Here’s what the FF7 Remake haters get absolutely wrong…
Posted On April 29, 2020
There be omega spoilers here: read at your own risk.
I’m going to preface this article by saying that everyone is entitled to like what they like and hate what they hate. Furthermore, criticism when productive is healthy, and we should all feel comfortable to critique the media we consume.
I’m also going to preface this by saying that I get the concerns people have about the FF7 Remake, and some of the larger slights. Which is why I’m taking the time to actually address them, as a fan, and a person who analyzes media.
Keep in mind that I’m not trying to personally attack you if you can’t stand the Remake and would prefer getting hit by 10,000 needles to playing it.
What I do want to do, however, is explain why I think Square Enix has made some of the decisions that vex gamers most, and why the salt needs deeper consideration.
Keep reading for a nuanced exploration of common FF7 Remake criticisms, analyzed by a nerd with too much time on her hands.
Warning: I’m mean in this section—I think you can handle it.
Addressing why some gamers think the FF7 Remake Sucks
Point for point, part for part
Complaint #1: Most people that are hyping this game up have not played the original.
Rationally, who would be most excited about the FF7 Remake? The people who’ve played the original and want to relive it in glorious, breathtaking 3D-detail. Even if some (or many!) gamers are just now getting into this installment of the franchise, why is this an issue?
The more the merrier, I say. Maybe they’ll even pick up the original! We can only hope that this entry will spark curiosity for original game we all love so much.
Complaint #2: The combat is shit/where’s the turn based combat system?
Fact: there is a turn-based system; it’s called Classic Mode.
Now, some people say this isn’t really a true turn-based system, but sitting there waiting for the ATB gauge to fill up and then issuing commands feels very turn-based to me.
Also Fact: I know all y’all love turn based battle systems, but it’s 2020, and this is a game with fully fleshed-out character models running around. The tension of the high-octane, 3D artistry feels at odds with a turn-based system.
You are given the option to CHOOSE to sit around and wait for a little meter to fill up, OR smack down baddies in real time, OR do both. There are also harder difficulty levels to unlock once the game is finished.
Since the Devs gave fans the option to sit and wait, or mash square to bash the baddies, this complaint seems illogical. Moving on.
Complaint #3: Turn-based takes more thinking and skill.
Once you’ve played the original FF7 enough, and get down with your bad self about the mojo of the monsters and bosses, turn-based combat mostly becomes a cake walk. Of course some secret bosses are very difficult, but memorization does not mean difficulty.
For example, you always know after Reno casts that agonizing Pyramid move on you that you have 3 turns before Barret, Tifa or Cloud are yeeted.
You also know if you hit the party member in question, the pyramid goes away, and they’re free to act again.
In the FF7 Remake, monsters quite literally pop all over the screen and do whatever the fuck they want, whenever they want.
There are planned phases to some harder bosses, but when we get down to brass tacks, what’s really more difficult?
Having to respond in real-time to assholes butchering your junk while you’re trying to cast Magnified (All Materia) Curaga with Barret, and you’re mashing square with Tifa and then trying to bolster her Chi to use her special move, and then you’re spamming Infinity’s End with Cloud?
All the while dodging attacks that get switched up, because the AI-controlled monsters are a lot smarter than their predecessors?
Or, is sitting there waiting for your ATB gauge to fill up when you’ve already memorized the patterns for an OG boss and know exactly how to wipe the floor with them…a harder challenge?
My answer is obvious.
Complaint #4: Whatever this dumb screenshot is doing:
First of all; the original FF7 also had odd mini-games that were technically very irritating. The difference between the two is that they took up less game time in the original, and that’s what most haters are sensing but not articulating with nuance.
I distinctly remember sitting there jamming my big plodding polygonal Cloud-fist down, in time with Barret’s, to bop a button as Tifa judged me the entire time. In fact, I know this happened, because I just blew past this part in the original last night.
Furthermore, there IS a coliseum (known as Battle Square) in the original, but it’s located in the Golden Saucer. The decision to include this in the Corneo arch makes sense to reprise an extremely odd monster; a giant haunted house that otherwise would be jarring to encounter on the streets of Midgar.
The fact that the FF7 Remake reprises these nods to a maddening level (match Tifa’s breathing she said, it’ll be easy she said) is a nice set of easter eggs for people who love the wackiness of the OG title.
Also, complaints like “fighting the same monsters over and over again” are laughable because, have y’all picked up the original in the past, I don’t know, two years?
Running around with random encounters on a static BG screen, which albeit the backgrounds are beautiful, also gets hella draining.
Random encounters serve the same irritation to players, so why does the FF7 Remake get more hate?
To top it all off, the reviewer I’m not going to link to because I don’t want to boost their SEO, has this to say:
For a real-time game of this nature, Persona dungeons do not make sense.
Critiquing the FF7 Remake for not pulling a Persona and cutting away to a battle screen seems completely at odds with the intent to have a fully rendered, mostly realistic FF7 world.
