Final Fantasy 7 Remake has been making waves in the gaming industry since its initial release earlier in 2020. Though it’s a remake of the original Final Fantasy 7 from the 90s, FF7 Remake brings a lot of new elements to the table. Here’s everything you need to know about Square Enix’s latest reimagined classic.
What is Final Fantasy 7?
First off, though: what exactly is Final Fantasy 7? For those who may be unfamiliar with this beloved title, FF7 is a Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) developed by then-Squaresoft. Released in 1997 for the PlayStation 1, it was the seventh main installment in the Final Fantasy series.
The game follows our protagonist, Cloud Strife, who fights to take down the Shinra Corporation. With the Shinra Corporation destroying the planet for using its life essence as an energy source, a much bigger threat looms over the horizon. Cloud teams up with eco-activist organization AVALANCHE to not only save the planet, but defeat Sephiroth — the game’s primary antagonist.
Upon its release, Final Fantasy VII was met with universal critical acclaim. It received praise not just for its compelling narrative, but also for its technical advancements at the time. The game garnered several spinoffs, such as Dirge of Cerberus and Crisis Core. In fact, FFVII even spawned its own CGI film, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. The film served as a direct sequel for the main FFVII game.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Today, FF7 receives new life in its latest iteration for current-gen consoles. With the FF7 Remake release date falling on April 10, 2020, several fans have already gotten a feel of what the game’s remake is like. Prior to this, much of the general public were granted a taste of what’s in store thanks to the release of the FF7 Remake demo. But, there’s so much more to unpack now that the game has already been released.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Gameplay
A notable difference between the original Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake is the gameplay. The original FF7 followed the classic turn-based JRPG that many Final Fantasy games are known for. Here, players could input commands for their party members, taking turns between attacking opponents and being attacked. The commands ranged from offense, defense, and even elemental attacks and healing moves.
In contrast, Final Fantasy VII Remake switches things up by going for a real-time combat system. Players control only one character at a time, however they can freely switch between characters from their party of three. This switching mechanic provides a great dynamic in the battle system, as it allows players to choose which character to use depending on the foe they’re up against. Considering different characters offer different strengths, it’s clear there’s a lot to delve into with combat.
Additionally, as it’s more action-based, Final Fantasy 7 Remake makes use of an Active Time Battle (ATB) gauge. A recurring battle system across other Final Fantasy titles, the ATB gauge charges whenever players land attacks on opponents. It’s not all hack and slash either, as FF7R’s battle system requires some getting used to with its tactics. This offers several approaches to battles, making combat not just action-packed, but strategic as well.
Overall, the reimagined battle system makes FFVII Remake feel like an entirely new game. The combat is much closer to that of Final Fantasy XV or Kingdom Hearts. It thus offers a sort of hybrid that mixes action with the original’s turn-based system. Nevertheless, the remake still features the original’s materia magic system, which gives players even more customization with gameplay.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake: The Story
Another major deviation in the remake is its exploration of FF7’s story. While it still follows the basic premise of the original game, the presentation of the narrative is significantly different.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake offers a more episodic structure in its storytelling. As some fans may be aware, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake release does not cover the entire game. The first part, which is already available, primarily focuses on Midgar and the events that take place there. That said, this means the remake ultimately expands the original story with much more content.
In fact, with the scale of how much the story is stretched out, it makes sense that this reimagining took an episodic approach. Even parts that took less than an hour in the original game — such as the Sector 5 Reactor section — have been expanded to be more immersive several hours in.
It’s clear that even for FF7 veterans, there’s a lot to unpack in Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s story. Here are some notable story deviations fans should keep an eye on:
WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead!
Sephiroth Makes An Early Appearance
FF7’s big baddie was always a bit of an elusive figure in the game, so it’s interesting that he shows up much earlier in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. The game insinuates early on that Cloud and Sepiroth have a history, something that greatly bothers our protagonist.
Additionally, Sephiroth doesn’t actually make a proper appearance in Midgar in the original game. In contrast, in the remake, he shows up in the form of an illusion that takes Cloud down memory lane.
