The GWJ JPRG Club: Final Fantasy VII Remake (Q1 2024)

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It is an understatement to say that among JRPGs, Final Fantasy VII casts an enormous shadow. It was era-defining, in that it heralded the transition away from the golden age of 16-bit RPGs, and console-defining, in that it caused SquareSoft's break with Nintendo. It was enormously influential, and has left an enormous legacy. And when it comes to Final Fantasy 7 Remake, those questions of legacy cannot be escaped. They were present in the announcement of the game, in the discourse before its release, in the discourse about the game after it's release, and -- to a degree -- in the story of the game itself.

Does Final Fantasy VII Remake live up to the legacy? Is that even the way to evaluate this game? Can it stand on its own merits, or do we judge it solely by reference to its predecessor? And how many times am I going to challenge Jules to pull-ups and squats, anyway? Join us, and find out!

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/vGK0njR.png)

Well I have it installed and ready to play so at least I'll try. Unlike how I installed, then modded, but never started FF IX last year...

I’m in, but it’ll be a few weeks before I get started.

Interesting, I just finished this a month ago.

I need to finish up Chained Echoes first but then I will be jumping into this.

Gotta finish Tears of the Kingdom before I hop in for at least Intergrade, but looking forward to the convos from the folks going through their first time!

One thing that I quite like so far is that giving the story more room to breathe is allowing for supporting characters like Jesse, Biggs, and Wedge to actually get some character moments and to be fleshed out a bit.

Farscry wrote:

One thing that I quite like so far is that giving the story more room to breathe is allowing for supporting characters like Jesse, Biggs, and Wedge to actually get some character moments and to be fleshed out a bit.

It's honestly the biggest strength of the remake. They feel like characters, not paper thin sketches you abandon after 30 minutes. Same with how Midgard is fleshed out. As memorable as Wall Market is, you can blow through it in 20 minutes or less. The remake gives you a very strong sense of place of each area of Midgard and shows you how people really live there. The actual side quests may feel slight, and the dungeons may be too long, but there's something to be said for immersing yourself in the location overall.

I agree with this, I think it's one of the reasons the Remake works so well. When we went back and played Final Fantasy VI, a year and a half ago, and Chrono Trigger, before that, it stood out to me how quickly the stories moved from beat to beat. The characters were sketeched broadly, and side characters (unless they recurred a lot) were given only the briefest exposition or a bit of dialogue to show who they are. To me, the characters here make much more of an impact, and Midgar feels much more like a cohesive city (and much more oppressive). I think it's a big achievement.

I just don't think that would work in the modern era of storytelling, and even if Final Fantasy VII Remake were stripped of all the side quests, and kept tightly focused on the story, I think that story would still take 15-20 hours. It's just a necessary feature of voice acting, modern graphical representation of the environment, movement through space in 3D, the battle system, etc. It's one of the reasons why I never understood all the "this isn't a complete game because it doesn't have the whole Final Fantasy VII story" thing. With any attempt at modern storytelling, you'd never be able to fit all of the original Final Fantasy VII's content into a new game.

The expansion of the NPC roles and development of Midgard was definitely a big part of my enjoyment of the game.

I prefer this approach to a more direct 1:1 remake.

As I type this, I'm setting up Final Fantasy VII Remake and the Yuffie DLC to install -- I had to clear it, a while back, to make room for other things. And, to make room to reinstall the game, I had to delete FF XVI, which (to my continued surprise) I've barely touched. In the meantime, as I'll be doing a NG+ run, it seems like a good time to take stock of the things I still need to do to get the Platinum! I've spoiler-tagged these because a couple of the trophies are battles only accessible in NG+ -- though I don't know if they really count as "spoilers" per se.

Spoiler:

Obtain all 9 dresses
Complete all sidequests
Collect all music disks
Attain level 50 with a character
Deal 300% damage to a staggered enemy
Complete all battle intel reports
Learn all enemy skills
Defeat a Malboro (NG+)
Defeat the Pride & Joy Prototype (NG+)
Complete all chapters on hard

If I remember correctly, some of the achievements are missable within a single playthrough.

Oh yes, they definitely are. You can't get all quests on a single playthrough, and you can see at most three (of the 9) dresses for the Don Corneo scene without going back and doing chapter select. Plus some trophies are specifically keyed to Hard Mode, which you can only get after completing the base game.

