It’s crazy to believe that here I am writing up a little quick impression for Square Enix’s arguably most anticipated game in recent years, Final Fantasy VII Remake, at 2019’s PAX convention in Melbourne, Australia. It is easily my most anticipated game for 2020 and after spending some time with it on two different days throughout PAX AUS, I can safely say this is going to please long-time fans of the original VII game (and even appeal to newcomers), and will be a fun and exhilarating remake. Contender for game of the year? At this rate, it possible could be.
Our demo gives us a good feel of how the revamped battle system works (allowing me to play as characters Cloud Strife and Barrett Wallace) and gives us a chance to fight up against one of the more memorable boss fights from the original game, the Guard Scorpion.
Unlike the original game which was entirely a turn-based strategy type of game referred to as the ‘Active Time Battle’ system, where you must wait for your gauge to fill up so you can attack an enemy and once done wait again for it to be refilled, Final Fantasy VII Remake mostly follows the more recent footsteps of Final Fantasy XV’s battle system of real-time (similar to Square Enix’s related franchise Kingdom Hearts which is entirely real-time based), but also retains an altered version of the ATB from the original FFVII.
Gone are the days where you must wait your turn before you can hit an enemy with your weapon. You are given free rein to hack and slash or defend yourself at any time when enemies are encountered, but now you must wait for an ATB gauge to fill up in order to use specific actions such as casting magic, using items or even using abilities special to your character that you are controlling. It’s a nice and very welcome change and it retains that feeling of old-school nostalgia that respects the original version but also modernises the battle system and does not feel outdated nor too different. Enemies can now also be staggered the more you attack them over and over, another new implemented feature.
Staggering enemies and taking damage can also fill up your Limit Break gauge, a returning feature from the original game, which lets your character let loose on enemies with a very powerful attack. It’s extremely satisfying letting your character let loose and makes for successful battles. Everything feels smooth and fluid with no player lag input or issues with controlling the character of your choice, and I had an absolute blast attacking and staggering enemies so I could get that Limit Break attack in. It’s also not as simple as button mashing your way to victory, the enemy boss felt tough but fair and required thought and strategy to win, unlike what most real-time battle systems can feel like when it’s just simply one button to proceed through with. It feels polished and precise and I feel this is in very good hands when it comes to the meat and bones of the gameplay.
While your party members are AI-controlled, changing to different characters during combat is as simple as a click of a button (up or down) and is very easy. You can also give commands to your party members if you prefer to stick with one character and have them do what you like them to do in battle by simply clicking L2 or R2. I’m so happy to say that everything just feels right when you play this game.
Graphically the game is looking absolutely stunning. Sparks fly when thunder magic is used on enemies and around the environment, or when Cloud’s buster sword ricochet’s off clashing on objects. The character models all look top-notch and are really showcasing what the Unreal Engine 4 can show and is capable of, if it wasn’t already with previous titles.
At this stage Square Enix are just showing off with what they can do and with the game looking this good, they have every right to. The inside of the Mako Reactor where the Guard Scorpion boss takes place just looks as green and gloomy as the original depicted, and I cannot wait to see how the entirety of the world of Midgar will look like if it already looks this great this early in the game. Consider me very hyped and excited for March 2020. We’re gonna love it.