Lemme get the skinny out of the way before the fat
Visuals-9.5/10 (some textures weren’t loaded but Cloud’s eyes are gorgeous)
Story-8.5/10 (Great for people who’ve played the OG/Crisis Core, could be a mess for new players, hell for OG fans too! Pacing is wonky later in the game, characters are fucking PERFECT. Last chapter turns into Kingdom Hearts garbage but Sephiroth is creepy hot and I’m here for it.)
Gameplay-8.5/10 (Combat is fun as hell, camera is your enemy and fuck flying enemies for reals)
Music-12/10 (THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO GO HARD ON THIS SOUNDTRACK BUT THEY DID.)
Now to the fat
Way back in the now Halcyon days of 2015, a number of my friends literally blew up my mobile telling me not to panic. Sony was going to announce something big and my logical assumption was ‘New Jumping Flash’ because I was a class S moron. However when my friends added that SE was going to be involved my heart stopped.
It only meant one thing, the only thing that SE has left when they are FUCKING DESPERATE.
I word vomitted my excitement on Kotaku that day, it was one of the most popular comment on that article and honestly the crown jewel of my decade long tenure on this site.
Final Fantasy VII is my most beloved games from SE, its irrevocably linked to my childhood where I was young and had a crush on Mirai Trunks (still do). I have played MANY RPGS games than that were better than VII-Skies of Arcadia and Grandia 2 say hi-however VII still remains at that top spot.
Nostalgia made me her bitch and despite me recognizing all of its flaws, nothing could make me not love the game any less over these 23 years.
So, naturally while I was excited for Final Fantasy VII Remake, cold cruel reality smacked me in the face. When OG VII was made in the 90s, it was a different era for the JRPG house. They were Squaresoft back then and they were hungry, desperate, angry, defiant...they were ready to show the world who they were.
This was now Square Enix, a monolith in the JRPG space...a bloated parade float of zippers and anime boys with spiky hair. THIS was the now Squaresoft, that was post Final Fantasy 13 trilogy and botched launch of Final Fantasy 14. That took a decade for FFXV and gave the world 7 KH games before we got to Kingdom Hearts 3.....which isn’t even a sequel to KH2 but like a sequel to like a 3DS and mobile game.
But that’s the problem, I haven’t loved the FULL parts of an SE game in over a decade.
So yeah, uh...the Remake was going to be birthed from current SE and it was going to have a spicy flavour of desperation garnished with 23 years of ego on top.
Final Fantasy VII is quite literally SE’s Sacred Cow, the game is literally its OWN series within the Final Fantasy series, it is legendarily important to theirs and gaming history. So if SE screwed this up, they might as well sell the office furniture and shut up shop.
And so the question is, did I, Rachel Fogg Love this game? And if you read this far here’s your answer. Absolutely but with a twist.
Let’s talk about that ending, shall we?
Already the Remake was stacked against me. NO ONE on this planet will be as harsh as I am towards this game because SE will actually have to give a shit this time and not rest on its laurels.
And so I waited with trepidation, SE was pretty ballsy with their trailers, they empathized that this was their CHANCE to retell the VII story with the value of more experience and time. Also they showed Sephiroth in the opening sections of Midgar so...yknow....that right there told me all I needed to know on how this Remake was going to approach the OG story.
Their approach is to NOT touch it.
The Remake doesn’t touch OG VII, they have adapted it.
That’s right, they fucking MCU’d FFVII.
I’ll explain, the original Marvel Infinity Saga run in the comics is completely different to what we get in the MCU movies. There’s callbacks, references, key scenes and moments lifted from the comics but as a whole. What we see in Infinity War/Endgame is NOT how it is in the comics. However Disney adapted it to fit in the MCU.
Yeah...that...didn’t happen in the movie.
You see, NO ONE knows VII’s story’s importance more than the people who made it, there’s people who know about all of VII’s big moments but have never touched the game. If it was a 1:1 retelling of VII, sure it would be great for OG fans and there was a slim chance that newer players would be entertained.
But things in gaming are different now, storytelling, graphics, music....these can make a game’s story MORE immersive. Now characters and themes that were barely featured could have more room to develop, areas that were brushed pass can be fleshed out. SE really had to fight with themselves, do they explore VII MORE within the confines of newer tech or just make a REALLY HECKING expensive remaster?
And we can argue its success but I truly admire SE fucking bold choice to do this.
SE is telling you, the player and them the company to ‘Let Go and Explore the Unknown.’ but also had the common sense to leave the Original alone.
As it stands Remake is an adaptation/sequel/meta of VII.
For YEARS people wanted a chance to ‘Save Aerith’, it was so popular that ‘Save Aerith/is’ or ‘Aeris Lives’ was a meme before we knew what memes where. Now the Remake offers that option or does it? After Crisis Core, people wanted more Zack, they loved him and wanted him to be a ‘Hero’, now we have a chance where that might be a possibility...or does it? We don’t know! We are literally playing a game where the future that we knew for VII and its characters are now unknown. Is there a bigger threat than Sephiroth? Can we save Sephiroth? Could he become our ally?