Furthermore, wouldn’t being asked to break immersion every few steps to deal with a cut-away battle screen, or inorganic time side-stepping dungeons, be even more distracting against the backdrop of fluid events happening all around you?
Again, my answer is obvious.
Complaint #5: Why first game only Midgar tho? 😤 👿
I know this critique is a huge hot-button topic right now, but bear with me for just one second. This might be a crayola idea, but imagine that the first game was fairly condensed and speedy in terms of its breadth of ‘space’.
I’m replaying the original again, and I’m breezing through facilities that would technically take at least an hour or so to get through, plausibly, if time was real. Probably longer.
How long would FF7 actually, technically be, using this thought process? How long would Midgar actually, technically, go on for?
Think about it: for how gigantic the original FF7 is, understand the technical limitations inherent to the PS1, and then make everything real-time, spatially accurate, account for distance, and not resort to blocky polygonal characters and 2.5D background maps.
Running across Wall Market takes 2 minutes maybe. I get the complaint about padding, but it’s not realistic to think completing the Midgar arch would be just as swift as the original.
Imagine if every single map had to be expanded to account for the actual depth; I’m talking 3D, walking in space, buildings an appropriate size. Things like this.
Now imagine a natural stopping point, if you were to think maybe, just maybe, that the FF7 game at large is far too fucking big to be packaged into one semi-realistic effort nowadays.
Does this decision by Square Enix to expand Midgar make any sense at this point, or would the haters prefer the FF7 Remake to actually take 10 trillion years to come out because it would patently be one of the LARGEST games of recent memory, in terms of land mass, exploration, all the mini-games, plot, time, and just the sheer unfathomable amount of shit to do?
I get the complaint, but use logic here. Midgar is a rational, solid stopping point. Especially when you consider how pivotal breaking out of Midgar feels in the original.
Complaint #7: Why Ending Do Thing Tho???
Why change thing????? AHHHhh
Alright, I’m not really sure if all y’all were paying attention to the blatant nods throughout FF7 Remake’s story, but the ‘slap in the face’ ending isn’t really as unexpected and rude as you may think it is.
For starters, we got these ‘something else is afoot’ vibes way back when the annoying dementors [whispers] were circling around characters who were either meant to die, were injured, or otherwise.
This happens to Jessie in the remake; and fun fact, she does die in the original preordained spot. It just takes her longer, and you get actual backstory, which makes her loss truly sting.
Every time there’s a move to do something outside of the scope of the original timeline, Whispers get up in Cloud & Co’s junk to thwart it. (Sound familiar? It be you. You’re the Whispers.)
Aerith also already knows the plate is going to fall, judging by her dialog. Why? How would she know this? How is this even possible?
‘PTSD plot device Sephiroth’ even remarks at some point that Cloud failed this time, and what time is that? What does he even mean? Why is he even here right now? Why, why, why, why—
I think you know what he means, and if you didn’t get it before the big reveal, or were too upset crying into your Seph body pillow, here’s the deal:
The FF7 Remake gets very meta. The game is about changing fate. This has all happened before, and will happen again, like Battlestar Galactica. That’s my hot-take, and I put $60 down that I’m correct.
It is quite literally a Remake that is Aware It Is A Remake. A Redo. A Re-again-doing-a-thing.
The FF7 Remake team wants to give us fans something slightly new, while recognizing that the OG title exists as its own entity.
The original game is actually its own timeline. The FF7 Remake makes this fact into a plot point.
If you do not think this is a clever way to address the issue of ‘changes’, and open up further installments to new expanded plot elements, I don’t know what to say to you.
Fundamentally, in a world where Vincent is a Vampire, the power people draw from the earth is some kind of soul-essence, tiny rocks shoved into your weapons give you superpowers, you can ride a giant chicken that can walk on water if you feed its parents special nuts, you can ride a dolphin to a town, Cloud is an expert snowboarder because Reasons, one of your party members is a remote-controlled robot cat, and an Alien is actually the legit boss…the potential to have timey-whimey aspects is not out of left field.
TLDR; OG FF7’s plot was already insane. This is not a departure.
Now, for some FF7 Remake crits I actually agree with:
Complaint #8: The sidequests could use an upgrade.
I’m going to add a caveat: I appreciated them more when I wasn’t doing the random ‘Tifa Gotta Help Me Network’ portion; which felt like I was stuck in FFXV hell for a few hours.
I have an inherent distaste for FFXV that stems from it being an interesting game, but not really a Final Fantasy game, in my eyes. I enjoyed the combat system, making food was cool, and the fishing mini-game was rad.
But I don’t think it rang true as a real installment, for reasons I’ll probably pen-up later when I get around to actually completing it.
Suffice to say, the minute I get a whiff of an FFXV-ism, it turns me off. I don’t care about gathering music discs for random NPCs to dance to: I’m sorry. It doesn’t interest me.
