Square-Enix just surprise-dropped a demo for their most anticipated game of the year: Final Fantasy VII Remake. Having played through the entire experience front to back, here are our 5 key takeaways from what might be the biggest game of 2020.
1) Nostalgia Overload
From the opening moments of the demo, which will almost certainly be the opening moments of the game, the nostalgia is keyed up to 11. The glorious reproduction of the original opening from Final Fantasy VII is everything you could want. There are slight touch-ups, like the immediate suggestion that Aerith is on the run, but it more or less matches the original to a glorious tee. The best part, they kept the jump cuts of the train tracks as the opening transitions into the bombing mission in Sector 1. It’s truly fantastic attention to detail and if the full package can match this moment throughout the adventure, we’re looking at something truly special next month when the Final Fantasy VII Remake has its proper release.
2) Amped Up Bosses
The only boss that players will face in the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo is the Guard Scorpion. What players may not expect is how long the fight goes for. Depending on how quickly you’re getting the hang of things, this fight could last you as little as 10 minutes or as long as 20. For a first boss, this is quite the revelation, as most players could have the Guard Scorpion down for the count in less than 5 minutes in the original game. Will all of the bosses see this kind of expansion, or is the Guard Scorpion only a one-off addition to kick start the adventure with a bang? Our money is on the former, as expanded boss fights will certainly beef up the play time on this expanded version of Final Fantasy VII.
3) Killer Battle System
The biggest change by far to the Final Fantasy VII Remake is the updated battle system. While it initially drew some criticism from the more nostalgic fans of the original game, let us put your worries to rest: this battle system rocks! Letting loose with attacks to fill up the ATB gauges is a blast, and the way the game encourages you to switch between characters during key moments of the demo gives you a clear idea of how different each character will play during combat. Think of it like a more streamlined version of Final Fantasy XV‘s battle system, and you’ll be part way there. It’s really stellar stuff and it offers the player the freedom to really play how they like when it comes to battles, even including a Classic mode for the absolute traditionalists among us.
4) Expansions on Supporting Characters
In case it weren’t obvious by the overall expansion of the original story into several parts, Final Fantasy VII Remake is expanding the roles of many supporting characters from the original game. Jesse gets a surprising amount of screen time here, almost rivalling Barret. Further, Biggs and Wedge get way more lines of dialogue than they had in Final Fantasy VII. Finally, villains like Heidegger and President Shinra are introduced much earlier, with 2 key scenes in the first 45 minutes. We can probably expect other characters like Aerith’s mother, the Turks and assorted Shinra baddies to get a lot more screen time as well in the first part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake.
5) Plot Changes Abound
While the structure of the first mission remains the same in Final Fantasy VII Remake, there are some obvious changes that portend the way that this remake will alter the plot of the original. For instance, Cloud is already having flashback moments and reunion-like contacts with Sephiroth at this early instance of the game. Since Sephiroth barely shows up during the Midgar section of Final Fantasy VII, it’s not a surprise (given the expanded structure here) that they’re introducing him earlier. In fact, fans can probably expect a lot of the backstory that was unfolded during other parts of the original adventure to be off loaded here, during the Midgar installment. Finally, the fact that President Shinra and Heidegger purposefully allow the Sector 1 reactor to be destroyed, even speeding up the process, is a new addition that could go a couple of different directions in the overall plot.
Final Fantasy VII Remake releases next month on April 10th 2020.