Hoped for twenty years, officially announced at the Los Angeles Video Game Show in 2015 with cheers from the crowd, Final Fantasy VII Remake will be officially available Friday April 10 on PlayStation 4.
It is a company with unprecedented ambition. Far from remasters more or less deserving who make up the games of the past to give them a new youth, this new version of the Japanese role-playing game Final Fantasy VII is a real remake, which tells the same story as the original but in a new game, without repeating a line of code from the original project. A “real” game of 2020, with a completely new staging, reinvented game mechanics, and an unparalleled narrative breadth.
But beware, you still need to know what you are buying: Final Fantasy VII Remake is seen less as a unique game than as the first episode of a saga in the making. And if the video game that comes out on Friday lasts more than thirty hours, it actually covers only the first third of the original game.
Released in 1997 on the first PlayStation and then on PC, sold 11 million copies, Final Fantasy VII is often regarded as the most striking role-playing game on the console, both for its engaging characters and for the technical revolution it represents.
It is indeed the first game in the series to offer a three-dimensional immersion, after six episodes in 2D. Above all, this is the episode with which a whole generation of players discovered the series, hitherto relatively obscure in America and completely unknown to the general public in Europe.
Twenty-three years later, the story of Cloud, Aerith and Sephiroth, crossed by environmental obsessions, remains in many ways surprisingly current. The form has aged, and this is the aspect that is most worked on in this new version. Avant-garde graphics, re-orchestrated music, inventive staging, technical, dynamic and rewarding battles: Final Fantasy VII Remake not only intends to pay tribute to one of the best games of 1997, but also wants to compete and even exceed most of the production of 2020.
When will it be in store?
Thorny question. Officially, Final Fantasy VII Remake was originally scheduled for March 3, before being pushed back to April 10. But while the coronavirus pandemic may have raised fears that the game might be delayed again, the reverse actually happened: March 30, publisher Square Enix has announced that the game will be distributed in advance in stores, starting with those of Europe and Australia, so as to take the lead in case of blockage.
The game therefore appeared last week on the shelves of specialized shops and supermarkets: for the dematerialized version, downloaded from the PlayStation Store online store, it will however have to wait until April 10, as expected.
If the general press can occasionally be circumspect (the Telegraph talk about a game “Breathtaking but puffy”), the Anglo-Saxon specialized press, it does not stop praising the new game of Square Enix. The Gamespot site (which highlights an achievement “Amazing (…), whether or not we played the original “) for example, gives him the perfect score of 10/10, and his competitor, Destructoid, a 9/10.
Same order of magnitude in France with the Jeuxvideo.com site, which assigns it 18/20. The first specialized site in France speaks of a “Real gem”, Mon “Some of the best games of recent years”, able to sublimate a scenario and a universe already known while reserving “Some revelations in the last part that will surprise even the fans”.
Still in France, Final Fantasy VII Remake wins an 8/10 on the specialized site Gamekult, which evokes an achievement “Who gets the best from Square Enix artists”, praises the new dynamism of the combat system and admires the “Plume” with which the creators of the game have revisited cult sequences. Without forgetting to underline lengths and writing problems, which “Cracks under the weight of years”. Above all, Gamekult regrets, like many, that the “Remake stops when the action really begins”.
Why should we be careful?
Even if its name does not imply it (you have to go find the information on the back of the game box, in the caption of a photo), be careful: Final Fantasy VII Remake is not actually a remake… As of the first chapter of the original game, the one which takes place in the industrial and twilight city of Midgar.
What in the original game was only a long introduction of six or ten hours is here stretched over more than thirty, even forty hours. We thus find all the adventures of Cloud Strife and his band, from the first sabotage of a reactor exploiting the precious terrestrial energy known under the name of Mako, until the flight of Midgar, told with forceful details necessarily, and even enriched of characters, nuances and twists.
For the rest, however, it will take patience again, probably years more … as it will, most certainly, go back to the cashier when buying the hypothetical episode 2 of the adventures of Cloud Strife.