Hiya… or should I say, “Heya,” like the girls in Final Fantasy VII Remake?
As you probably have guessed by that introduction, yes, I finally started playing Final Fantasy VII Remake. I promised myself I would get myself the physical discs of Square Enix’s latest masterpiece the day I was able to get out and buy it. The day the Quarantine order in my city was lifted (actually, it was modified but that’s a whole other story), I immediately found an excuse to get out of the house with my brother (as I needed a driver), went to my nearest video game store, purchased my copy of Final Fantasy VII Remake, went home and immediately started playing the heck out of it!
Now, I haven’t played the original version of the game, which is why I was super excited to experience the world of Final Fantasy VII for the first time with this Remake. Right now, I’m going through the demolished Sector 6 with Cloud Strife and Aerith Gainsborough, using giant robot hands to maneuver through the twisty passages. The game has been fun and I’m truly having a blast with the game. I have to say it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played on the PlayStation 4 or any other system.
From what I’ve seen from the story so far, I can clearly see why fans hold this game to a very high degree. However, I do have kind of an issue with the entire tale that’s being woven. I have a feeling my enjoyment isn’t reaching my maximum level because for one huge reason. That reason is, I haven’t experienced the original Final Fantasy VII on the original PlayStation.
Okay, before you read on, I have to say right now that I’ll be delving into SPOILER territory from the original Final Fantasy VII and, in turn, the Remake. It’s important to also know I’m familiar with the SPOILERS because I have been playing the game while my brother’s been watching me play, which is a reversal of roles, come to think of it. Then again, he already finished the entire thing! Anyway, as he did play the original, he would sometimes explain some aspects of the things I didn’t understand. Anyway, the main takeaway… SPOILERS incoming.
So the first few chapters of Final Fantasy VII Remake, I didn’t have any real issues with the story or how Square Enix decided to tell the tale. We had Cloud getting hired by Barret Wallace and the Avalanche group due to a recommendation by Cloud’s childhood friend, Tifa Lockhart. They accomplish their goal of bombing a Shinra mako reactor but the bosses at Shinra utterly destroy the reactor, causing it to blow and cause more damage, all the while framing the disaster on Avalanche. The group, now consisting of Cloud, Tifa and Barret, continue on despite the public outcry and go along with their plans to bomb another Shinra mako reactor. While they succeed with their mission, Cloud is thrown into the slum area of Sector 5.
Cloud is safe, though, as he lands in a flower bed, which is tended by the bubbly and quirky Aerith Gainsborough, a girl he met earlier in the game. When he wakes up, he has a conversation with Aerith for a moment. The conversation is rather mundane and, when Aerith returns one of the materia Cloud dropped, she mentions she also has a kind of materia but it’s “useless.” It’s then when Cloud gets another vision about that scene.
Of course, Cloud is having a vision of the infamous Aerith death scene in the original version of Final Fantasy VII. I’m familiar with that event because of how legendary it is and, frankly, I’m amazed there are some gamers and Let’s Play people who are unfamiliar with it. However, even someone like me, who knows about Aerith’s death, it took me a hot second for me to put 2 and 2 together. That’s because I didn’t actually experience the event since I didn’t play the original PlayStation game way back in 1997.
I know Sephiroth plunged his katana into Aerith while she was summoning Holy, the “useless” materia, I assume. I know this was a permanent death and no number of Phoenix Downs could revive the local florist/last Ancient of the planet. This definitely came to a shock to a lot of gamers at the time as it was unheard of for a JRPG to kill off one of the main characters so early in the game, let alone in such a manner.
Now, I have no idea if Square Enix will push through with this turn of events. I’ve watched some playthroughs of the game (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and I have read SPOILERS detailing how Final Fanasy VII Remake’s ending totally upends the events of the original game, making this new version not exactly a “remake” but more of a “reimagining” of the events. Cloud and the others have changed destiny and they show it. Some members of Avalanche, who should’ve died, now make it to the very end and they even hint that Zack Fair even survives the events of Crisis Core. Crisis Core may be a different game but you are told of Zack Fair’s fate during
However, even though I am somewhat familiar with the original story, like I said, I never played it. I never even watched a Let’s Play of it yet. So a lot of Cloud’s flashbacks didn’t either make sense to me, such as him shedding a tear when a piece of music played at the start of Chapter 9, or didn’t deliver the emotional gut punch like when he remembered watching his home town of Nibelheim burning. These were supposed to be incredibly powerful scenes but only if you’ve actually played through the original game. For me, personally, I did get the gist of it but, for the most part, all I felt was a giant question mark popping over my head since I didn’t make the connection.
This doesn’t make me not enjoy Final Fantasy VII Remake. I love Cloud, Barret, Tifa and especially Aerith. I also love the world building with Shinra being this giant conglomerate and now acts like the government thanks to the entire city’s reliance on them providing them the luxuries of modern life. I especially love how they made the former bit players in Avalanche, like Jessie, Biggs and Wedge, and making them all fleshed out characters you care for. I’m also very sure I’ll love the citizens of Wall Market when I finally get there as well as the insane dancing minigame later! I plan to get a perfect score here because I love rhythm games!
However, as I am experiencing Final Fantasy VII’s story for the first time, all the flashbacks and callbacks from the original game won’t hit me to the same degree as the veterans who’ve played and loved the PlayStation classic. I just feel I’m missing out.
Does that mean I’ll be playing the classic version? Honestly, I’m kinda enticed to do so but the issue is, if I do, it’ll spoil me from what’s to come for the Remake’s future. So, yeah, Final Fantasy VII Remake is my first Final Fantasy VII… but I kind of wish it wasn’t.
Which Final Fantasy VII did you play first? How did it impact your enjoyment of playing the Remake? Let me know in the comments section below!