Honestly, I’d deliberately not followed any development news, interviews, screens and trailers of the upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE because as I’ve said in the past many times, I prefer going into a game as cold as possible for the surprise factor and how that actually helps my sense of wonder continually activate, even if it’s a game that’s been re-imagined or has had multiple versions created over the years. In this case, the approximately 45 minute long Unreal engine-powered demo that dropped on Monday is visually, pretty spectacular stuff and the gameplay is a mix of styles old and new, with a bigger nod to the new. This bodes quite well for the final version we’ll see on April 10, 2020.
I’ll resister my EXTREMELY middling complaints about the demo here just to get them out of the way first. I didn’t like the variations in destructible objects. Those wooden Shinra boxes you should smash up when you find them go down with a weapon swing by Cloud or a few shots by Barrett, but cardboard boxes, some crate-like objects, and a few metal barriers bounce or just get knocked around with no visible damage? Eh, well. Although, some striped sawhorse barriers hide handy items you can find once knocked away (explore everywhere!). My other minuscule complaint is with the music, which is phenomenal, but I want a choice of the original tunes as well as the new remake versions. As I said, these “complaints” are tiny, but this was only a demo and it does note, the quality isn’t 100% representative of the final game at all.
Anyway, four replays later, I had the idea to dig out one of the original PlayStations I have here and the original FINAL FANTASY VII demo disc (Yes, I save a lot of stuff) and take that for a spin to see the similarities and changes between the two. That was a great education as well as a hefty bit of nostalgia, as I went through the entire game about eight times back in the day and played the demo quite a number of times before the game was initially released. Funny thing, as I was late to the Sony bandwagon by choice and only broke down and bought one because FFVII arrived, a co-worker at the time bought it and didn’t like it and offered to sell me the game a day later. I ran out and bought a PlayStation on my lunch break, making the next five plus hours me staring at the clock every few minutes part of my work day until I could rush back home and play.
The demo makes a generous concession to new to the series or casual players with an easier mode (Classic) that streamlines a few things, but you can choose the game’s Normal mode off the bat if you like. Playing around with the controls, you can use a variation of the original’s ATB combat system, a tactical pause system, of bits of both if you like. The gameplay is more action-oriented that the original, so there’s no longer the chance to catch that RPG Nap ™ you may be used to in turn-based RPGs. A locked in 30 frames per second, the integration of real time elements and cinematic cut scenes flow excellently and it’s clear Square Enix is targeting both fans of the classic as well as those new to the experience.
Even if you have no plans to purchase the game digitally or physically, the demo is worth trying out at least once just to see where the developer is going with the plan to extend the game into a chapter-based premium format. Personally. I just want the Standard Edition for the game proper, but I see that there’s a Deluxe Edition available if you want some downloadable extras. Bu the way, it seems the exclusive and pricey Square Enix website exclusive physical 1st Class Edition is sold out and there’s a waiting list. Well, I’m no big deal influencer or streamer with a large following or have that much cash to lay out on expensive game versions these days. so I’m not at all expecting to keel over clutching my chest like Fred Sanford one fine day when checking my mailbox.