Square Enix recently reintroduced the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 Remake with a new trailer at Sony’s latest State of Play presentation. The reaction online has been largely positive, as it manages to conjure up the same wondrous excitement as the PlayStation original did back in 1997. However, some fans are upset that the role-playing game will be released episodically rather than all at once. While a valid viewpoint, as players want the entire experience from the get-go, there are more positives to making the critically acclaimed classic episodic than many may think at first glance.
If there has been one prevailing criticism of Square Enix over the past decade, its the company’s inability to release anticipated titles in a timely manner. Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy 15 (which was originally known as Final Fantasy Versus 13 way back in 2006), and the Final Fantasy 7 Remake have all taken an extremely long time to manifest.
In the first two cases, the finished product was worth the wait and we can only assume that the same will be said here given the importance of the project. These are huge, ambitious titles that shouldn’t be rushed. While it does suck that Square Enix continually raises fan expectations only to not capitalize on it, getting a rushed title would be far worse.
However, with the game industry appropriately demonizing the practice of crunch and insane work weeks that developers put in to deliver games in a timely manner, an episodic version of Final Fantasy 7 makes a lot of sense. It will allow for Square Enix to get the first part of the game to players in (somewhat) prompt fashion rather than forcing them to wait another several additional years. Games take a lot more time and manpower to create now compared to 1997, and a game at Final Fantasy 7‘s scope is a tremendous one.
An episodic Final Fantasy 7 Remake won’t feel small
One of the biggest knocks against episodic gaming is that players are getting a lesser experience that won’t allow for the natural ups and downs of a finished story. That is true in some cases and games like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End shouldn’t be done episodically, but Final Fantasy 7 is naturally structured for this. There are plenty of peaks in the plot that make sense as a natural ending point that can be continued later on, and the original game was actually formatted this way.
While games spanning multiple discs is very much a thing of the past, Final Fantasy 7‘s story went over three of them and each third was filled with memorable moments and great gameplay. These can easily be used as a basis for how to structure the remake and splitting it into a miniature trilogy would allow for Square Enix to balance releasing a quality game over time.
While just getting a third of the legendary RPG at a time could be seen as underwhelming, Square Enix has been open about this not being a straight remake of the original. There will be plenty of new content, and this will allow for returning players to see the existing world in exciting new ways. Tifa’s bar, 7th Heaven, could look much different and the Ancient Forest could now hold additional secrets.
There are so many exciting locales and moments that they can justify a standalone multiple purchases. If done the right way, it won’t feel like buying the game in chunks but rather buying separate titles that come together to create something special.
Another plus is that this will give a lot of people that grew up with Final Fantasy 7 a chance to actually consume the remake. Those that were children when the game initially came out now have jobs, children and other responsibilities that take up their time. Getting through a gigantic role-playing game that spans 90 or so hours like Persona 5 just isn’t feasible for a lot of them.
As great as Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is, it’s hard to imagine getting through all of the chapters while changing diapers. However, separating it into different episodes that are smaller in scope allows for more people to enjoy it without a fear of missing out on the discussion surrounding the remake.
Final Fantasy 7 episodes will make for the best possible product
Most importantly, going episodic will give Square Enix the best chance at making the best possible remake of Final Fantasy 7. As exciting as it must be to work on such a project, it also has to be nerve wracking. Expectations are incredibly high surrounding it and anything less than a Game of the Year contender will be seen as a disappointment.
So, if there are issues with the first episode, Square Enix can implement user feedback and improve both future installments. We’ve seen Final Fantasy 15 become much better over several years of post-launch support but Final Fantasy 7 can make those improvements over episodes. An episodic schedule at least gives the developer a chance at fixing it before the game is completed.
There is clearly a lot on the line with the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Square Enix has not been without its own struggles over the past decade and this has the chance to be the company’s biggest and most financially successful release this millennium. The risks are high and that’s exactly why it has to be done the right way. Square’s best chance of doing right by the fans (and its board of directors) is going episodic and that’s exactly why the publisher is taking this route.
Sure, an episodic version won’t be the exact same as the original Final Fantasy 7, but it never was going to be. Changes were always going to be made, and the new battle system reflects that. There are far more pluses than negatives to this decision and it’s not just a cash grab on Square Enix’s part. However, getting the same fans to pay for multiple releases doesn’t hurt. If we’re to get a RPG remake of a classic at this scale, then it simply has to be done this way.