I'm also playing through for the second time, but just on Normal. I never really got to grips with the combat last time so my aim is to focus on that this time. The Ch 1 boss wiped the floor with us a couple of times but since then nothing has been remotely as challenging (now at the end of Ch 4).

One thing that has struck me this time is the stilted way in which everyone speaks. It must be a deliberate choice, like they are trying to maintain the awkwardness of the old dialog, but it seems out of place when the lines are spoken and everything else looks relatively modern.

Yeah, I may play this again someday but I am not sure if Hard Mode sounds fun.

I didn’t feel that the dialogue was especially stilted or awkward. A little bit, but not to the point that it seemed like a deliberate choice. Some of the characters definitely have a stylized way of speaking that is intentional, of course.

I thought the dialog had a definite "style" to it. I don't know if I'd call it "anime" or "Final Fantasy" or what, but it is similar to how the boys spoke in Final Fantasy 15. A lot of breathy vocalizations, grunts, gasps, etc. Everyone's emotions are on their sleeves. At the same time, something about their delivery (outside of Barret) feels very naturalistic. It swings from normal believability to overt anime style for the main characters. Side characters and villains are more tropey and cartoonish in their vocal delivery, but I love how Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, and Red XIII sound.

beanman101283 wrote:

I thought the dialog had a definite "style" to it. I don't know if I'd call it "anime" or "Final Fantasy" or what, but it is similar to how the boys spoke in Final Fantasy 15. A lot of breathy vocalizations, grunts, gasps, etc. Everyone's emotions are on their sleeves. At the same time, something about their delivery (outside of Barret) feels very naturalistic. It swings from normal believability to overt anime style for the main characters. Side characters and villains are more tropey and cartoonish in their vocal delivery, but I love how Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, and Red XIII sound.

Yes, this! It's not just what they say but also how they emote and animate. There's definitely a style they are aiming for but I don't know enough to identify it. Or a blend of styles, old and new, I suppose. I'd love to know how the writers and actors were briefed.

Alright, so I am back in. I actually had briefly started my NG+ playthrough a while ago, but it had been a while and honestly, I wanted to experience the story from the beginning, including the excellent Chapter 1 sequence. I remember playing the demo, several years back, and thinking that the game just nailed that opening scene, from the cinematic to the time when you hear the driving pulse of the Bombing Mission track and see Cloud jumping from the train. It was a fun level to replay, and I loved seeing the characterization of, and interactions between, the whole crew. Jesse, Biggs, and Wedge are such great personalities.

If there is or was a bahamut summon.... i never got it!

Regarding that:

Spoiler:

Getting Bahamut is very much an endgame thing. I believeit requires you to have done all of Chadley's intel reports. I don't remember if NG+ is required for that.

Yeah the game starts out so strong! I've been playing a bit over the past couple of weeks and have just reached Chapter 12. Such a strange brew of nostalgia and modernity, especially playing for the second time so my memories of the original FF7 are now mixed in with memories of my first time through the remake.

Think I'm doing a bit better with the combat, but it still feels like there is too much to manage effectively all at once. It's like I'm juggling one or two more balls than I'm comfortable with. Really I just want FF12 gambits back again so I can prep outside of combat rather than frantically trying to get everyone doing what I want during a battle.

ComfortZone wrote:

Think I'm doing a bit better with the combat, but it still feels like there is too much to manage effectively all at once. It's like I'm juggling one or two more balls than I'm comfortable with. Really I just want FF12 gambits back again so I can prep outside of combat rather than frantically trying to get everyone doing what I want during a battle.

One of the things I loved most in FF XV (and wish they'd kept/pursued) is "wait" mode, so that those who prefer a more strategic than action-oriented experience had time for thought.

I still managed (even beat it on hard mode) but I've reached a point in life where my reflexes are declining.

The lower difficulty setting lets the game somewhat play itself while you wait to input commands. It’s not the same as 15’s Wait Mode but it does let you take things more slowly.

One nice thing about the Integrade version is you can enable Classic mode for any difficulty. It seems to apply the party AI to the character you're currently controlling, so they will also move, attack and defend without your input - although you can take over at any time. I found it a bit chaotic though and switched it off after a couple of battles.

