The Final Fantasy 7 Remake Is The Love Letter That The Original Deserved
This week we’re going back to Midgar and you would not believe how they spruced up the place while you were away.
This isn’t going to be Final Fantasy spoiler free. Usually I’d find a spoiler warning on a 23 year old game a little laughable, but there are some truly delightful additions and Easter eggs that you may want to experience on your own.
I cannot tell you how many times Sephiroth has been defeated in my house in the last three days. Full disclosure, I finished the original for the first time very recently (I didn’t have any game systems in my house growing up until I was practically out the door for college plus I have a bad habit of getting mostly through video games and then moving on. One day I’ll beat BotW Ganon….), so between the multiple times you have to gauntlet-style defeat him in the original, my Switch having a software malfunction and shutting down two hits from finishing his final form, and the marathon playing of the remake… well, it’s been quite a few times. I’m pretty sure at this point I’m going to start seeing the characters in my dreams.
And so with the original so fresh in my mind the remake has been an absolute treat. It is truly a labor of love and a creation that pays tribute to a game that is so very near and dear to many people’s hearts.
If you’re familiar with the plot going in you’ll be rewarded with meaningful and recognizable background chatter and off-hand comments. For example, there are hints very early on that Cloud isn’t who he thinks as a random soldier-with-a-lowercase-s sees him and you hear as you walk away, “Hey, is that Cloud?” Members of Shinra also discuss Wutai and make reference to the war, flashbacks show Tifa in her Nibelheim cowboy phase and even Zack briefly appears. And this all takes place in a game that barely makes it out of Midgar before the credits start to roll. The FF7 Remake draws from not only the original 1997 game, but just a little from 2007’s Crisis Core, filling in gaps that the first left open and allowing themselves the space to tell the entire story. From the point of view of an established fan enjoying a game, these are fantastic Easter eggs and quick winks, but from a cinematic point of view, these little moments take the storytelling up an entire notch and a half.
With so much open space and 40+ hours of gameplay for a section of the original that would take maybe a third of that, you may expect the game to lag, but it never does. Sections of gameplay that would have taken fifteen minutes in the original run are expanded into side quests with multiple named secondary characters. No more is obtaining a wig and dress for Cloud a squat contest and finding some guy’s drunk dad. Now there’s a “massage parlor,” a chocobo cowboy, a playboy bee mansion, a Colosseum fight, and a J-Pop inspired dance sequence. And, yeah, I guess the squat contest is still there, too. All of it made me wonder exactly how long Don Corneo was going to wait before Tifa’s “audition” would start, but none of it felt tedious. It was fun! Watch multiple times on YouTube after finishing that part of the game fun.
The game also takes the time to make sense of questions that they glossed over or ignored originally. Was it a bit too convenient that Cloud and the crew breezed through the Shinra building in the original? Of course it was, but we didn’t talk about it because sometimes video games aren’t realistic. But now there’s a man inside destroying the security cam footage and giving them helpful hips and weapons. Did we ask for that clarification? I didn’t. Did I say, “Huh. Cool”? Absolutely. Before Midgar was a place to start your ecoterrorism career and eventually sacrifice to the trees, but the remake gives us a giant collection of background characters to speak with and help and visuals that make picturing a bustling city a little less of an exercise for your imagination. Midgar feels like a real place with thriving communities made up of multidimensional people.
I wish I had a “take” for FF7, but everything from the visuals to the voice acting, to the score, to the timing for the release of a game that constantly reminds you to treat your planet better is spot on and I watched the credits roll by while wanting more. It may not be your cup of tea, and I know at least a few people who shrug and “meh” at FF7 and have for years. They’re not wrong in as much as an opinion can’t be wrong, but this game wasn’t made for them and that’s A-ok. For those of us who watched blocky-pixel Red and his pups run around Gaia after the credits finished on the ’97 version and felt something deep in our hearts, this remake is a love letter.
Have you played the Final Fantasy 7 Remake yet? How do you think it held up the original? Who are you looking most forward to seeing in future chapters of this game? Let us know in the comments!