Final Fantasy VII holds a special place in my heart for many of the same reasons it is important to everyone else. It was my first real JRPG and the experience exposed me to storytelling in gaming that I had yet to experience at that point in my life. But to dig a little deeper, there was something about this game that connected with me on a personal level as a middle schooler – and no, it had nothing to do with Tifa… mostly.
Like many kids navigating their formative years, I struggled with uncertainty in my identity. For me, it was growing up in the shadow of family and friends far more charismatic and extroverted than myself. So, discovering a hero whose life was arguable more confusing than mine and walking with him through a crisis of identity, experiencing the growth of openness to friendships, as well as empathizing in both pain and loss – these things were incredibly relevant to me during those years.
With all of that in mind, after playing the demo of Final Fantasy VII: Remake, I have decided that I am going to wait to play it.
Before anyone jumps to conclusions, this article is meant as neither a carton of contrarian spicy takes nor a blind nostalgic soapbox. These are my immediate impressions after playing the demo… which I will likely play a few times to confirm. In spite of my love for this game in its original form and my desire for the Remake to succeed, I don’t see myself in line when it launches.
Here is why:
1. I want to enjoy the Remake experience as a whole.
Square-Enix has been rather dodgy about just how many episodes this remake will consist of and the timeframe of release on them. This is a bit unsettling in light of how tumultuous getting to this point in development has been. As key people have either joined or left the project – specifically, a project of this scale, it reminds me way too much of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series of Final Fantasy games teased back in 2006.
In case you missed this situation, Fabula Nova Crystallis was meant to be an ambitious series of stories within the franchise that would be connected within a shared world. The title announced, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, would go through years of development hurdles, later having elements of the original idea repurposed to become Final Fantasy XV. This wasn’t necessarily a bad outcome for it, but it would take 10 years for the release of a project that strayed far from the original intention.
While I appreciated the final result of this delay, many would contest that, even after all those years, the game was not released in a finished form. The slow drip of DLC did not help matters either. The episodes did enhance the story, but each release became harder and harder to come back to. Let’s face it: we gamers are a fickle bunch with short attention spans. Unless it really grips our attention, holding open the window of investment in this singular title is a difficult thing to do in an ever-changing market of product releases.
For Final Fantasy VII, the uncertainty of development and no clear schedule for episodic releases gives me pause. I would rather wait to invest in a single, completed experience than indulge in the experience now with large chunks of time in between.
2. I want to make sure that my nostalgia goggles are fully removed.
Final Fantasy VII is a game that I revisit every couple of years; it makes sense since I own it on just about every platform one could own it on. Because of this, it is important fir me to enjoy the Remake for what it is – not as a carbon copy of the original, with the same story beats, but as a true-to-the-definition remake. Playing the demo reinforced a need in me for some separation.
Because there are going to be moments that will be reimagined, iconic ones notwithstanding. The demo makes that pretty certain. Even though the changes are a small difference, having Shinra know about the AVALANCHE attack and enhance the damage for hysteria’s sake adds a whole new layer of sinister to the organization while removing a bit of the gravity of AVALANCHE pulling this job off. That isn’t even to mention overt Jessie’s rather overt thing for Cloud, the Jenovah effect seen from the beginning, and the echos of Sephiroth before he is even introduced as a character.
I don’t hate these changes. I actually think they make for better storytelling. It does, however, change the story ever so slightly. Incremental changes like this build up over time, so I want to make sure that I’m in a place where I am open to them. I want to receive them for what they are rather than comparing them to a 23-year-old game.
3. I want to experience Final Fantasy VII: Remake at its best.
At the risk of sounding elitist, what I am really waiting for is an eventual release on PC. Yes, there are the benefits of PC hardware, but let’s look at this objectively: this is a major title with episodic content is being released on a console that is about to be replaced this year. Sony would be shooting themselves in the foot if they did not work out a deal with Square-Enix to release an enhanced edition or something of that nature with the launch of the PS5.
Waiting will allow game-breaking bugs to be fixed and optimization for new systems to be patched in. That isn’t to say that the demo experience was buggy. The demo handles itself well on the system, but the console is showing its age. For a game that is going to demand twitch responses to enemy mechanics, frame rates will matter and the demo felt taxing to my PS4 Pro.
In its current state, I think that the Final Fantasy VII: Remake is beautiful. The character design choices, level layout, color scheme and enemy designs (that we have seen) have elevated this game for a whole new audience. Let’s not leave the music out of this! These classic scores have been transformed into something truly wonderful from their synthesized beginning! But, that isn’t really impacted by platform.
Even still, I think that the best player experience for the Final Fantasy VII: Remake will be a future one.
This is a hard choice to arrive at, but I believe it is the right one for me. If you want another perspective of the demo, check out our coverage here.
I truly do look forward to rejoining some of my favorite video game characters on their quest to save the planet. I am eager to see how the story is enhanced within this remake by a new generation of developers. I anticipate that I will still weep during key moments.
However, after playing the demo, I am making the choice to wait.