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Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo Impressions

The Mako Reactor bombing run has never looked so good.

by Dean James

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There are very few games as genre defining as Final Fantasy VII was back on the original PlayStation. The game wasn’t only defining for the genre though, as it made a major impact on the gaming industry as a whole with such an ambitious and large scale game we’d hardly seen before. This has made the wait for Final Fantasy VII Remake even more arduous, with it still being hard to believe that it’s actually happening. Just over a month ahead of the release of the full game, Square Enix released a playable demo for Final Fantasy VII Remake on PS4 and we definitely had to give it a try.

The Final Fantasy VII Remake demo is a relatively short experience from beginning to end, taking about 45 minutes to play through the entire thing. There are a few options to select right at the beginning as well, starting with acting for the camera controls. You can choose to invert the Y-axis and X=axis, or both, but I just went with the default option and the camera worked just fine for me.

Next up is a more important option for you to pick, as you get to pick the difficulty of the game. You might just think this would be a difference between selecting Easy or Normal, but there is also the option for Classic. This option changes things up, by offering a more traditional gameplay more akin to the original, but we will get more into that when we discuss the gameplay.

You start right at the beginning of the game as if you were playing the full release, complete with the opening cinematic that Square Enix released fairly recently. What else can be said about this cinematic other than it being downright gorgeous, with the realness of Aerith in particular being a graphical showcase.

Eventually, you take control of Cloud at the start of the mission and get to explore the little area that you are in. The character movement feels very fluid, especially for someone carrying around a hulking Buster Sword. You will almost immediately get into a fight with a few Security Officers that you must fight, offering us our first glimpse at the gameplay.

The gameplay found in Final Fantasy VII Remake is quite different than you would remember, while still retaining some elements of the original as well. Starting off with just Cloud in the party, you can press Square to attack enemies with your Buster Sword. You can also hold Square to charge up an attack for extra damage as well. Just a little later into the demo will bring the addition of Barret to your party, who can fire his machineguns by holding down Square as well.

The bottom right part of the screen holds the character status information during battle, with the HP being very important. Just below that is an ATB bar similar to the original game, this time filling up based on dealing damage, taking damage, or just time passing by. When you reach one of the notches on the meter, you can then press X to open up the commands menu and select Abilities or Spells to use, with the latter requiring MP that is also shown on the status bar in the bottom right corner.

Each character also has a unique ability that can be activated by pressing Triangle. Cloud’s unique ability is Punisher Mode, which is a more attack-oriented mode that leaves you more vulnerable during battle. The unique ability is not always a mode change though, as Barret’s unique ability is a powerful attack known as Overcharge that he can only pull off once before having to let it recharge.

Regardless of the character you are using in Final Fantasy VII Remake, you get to move around battle freely with the left analog stick. This is a major change from the PlayStation game that was locked into a turn-based style. The aforementioned Classic style that is offered in this game basically takes this and puts you on auto-pilot, with Cloud or your controlled character attacking automatically with basic attacks. That leaves you to only be in charge of selecting commands for Abilities, Spells, Items, and such, which is more similar to how it was in the PS1 release. While this is a cool addition, you are definitely going to want to actually take control of the entire combat to take advantage of the fluid gameplay here. The good thing is that even if you have Classic on, you can still move and manually attack if you would like.

As said above, the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo itself will only take you about 45 minutes. This takes you through what is known as Chapter 1, which is the Mako Reactor bombing run. This gives you the opportunity to get hands-on with just enough of the gameplay to whet your appetite, complete with one boss battle against the Scorpion Sentinel. You then get the opportunity to escape the Mako Reactor before the demo ends with some video clips of upcoming content in the full game.

While only a small piece of the full game, Final Fantasy VII Remake is very impressive so far in this short demo. After playing through this, we can’t wait to get our hands on the full game when it releases on April 10 exclusively for PS4.

- This article was updated on:March 4th, 2020

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