Yeah I tried it because I was struggling at first with the regular combat. But the wait mode… it feels real awkward. I decided to just get used to how the game was actually designed to be played and once I got the hang of it, I ended up really enjoying it.

One thing, though… the game, I think, or maybe it was just people online, might tell you to constantly switch between characters since they build up their energy or whatever faster when you control them. I didn’t really find this to be necessary on regular difficulty. I would switch around sure, but I didn’t worry about being that efficient. I just keep an eye on the other two meters and used the ability to send a command to them instead of always switching. That helped me a lot in feeling like the system was more manageable.

I played as Cloud the most and then Tifa second. I’d switch and focus on Barrett when there was a lot of air enemies. I played as Tifa more later on as I got comfortable and understood the stagger system better.

I also was a bit bad at avoid damage so I had a lot of heal material equipped on characters.

I think the character you control directly also draws aggro from the enemies, too. I remember when I played originally that Tifa felt like a glass cannon: I liked playing as her, but if I controlled her for too long, she would get knocked down real quick.

Wrapped up SMRPG Remake and fired up my NG+ run of this. Only made it through the first reactor so far, but even being super overpowered, I am still not liking the combat system in this game. It's impossible to avoid taking any damage, so it is purely a battle of attrition. Granted, at this point the incoming damage is negligible so it doesn't matter, still feels bad that I can't do anything to take zero damage like in a Souls game though.

Also, I really hate the boss mechanics in this game. You hit a certain HP threshold and their HP won't go down anymore until a cinematic plays and they enter a new phase. Makes NG+ runs feel really chaotic, and I remember when I went through the first time I would unleash a big Limit Break or powerful spell and have it do like 10% of its intended damage because the boss went immune to proc a phase change.

I do really like how much time they give the story beats and fleshing out the characters and their interactions though. Jesse, Biggs, and Wedge get to be real characters instead of pawns to move the story forward (although Biggs and Wedge were always just cameo characters in the past anyway).

And I'm off, done with Ch.1 and into Ch.2 now.

This is my first time playing the FF7 remake since it's on PC now, although I'm familiar with some of the....updates in the story later on. I'm also a late comer to FF7 in general; I checked steam, and it looks like I played it for the first time back in 2014. I was a Nintendo kid growing up, and so always sided with Link over Cloud in the gamefaqs "best video game character" polls; FF7 was not a defining gaming moment of my childhood. But when I played it about a decade ago (!!!), I still appreciated it and thought it held up, graphics aside, and I could see why it was so groundbreaking for its time.

And now in the remake, I love the graphics and the voice acting and the presentation so far. It may just be kind of an action RPG with lots of clicking, but I adore it. It also helps that I found a better mouse and keyboard mapping layout on reddit, since the defaults were pretty frustrating even against basic enemies.

Finally took a hearty dip in this evening and saved midway through Ch. 3! While I'd beaten Remake back in the Summer of 2020, this is my first time taking the PS5 Intergrade version for a spin. It looks gorgeous & runs buttery smooth. I'm def. benefitting from my loose bits of retained knowledge from my original playthrough, and finding myself enjoying and clicking with the combat much better this second go-round.

What I'd forgotten about was the massive amount of vocal clutter provided by the ambient NPC dialogue. Moving too fast through the slums (or goodness forbid you walk in a small circle) feels like being a telepath getting overwhelmed in a crowded environment when they can't tune everyone's thoughts out.

They do go a bit overboard with the chatter, don't they? Especially when you start hearing the same lines repeated. I really noticed it in Chapter 13 - which is still pretty effective, in light of recent world events.

I'm on Chapter 14 now and also getting along better with the combat this time around. I haven't found a party setup that works for everything though. Most bigger fights, I will start, discover my materia are totally inappropriate, restart and then do OK. It feels a bit clunky but I think that's what you are meant to do - they even give you a "retry from before battle" option on the pause screen.

Forward progress, and I’m up through Ch.4.

Random notes:

-The lack of fast travel as you run around the slums is a bit annoying, but I suppose they are trying to emphasize the sense of place. At least it’s fairly small.
-Motorcycle ride was finicky on keyboard, but we survived.
-I’ve loved how over the top our motorcycle friend is.
-Cloud is warming up, but trying to keep that on the down low when someone notices it. See: “I ain’t your bro”, then jumping with the parachute. In fact, Wedge being friendly annoying Cloud to no end which was kind of funny.

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