A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Final Fantasy VII: Remake is role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 4. The game's a re-creation of 1997's Final Fantasy VII. It's set in a fantasy world run by corporations slowing sapping the planet of its life energy, and is focused on a group of eco-terrorists fighting to save the globe. They use extreme tactics that end up leading to multiple tragedies, from key character deaths to the creation of mass refugee camps. This complex and timely narrative encourages players to think about parallel issues in our own world, giving special consideration to the notions that all actions have consequences and that people have the power to choose who they become. Frequent combat involving swords, guns, and magic used against both monsters and humans is fast-paced but bloodless. Fantasy creatures disappear in a mist of sparkling lights, and human foes are typically knocked unconscious rather than killed. Parents should also be aware that large parts of the game involve no combat, but are instead set in vibrant urban locations. This includes a lengthy segment that takes place in a red light district filled with scantily clad characters engaged in flirtatious and sexually suggestive conversation (though nothing explicit), as well as people in various states of drunkenness, ranging from stumbling to sick to unconscious. Dialogue includes a good deal of moderate profanity, but stops short of stronger language such as the F-word.
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What's it about?
FINAL FANTASY VII: REMAKE, the first episode in a series of role-playing games designed to deliver a deluxe retelling of the original Final Fantasy VII, is set in the city of Midgar, a corporate-run metropolis with eight power reactors slowly sucking up Mako energy, the planet's lifeblood. A group of eco-terrorists called Avalanche are set on saving the world by using bombs to destroy the reactors. But they are largely heedless of the potential impact of their actions, predictably leading to tragedy on a massive scale. To help carry out their plans, the group hires an elite mercenary named Cloud. At first aloof and motivated solely by money, Cloud is eventually inspired by those around him and grows close to the group, while also becoming a valuable member of the larger community. Players also have the opportunity to control additional characters, including Cloud's childhood friend Tifa, a mysterious florist named Aerith, and the burly leader of the local Avalanche cell, Barret. These characters fight side-by-side in an unusual kind of third-person combat that mixes real-time action with optional turn-based elements. Each has his or her own combat style, weapon sets, and unlockable abilities that grow as the game progresses. Time outside combat is spent in lengthy, dialogue-driven story scenes pursuing a variety of story-based quests, such as one that involves foiling an arranged marriage to a creepy misogynist and another that sees the heroes helping a group of orphan kids. Series fans should note that this first episode is set entirely within the city of Midgar, takes around 30 hours to complete the main story content, and accounts for only the early portion of the original game.
Is it any good?
Expectations must be properly set before diving into this beautiful first entry in Square Enix's long-awaited retelling of the story of Ex-SOLDIER Cloud Strife. Covering only the first handful of hours of the original game, Final Fantasy VII: Remake takes it slow, providing a much deeper look at the politics and population of Midgar as well as the stories and backgrounds of several important characters. Players accustomed to geographically epic Final Fantasy stories in which they explore an entire planet won't get that here. This is a small but visually sumptuous and emotionally resonant experience that brings to life familiar characters in new ways, but players should go in knowing that not all of their favorite personalities, summoned entities, quests, music, and moments are present. Many of these things are bound to come in later installments, but, for now, players are meant to be satisfied with an expanded Midgar that provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of the city's people, more clearly explains the potential evils of oversized corporations, and shows the lasting impact and consequences of an eco-terrorist organization that has noble ambitions but suffers tragically from a lack of foresight.
Scope and story aside, Final Fantasy VII: Remake provides players with combat, quest, and growth systems that draw from the original but are ultimately new and unique. For example, combat's designed to be action oriented with players tapping buttons to attack in real time, choosing commands for special attacks, magical spells, and items as appropriate -- a major departure from the source game's traditional turn-based fighting. A "Classic" mode automates attacks and allows players to pause the action at will in order to command characters, though it should be noted this makes the game much, much easier and won't be to all tastes. And while iconic summoned entities -- a key part of the original experience -- such as the goddess Shiva and the demon Ifrit, may still be acquired and used in battle, they appear far less often. The bottom line is that what's present in Final Fantasy VII: Remake is very good and makes for a great start to Square Enix's ambitious recreation of one of the world's most beloved games, but some players are bound to come away wishing there was just a little more meat on this bone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in Final Fantasy VII: Remake affected by the fact that you don't actually kill most human enemies, but instead knock them unconscious? Would it be stronger if there was more blood and gore shown? Do you think more action-oriented games should take a similar approach?
Are there any social issues that could spur you to take action in the form of protest? Why are some people moved to act and others not?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: April 10, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
- Last updated: March 9, 2021
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