The title of this article says it all: I don’t think we need a remake of Final Fantasy 7. Its 2018 and for the first time in many years, I replayed through all of FF7. I’ve decided to do a review of this game but, unlike my other reviews which are structured in a hopefully palatable way, this is going to be more of a stream of consciousness thing. If you haven’t played the game I warn you now, there will DEFINITELY be spoilers in this review. Although, at this point if you haven’t played through the game (spoiler) it's a great game and you should go and play it.
I feel like there are 3 groups when it comes to FF7: There is the group that obsesses over the game, those that haven’t played it for one reason or another, and lastly the group that thinks the game is over hyped. It's pretty clear what group I fall into. I love this game. I loved it when I was a kid and I love it now. I will say though, I understand why people would call it overhyped. There are many that consider this THE BEST RPG ever made. Now, that's a hard pill to swallow. There are so many great RPGs out there that to say any of them are the best is a pretty major claim. What do I think? I think it's pretty close to perfect in many ways. It's a love letter to many aspects of RPGs of the past and set in stone many tropes that would come from RPGs afterwards.
Let me give you a timeline of events: I am sitting in a hotel in Manila, Philippines. I’m not much for exploring the town because its so crowded and being alone in a foreign place is always a difficult thing. I have many folks here who would take me out if I asked but I chose instead to hide in my cool hotel room and game. I tried playing a few different games but none really spoke to me. There is of course ol’ reliable and by that I mean Civilization 6. Now, I’ve already written a review on that game so check it out if you want my thoughts but even this game couldn’t hold my attention for very long.
I’m not exactly sure why I picked FF7. Maybe it was the feeling of nostalgia I’ve been feeling lately. No, I think the reason was I wanted to play a classic RPG. I feel like RPGs nowadays try to throw in too much spice to keep people interested and at least right now, I wasn’t feeling that spicy of a dish. Regardless of the reason, I downloaded FF7 and started playing. Maybe I’d get a few hours in before I gave up and started playing something else.
But I didn’t stop playing. As the days went by, in fact, I found myself playing it more and more. I would get excited to get off work and come back to my hotel just to play the game. I feel like every once in awhile you find a game that is perfect for the time and place you’re in. As it turns out, FF was that game for me.
So why was I so enchanted by the game this time around? As I noted earlier I first thought it was nostalgia but that only gets you so far before you give up and move on to something more modern. No, there was something about the game that kept me playing. I think the first reason was the combat. There are plenty of games that have combat like FF7 but man that game perfected it! On one hand, you have the ATB gauge which always keeps you on the edge of your seat. You tell yourself as the meter is filling, “If I get one more turn, I got this!” It's also the magic system. It's so simple and yet, with leveling of materia, you feel like every battle has value.
Let's talk about magic and materia for a moment: wow what an awesome concept! Again, equipping items that give you new abilities is nothing new but I feel like FF7 took it to another level. By customizing who got what materia you could really build your team however you wanted. I of course had my damage dealer as Cloud. Tifa filled the role of healer and main magic user. The 3rd party member rotated through the game but it ended up being Cid as the damage dealer/backup healer. You could do this so many other ways though! In one game I had Yuffie as my magic user and Red XIII as the tank. Materia allows for the ultimate customization and level progression.
The combat wasn’t the only hook that dug into me though; I was totally enthralled by the story. Now, when I say story, I don’t mean the overarching story that the game progresses based on. No, the story I am talking about is the little moments that happen throughout the game. The battle where Barret faces Dyne, that was not part of the plot to kill Sephiroth but it was a moment that impacted me. Two people affected by the same event but responding to it totally differently. One of them moves on and tries to rebuild his life with what he has left; the other one is totally destroyed by it and seeks nothing but blood. This resonated with my own life. Ya see, my mother passed away when I was young and it affected my brothers and I differently. This cutscene really reminded me of us and in fact, I texted one of my brothers afterwards because the scene was so powerful.
Ya see, the main storyline isn’t what makes the story so amazing in FF7. Its little moments above that really set it apart. The relationship between Aeris, Tifa, and Cloud. The rise, fall, and resurrection of Vincent, the difficult relationship between Yuffie and her father. It's all of these moments that add up to a really enthralling story. Now, I can’t say the game is perfect here though. I feel like the first disc of the game is so chock full of heartfelt moments that when you get to discs 2 & 3 it sort of falls flat. There are still great moments but they don’t QUITE compare to the moments in disc 1. I think my favorite moment was when Tifa is exploring Clouds mind, trying to put all the pieces back together. Again, this resonated with me and my own struggles I’ve had with mental health. With everything I was going through, my wife was there to help me through it.
I think, while writing this, I’ve figured out why this game captured my attention. So many of the moments connected with my life. The characters through the story became so 3 dimensional that I found moments of my life in them. This is exactly when video games become art. When they make you feel something, or think something that you normally wouldn’t have thought or felt.
So, let’s return to my first proclamation: Why FF7 doesn’t need a remake. Sure, a remake of the game would be cool and I bet it would look amazing. But, to me, it's like taking a piece of art from hundreds of years ago and trying to replicate/improve on it now. Sure, you can make it look pretty but you risk missing what made that art great in the first place. After replaying FF7 I can’t say its the best RPG ever, or even my favorite RPG, There are parts of the game that really bugged me (I’m looking at you snowboarding section. I kept backtracking and had to do this damn minigame 3 times (and I hated it EVERY TIME) but, in its current form, this game made me feel things. No matter what they do, they won’t be able to recreate the feelings this game made me feel.
So I ask you, what do you think? Should FF7 be remade or should they leave this piece of art alone?