On Saturday the gaming world was rocked by the first official CGI and gameplay trailer for Final Fantasy VII Remake, which first blew everyone’s mind back at E3 when the project was revealed to the public. The new footage looked very promising, offering modern designs for the FF7 cast and Midgar environments, as well as a new take on the game’s combat. It was impossible not to get excited about this project after watching the new footage, but then Square Enix slid in a curious press release on Sunday that cast a shadow of doubt over this game’s potential awesomeness.
One sentence in particular in the press release should have all fans of Final Fantasy VII Remake concerned. It reads, “FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE will be told across a multi-part series, with each entry providing its own unique experience.” This is saying that the game will be episodic, which would be a first for the Final Fantasy franchise, and a drastic departure from the original Final Fantasy VII, which was a standard FF RPG full of hundreds of hours of content spread across three PS1 compact discs. It’s odd that Square Enix would take this classic and turn it into an episodic title considering that it’s a traditional RPG, which already has a coherent adventure to play through that doesn’t make sense to break up.
It now seems like Square is trying to get too cute with FF7 Remake by altering how its narrative will be delivered. I think everyone envisioned that the original would change a bit for the remake, because it is a very old game that could use a few updates to its gameplay, visuals, and cutscenes, but not a fundamental overhaul of how the experience is delivered. There’s a great chance that this remake will now be devoid of the classic RPG tropes that made FF7 so addicting and memorable in the first place.
For example, if the game is episodic in every sense of the word how will a player traverse the overworld map if certain content is locked in another episode? Will there even be an overworld map now? Will players be able to grind to boost XP? Will leveling characters even be a thing in this version of the game? Will the materia system remain in tact? Will the Ruby and Emerald bonus bosses be present? Can Cloud breed and race chocobos? All of these questions come into play now thanks to yesterday’s revelation on how FF7 Remake will be delivered.
Many more questions like those above are now on the table, which is a shame, because I, like most of you, have been dreaming of a modern version of FF7 for years, and thought we were finally getting one after the E3 reveal of FF7 Remake and the PSX gameplay footage shown off this Saturday. Now that dream version of the classic RPG sounds like a pipe dream thanks to the decision to turn it into an episodic experience. I can’t help but think that Square is trying to turn this title into a Telltale series game now, which is debatable based on the statement featured in the most recent press release.
The fact that each release will also feature “its own unique experience” is concerning as well, because it hints at the fact that each new episode will be different from the next. Who knows if this means the gameplay will change completely, or if the narrative will be told in a new style, but one thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that FF7 Remake is not the remake we were yearning for after all. This is concerning because it’s now clear that Square Enix thinks it knows what FF7 fans want, but clearly has no idea, even with years of evidence at their disposal guiding them towards what hardcore FF7 fans really want, which is just a modern looking version of the game with the core narrative untouched, and the old school gameplay refined but not fundamentally changed.
Big time publishers and game developers sometimes tend to overthink a home run project, but not when it comes to a nostalgic one, which are usually opportunities to print money, so it’s mind blowing to find out that Square Enix is taking such an odd approach to the delivery of FF7 Remake. There’s no way this game can now be what the legions of fans dreamed it could be, and its pricing model will surely drive another stake into the hearts of fans thanks to the episodic model. I just don’t see how a RPG can be turned into a multi-part experience and not feel shallow. If each episode costs $60, they better last as long as a full retail game. If each episode only costs $5-$10, then how can they deliver more than a few hours of content? It’ll be interesting to see how this project unfolds over the coming months, but for now I’d recommend we all put our hype meters in check and start coming to the realization that FF7 Remake is not going to be the remake we have been clamoring for after all.
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