Final Fantasy VII Remake Review - Living up to the Hype

Final Fantasy VII Remake lives up to the hype and then some.
Final Fantasy VII Remake lives up to the hype and then some. / Photo by Square Enix

Written By: Brian J. Stieve

The wait is over! Final Fantasy VII Remake is finally released to fans eagerly awaiting it since the tech demo on PS3 back in 2005. Join Cloud, Tifa, Barrett and the rest of Avalanche as you fight for the planet and take on Shinra, monsters, and even organized crime. With such lofty expectations for such a beloved game, will it be able to rise up to the hype - or ultimately need a phoenix down?


Final Fantasy VII Remake Part One takes place entirely in Midgar - a massive city metropolis center surrounded by slums in every direction known as “sectors”. Take control of the main protagonist Cloud Strife - an Ex-Soldier, now mercenary empowered by Mako - the lifeblood of the planet itself. No job is too big or small for this merc... without a mouth… He has a pretty dry attitude and is a man of few words... The man just wants to get paid and move on with his life.

Cloud is hired by an environmentally friendly resistance group “Avalanche”. They are dead set on stopping the evil corporate conglomerate Shinra from draining the planet of its precious life essence - the aforementioned Mako. While you think this group would be well supported amongst the people living in the slums, it’s actually quite mixed. Shinra poses themselves as safe harbingers to the populace and uses this energy to provide basic necessities such as electricity and technology that people use in their everyday lives. However, their intentions upon further investigation are anything but altruistic. 

While presenting a cool and tough exterior at the onset, throughout the game’s events and the meeting of various characters - you’ll see the self-built emotional wall around Cloud slowly deteriorate. This one of the many great updates to the game from the original. Each character both good and bad gets a more in-depth backstory, and they’re all brimming with personality. They each have their own moment to shine which is a truly standout accomplishment for such a large game and it becomes hard to pick a favorite. Through the twists and turns abundant throughout the story and each chapter, It’s difficult not to make a connection with each and every one of them. These characters if nothing else have layers.


Not to be outdone by the story, the gameplay across the board in this remake is expertly crafted. Combat is some of the most fluid in all of gaming and perfectly blends real-time combat with strategy and planning. You can switch between any character in your party on the fly with the flick of a button. If you want to issue a command to a non-active character, you’ll slow down to a bullet-time like a system as you issue out your commands and attacks strategically. If you’re akin to the older turn-based style combat, you can change to classic mode. In this mode, your character’s movements will all be controlled by the computer as you simply issue commands from your ATB gauge. While this tries to connect nostalgic fans to an older style of combat, it definitely is not as engaging as the real-time combat in normal. We found it’s best reserved for some more trivial encounters if you want to speed things up with random encounters. 

The difficulty is pretty well balanced as well. While early fights you can just hack and slash your way through, they get progressively more and more complex as the game goes on. You’ll have to incorporate blocking, dodging and utilize different characters more for specific fights. Even a standard enemy can pose a threat if you try to fight it haphazardly. Each character feels completely unique in their own right.  Cloud switches combat stances on the fly, Tifa can pummel her opponents to a pulp and upheave them with her uppercut attack. They are both quite formidable in close range combat. On the other end of the spectrum, Barret and Aerith dish out their damage from a distance, making it easier for them to deal with distant or aerial foes. 

One minor annoyance is when you’re forced to deal with these aerial enemies with your melee combat foes. The camera becomes jittery and it’s very difficult to fight and follow the action against them, even if they’re weaker enemies.

While they all have unique abilities, the characters can be used interchangeably when it comes to magic. This game offers a Materia system where you can seamlessly equip any Materia to any character’s equipment - allowing them to cast spells. This also creates many opportunities for unique and different play-styles, and you can build your characters against their standard archetypes if you’d like. Throughout the game, you’ll also be able to use summoning Materia. These summons somehow push the combat experience to even more epic heights than you would think possible.

Navigation at times becomes challenging. As you walk around and enter enemy encounters, the camera will undoubtedly be spinning around as you unleash your wrath upon anything in your path. It’s very easy to get spun around and backtrack accidentally, forcing you to be constantly checking the menu to look at the map. This, unfortunately, can take you out of the flow of the game at times. In addition, at times you’ll be in a race against the clock for different scenarios but there will be chests to stop and open along the way. They seem randomly placed given the in game-scenarios and the opening animations are rather slow, which can take you out of the moment as well. While they do an impeccable job updating the game design nearly across the board from the original game, it would have been nice to see the loot system receive an update as well.

A boss fight caps off the end of each chapter and are brilliantly designed encounters. Each has its own attack formations and abilities. With the flexibility of the battle system though you can approach them a number of ways, giving the game plenty of replayability. They are larger than life in personality or stature, and sometimes both. 


This game is a masterclass when it comes to cinematography and audio design. The cinematics do a phenomenal job of capturing the essence of the moment and give you all the feels to help make those deep connections with the characters. The camera, especially during the action sequences from start to finish will have your eyes glued to the screen, not wanting to blink. These action sequences have pacing, rhythm, and excitement like no other in the industry. They can even put Hollywood action blockbusters to shame.

The game designers decided to revamp the character’s looks and feel. They disregarded the designs from the Advent Children movie and it would seem they made the right choice. The outfits, the hair, accessories - everything about the characters is a perfect extension of the character’s personalities. They do a perfect balancing job of staying true to the source material of the original game, yet pushing everything further. 

The creature design is just as well done and its truly impressive how they can make even a rat seem menacing in combat. No two creatures look the same and you never know what you’ll run into next.There’s a healthy mix of summons, animals, monsters, robots, humans and even these ninja turtle looking things that live in the sewer system.

Voice acting throughout is impeccable as it seems every character is expertly cast. From the adorable Marlene to the tough and rugged Barret and everything in between - the voices just fit perfectly and push the character designs even further.

The same can be said for the original soundtrack of the game. While true to their roots, they aren’t completely tied to them and push the envelope whenever possible. As great as the action and character-building cinematics are, they would be nothing without the perfect OST to accompany them. “One-Winged Angel never sounded so good”.

Combine this with all the expertly tuned sound effects, and you have as close to a perfect presentation as possible. There are even a few Easter eggs thrown in for long time fans of the series to appreciate.

Closing Statement

With lofty expectations and a lengthy development, Final Fantasy VII Remake had a lot to live up to. Fortunately for Square Enix, they nailed it on virtually every single front. This game sets a new standard for RPGs and the gaming industry as a whole. Even though this remake is being split into several parts, it surprisingly clocks in at 35+ hours on the main story alone. Our biggest disappointment was that it had to end and we cannot wait for part two. Both fans of the series and newcomers alike do not want to miss this truly remarkable masterpiece that will surely be talked about for years to come.

Score: 10