Final Fantasy VII Remake: First Impressions

The new Final Fantasy VII Remake demo proves it stacks up to the original in more ways than one and, in fact, benefits from a new engine and style of gameplay.

I was pleasantly surprised Square Enix decided to release a demo for Final Fantasy VII Remake. I’m not entirely sure if that was always in the plans and it was already announced, but I was pretty excited to finally test out the game, even if it was just a small portion of it. Being someone who hasn’t played the original game in its entirety, I didn’t consider myself some sort of expert or huge fan prior to testing out the remake. But, considering only the first mission is available, and I have definitely completed that portion in the original game, I think I can accurately assess this demo while comparing some elements.

For starters, the original is an absolute classic and it’s widely considered the greatest Final Fantasy game ever created. In fact, for many, it’s the best RPG game of all time. But, and I think many would agree, it’s definitely dated, at least compared to this generation of gaming and for what’s to come. Don’t get me wrong, though. Just because it’s dated, it doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable and still revered as a classic. It does plenty of fantastic things that, in a number of ways, revolutionized the RPG genre and still gets praised by many.

However, not everyone thinks this way, considering all the other games releasing in today’s age with much better graphics and visuals, better sound design, better ways to approach and showcase the storytelling, and the combat. I believe Square Enix recognized this and decided to completely revamp the game’s mechanics and graphical engine while still staying true to the elements of the story, the characters, and the world you play in.

The original game had an interesting world you can traverse across as you arrive to certain destinations and objectives to complete missions, and meet new people along the way. From the demo, it’s evident this feature has also been implemented in a vastly superior way because of, once again, the game engine and the visuals. Playing through the demo, you see a ton of new details as you travel along, and the characters seem more relatable and more properly designed. The surprisingly stellar voice acting also adds a nice touch. So, it’s similar in many ways, but I believe the remake is vastly superior, at least in this aspect.

By far, the biggest difference is the combat system. The first game is a turn-based RPG, so you have to choose certain moves wisely and wait until the enemy goes before you can make a decision again. This game has opted for more of an action-RPG kind of style similar to games before it, such as the Kingdom Hearts series and Final Fantasy XV. I think it benefits this kind of game a bit more since you’re always moving forward to new areas, and there’s even some backtracking involved if you want to open chests, find certain items, or are forced to due to the mission at hand.

The sequence which shows this off the most is the only boss fight in the demo, which is the first one in the original game. It’s definitely more challenging in the demo this time around and you’ll have to have a certain strategy to beat it, such as deciding when to heal and when to use certain abilities. I had a lot of fun with this fight, though.

My only gripes would be the controls, which might take some getting used too, at least for some players who may have not played these kind of games before. Switching back and forth between characters can prove challenging and may make you choose a certain ability you weren’t intending too. This can be a bit unforgiving if you’re not on your P’s and Q’s since the boss can deal some heavy damage. The game can also feel a bit monotonous at times, but it’s too early to tell whether or not it’ll be something that’s standard in the remake.

Overall, I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to the original game just yet. It’s not like I’ve beat it in its entirety and there’s only one mission in the demo. Even when the full game does release, it won’t necessarily be the full game since it’s only part of it. But, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed what I played and the potential is sky high. Fans of the original are in for a treat, I think, and newcomers who never played the original will be able to play it in a new light.

I’m looking forward to April 10.

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