The Ultimate Fantasy VII remake does greater than retell a well-known story from a basic roleplaying sport. If you happen to’re planning to play it, you shouldn’t learn any additional. However should you’ve completed the ultimate chapter, you’ll know that its ending diverges fairly sharply from the unique story — not solely altering the sport’s canon however turning the existence of canon right into a plot level. It’s bold, complicated, and very bizarre, and right here at The Verge, reactions have diversified considerably.
How efficient was Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake’s massive narrative swing? How properly does it work for newcomers versus longtime followers of the sequence? And because the remake solely covers the primary part of the unique sport, how properly does it arrange future installments?
Ultimate warning: spoilers for Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake observe.
Andrew Webster, video games editor: The factor that struck me most in regards to the ending — which I battle to actually describe — is how surprising it was. For many of FFVIIR’s runtime, it’s a reasonably conventional remake; it expands on the unique in important methods, however it typically tells the identical story, hitting the identical main plot factors. The brand new sport solely covers the Midgar part, which was primarily the opening from the unique.
I had anticipated that subsequent episodes would do the identical, exploring main sections of FF7 with added element. Now, I don’t know what to anticipate. The sport’s ending suggests a completely new path for the story, one the place the occasions of the unique are malleable, and destiny isn’t preordained however reasonably one thing that may be altered. I began taking part in for a dose of nostalgia — however now, I must understand how issues will really be completely different transferring ahead.
Nick Statt, information editor: Given the infamously convoluted plot of the unique FFVII, I used to be fairly positive of two issues going into the remake: the sport couldn’t presumably finish with Cloud and his ragtag crew simply leaving Midgar earlier than the credit roll. And I used to be positive they must begin weaving in some components of the Sephiroth storyline earlier if the sport actually was going to be a 30- to 40-hour journey in what’s realistically solely a small fraction of the general story.
The sport delivered on each factors concurrently, and after ruminating on the ending for a bit, I think about myself within the pro-alternative universe / timeline camp. I liked having an epic remaining battle, even when it appeared out of left area. I’m personally not too heat on the concept the stakes turned so excessive so out of the blue, because it looks like it will completely alter all of the characters’ attitudes in the event that they know from the onset that that is all about saving the world from a person they barely know, as an alternative of slowly accepting such a colossal accountability as extra of the general plot is revealed.
However atmospherically, it was very Ultimate Fantasy, and I’ll forgive Nomura and crew for delivering a little bit of Introduction Youngsters-inspired fan service when the sport wanted it most.
The place this remake sequence goes from right here is anybody’s guess, and I’d be mendacity if I mentioned I wasn’t barely nervous that half two would possibly simply be a rushed biggest hits compilation or some “it was only a Sephiroth-induced dream within the Lifestream” nonsense. Not like many of the diehard “make it a scene-by-scene remake” crowd that’s very vocal on the web proper now, I’m not as involved that they’re going to alter all the pieces and completely rewrite the script. However it’d be an actual disgrace to let all the good work into making these characters really feel a lot extra alive than they did 25 years in the past go to waste by relying an excessive amount of on the overly bold twisty components we’re now contending with.
Michael Moore, critiques coordinator: I feel what I discovered irritating in regards to the ending is it’s arduous to inform what breaking from the unique occasions means from right here on out. They successfully confirmed all through the remainder of the sport that they had been prepared to hit main moments in the identical or comparable methods, however add new materials to assist enhance the storytelling and provides characters extra improvement in comparison with the unique.
So to beat gamers over the pinnacle with how various things could possibly be going ahead looks like a insecurity what got here earlier than the place they’d successfully proven gamers how issues had been going to deviate from the unique FFVII. That, or what they’re attempting to get throughout is how various things can be from right here on out, which is unknowable at this level with out something to go on.
Kevin Nguyen, options editor: I didn’t have the ending spoiled for me, however alongside the way in which, I saved getting texts from buddies who’d completed to let me know once they obtained there. They wished to focus on, and I assumed I used to be in for an enormous twist or reveal. After ending a considerably tedious combat with Sephiroth and watching a considerably satisfying CG montage, I hit the credit and questioned what precisely I’d missed. There’s the reveal of Zack nonetheless being alive, which meant… what precisely?
It seems, it doesn’t imply a lot in any respect. Certain, the Whispers are lifeless, which now means future is now not predetermined. What it means to followers is that the remake has now written in a plot system that enables it to deviate from the unique.
That is deeply weird to me! Why do the makers of the Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake want to offer themselves permission to alter up the story? Really, let me rephrase that: why does your entire plot of the sport must result in a second that declares “you might be taking part in a remake”? Wait, let me attempt that yet another time: hhrrngghh!!! [inexperienced flashback sound; Sephiroth seems to inform me “do you know remakes could be completely different than the unique?”]
