Square-Enix dropped the Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo on the Playstation Store on Monday, March 2nd, 2020 after months of speculation about its release. Fans have seen plenty of gameplay and trailers, but wanted a chance to experience the game for themselves, myself included. It’s a beautiful game wrapped in concern over its combat mechanics. How is it? Allow me to share what I enjoyed and what concerns me about the Final Fantasy VII Remake, based on this demo.
What I Enjoyed About the Demo
- Graphics: This game is stunning. I played the demo on a standard Playstation 4 and performance seems to stay at 30 frames-per-second. The attention to detail is clearly visible. From the characters to the environments, I made sure to walk closely to inspect different elements and everything looked great while also preserving its roots from the original game. The mechanical environment of the demo featured fog, multiple light sources and explosions that stand-tall among the very best games on PS4.
- Music: My favorite part of the Final Fantasy games is the soundtrack, and this game doesn’t fall short one bit. From the main menu to the battles that took place throughout experience, the music reminded me of the original game while also adding a “punch” to the bass and other instruments to complement the higher pace of action.
- Character Interaction: The opening hours of Final Fantasy VII feature a group called Avalanche. Many of these characters are forgotten in the grand scheme of Final Fantasy history, but it seems this remake is dedicated to adding more personality and time to group members such as Jesse and Biggs. The added production value of camera cuts and wide angle shots during cutscenes certainly added a nice touch of storytelling that complemented each character’s dialogue throughout the demo.
- Voiceover: In a follow-up to the previous point, all characters in the demo seemed to match fairly well with the voice performances attached to them. There was much concern about Barret’s voice upon the remake’s reveal out of fear he was being treated as a stereotypical character, but listening to characters interact between cutscenes and during action showed there’s genuine chemistry between the voice actors bringing these characters to life.
Concerns and “Remains To-Be-Seen”
I can’t say I disliked anything about the demo. That being said, I do have concerns over different features, so let’s talk about those.
- Combat System: The most controversial topic remains controversial. The action-oriented mechanics feel rewarding and I enjoyed switching between Cloud and Barrett and learning the differences of how each one plays out. Cloud is the short-range ex-soldier, while Barrett does a better job at taking out enemies from a distance. As you unleash basic attacks your ATB gauge fills up, allowing you to use magic, items and other special abilities. Does it all work? Yes. Did it feel overwhelming? For the short period of time, yes. There are elements of combat that happen live/in-the-moment, while others slow-down the gameplay giving you more time to make smart decisions. I had an adjustment period as I figured out what I was playing. Is this an JRPG? Is this a hack ‘n slash? The answer is both, neither and more. All of the mechanics work, but it may be overwhelming for someone looking to get into the world of Final Fantasy. Fortunately, they do have options that automate some of the combat so there is less strain on the player.
- Downtime Between Combat: The fact the demo focuses on the opening mission means there’s not much context as to how the remake handles non-combat parts of Final Fantasy VII. My favorite moments of the original games was walking around towns and getting to know characters. Is there a solid balance between action/missions and everything else? That remains to be seen. I played Final Fantasy XV, but fell off after a few hours because something felt off about the way characters interacted during their downtime.
Will I purchase the Final Fantasy VII Remake? Absolutely. It was a day-one purchase the moment it was announced and the kid in me is ready to step back into Midgar and remember the great times I had playing this game during the 90’s. I hope we are able to switch the combat mechanics and/or difficulty as we play [even at the expense of losing trophies, if that were the case], as I’m concerned I’ll get tired of having to micro-manage multiple characters in a live environment. Who knows, maybe we all get adjusted to the new mechanics and they’ll fit like a used glove, but rest assured I’ll be giving my opinions on the full game once it’s released for the Playstation 4 on April 10th, 2020.
Are you going to purchase the remake? Let me know, and don’t forget I have a Youtube channel where I publish a new video every Sunday. Most recently, I spoke about 10 games I want to play this year and streamed the entirety of the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo. Thanks for reading and have a great week!