The long awaited demo is finally out to the joy of adoring fans everywhere and just like you, we’ve got so much to say!
Before we dive in, let’s set the mood ala demo style and perk you up with some opening cinematic feels.
The nostalgia here really hits you like a Mega Flare because while almost everything is familiar, you’re immediately left in awe of how good the game looks, even by current generation standards. You’ll really question where the transition from cinematic to cutscene to the actual game is because everything flows so smoothly. It’s especially lovely to see on a PS4 Pro, as the frame rates looks like it hits upward of 30FPS at a constant clip.
First main difference you’ll notice is the removal of the random battles. You’ll no longer transition to a battle screen since you’re now fighting in real time as if you’re
playing an action RPG. If you want to get into a battle, you’ll know exactly when and where it’ll happen.
Combat has been given a complete overhaul compared to the PS1 original. If you’ve played FF15, you’ll know what to expect except unlike FF15, you don’t just mash one button to win everything. FF7 will reward you for smart and engaging play, switching between characters and maximizing your gauges to deal with the enemies in the most effective way possible.
The Active Time Battle system is still here though and it’s a mixture of some old and new mechanics. Your ATB gauge still fills up naturally but the process is sped up whenever you attack and this time, there’s two bars to fill. Compared to before where ATB governs all your actions, it’s now relegated to only your abilities, spells, and items.
One skill you’ll absolutely have to learn is to guard or block attacks. The game totally punishes you if you don’t utilize your guard, draining you of restoratives faster than you can say Phoenix Down. You may even die to normal enemies if you choose to go gung ho about your ways so it’s advisable to play smart at all times.
Aside from being able to guard and roll, each character now has an alternate mode
of fighting. In Cloud’s case, his default mode is called the Operator Mode, but with the push of a button you can change to what’s called the Punisher mode where Cloud walks slowly but deals more damage and automatically counterattacks when guarding against melee attacks.
In contrast to Cloud, Barret is a ranged specialist and can take out enemies Cloud can’t reach. His alternate attack this is a more powerful charged shot that has a
cooldown. There is still a sense of strategy here as you’re free to issue commands to your AI partner while you continue to pepper the enemies with attacks, leaving room for chaining your attacks together with the proper timing.
Boss battles now have explicit phases wherein you’ll have to switch up your strategy depending on the situation. You’ll soon notice that terrain plays a role now in fights as one phase of the Scorpion boss will have you hide behind debris else take damage. No one likes damage, except only if you’re the one dishing it out.
Everything in the game is tied together by a totally rearranged soundtrack that would make Nobuo Uematsu proud. From the seamless transitions of exploring to fighting as well as the boss battle music, most everything has been modernized for the game and it is very very good. Even better than the original? We’ll be the judge of that in a month’s time.
Oh, and you’ll also be glad to know that the English voice acting sounds very decent! It’s actually good enough that players might stick to the English voice acting over switching it to Japanese like a lot of players normally would. You never really felt the tension and emotion from the original, but here it really feels fresh seeing Barrett so expressive, even if what he shows is mostly hostility towards Cloud for nearly the entire mission.
While I’d like to give a hot take and tell you some bad stuff about the demo, I just can’t, except for the fact that the demo was way too short and we’re about a month away from release. That’s what demos are supposed to do right? Make you hungry for more and this demo did just that.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is scheduled to release on April 10, 2020 as a PS4 timed exclusive.