The dynamic between Cloud and Sephiroth is still shrouded in mystery though, especially in the context of FF7 Remake. That said, their history and what binds them together are sure to be further explored in future installments of the remake.
A new element that Final Fantasy 7 Remake introduces are the Whispers. They make an appearance as early as Chapter 2, when Cloud meets Aerith for the first time. The Whispers seem to play a key role in FF7 Remake’s story, as their appearance changes the tides in several points of the game.
First off, it’s the Whispers who seem to be the ones responsible for keeping Cloud alive after he falls from Sector 5. Moreover, the Whispers protect Aerith and help her escape capture from Reno. They also play a significant role in the game’s ending, another notable deviation from the original Final Fantasy 7.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Ending
On the topic of FF7 Remake’s ending, the conclusion is another element that sets itself apart from the original game. With the involvement of the Whispers, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending goes in an entirely new direction.
For starters, Barret is killed by Sephiroth once Cloud and co. reach the top floor of Shinra’s building. This is a surprising twist, considering Barret survives the original game. However, the Whispers bring him back by resetting destiny to its supposed proper flow. At this point, both the party and the player themselves discover that Sephiroth is trying to tinker with the original FF7 storyline.
This revelation is what really shifts everything in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending. Fans find out that Sephiroth is actually aware of his defeat in the original game’s story. Thus, he fights to change this fate by altering the events of FF7 Remake. Sephiroth goes on to manipulate Cloud and his comrades in order to fight his destined failure.
It can be said, then, that the party is literally fighting destiny at the end of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. With the Whispers being an entity that can alter events (case in point: Barret’s temporary death), it’s clear that there’s a lot that the remake can explore in future installments. This first part may be self-contained, but its ending sets the stage for new possibilities in the FF7 Remake narrative.
Who Else Will Survive?
With how the Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending played out, it’s possible that events from the original game may no longer take place anymore. This could even include Aerith’s death at the hands of Sephiroth in FF7. Having Aerith survive the entirety of the story could really change the game, too. Her passing left quite the impact, not just on FF7 fans, but on the gaming industry as a whole.
Aerith’s death was, without a doubt, iconic. It set the stage for emotional storytelling in video games and proved that this medium can successfully execute somber themes. Thus, to turn things around and have Aerith survive FF7 Remake would most definitely shake things up.
Additionally, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending even reveals fan favorite character, Zack Fair, to be alive and kicking. This may come as a shock to fans, as Zack’s death played a major role in Cloud’s overall characterization and personality.
Simply put, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending suggests that there may be alternate timelines in the game’s world. There may be a possible timeline where Aerith dies after all. Or, future installments might see Tifa getting axed, as was teased in a vision Cloud experiences in the remake. Without a doubt, this ending leaves a lot of room for Square Enix to experiment with the Final Fantasy 7 universe, as well as how they take on the next episodic releases for the remake.
Other Changes in Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Other than major changes in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake gameplay and story, there are some other fun tidbits that players can explore throughout their journey. These include deeper character development and even a new minigame for fans to enjoy.
Final Fantasy 7 Characters Are More Fleshed Out
It goes without saying that our favorite band of characters now feel more dimensional in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. For starters, the characters look incredible from a technical standpoint, having made the jump from the PS1 to the PS4. Moreover, FF7 Remake gives us a better look into Cloud’s inner psyche and sprinkles the game with moments that make him feel more human.
Cloud Strife was always a character that came off as aloof and cold. However, thanks to the remake, we get glimpses of a more caring side to him. This goes for the rest of the characters as well.
The game offers players with opportunities to get to know their favorite characters anew. Since Final Fantasy 7 Remake now has the added benefit of voice acting and even facial expressions, our band of characters are given much more depth. Their personalities are much more evident and players get to explore their backstories on a more substantial level.
Besides Cloud, Aerith is now also much more dimensional than in her original iteration. In an interview with IGN, Final Fantasy 7 Remake co-director Kazushige Nojima shares that fans get to see a more down to earth side to Aerith. The character was very much revered — almost saint-like — in the original game. As such, getting to see a more flawed but realistic take on her was ultimately a breath of fresh air.
