Final Fantasy VII Remake demo makes a strong first impression

Square Enix
Square Enix /

The Final Fantasy VII remake demo is out now. How does it run and play on the PlayStation 4? Does the new combat improve the game? Check out our impression below!

While we still have to wait a few more weeks until the full release is actually out, a short but sweet demo of the highly anticipated first episode of the Final Fantasy VII remake is out right now. How is it?

Well, I won’t spoil much if anything at all, but if you have been following the game’s press cycle even somewhat, odds are you’ve seen most, if not all, of what is contained in this demo. It basically covers the opening hour of the game and is a demo that most in the press has already played at industry events featuring Final Fantasy VII remake. So in that way, there won’t be much new that you will see.

For much of the public though, this is your first chance to get hands-on with the revamped and arguably somewhat controversial new battle system. In the original Final Fantasy VII, while it had a real-time element to it, the battle system was still very much turn-based and of course, that is how fans of the original wanted it to stay.

The Final Fantasy VII remake does sort of give you that option with a “classic” mode, where your party doles out basic attacks while you only focus on commands and abilities. It’s not quite the same as the old system but it’s a close approximation.

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The new, more active system has you being much more involved in battles. You slash at enemies while building up your ATB meter to use items, perform abilities or use magic. You also block and dodge, quickly switch between characters and so on.

There are some that may not like this faster pace. I have been playing RPGs since the mid-80s so I definitely have a fondness for turn-based stuff, but I think the new system works really well. It’s cool to build up your abilities this way, switch between party members on the fly and so on.

My one minor complaint, and maybe this was just because it was the opening or even just for the demo, is there didn’t seem to be an opportunity to grind my levels up even a little bit. The battles aren’t random and there’s a set amount. I barely made it through the boss at the end. It would’ve been nice to give me a chance to make Cloud and Barrett at least a little more powerful if I wanted to before facing it.

The rest you should know if you’ve been following the game at all. It looks gorgeous, the music is great. The characters feel a little more fleshed out with fully-voiced and expanded dialogue. This is especially true for Jessie, who makes a much bigger impression in the demo than she did in the original game.

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As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of the original — it’s good but I wouldn’t put it in my top five list of Final Fantasy games and I certainly don’t consider it one of the best RPGs ever — I wasn’t sure if I’d have any interest in this remake. But the demo has me very excited to give the first episode of the Final Fantasy VII remake a go when it comes to the PlayStation 4 on April 10th.