We looked at the original version when it was almost six years old. Reviewing the remake when it’s one year old is definitely picking up the pace!
Title: Final Fantasy VII Remake
Developer: Square Enix
System: PlayStation 4 (and, now, 5)
Release Date: April 10, 2020 (PS4) and June 10, 2021 (PS5)
Game Type: Action RPG
Eco-terrorists hire a mercenary to help them accomplish their goals, but there are outside forces manipulating them and those around them.
The new systems allow for a lot more story in fewer play discs, and this is no exception. Some of the additions feel like padding, but a lot of them (including the final sequence of battles) just ramp up the tension in the game.
I would have preferred to wait even longer for a multi-disc set, even at double the price, to get it all in one release instead of having it spread out over multiple releases. At this point, we don’t even know how many releases it will have. We do know that a recent add-on titled Itergrade is now available as DLC, but I haven’t picked that up so that content is not included in this review.
There is some originality in the way they chose to expand the story here, but for the most part, the heavy lifting was done for the 1997 release. I give it 3 out of 6.
The story has a lot more detail than it did the first time, and much of that is an improvement. They only included the Midgar portion of the game. It ends in a way that gives some degree of closure, though. We know that more is coming, but this feels more like the end of Star Wars than The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. You know there are stories to tell with these characters still, but this release does have a complete beginning, middle, and end, thanks to the edits and alterations made. The story is enough of the focus that the game is broken into 18 chapters as you play it. That said, it could be more engaging: as I soon remembered when I started playing this last summer, I usually treat the Midgar portion of the original game as a speed run, because it’s everything after we hit the open world that really engages me. I give it 4 out of 6.
The graphics look great. It’s smooth, and the automatic camera controls don’t have the issues I’m used to (from, admittedly, much older games) of leaving walls between the camera and the character, etc. The world seems lived in and fully realized. I give it 6 out of 6.
The sound is great. One of the staples of the early Final Fantasy games is the wonderful work of Nobuo Uematsu on the soundtrack, and he supervised the new arrangements, which sound incredible. The voice acting is well done, even if the script has far more profanity than the original, particularly when Barrett is in the party. The sound effects are distinct, immersive, and communicative, which is exactly what you need. I give it 5 out of 6.
The playability is good. Due to tendinitis, I can’t depend on reflexes anymore, so the “Classic” mode suits me well, in which I only need to worry about when the various characters use items and/or special abilities or spells. Other players would probably mock me for playing on such a low difficulty and go for the hardest mode available from the outset. Once the game is done, the player has the option to replay any chapter in the game with the current equipment and at any difficulty level, which makes it much easier to get every achievement and pick up those “missable” items that were left behind. My only real complaint here is that the end of chapter 17 and the entirety of chapter 18 take a good 3 hours or more to play, with only a single save point in that entire portion of the game. Personally, I think the limit between saving opportunities should never be more than an hour. I give it 5 out of 6.
The immersion is good. It really feels like you are living in a complete world, fully realized, with all sorts of other characters living their lives within it. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, this has been one of my most satisfying gaming experiences on the PlayStation 4. (Note: I’m still very, very early in Dragon Quest XI, and that’s a serious contender, too.) Despite minor imperfections, I would recommend this to anyone who is mature enough to hear Barrett’s dialogue. I give it 6 out of 6.
In total, Final Fantasy VII Remake receives 34 out of 42.