Final Fantasy 7 Remake is one of the most hotly contested video games that’s come out in recent time. The biggest debate is if it’s actually a “remake” or not. I couldn’t tell you’d. I never played the original, but boy… do I have thoughts on the games that’s been released. Most importantly it is kind of strange.
The plot is well known, but in case you need a refresher the story follows Cloud, a former SOLDIER, who teams up with eco-terrorist Avalanche to help take down the UltimateCorporation (bigger than Mega, like Digimon) Shinra. During an assault Cloud is injured and flung to a church where he meets a mystic, Aerith, to aid in the fight. Only Cloud, Aerith, and the rest of Shinra might not all be what they appear.
It’s common knowledge now that, I think, what people think is strange about the game is that it follows in the Rebuild of Eva model of having the remake (or are those Reboots?… not the point) being an element of the story. In this case there are ghost-dementor-spirit-things called Whispers that cycle around Aerith for reasons… Actually, do we know why they are around her? I mean, I think it is supposed to be the Whispers trying to keep the universe as it is supposed to be, but Sephiroth corrupted them. Maybe that’s what is going on. Again, as someone who never played the original it is hard to tell what all those Whispers are doing other than allowing characters not to die.
Yet, as confusing as the plot is I do not find that the strangest part of the game. No, the stuff that was already in the original game is the strangest stuff of all, and it seems like nobody noticed.
To break it down in “mom-speak.” You have a guy with a giant sword who works with eco terrorists, one of whom had a gun for an arm that is never explained, and another who is a girl that punches and kicks good to take down the electric company in a city named after a Norse realm. On top of that there are ancient people’s that are extinct except for one girl, as well as space aliens who are used to make clones, and a talking wolf dog that has a fire tail. Oh, and giant robots, dragons, chickens, and Bangkok.
That list of plot and other elements are all stuff that has not been changed since the original game, and that stuff is weird, strange, and bold to say the least. But, digging into the characters, they too are strange.
I mean look at Cloud. He was designed to be both the coolest, and what I can best describe as an emo kid who is too much of a good boy to say no to his mother. Part of that was how I played him, but the fact he helps people whenever they ask despite constantly pouting. He’s clearly a good boy.
On top of that, Barret is an even better boy. Again, this will be more focused on the Remake, but the fact he is so boisterous about his causes, and love for his daughter is just so endearing. He is just so honest, upfront, and blunt about his feelings over the planet, Shinra, and his daughter that it makes you question why he looks like the Hulk grew a gun arm. It’s strange, but makes him better for it.
Ladies Tifa and Aerith are less strange, or outwardly weird. Tifa is just a protective person who can fight well. It’s cool she also runs a bar, but that is not focused on enough. Aerith, as a character, is not focused on enough, despite large chunks devoted to who she is. Cloud spends so much time with her. We see how she sells flowers, lives a secluded life, and tends to an orphanage near her house. She also has a tragic backstory about being a lab rat with her mother because of their heritage. All of that amounts to her being a really sweet person. In the original I know it’s meant to endear you enough for when she is killed. It’s unclear if that will continue into whatever sequel or second part they are making. As it stands now she is just generically sweet and mostly there to have Cloud loosen up. They are fine, just not strange.
From a gameplay perspective the only thing really strange is how the enemies don’t react when you damage them, except for when they are staggered. The stagger makes sense as far as a game mechanic. It shows the enemy vulnerable for extra damage. It works. What does not work is how I can be wailing on an enemy and it looks like they aren’t taking any damage. That is quite annoying, and a strange choice since it’s hard to tell how much damage you are doing outside of the damage numbers. On top of that, the fact that you can start a move that needs the enemy to be in a certain place, but moves right after you start the attack (Infinity End in particular is the worst for this) so it misses is extra frustrating with the more agile foes.
It is also strange (though this is mostly my fault) that I didn’t know you could quick access moves by holding L1, and then using the face buttons. I found that by accident. It’s possible I missed the prompt for that tutorial, but finding such a crucial skill so late put me back in those harder boss fights.
The final strange element as far as the remake’s gameplay is concerned are the motorcycle sections. The controls are fine enough, but the attacks are lacking. The swings feel like they should be further, or have a larger hit box, or give you access to lower damage range moves. This is only because they both go one for too long. The second one when escape Shinra HQ is really padded-feeling considering how there are like two boss fights on top of the normal foes. The proof of them being strange and unnecessary is that when you beat the game and can choose chapters it allows you to skip them… strange indeed.
Yet, after everything I’ve said and played the truly strangest thing of all is how much I a)liked the remake, and b) want to go back and play the original to see what the story is really all about. The remake has some great moments and characters, but that plot is not easy to understand (and I kind of know the plot to the original. I know about Jenova, and clones, and the giant mechs. I know stuff), or not well explained at least.
Final Fantasy VII is one strange beast indeed.
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