These sidequests have to have spark, life, and vigor, or I’m not going to care that much. I can’t honestly say they were very lively.
Replaying the original title, and seeing just how particular the NPCs were as well (they had to be, mobs of NPCs were technically impossible in the 90s), makes me question the milquetoast quest treatment.
I’m still not fully sold on the sidequests in this first installment, but I can’t say I don’t appreciate their inclusion.
If this game had just been one long line towards the finish line, I’d have been more irritated. We don’t want a rehash of FF13’s linear progression, do we? Naw, I don’t think we do.
Complaint #9: The title doesn’t really stand on its own.
I see this complaint, I hear this complaint, and I agree with it. Remake is not a good title, Alternative is better and less misleading. However, I don’t think it’d be possible to have the Remake have the exact same impact as the original and be its own entity. That entity already exists.
Think of it this way: when you scale the Shinra building and see the floor totally covered in blood for the first time, and are slowly introduced to Sephiroth actually being more than just a folk hero (and realistically a douchebag McEvilman), that’s something I don’t think a repackaging could ever hold a candle to.
We’ve played that game already. That game is perfect, and perfectly strange.
The original has been played by millions. There’s no actual way to have that same ‘boom factor’ unless you change things.
I have to admit that introducing Sephiroth as a device so early did make my head spin a bit, but I also understand it.
Black screens with white text denoting Weird Things Are Going On With Cloud is immersion breaking in a 3D landscape. ‘Sephiroth PTSD Flashbacks’ implement this more rationally.
Complaint #10: Chadley is the worst thing about the FF7 Remake/he’s annoying.
I hate this kid. The minute he popped up on the screen spouting some bologna about being an intern for Shinra’s R&D department, and gave Cloud a VR headset to battle Summons in order to get their materia, I felt my soul leave my body.
There is honestly nothing I like less about this game than Chadley.
First of all, his name is Chadley. I hate this name. Secondly, I don’t see how he has the ability to spy for AVALANCHE when he literally shows up on every bloody corner. Is nobody watching him dick around with all this data/hang out with the heroes?
Thirdly, his backstory makes me angry. I will never believe in 34563 years that a sentient robot who’s supposed to be Hojo’s assistant can do stuff behind his back without getting caught.
Chadley. Is. Everywhere. Hojo. Would. Know.
As a fan of stories about sentient robots, this addition to the FF7 story bothers me. I’m also not partial to snag summon materia via VR battles, but I supposed Square Enix really do be wanting to give us OG summons early.
If only to try to make fans happy.
Complaint #11: That Sephiroth Tho…
Listen, I really do get this part. As much as I’ve maligned many of the crits haters of the FF7 Remake have made, I do wish the mystique of Sephiroth had survived. I was banking on slowly being introduced to this nefarious villain with Mommy Issues and a God complex, and that’s not really what happened.
Then again, if we’re all being honest honest, that mystique has been spoiled for roughly 23 years.
The main reason I’m not wholly upset by this is two fold:
On one hand, his introduction with the accompanying PTSD-like flashbacks is a better way to handle the Black Screen Cloud Talking To Himself component.
On the other hand, I think the ending shows that the next installment will try to proceed as usual. Or rather, the next installment will have Aerith trying to do this, while attempting to put the timeline back the way it was, while whatever version of Sephiroth this is will continue to defy fate.
I understand this complaint, I see it, and I value it. I wish there was more build up, but I can’t hate this decision, since I’ve Been Known about Sephiroth for more than 20 years now.
If you’d wanted new fans to not have Been Known, the time for that has long, long since passed.
Ok, Kira. So What? What even is your point?
My point is that The FF7 Remake is solid, and if haters want to critique it, they must be honest about what the original game was.
Listen, I get it. I know I’ve said ‘listen’ at least 6943 times in this article, but I do get it. The FF7 Remake has a new coat of paint, plot points you don’t like, and a confusing ending. Midgar takes up a whole game, when it really only took 3-5 hours before.
Stuff is different, and you feel bad.
My point in all this is: accept what it is, and accept what the original game truly was, with all its weirdness and limitations.
Experience this as a Re-Imagining, not a Remake. That title sucks; it’s a Re-Timeline, a Re-Doing A Thing, a Sephiroth-fucking-the-timeline-uppening. Or, it might even be Jenova doing this. Only time will tell.
Because the scope of the world, the unfathomable effort of rethinking everything that went into the original and making it make sense (let’s be real; with goofy chibi graphics almost anything makes sense, no matter how silly) and the considerations where space/time is concerned…make that a nearly impossible task.
It’s also impossible to make every fan happy. It just is.
If you can go into the FF7 Remake with an open mind, and remember that the original exists in all its insane 90s ‘kitchen sink’ glory, the Remake might just surprise you by being a Very Good Game.
In fact, I guarantee it will, but only if you can decouple the past, appreciate the future, and allow yourself to enjoy Remake on its terms.