During my review, I stated that the Final Fantasy 7 Remake is basically the best of Square Enix in one package, and I actually mean that quite literally. If you’ve been following Square Enix through and the games they’ve made through the years, you can tell that they’ve made use of their most successful systems and integrated them in such a way that they build up to a truly unforgettable experience. That said, I’d like to break down the sort of ‘anatomy’ of this highly anticipated game.
Expanded Story, Characters
Obviously, the story would be based on the original game, where the creative team has taken liberties with remixing and adding a ton of new content. This part is to be expected, really, so not a lot to add here, except maybe for the side characters that were given much more dimension in writing as they were given a lot more polygons to express themselves with.
Everyone knows that the materia system is also originally from Final Fantasy 7, getting a bit of a touch up making it easier to understand and has a UI that even demonstrates how each spell or skill would work. One of the nicer touches is the introduction of new materia that is meant to work well with the new battle system and character designs.
One of the things I’m not too much of a fan of with the new materia system is how you can’t reproduce them by mastering them anymore. But I can see why they’d want me to not have like 6 copies of elemental or magnify materia.
The combat system is probably the most interestingly revamped part of the game. Mixing in two ideally polar opposite styles of gameplay and making it work. It doesn’t feel so unfamiliar to call it revolutionary but it does make it difficult to pin it on a single title. What first comes to mind is Dark Souls, where you have attacking, dodging, and blocking serving as the basic rock-paper-scissor concept for your active combat, but it’s not quite like that. Unlike the Soulslike genre, it’s quite impossible to avoid all damage. The action feels closer to a refined version of FF15’s combat than an adaptation of the constant stress that Dark Souls places you under. But without the gimmicky teleports or trick dodges, instead roles are more specialized and pointed towards more tactical decision making. Some of the party management also feels closer to how FF12 was, that felt more like an online game. But compared to FF12 where any action meant waiting for your ATB to charge, in FF7R you use your attacks to charge your ATB so that you can do stronger actions later. Also FF12 had a gambit system, which made it possible to automate how your party would act.
Square Enix took parts that they believed worked in their earlier games and synergized them in FF7R’s combat system. It feels pretty natural an obvious now that we get to play it, but looking back really makes you see how far we’ve come along.
Back to as long as I can remember, FF6 being the earliest, summons were basically higher class spells meant to launch even stronger damage against multiple foes. And that tradition continued on through until FF10 decided it was time to mix it up a bit. For the first time, summoning powerful beings, which FF10 called aeons, to help you actually stay and fight. For FF10 and 12, they actually replace your party and fight for you for a while. And finally in FF7R they arrive to directly assist you in battle, where you can use your turn charges to activate their stronger attacks. As the versions advance, the people behind the Final Fantasy series continue to try to bring these mystical beings closer to being characters within their own universe, so seeing them to start playing like they’re a part of your team feels like a culmination of that effort.
Upgrading / Character Development
No matter how I look at it, the upgrade system for the remake is undeniably a hybridization between FF9 and FF10, where the weapons offer a skill that a character can use and permanently have by mastering it. And it can be upgraded through what seriously looks like a simplified Sphere Grid system that FF10 had. Instead of permanently sticking the upgrades to the character, they are bound to the weapon they are imbued on. This makes all the weapons possibly relevant in the game depending on your preferred playstyle, offers a lot of freedom in how you can play, and prevents players from power-levelling and basically ruining any level of challenge the game would ideally have to offer. It really shows that the developers were looking closely on how their audience likes to play.
Open World Sections and Quests
The way the quests play out is again very reminiscent of FF15, how they attempt to seamlessly link places together among the different sectors of the city and how it dynamically loads the maps together seems like a technique they were able to take into greater heights as they have demonstrated in the remake. A friend mentioned that how the quests are written, particularly for Wall Market seems to take heavy inspiration from the Yakuza series, especially when you consider the mini-games it seems to have included throughout the playthrough. Darts being the obvious first, there’s also the famed squatting challenge and a new dance section in the game. I would have totally been on board if they decided to add a karaoke challenge there, as well. Then, we’ll have the full Yakuza experience.
New Game +
Technically speaking, the NG+ isn’t really strictly a new playthrough, it’s more of a freeform mode that’s meant to attract the types that want to explore the entirety of a game and attain achievements to keep under their belt. It’s designed to be convenient by having a chapter select mode with the option to play in hard mode and attempt to complete the challenges revealed in that mode. These features seem to be directly lifted off NeiR: Automata and Kingdom Hearts. The only other title where I’ve experienced item lock on harder difficulty would be the Tales series.
The audio experience is definitely a pleasure for FF7R, the epic dynamic bgm only has 1 game that comes to mind, the only other game I’ve played that’s done this before, especially to this level is no other game than NieR: Automata.
When you think about it, whether or not you were a fan of the other FF titles like 9, 12, or even 15, I can’t help but see that the good and bad decisions made with other titles are what made the amount of polish with FF7R possible.
Maybe it really did need to take this long for them to take the remake as far as they did, pursuing new ideas with other titles and taking whatever worked back with them and refining them for their next big final fantasy game as their culmination of their maturity as a developer and as a publisher.
With this, I’d like to thank the people behind FF7 Remake for doing such and excellent job of taking us down memory lane while renewing the experience for everyone. This along with their other recent releases has won my confidence over their future projects.