Final Fantasy 7 Remake: A thorough and complete review

Square Enix
Square Enix /
4 of 9

Chapter 4: The Gameplay

This section is focused on everything that happens outside of combat, like forced slow-walking, forced slow-walking, and forced slow-walking.

The player will spent hours of game time being forced to walk at half speed while having some clunky dialogue explain something to the player that one of the thousands of cutscenes just seconds before already told the player.

In just the last final 6 chapters alone, I started a timer every time I was forced to slow walk while some dialogue (that you can not even hear half of the time, but rather have to read) happened or some visual was being shown to the player. I do not exaggerate or inflate the numbers when I tell you that I spent just short of 2 of the final 10 hours of this game being forced to slow walk. That was also not including all of the time spent slowly sliding through tight spaces or slowly climbing ladders.

You maybe thinking being forced to slow walk a fifth of the time is not so bad, except, no, because  of those final 10 hours, I kid you not, 4 hours and 16 minutes of it is cutscenes (not including the final cutscene after the final boss or the credits).

This game is only about 30 hours long, and that is with doing all of the side quests, all of the research missions, and maxing out Cloud’s level. Of those 30 hours, about half of the time is not spent playing the game, but rather watching cutscenes. These cutscenes are intrusive, often unnecessary, and given that video games are supposed to be engaging and empowering to player’s doing things, makes this an extremely boring experience.

There are multiple instances where a long cutscene will happen, the player will be given control of Cloud, take three slow steps forward, and be given another cutscene. It is worth noting that non e of these cutscenes are short either, which means in the instance of having multiple cutscenes back to bad, that player could be without anything to do for 15-20 minutes, if not longer.

These is a cheap and dirty tactic used to pad out the game time of what, even with all of the padding tactics, is only a 30 hour experience, and that is if the player finishes all of the optional content. If you were to cut out the slow walking padding, cut half of the unnecessary cutscenes, and eliminate the obstacles that exist only to consume time (we will get to these soon), then this 60 dollar game is probably only about 10-15 hours long, if we are being generous.

Outside of the combat and the slow walking, the game has a severe lack of content.

One of the biggest complaints Square Enix received after the release of Final Fantasy 13 was the extremely linear, cramped, hallway-esque nature of a majority of the map, evening earning the title the loving “Hallway Simulator” nickname. Square Enix would respond to that criticism with Final Fantasy 15 and the massive open world available in that title. Although not perfect, the wide open world of Eos was breathtaking and game-changing for the JRPG genre as a whole.

Then they released FF7R which is just “Hallway Simulator 2, except this time, there is less hallway.”

Every dungeon (if you can call them that), are essentially long hallways, with the path the player needs to go clearly marked, and then communicated to the player every 15 seconds or so by the other characters in the party. The obstacles preventing the player from getting from point a to point b are ridiculous at best as well, typically just piles of rubble or rubbish that makes the path to walk longer without contributing anything to the experience.

This is especially sad when some of the “dungeons” have especially interesting ideas and concepts behind them. The underside of a plate with hanging platforms that are used for maintenance, an abandoned Shinra research laboratory filled with failed experiments. These areas obviously had big ambitions and someone on the development team was putting out great ideas, but the execution just falls well short of what could have been. Instead, these locations end up being boring, uninteresting, disappointing, and would keep the player from wanting to revisit any of the locations, if there was any reason to do so.

Most of the “dungeons” also feature some kind of “puzzles,” that exists only to pad out more game time, and offer absolutely no value to the game. Every one of these puzzles is as simple as walk over to this machine, move a platform to a specific area, go use the platform to get to a specific area, repeat. It is not like finding the machine or finding where the platform needs to be is very difficult, rather they are often clearly marked and outlined for the player, rather these are just extremely slow, boring tasks that made me quit playing the game on two separate occasions because they lulled me to sleep.

There is no exploration in FF7R either, instead there is just going from point A to point B, with no detours along the way to distract you. Treasure is “hidden” in plain sight, the map is completely available for the player the moment they enter any given area, and every single offshoot or extra area on the map are used once, typically for a mini-boss, and never visited again. There is one specific area in sector 5 that is especially egregious, an abandoned part of a town that was overrun with enemies earlier in the game, but once the quest that takes the player out there is finished, the area is completely empty of anything.

The game does more padding and gets the player to return to these past areas using about 20 side quests, spread out over three chapters. These side quests see the player talking to an NPC, learning about an issue, going to a specific location, fighting a mini-boss, and then returning to the NPC and the issue is solved. Sure, these quests do give the player some of the best bosses in the game, but it also has the worst mini-bosses, and really just stands to show the player how little content the game really offers.

Of course, this is an RPG, so there are stats and leveling to be measured and equipment to be managed and weighed. This would be engaging and help fill some of the players’ time if this was not “baby’s first RPG” levels of simplified and for the most part unnecessary.

The most notable pieces of equipment are of course materia, mako energy stored in different types of stone that, once equipped, allow the holder to use various magical spells and abilities. With use, materia can be powered up and allow the user to use more powerful spells. Materia is plentiful in the game and the system for equipping them most optimally is pretty clear and simple.

Sadly, despite there being countless materia types and powers, most of them are simply just a slight stat boost. An “MP Up” or “Luck Up” that gives a slight bump to that stat, but not enough of one to make any note of or to build any materia builds around. The system also suffers from it’s simplicity by taking so many choices and options away from the player that could be used to make the game more engaging, and maybe give players some choices in combat that they do not have otherwise.

The rest of the game’s equipment is extremely cookie cutter and easy to understand. More powerful weapons are available later in the game, equipment offers various stat boost,accessories can be used to prevent status effects (more then half of which are not actually in this game). The most interesting the equipment gets is the ability to level up your weapons, but due to the EXP sponges that are the basic enemies of the game, player’s have enough SP at all times to keep their weapons at full power.

Outside of the combat, FF7R offers very little in way of substantive and engaging gameplay, making the experience boring. I often had to force myself to keep playing the game, rather then change the disc to something more fun, and I feel like many players will have this struggle.