IN THE WORLD of videogames, the story and setting of Final Fantasy VII has been elevated to the realm of delusion. First launched in 1997 on the Sony PlayStation, it ushered in a brand new period of Japanese role-playing games, and within the course of, its story—begrudging hero Cloud Strife and a ragtag band of idealists and hangers-on combat the captivatingly evil Sephiroth for the sake of the planet—turned bigger than life for lots of gamers. Cloud, Sephiroth, the floating metropolis of Midgar—these are signifiers on this planet of video games that attain far wider than the sport they arrive from, and exist with energy outdoors of their context.
What’s most putting, then, about Final Fantasy VII Remake is how specific it’s. Amidst quite a few unusual adaptational decisions, its best success is in making the setting and characters of this mythic story really feel extra particular and human than they ever have earlier than.
Then, the 2 diverge. That is the place Final Fantasy VII Remake slows down significantly, instantly hyper-focusing on particulars. Each second in Remake feels devoted to displaying course of—how the heroes get in, how they escape, what the flight from the Shinra authorities appears to be like like. Each second is expanded to point out in probably the most literal element the way it occurred. Whereas a whole lot of video games, particularly games from the unique PlayStation period, accepted breaks from actuality—cities logically a lot smaller than they actually can be, conflicts which are implied as a lot as they’re proven—Remake resists that for a extra literalist strategy to its storytelling. As such, a recreation that might play like a cyberpunk thriller typically seems like a slice-of-life story, a visit via probably the most complicated and detailed world Sq. Enix may muster.
It is tempting to assume this detail-oriented storytelling—which provides new settings, new aspect quests, and expanded backstories for a lot of characters—is an try at padding, filler. Final Fantasy VII Remake is not the whole thing of the unique FFVII; it covers solely the early hours of the unique recreation, the half spent totally in Midgar. But the brand new additions lengthen a decent 15-hour recreation right into a 30-hour one, and evidently was the purpose—to sluggish the participant‘s progress sufficient that they really feel they acquired their cash‘s price, whereas additionally giving Sq. Enix time to work on the subsequent installments.
However there’s extra to it than that. This strategy evinces a considerate, humanistic strategy to conveying this world’s story, one in all stratification—lower-class residents actually stay within the shadow of Midgar’s floating steel metropolis—and the prices and deserves of violent direct motion in a world starting to teeter getting ready to ecological collapse. Final Fantasy VII is so beloved, so well-known, it could‘ve been simple for Remake‘s builders to simply coast on the fumes of the sport‘s already-established mythology. To make everybody a bit bigger, a bit cooler, each second a bit extra thrilling. To inform the motion film model of the story, with ambiguity and humanity stripped away. However the methodical strategy right here ensures that this recreation does the other. As you wander its dauntingly massive cityscape, interactions with regular individuals make the characters really feel human, fallible, and small in a manner that Final Fantasy VII‘s weird sequels, and Sq. Enix’s crossovers, by no means actually did. Cloud is sort of childlike, a boy playacting at being a warrior and never at all times nailing the half. And Aerith, one of the crucial beloved tragic heroines in video games, is greater than a love curiosity right here—she’s an ethereal presence, a peaceful and cheery one who appears to exist half on this world and half in one other, extra religious, one. These are fallible, coherent characters, making errors and stumbling via a messed-up world. The sport‘s political questions hit extra successfully on this manner, too; as soon as you understand the individuals and settings of Midgar in additional intimate element, the violent actions you’re taking because the heroes, bombing town to save lots of the world, really feel considerably extra fraught. The sport is clearly on the aspect of our beloved ecoterrorists, but it surely‘s not afraid of the ethical ambiguity of that perspective.
This consideration to intimate element additionally extends to its new fight system, which pushes fights out of the turn-based mode of outdated and into frantic real-time motion. It is a system modeled after the unique, with meters that replenish as you assault and transfer that can be utilized on strategic particular talents. However the transfer to actual time lets the sport deal with the physicality of those characters, with lushly detailed animations for each swing of Cloud’s big sword, each punch Tifa throws, and each spell Aerith casts. One of the crucial vital realities of this fight system is the best way it communicates presence and weight, the way it additional serves to develop the primary forged. You get a way of them, not simply from how they work together however in how they combat, from Cloud’s preternatural soldier’s grace to Barrett’s wild machine-gun hearth.
It is also irritating that the chance wasn’t taken to repair among the unique recreation‘s worst excesses. Probably the most notable is the characterization of Barrett, who comes off extra as a parody of Mr. T than like every actual individual. He has depth as all of the characters do, however his vibe remains to be so extreme and so drawn from out-of-date stereotypical portrayals of black folks that it is flatly gorgeous that nothing was completed to make him learn extra realistically. It is a actually vital blind spot; one which feels, in probably the most benign interpretation, like a reliance on lazy tropes.
However these issues do not cease Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake from feeling like an attentive, enriching growth of the unique recreation‘s first half. Unhealthy remakes are content material to breed one thing that already exists, arguing for their very own superfluousness. Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake argues, in every single place, for its important place as an expanded, compassionate take a look at this story and the world it takes place in. Final Fantasy VII is without doubt one of the most fascinating tales the mainstream gaming trade has ever produced. Final Fantasy VII Remake, as a substitute of pulling out and viewing that story as a given, invitations you to look a little bit nearer.