Hello and welcome to The Starlight Megaphone’s playthrough of Final Fantasy VII Remake, an Action RPG released for the PlayStation 4 worldwide on 10 April 2020; it is billed as a ‘remake’ of the classic PlayStation JRPG Final Fantasy VII, which was the subject of our second site-wide playthrough in September 2009.
The publishing date of this post, and the launch day of our playthrough, is the scheduled release date for Final Fantasy VII Remake. As a result, the verdict has yet to be solidified regarding the game’s reception with its intended audience. However, due to the shipping kerfuffle caused by the ongoing pandemic, the game is already in the hands of many reviewers who have rendered their judgement as to its quality in effusive (but ill-deserved) praise. After the last main series Final Fantasy release of Final Fantasy XV–a game which was narratively underwhelming, mechanically unambitious, and burdened with in-game-marketing–fans of Square Enix were hoping for a return to form for the Final Fantasy franchise on the PlayStation 4.
The original game is highly regarded for its exceptional narrativising, world-building, and cohesive structural excellence. In addition to a battle system which exemplifies the best of JRPG design (not only in 1997 but even more than two decades hence), and a cast of characters which were a source of delight and interest rather than resentment and annoyance, the original release of Final Fantasy VII would have been a good game by any measure. But with its exceptional storytelling and pacing, its relentless building of tension and increased stakes, culminating in the protagonist’s own development from an introverted loner into a cooperative and empathetic leader, Final Fantasy VII represents one of the best efforts ever realised in the history of video games. Clearly, expectations for the Remake are high–and have been deliberately heightened by Square Enix, who have insisted that in producing the Remake, they would be producing a game which excelled beyond the original in every measure.
The original game is one of the best-known JRPGs in the world, and has garnered praise consistently since its original release, winning plaudits, awards, and places at the top of ‘best ever’ lists from fans and news media alike for more than twenty years. Final Fantasy VII Remake has arrived into a highly-charged field of expectations and has vexed and perplexed many gamers who have had a chance to engage with the title at this early date. Part of the confusion may stem from Square Enix’s decision, throughout the development process, to bill the game as a ‘remake’, establishing an audience expectation that new title would maintain the narrative and gameplay integrity of the original.
However, early feedback from our staff indicates that the game is more properly an ‘alternate history’–a retelling of the original story with key events changed in their execution and detail, so that a different ‘storyline’ results from events which are only similar to the original game in the broadest sense. Consequently, fans of the original who are expecting the story to be faithfully reproduced, albeit it with added detail, will find themselves bewildered–at best–by a storyline which takes more than a few liberties with the plot as written. Instead, an entirely new storyline awaits, although it is a tale peopled with characters who seem, at least on the face of it, familiar.
With the new game being largely unknown to our readers and staff alike, The Starlight Megaphone is especially interested in your engagement with the game in particular (including its relation to the original) and the Final Fantasy series in general. Have you played a Final Fantasy game in the past, or is this your first experience with the franchise? Have you played the original, or even participated in our original 2009 playthrough? What is your opinion of that experience as compared to playing the Remake? Does this game interest you further in the Final Fantasy franchise or in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII meta-series?
Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, secrets you have uncovered, and what materia, battle style, and difficulty level you are using in your playthrough. Do you feel that the Final Fantasy series is still relevant given its JRPG origins on the Famicom and its development into a quasi-middlebrow technological showpiece? Do you find the new, more open gameplay liberating, or frustrating and repetitive? Would you support further remakes from the Final Fantasy series, or would you prefer for an entirely new game in the franchise? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.
The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in two months:
– April: Reach Wall Market.
– May: Escape from Midgar.
Please join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. The extended time frame will allow anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Comment and tell your friends!
Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone’s staff members and readers playing Final Fantasy VII Remake as we dive In Another Lifestream!