While there are some low-resolution objects that stand out and are enough to make one important scene feel "weird", overall it fulfills what you wanted for a title of this legend. Fantastic character models, redesigns feast for the eyes, Midgar which now feels like a giant city it should be, dramatic lighting, Advent Children's-level cut-scenes action at almost all occasions, Nobuo Uematsu's signature music, to fantastic voice acting. Regardless of whether you come as a newcomer gamer or a gamer who has tasted the original version, you will fall in love from the first sight.
What's the meaning of a Remake game if it can't provide added value? This added value can lead to anything, from just improving the gameplay for a more modern and comfortable taste to adjusting various elements such as visuals or music. So, what about Final Fantasy VII Remake itself? For Square Enix and it seems that many gamers from the original series, Final Fantasy VII is always about the interesting characters and stories that it carries. Through this presentation which is supported by the latest technology, Square Enix provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in these characters, both in terms of story, interaction, or dialogue.
And the execution ended in utter amazement. That the taste of "Advent Children" that we mentioned earlier does not always end with cut-scenes filled with crazy acrobatic action. Square Enix injects so many cut-scenes that are aimed at one thing - exploring the relationships between existing characters, which Cloud, luckily, is not always the focus. Through a combination of natural dialogue, capable voice actor / actress, and Unreal Engine 4 which can now offer much better facial details for emotional expression, you will understand the characters you have known since 1997 much better. There is bitterness, there is compassion, there is fear, there is anxiety, there is hope, and there is friendship that is better represented here.
You will meet many new cut-scenes that were not in the original series, which will help you understand and dive deeper into the personality and motivation of each character. From those full of love and affection, like the relationship between Barret and the daughter he loved so much - Marlene. Through conversations, facial expressions, dialogue choices, and actions, you can understand that Marlene is Barret's "world". You can understand how ready he is to do anything for a better future for Marlene, even if he is connected with the attempt to destroy Shinra even with the terrorist stamp he must carry. When Marlene is a potential victim of Shinra's ferocity, Barret's shakes, tears, and anxiety are presented almost perfectly, making you understand how devastating she was as a father.
This character deepening also occurs in lighter and more pleasant situations, such as the friendly interaction between Aerith and Tifa, who in some situations are indeed adventuring together with Cloud. Seeing how these two female characters do not hesitate to express their cuteness while flirting with Cloud, or how they toss each other when successfully accomplishing a certain mission is ready to make your big smile come out automatically. In difficult situations, you can also see how Tifa and Aerith try to support each other morally, creating a feeling of “Girl Power!” who were not represented at all in the original series, are now becoming stronger. Your smile will also be unbearable when you see the various strategies taken by Jessie, for example, to make Cloud continue to blush.
One fantastic design from Final Fantasy VII Remake is also rooted in its success in making your experience more immersive, through a system of options that now appear in a variety of cut-scene situations. You really won't be able to change the storyline and end up with an alternative ending, but based on the choices you make, you will provoke certain unique responses. Square Enix also seems to understand one of the attractions of Final Fantasy VII which is centered on the dynamic relationship between Cloud and other female characters (besides Yuffie) which are now also better pushed. As an example? If Aerith and Tifa both fell from a high place and ended up unconscious, which character would you wake up first? Final Fantasy VII Remake encourages potential character relationships which, on several occasions, are also translated into a more interactive format.
Seeing and experiencing firsthand how these characters talk to one another, respond, and react is one of the main attractions of Final Fantasy VII Remake. That it is no longer just a sprite like in the original version which only speaks through a text box above their head, which is present without intonation and expression, you now have the opportunity to dive into the characters and the world of Final Fantasy better. Especially with some of the lore now also being expanded, which of course, you will have to dive into for yourself later.
It's no secret that Final Fantasy VII Remake, in the name of modernization, now carries the action RPG genre. Square Enix feels that the turn-based RPG game carried by the original series is no longer considered a relevant mechanic and is likely to “turn off” the interest of new gamers. This of course was a rational move and, fortunately, they managed to execute nicely. Through this new approach, Final Fantasy VII Remake is still a JRPG game that demands a certain strategy. You can't come and just press the attack button and hope to win, especially during boss fights. There are classic JRPG flavors that melt here.
One of the old concepts brought back to Final Fantasy VII Remake is ATB. If you're not too familiar with the original series, ATB is a bar that represents the time before the character can choose their next action. Once the ATB is full, the character will be able to take action - from just using an item, summoning a summon, to attacking. Final Fantasy VII Remake adapts this old concept and makes it relevant to the RPG action approach he is carrying, while maintaining the function of this mechanic. The result? Charming.