All in all, I had a ball blasting by way of 30-some hours of barely elevated horned up hack ‘n slash. Mechanically, the sport is leaps and bounds higher than the unique; I simply want the writing had taken even a step ahead.
Sam Byford, Asia editor: Main as much as launch, I believed the way in which that Sq. Enix actually titled this sport “Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake” was goofy fan service. After ending it, although, the identify makes far more sense. What I would like and anticipate out of Ultimate Fantasy video games is outlandish plot twists, and it doesn’t get far more outlandish than the revelation that Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake is just not a straight remake of Ultimate Fantasy VII, however an ultra-meta alternate-universe model that exists largely to meditate on the idea of remaking Ultimate Fantasy VII.
The twist is like an inversion of Metallic Gear Strong 2, which, upon launch, revealed itself to be as a lot a subversive, postmodern remix of the unique as a straight sequel, with a beforehand unannounced protagonist taking part in by way of mysteriously acquainted occasions. I didn’t assume it will be doable to tug one thing like that off once more in right now’s clockwork online game hype cycle, however I like that Sq. Enix went for it.
Whether or not they’ll stick the touchdown is one other matter solely. It’s arduous to name this an amazing concept with out taking part in the following episode of the sport, and who is aware of when that’ll present up. However the ending makes me much more excited for it than I’d have been in the event that they’d performed it straight. I largely actually loved what Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake did with its characters, and I’m wanting ahead to spending extra time with them with out understanding their fates prematurely.
The ending will get a cautious thumbs-up from me for now. However I additionally assume Tetsuya Nomura in all probability simply wished an excuse to contrive a Sephiroth boss combat set to “One Winged Angel” on the finish of what’s primarily a remake of the primary 10 p.c of Ultimate Fantasy VII, so. Let’s simply say I’m thinking about what comes subsequent with out essentially anticipating it to be good and even coherent.
Megan Farokhmanesh, reporter: It’s with the utmost humility and charm that I have to inform you all that Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake is a sport made completely for me and nobody else. I performed the unique as a young pre-teen, ate up its fanfic for years, and regularly allowed my mind to soften right into a puddle of jelly that spells out “I <three Cloud Strife.”
(I’m kidding. Am I kidding? When Nick known as the plot convoluted, I had the completely deranged intestine response of “um excuse me what don’t you perceive a few magical historic individuals related to a fantasy pressure stream that fuels the planet itself, but could be commandeered by a man with gravity-defying bangs and mommy points on an Oedipal degree? Makes excellent sense to me.” I’m insupportable!)
The response we’re all having — a combination between “is that this allowed?” and “do I prefer it?” — speaks to the extraordinarily overblown, overly valuable canonization of beloved video games. The fates of Ultimate Fantasy VII’s forged is so set in my mind that the thought Aerith may survive, for instance, turns me right into a sputtering fool. “But when she lives, that modifications the very material of the sport. How can any of the story exist with out it?” — as if any author is just not allowed to dream up some new, fascinating path. That the sport’s creators felt the necessity to combat so arduous and weave the very concept of change in as metatextual taste looks like they’re preemptively heading off followers like me: know-it-alls who would argue about what the sport needs to be as a result of we’ve spent the final 20 years constructing it up in our heads.
That’s a extremely long-winded lead-up to say that although I feel FFVIIR’s ending actually flies off the rails in additional methods than one, I’m in. I’m unsure Zack is definitely nonetheless alive or if something will actually be completely different. I’ve fantasized about future episodes supplying you with a option to both proceed alongside the sport’s unique route or discover a brand new story, the final word means for followers to determine what actually issues extra: canon or creativity. However most of all, I like a great story troll. Simply rip the partitions down round me.
Adi Robertson, senior reporter: These previous few responses actually crystallize my ambivalence. On paper, I like Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake doing an irreverent high-concept metatextual model of the basic “we’ve got to go kill God” plot the place God is the creator of Ultimate Fantasy VII. It’s the Grant Morrison Animal Man of JRPGs!
On the purely textual degree, although, the ending doesn’t do something. The characters know they’ve, like… murdered predestination. However as Nick says, that combat comes out of left area, and there’s no actual sense of why it issues past averting some amorphously unhealthy occasion. It ignores a whole lot of extra fascinating story threads, like Cloud’s origins (he isn’t a SOLDIER?), Sephiroth’s previous, and something establishing who Zack is and why I ought to care.
I understand how the unique sport solutions these questions, and the remake may have used them to show why the canon modifications are compelling, as an alternative of simply declaring that they exist. Because it stands, I really feel prefer it gives revelations for individuals who like speaking about Ultimate Fantasy VII however no satisfying developments within the precise narrative.
I solely performed (a part of) the unique sport final yr, although, so I’m curious how individuals’s relationship with Ultimate Fantasy VII formed their reactions. How does the ending work should you’re not an enormous fan, for instance? Does it recontextualize the unique sport if you’re?