In Chapter 18, Red XIII tells our leads during the The Crossroads that the 500 years later Ending was ‘What will await us, should we fail today’. For OG VII players, its been long theorized that EVERYONE died after 500 years but what if it was that all mankind was dead after Meteor? Leaving the Planet to the animals and nature?
What if for 23 years we, as players of VII only had the ‘Bad Ending’ to the game? Well we don’t have to wonder...that’s exactly what happened.
In a 2005 EGM interview with Yoshinari Kitase stated
EGM: At the very end of FFVII, we see the epilogue to the whole story that takes place 500 years later, so really, you still have another 497 years’ worth of games and movies to fill in....
YK: Ha, maybe I’ll try to do that. In a way, I consider that epilogue to be the true happy ending of FFVII. Well, it’s a happy ending even though all the human beings are destroyed. [Laughs]
Kitase-san is a WILD man and I love it.
And what if for the Remake we have a chance to see an ending where mankind survives? That’s the door that the Remake opens, now of course this rankles folks ‘What about Advent Children? That takes after the events of VII? Is that no longer canon?” Maybe! Or Maybe not? The path is open to anything.
Now of course this isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, Nomura and co did some sly wordplay with ‘Remake’ so if people came into playing this game thinking it WAS a traditional Remake. I can legit see the anger and disappointment. The ending wasn’t great but for me, what I took from it is sorta where the characters were taking. This was a journey to the unknown, they’re not faded anymore, no weird ghosts keeping them on the path of OG VII. This was a chance for a NEW fate, good or bad, we can get new experiences with beloved characters. Get more new characters (I need Andrea and Leslie in my LIFE). To me, that’s freaking exciting and cool.
I have loved VII’s characters for most of my 30+ years of my life, a group of broken messy people fated to save the world at all cost. The story of a Flower Girl, a Lost Soul and a Fallen Hero who were all fated to their predestined roles for 23 years now have a chance of maybe breaking free from that. Maybe we can save the Flower Girl? Maybe she can save herself? Maybe the Fallen Hero can be redeemed...a whole lot of maybes.
So I’m giving SE a chance to do that, to tell the story they want with the characters they gave me. That’s the silent agreement the creator and the audience makes with subversion type stories like this. I’m willing to go along for the ride with the characters I love but SE has to guarantee this ride is a good one.
The Remake won’t ruin the legacy of VII, if the so-so Compilation, 23 years of over saturation and hot take think pieces haven’t. This game will certainly not do it either.
Odds and Ends
-I LOVE the Wall Market chapter of the game, arguably the best chapter of the game. I love the attention to sex work, camp and Queer themes that chapter encompassed. This section in the OG was small but it was entirely a punchline to make you laugh at Cloud in a dress and shout ‘That’s gay!’. The Remake reframes that scene into something wonderful with Andrea practically telling Cloud and the audience to never be afraid of being who you are in the most CABARET CAMP FASHION.
The idea that you can be Queer and exist in Midgar and not be a joke may sound stupid or NBD to some. But as a little Queer girl replaying this section as a Queer woman. It was validating and refreshing. Side note-Rufus actively ‘flirting’ with Cloud during the fight was...it was more than I could hope for.
Actually, everyone in this game was horny for Cloud. This game should’ve been called Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Cloud’s Bisexual Crisis.
-Also big props to SE for adding in POC in the game, they were SO MANY faces and voices and again, I have to tell you its wonderful to see it. Hopefully in Remake Part 2 can a sister get a another Black Turk or SOLDIER? PLEASE SE?!?
-I wasn’t too big on the Censorship of the game, no I’m not talking about my wife Tifa’s milkers (although they were delightfully huge, thank you SE) I’m talking about the lack of blood, Tseng not slapping Aerith...just alot of the ‘grit’ from the old game that was removed to keep a T rating. SE removed the blood and violence to up the swears which was fair. Listening to Aerith say ‘Shit’ was adorable, I’m glad I got my sassy Flower Girl back.
The idea of Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey is happening isn’t not mine alone. I’m with the prevailing theory that Aerith and Sephiroth have both seen the future of the final battle and are actively taking steps to alter the their respective fates. I don’t think Aerith will NOT die, I think what Aerith wants is to prevent the deaths of her friends. She is the last of her kind, she knows what she must do. But watching her friends all die after fulfilling her duty wasn’t one of them.
As for Sephiroth, he can see that his plan of causing a ‘Planetary Scar’ backfires, he doesn’t want to be dissipated in the Lifestream nor lose again. So this time he appears EARLIER to goad Cloud into helping him. Sephiroth is OBSESSED with Cloud, he possesses the memory of him along with the Jenova cells in his body, President Shinra confirms S and G Cell Soldiers are suffering from cell degeneration, something that occurred in Crisis Core with Angeal and Genesis slowly being corrupted. In CC final chapters, mutated Genesis monsters were desperate to consume fresh Jenova cells to stave of further degeneration, they attacked Zack and Cloud after leaving the Basement and ate Zack’s hair, it didn’t work so they attacked Cloud.
Now my theory is Sephiroth/Jenova (nothing is confirmed here in the Remake) might be looking to Cloud as a battery or a new host for S and G cells. Ironically, Cloud’s memories of Sephiroth might make him a bigger target than he ever was before.
But its just a theory....we wont know till the 2nd Game. But I’m eager to see what this journey will take us.