ATB now comes as a new system that accompanies the FF VII Remake action approach, where you now have one specific attack button, one button to guard, and one button to roll so you can avoid enemy attacks. But for the rest of the action, you have to wait until your ATB bar which is divided into 2-3 different sections fills up first. You can fill it by entering damage through regular attacks, guarding when receiving damage, or simply increasing the Speed attribute to speed up the regeneration process. Like in the original series, ATB is a "resource" to perform other actions - from accessing Skills, triggering Spells, performing Summons, to using items. The only thing that doesn't need ATB is access to Limit Break attacks which are also still based on a bar system which will also fill up slowly every time you take damage.
With this new ATB system, Final Fantasy VII Remake comes with an extra element of strategy, which makes you have to think carefully about where these ATB bars will "float", especially when you are fighting. In easy and predictable combat situations, it's certainly safe to throw it through Skills and Spells once it's fully charged, allowing you to end it quickly. But in difficult Boss battle scenarios or encounters with a combination of enemies that each have their own specific traits? Of course, your mindset must change too. Do you want to spend ATB as fast as possible on attacks? Do you want to save at least one bar in anticipation of critical situations, such as the need to use healing items or use Curaga, for example? Your decision will largely determine what kind of end result you get.
The only ATB concept that is slightly different from the original series is only when you use Summon. Unlike the original series where you can summon the summon you want as long as your ATB bar is full, you can't do it in this Final Fantasy VII Remake. You can choose the summon you summoned, but the timing and moment to use the summon is now "limited" in the name of the balancing process. The game will automatically determine when exactly you can use and summon Summon, which will usually follow two terms and conditions: your HP bar had entered a red zone or you were fighting a certain boss. Once the chance to summon the Summon appears, you will be able to see a purple bar appear on the screen. Summon will actively attack within a certain time limit before accessing the final attack when the bar runs out, ala Final Fantasy X.
Each character that you can use now also has its own special attack. That apart from the ordinary attacks with the square button that we talked about earlier, they also have special attacks according to the characteristics of the triangle button. Cloud can access "Punisher Mode" for slower attacks that produce large damage as well as a counter system when guarding, Barret has "Overcharge" which is a projectile attack with large damage that requires a charging process, Tifa is supported with three types of attacks that can be strengthened and changed. with "Unbridled Strength", and of course - Aerith who had "Tempest" - a kind of small magic-based AOE attack. Given that these attacks do not consume ATB and can instead be used as a resource to make them full, using them at the right timing or combining them with other Skills will play an important role.
So the rest, like a Final Fantasy VII series should be, is to find and use Materia as effectively as possible. For those of you who are not too familiar, Materia is an “equipment” system that you can attach to weapons or accessories to access new skills or spells, get specific buffs in status, or change how your offensive or defensive side works. With so many variants whose classes are separated by color, Materia still plays a super important role in Final Fantasy VII Remake just like in the original series.
How much Materia you use will depend on the slots available in the weapons and accessories you wear. This slot is also separated into two parts - Solo and Connected. Slots that are solo means that the Materia will stand alone and not influence each other, while Connected means the opportunity to pin two Materias side by side to produce a certain effect. As an example? Pinning the “Fire” Materia in the Solo slot will give you access to the Fire - Fira - Firaga spells, depending on the Materia level which is based on the amount of AP you harvest, it can also strengthen it. Embedding "Elemental" and "Fire" Materia in the two slots that have Connected properties will not only allow you to access Fire spells, but also make your physical attacks now also peppered with fire elements. What's cool again? The fire effect will be emitted through the physical form of your weapon which shows the faint effect of the fire.
Elements still play an important role in Final Fantasy VII Remake. No longer have to rely on physical attacks alone, which in some battles will take too long because of the "tanky" of some enemies, especially bosses, you can use them to attack their weak element. Why? Because Final Fantasy VII now injects a new mechanic named "Pressured" and "Staggered". Pressured will be triggered once the enemy takes a certain amount of damage or is attacked using their weak element. Enemies who are in the Pressured position will be more prone to fall in a Staggered state if they continue to be attacked. Once they fall in a Staggered state, the enemy will stun for a few seconds and receive at least 160% damage from their usual state. Making the enemy fall in a staggered position will be much more effective at speeding up the course of the fight, rather than attacking them blindly. Fortunately, there is a Materia called "Assess" which will give you complete information about enemy behavior, the nature of their attacks, the number of HP, items that can be stolen or not, and also what elements are their weaknesses and strengths for you to exploit in strategy.
Final Fantasy VII Remake also slightly changes the system for getting the materia. You can get some of it by completing side missions, buying it through the nearest specialized vendor, or getting it just scattered in the exploration process. But Final Fantasy VII also introduces a new character named Chadley - who will actively ask you to complete a variety of simple tasks outside of side missions, which will allow him to create new Materia. You can get most of the important materials, including Summons, from completing Chadley's Battle-Intel which you can take while on this path. Apart from Materia, Final Fantasy VII Remake also carries a new system - weapon upgrades via a new resource called "SP" which now allows you to strengthen the status of a specific weapon, from increasing the number of + Attack, adding Materia slots, to activating certain traits.
