First Impressions: FF7R

Oh, man. OH. MAN.

I know the game is a remake and the devs have had decades of modern game design experience to leverage… but, guys. I’m home. I haven’t been this giddy and excited since… I don’t even remember. Every single part of game so far is like finally finding someone who shares the same passion as you and catching up for hours. Walking around Sector 7 Slums and looking up (looking up!) just pulls the FF7 memories of my high school imagination straight out of my head and serves them right back in high definition.

And it really reinforces, to me, how groundbreaking FF7 originally was. For you see, FF7 was not my first Final Fantasy game – that was actually FF6. So this is not a “always remember your first love” situation. This instead is a recognition of how novel the pseudo-sci-fi setting was, the mind-blowing scale of Midgar, and that first time you leave the city and see it as just another town on the world map. Blew my fucking mind. That experience is right up there with first leaving the Vault in Fallout 3.

There are some other things I like. An extremely flirty Jessie. The random NPCs commenting on Cloud. The aftereffects of the reactor explosion. The extra cutscene on what really caused the reactor explosion. The well-stitched narrative in which I felt it difficult to stop playing. Not that I was going to stop playing until I reached Tifa for the first time. Tifa.

Welcome home.

The one negative so far, and it’s kind of important: the combat system.

Basically I’m not quite sure what’s going on yet. Like obviously I’m reading the tutorial prompts and successfully navigating the fights. But it seems like I’m taking a lot of damage and I don’t know if that is expected, or if I’m supposed to not, or what. It’s “action gamey” but not in the same way as, say, Nier Automata. Controlling Barret feels even worse as none of his attacks feel particularly satisfying. Hold X to rapid-fire for some amount of time, or press Y to… speed up the charging of a special attack. But that attack can be stopped by random terrain if you aren’t careful.

Anyway, not going to let a little thing like a combat system interrupt my JRPG nostalgerbation. I am going to assume it gets better, or that I can change things around enough to make it so, or that it will not diminish the rest of the experience. Which would be quite the feat considering how much I am enjoying myself already just walking around.

Posted on May 25, 2022, in Impressions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. It’s always great (in our irony-poisoned times, etc.) to read a blog post relating feelings of pure, unalloyed joy.

    If I were to actually play this thing one day, is there any reason whatever to bother with the original version?


    • Really tough question.

      It comes down to what you are willing to put up with. FF7 is a traditional, mostly-turn-based JRPG with random battles, sometimes spotty translation, and extremely-low polygon characters. Amazingly “realistic” back in the late 90s, but has not aged well at all. In battle, the characters actually look just fine, but Cloud looks like a polygon Pop-Eye everywhere else.

      You’re not going to have the same experience I had back in 1997. I distinctly remember my father watching me play the first part, when you meet Barret and Tifa up at the bar, and he commented “How bold of them to put an interracial relationship in a game.” Tifa and Barret are not in a relationship, but that anecdote always helps me remember how different things become over the years.

      That said… there are things that FF7 did that are still relatively uncommon today. This was the game that came up with the Materia system, and allowed you to make any character the healer if you wanted. This was the game that had motorcycle chases, Chocobo breeding and racing, Snowboarding, and Golden Saucer in general. And then the story. There is a reason why these characters and themes keep popping up in Square Enix games decades later.

      This video answers the question with Yes, and I agree, but I also cannot view FF7 objectively. If nothing else, the video kind of shows you what you would be getting into.


      • Thanks. I suppose I should have mentioned that I’m not completely new to the franchise (played VI, was the kind of teenager who loved VIII, and predictably lost interest while trying IX). So I’m at least somewhat on terms with the gameplay style.

        You’re absolutely right about the impossibility of plugging back into an original 1997 experience – even one’s own, let alone someone else’s. I try to be hard-nosed about nostalgia in general. But this is such a major cultural pillar of gaming that has somehow gotten away.

        Maybe when all of the Remake’s ‘episodes’ are finished.


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