Image: IGDB/Square Enix

Game of the Year: ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’

Final Fantasy VII remains one of the most beloved games of all time, with many fans clamouring for a remake years after its original release. Then, in 2015, those wishes were granted with the announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Unbeknownst at the time, the road to its completion would be long and arduous. 

Fans were left in the dark for years before hearing any further details, with sparse behind-the-scenes information causing concern, as most of the work on Remake had to seemingly be scrapped and redeveloped. 

By all accounts, Remake should have been anywhere from average to a disaster, yet we suddenly got a revival of the game in May 2019, with further details being released at that year’s E3. Fans were ecstatic, and the game looked incredibly promising based on everything shown, leading to its long-awaited release in March 2020. Not only did they finally deliver in giving us a remake of one of the most beloved games ever, but Square Enix really has managed to deliver what I believe is the best game of 2020.

It should be noted that Remake is not actually a remake of the entirety of the original Final Fantasy VII. Instead, the team remade the first part of the game, which takes place in the metropolis Midgar, as a means to further flesh out the world and characters whilst establishing gameplay concepts. 

Despite not being the entire original experience, Remake is still a full-length game and is absolutely worth playing. The gameplay in Remake is fantastic, with its battle system being a mixture of action combat and turn-based elements from the original. You freely move, attack, and dodge, but landing hits on an enemy fills up a gauge that allows you to perform more useful actions like magic, using items, and special abilities, and you can even direct other characters on the fly to reflect the turn-based elements of the original. 

Final Fantasy VII Remake absolutely lives up to the hype, and shows that the developers clearly care just as much about the original’s legacy as the fans do

Classic elements from the original like Materia and summoning remain, and are as useful as ever, alongside newly added weapon customisation and skill points helping you to fine-tune your characters and abilities. I was worried about Remake’s gameplay, but the team really brought the best of both worlds. Otherwise, exploration is a typical affair through a variety of areas with sidequests and optional treasures to find.

The characters are brought to life in a wonderful way, each feeling the best they have since the original game, in spite of any other appearances over the years. The story is mostly a faithful retelling of the original story, and it was an absolute joy seeing all the classic moments remade with modern production values. In particular, I’m very glad Square Enix kept all the weird and funny moments of the original and didn’t remove or tone them down. 

Remake’s ending differs significantly from the same point in the original which, while being somewhat divisive amongst fans, has allowed the developers to set up future surprises in the later parts, and keep fans on their toes about what the story will present next – and how. 

Graphically, the game is gorgeous, and runs fantastically as well, with the soundtrack itself a contender for best of the year. The classic tracks sound wonderful with modern arrangements and instrumentation, and the new pieces specifically for Remake are also fantastic.Final Fantasy VII Remake absolutely lives up to the hype, and shows that the developers clearly care just as much about the original’s legacy as the fans do. The combat feels the best it ever has for nearly twenty years, the story and characters are wonderful, and there is some genuinely good replay value here for those who value it too. The game does not act as a replacement for the original, especially given how differently the combat is and the endgame changes to the story, but finishing Remake has actually made me want to go back and replay the original, and Remake stands as a worthy follow-up to the original and its legacy.

Final Fantasy VII Remake absolutely lives up to the hype, and shows that the developers clearly care just as much about the original’s legacy as the fans do. The combat feels the best it ever has for nearly twenty years, the story and characters are wonderful, and there is some genuinely good replay value here for those who value it too. The game does not act as a replacement for the original, especially given how differently the combat is and the endgame changes to the story, but finishing Remake has actually made me want to go back and replay the original, and Remake stands as a worthy follow-up to the original and its legacy.

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