A few days ago, Square Enix struck the gaming world right in its nostalgia zone by releasing the first true look at the upcoming, and long awaited, remake of Final Fantasy VII. There was dancing in the streets and a resounding cracking of knuckles as the lovers and the haters prepared to voice there opinions, as internet goes tend to do. However, the Playstation experience was not the end of FFVII Remake news, with a few juicy tidbits sliding relatively under the radar in the days proceeding.
Starting off with the elephant in the room, the long desired remake of the adventures of Cloud and crew will apparently be “told across a multi-part series”. Of course, this information will drive a very large wedge between a very large group of people, namely those who approve and those who, put in the nicest way possible, don’t. To finish on a higher note, let’s begin with the negative aspects of this release schedule. First an foremost, players will not be able to see their game through start to finish at their own pace, instead being held back by a to be continued format. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all my time listening to various online opinions, it’s that gamers hate limitations, more specifically, they hate being told what to do. It’s probably the reason the quick Time Event was/is so loudly disliked. Of course, gut reaction is to stand against Square for their damning decision to force more money out of their loyal fans, the ones who have stood by through thick and thin (except when they didn’t because they didn’t like some of the games that came after). I don’t mean to sound cruel here, but this is one of those situations where people will try to impose to much emotion onto a for profit company, trying to earn the most from their product. that’s the less idealised point of view. The other end of the spectrum has Square splitting up the title in order to cram all the goodies they promised into the experience. All of the classic scenes, bar a few apparently, along with a bundle of new content that is as of yet unknown. Production schedules just don’t allow for turnarounds as quick as back in the day, people expect a certain degree of polish on video games, especially remakes. Sure they could force everything into one release, but it would probably have 2017 or above copyright on the back in little bitty font. Which would merely have me writing a different article about the time between game reveals and actual release, I’m looking at you FFXV. Now let your heart and mind wander to whichever side you will, but I think the seemingly fence sitter truth is that both of these scenarios are true. Square Enix is a company and they are looking to earn money, we can’t decry them for that. Yet at the same time, Square Enix is not an entity unto itself, it is a company made of employee who each have their own opinions and each give something to the games produced. It’s a conflicting, confusing situation that unfortunately is often boiled down to loud claims of brand loyalty, or vitriolic comments about the soullessness of business.
On a less contentious note, the Remake is being created using the Unreal Engine 4, as opposed to any of the in-house engines Square Enix has developed for previous titles, such as Crystal Tools or Luminous Studios, the engines for FFXIII and FFXV respectively. As to why Square Enix is venturing outside their company for an engine, the action seems to support their claim of a jam packed game, if you read between the lines a little. Essentially, utilising an already established engine allows them to save a great deal of time and effort in production, time which will hopefully be directed towards the content of the game in question. This action also further supports their quoted reason for episodic content, allowing the long awaited remake to hit shelves, digital or otherwise, far sooner.
So what do you think? Personally, I am not the biggest fan of episodic content and will often wait until a game is completely out before playing, which I’m sure will happen to FFVII somewhere down the road. GOTY edition or something. I would like to posit however that this remake may be unique in multi-part content given the usual playtime of a Final Fantasy game. Rather than a two hour episode, we may find ourselves with a bundle of eight hour pieces, which is pretty interesting when you think about it. Will people still disparage it as incomplete if each section runs a full retail length? Probably. But we might find that RPGs lend themselves better to this sort of thing, I mean divvying up level grinding couldn’t hurt too much. We may just see a higher number of 100% completed campaigns if people fill in the episode gap by exploring every inch of what they have. It’s possible…I’m not sure how likely it is, but it’s possible.