More Insights on AVALANCHE
Another more in-depth character exploration that FF7 Remake offers is a highlight on AVALANCHE member Jessie Rasberry. The original Jessie FF7 character merely had a minor supporting role. However, the remake version of FF7 Jessie has more time in the spotlight this time around.
Jessie’s popularity among FF7 fans saw an exponential rise with the Final Fantasy 7 Remake release. Longtime fans have the opportunity to witness a more vulnerable side to her that helps them get to know her on a more emotional degree. Players get to empathize with her guilt over the destruction of Mako Reactor 1, which adds to the duality of her personality. This doesn’t just flesh out Jessie as a character — it also gives more magnitude to AVALANCHE as a group of allies.
To give a former minor character such a significant role in the story shows us just how much the game’s developers really wanted to up the ante across the board. Undoubtedly, Final Fantasy 7 Remake truly feels more dimensional — not just from a technical aspect, but an emotional one as well.
There Are New Characters
Not only does the remake give us more fully-developed characters, it also introduces new faces to the story. For starters, we have Roche, a.k.a. Speed Demon. Like Cloud and Sephiroth, he’s a fellow SOLDIER (the elite fighting force of Shinra Corp.), though Roche is of a lower class. As Square Enix reveals, this character seems to have it out for Cloud, so the two may have a history that will be looked into later on. Roche may even be a potential recurring boss in future FF7 Remake installments.
Other characters include Madam M, a woman of influence in the Wall Market, and Andrea Rhodea. The latter is an important point of contact for the party to gain access to Don Corneo’s mansion. Notably, Andrea plays a key role in Cloud’s infamous cross-dressing scene, so he’s someone to watch out for when you play the game.
There are a few other new characters in Final Fantasy 7 Remake besides the ones we mentioned, but we’ll let you discover them on your own time.
A New Minigame
FF7 Remake has a new minigame in the form of a fun dance performance. This takes place at Honeybee Inn, which is owned by none other than Andrea himself. As the owner and a performer of the Honeybee Inn, Andrea is responsible for picking out girls for Don Corneo. This prompts Cloud to impress Andrea, as he and the gang need to infiltrate Don Corneo’s mansion to rescue Tifa.
What better way to impress a flamboyant performer than to perform yourself? This is exactly what Cloud does. Players are presented with a dancing minigame that involves pressing buttons at the right time. It may seem ridiculous, but it’s a fun addition to give players a breather from the more main elements of Final Fantasy 7 Remake gameplay.
The Verdict: Is Final Fantasy 7 Remake Worth Playing?
Overall, there’s quite a lot for players to dive into when it comes to FF7 Remake. All things considered, Final Fantasy 7 Remake feels more like a reimagining than a truly faithful recreation of the original Final Fantasy 7. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.
FF7 Remake is an excellent example of how technological advancements can really take things up a notch in gaming. Considering how dynamic the gameplay is and how much more of the story you’re getting, there’s no doubt that FF7 Remake is a great game that lures in both old and new fans of Final Fantasy games. It may be taking things towards a different direction, but this only gives players even more to explore later on.
With how things are playing out, it should come as no surprise if Final Fantasy 7 Remake makes it to several lists of the best PS4 games. There’s still so much for the remake to cover, after all. This first part has merely scratched the surface, and with the Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending taken into account, things can only go up from here.
Plus, with the recent release of the PS5 and new PS5 games, Square Enix is sure to have even more surprises in store for fans to uncover later on. Final Fantasy 16 is just on the horizon too, so why not give Final Fantasy 7 Remake a shot while you wait?
Alternatively, you can even play the original Final Fantasy 7 on the Nintendo Switch. FF7’s Switch port can be easily considered one of the best Switch games as well, especially since it’s available as a bundle with another beloved Final Fantasy game: FF8.
Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, Final Fantasy 7 — both in its original iteration and in its current remake — will continue to be revered in the video game world for years to come.