Sam: I’m not an enormous Ultimate Fantasy VII fan. The one I’ve essentially the most nostalgia for is VIII, which is… much less widespread general. I do know the broad strokes of the VII story, and I performed by way of the Midgar part of the sport on Swap final yr as homework, however that largely simply served to offer me a greater appreciation of Remake’s extraordinarily good rearranged soundtrack.
I feel I may be within the excellent house to understand this ending. I’m not shut sufficient to the story to be all that thinking about a straight retelling, however I’m acquainted sufficient for the twist to resonate and for me to surprise what occurs subsequent. I used to be anticipating Remake simply to be VII’s Midgar with further padding — and, to be clear, that’s precisely what it’s for about 95 p.c of its runtime — however I’m unsure that method would have held my consideration over who-knows-how-many episodes. Now, although, I’m not less than on board for the following one.
Kevin: Sam, I’m undoubtedly coming from the identical place as you, however the ending left me feeling extra in keeping with Adi. The Remake had a dozen gratuitous fetch quests. You’d assume certainly one of them may have concerned rummaging round a slum to discover a cheap backstory for Zack as an alternative of, like, three cats.
Michael: I’m not the largest FFVII fan, however it has been my favourite Ultimate Fantasy sport till lately. (I nonetheless personal the unique PS1 copy I obtained on launch day.) And maybe as a result of I didn’t play FFVIIR and as an alternative watched my roommate (who’s a a lot a lot larger fan) play as an alternative I discovered that, at a sure level, I ended pondering of the remake as FFVII and as an alternative its personal sport.
Whereas it was nonetheless hitting moments from the unique, there may be simply a lot added into it that it’s one thing else solely, which makes it really feel much less like a retelling of the unique sport and extra like what the Rebuild of Evangelion movies are to the unique Neon Genesis Evangelion anime sequence. Whereas the primary film stays a reasonably devoted remake of the early episodes of the present, the film’s ending and the next films start to deviate significantly from what the sequence did. Altering occasions and introducing utterly new characters, making it clear that these films aren’t a retelling of the sequence however one thing else new solely.
The ending looks like this may be the mannequin for the video games going ahead, and truthfully, I’m really much more interested by what that might imply then if it was simply straight retelling the unique sport.
Megan: There’s one thing actually particular to me, the one Actual Gamer on workers, about seeing how remake brings FFVII’s world alive. I replayed the unique just a few months earlier than Remake got here out, and now, what I as soon as liked earnestly as its personal sport feels little greater than a bare-bones define. Listed here are the beats, and here’s a fundamental take a look at the world. I spent a whole lot of time staring up — on the plate, on the empty sky, at a extremely tall constructing right here and there. The filler annoyed me, however more often than not, I felt giddy operating round this world I form of knew. That’s type of how I really feel about your entire sport. It simply feels massive and loopy and thrilling to search out one thing new on this very outdated story.
Adi: We’re all speaking across the elephant (chocobo? tonberry? hell home?) within the room: will the saga really get accomplished? Given how lengthy this sport took and the way huge Ultimate Fantasy VII is, I’m not satisfied that can occur. Does the ending nonetheless stand by itself if it doesn’t?
Megan: Perhaps I’ve simply watched and liked too many canceled TV reveals, however I feel this ending may stand by itself, if you performed the unique sport and realize it properly. Hear me out: Remake constructed out the world, it introduced in Sephiroth early, it — okay, properly, it didn’t actually clarify loads by itself. However it reexamined sufficient of the unique to offer followers an expanded view of that world. I’m not saying I’d prefer it if the sequence was by no means accomplished. However I feel there may be sufficient of a mix of the outdated sport and this new, unknown concept to make it an open-ended… ending. Let the fanfic communities go wild.
Sam: Yeah, completely not. This ending solely works in the event that they observe by way of with a sensible tackle the storyline, however I’ve a sense they’ll land on one thing like “omg Aerith lives.” Whereas I don’t doubt that the saga can be accomplished finally, I’m far more skeptical of how they go about it. For now, although, not less than the chance exists that it will likely be cool, and I’m right here for the journey. In in all probability a number of years.
Michael: I feel it will take a supernova destroying Sq. for them to not end this sequence.
Nick: The one cheap means for it to finish — and I feel it has to have a correct conclusion — is that the sequence introduces all of the acquainted story beats and ends as common, however with the characters’ data that they’re performing out a script and, in some instances, deviating from it the place the writers see match.
I can’t see them sparing Aerith or simply forgoing a conclusion solely, however I may see a scenario during which she makes the selection herself understanding it should save her buddies and the planet. Or maybe there’s a timeline the place she and Zack each reside. Issues like that might boost the unique plot whereas nonetheless preserving all the pieces in examine. God assist the gamers who haven’t performed the unique, although, as a result of hardly any of this is sensible even to essentially the most diehard FFVII fan.
Megan: I nonetheless assume Nick is incorrect. What’s so arduous to know in regards to the unique story, you guys!