One other approach that is quite unique and can be categorized as something negative for some gamers and triggers a feeling of indifference from other gamers, is the absence of a party member selection system throughout the game. Referring to the ongoing story, you really only have 4 characters - Cloud, Aerith, Barret, and Tifa who will alternate their composition depending on the story that is currently running. There is no opportunity to change the composition of this party freely, which is sometimes troublesome when the composition according to this story turns out to have a Materia combination that doesn't synergize well. As an example? If you rely too much on Aerith as the only healer and find that the boss battle according to the story contains Cloud - Tifa - Barret which you position totally, as a damager.
So with all these element combinations, Final Fantasy VII Remake has successfully merged the old concept that will make the original series gamers happy while presenting a different approach that is more relevant to today's modern gaming era. But that doesn't mean, it doesn't come with its own weaknesses. There are lots of situations where the battle progresses so fast, complete with various particle effects on the screen, that it makes it nearly impossible for you to take advantage of the available Guard / Roll actions. In the end, in most scenarios, except when you are fighting a large boss that usually presents itself and has clear attack animations to anticipate, we prefer to take damage and heal it with items or Curaga afterwards. This makes fighting action simpler, instead of having to keep checking the sometimes chaotic screen conditions.
Meanwhile, those of you who are happy with the side mission concept in many JRPG games can be relieved. While it wasn't designed as deep as The Witcher 3 (which is still the highest standard today) when it comes to story depth, it still offers something interesting and fun to complete. Why? Because most of them end up asking you to kill certain monsters, most of which are special boss-like monsters that you won't be able to find anywhere else. This challenging boss battle will make the Final Fantasy VII Remake experience more optimal, especially if it is on a high enough difficulty level. Square Enix also injects and returns several mini-games such as darts, Colliseum battles, and the fitness center which are just as fun.
In addition to the opportunity to gain EXP, look for stronger materials, and possibly find more effective weapons, there is one other strong motivation to complete various side missions whose availability follows the story chapter system used by Final Fantasy VII Remake. That's right, the opportunity to open a special cut-scene for the chapter itself. These new cut-scenes will give you a better depth of character connection, shedding light on the backstage story, which sometimes offers something quite emotional. This is sometimes a motivation that is even more dominant than just extra money for shopping for items and equipment or SP trifles to strengthen character.
Hearing the word Remake, almost most of us seem to understand that a process like this usually brings back older games with higher visualization quality thanks to a more modern engine implementation, not just an increase in texture resolution. On it, developers usually inject something new to strengthen the experience that the original series had to offer, both in terms of content and comfort. But despite all the added content, the remake process usually offers a similar sensation, full of nostalgia, but in a more modern perspective. On paper and referring to the concept, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a remake game. However, what if we inform you without spoilers, that this game, not just a "remake"?
Of course, we can't talk about it further, but tasting this game firsthand and finishing it made us understand why the original FF VII team from Square Enix who handled this series was so anxious and continued to speak out for gamers who had gotten the chip earlier. , especially from the Aussie market which is getting it faster, not to ruin another gaming experience. Believe it or not, regardless of the story idea foundation of a game released in 1997, it turns out to include enough new portions to not only crush your expectations, but make them explode to pieces. We can at least share our simplified reactions like, "WTF .. ARGHHHHHHH ... IS THIS SERIOUS?" in most portions of the game. "IS THIS SERIOUS?" Of course it's talked about in a positive spectrum in our eyes, but on the other hand, it wouldn't be surprising if it was seen as something negative by other gamers.
This is of course the experience Final Fantasy VII Remake is ready to offer for gamers who are even veterans of the Final Fantasy VII universe. That regardless of whether you have completed the original Final Fantasy VII, enjoyed Advent Children or Last Order, completed Crisis Core, even tasted the mobile game “Before Crisis”, Final Fantasy VII Remake still has something new and different for you to taste. We know that sounds impossible, but referring to the reactions we listed above, it's not a “remake” game like the one that's sitting in your head right now. Avoiding spoilers as best you can and diving into Final Fantasy VII Remake is an option that we really recommend.
What if you came as a newcomer gamer who wasn't too familiar with Final Fantasy VII so far? You've never tasted the original series, you don't really know the character he is carrying, and you don't care much about supporting products like Advent Children or Last Order for example. The good news? Despite the cut to the chapter system announced by Square Enix, Final Fantasy VII Remake still carries a pretty clear story line with the conflicts, antagonists, and resolutions you need. But considering that he plays the first part, there are some mysteries that are introduced here and of course you will not get immediate enlightenment. This first chapter builds some of the foundations of a mystery that may only be answered in the next series, if you're not curious enough to find out what really happened via Google.