The Stories We Play: Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Square Enix’s long-running Final Fantasy franchise is beloved by many, but few games are held in high regard as the seventh entry. Final Fantasy 7 was released on the original PlayStation and shipped to customers on four discs.

The game was primed for a remake. The story and character arcs still hold up, but the visuals and combat are incredibly outdated by today’s standards. A standard remake would have been the obvious choice for this classic game. Instead, Square decided to go in a new direction and push the limits of what the word “remake” really means.

Fighting The Future

Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Photo Credit: Square Enix

Square stayed tight-lipped about Final Fantasy 7 Remake in the months leading up to its launch. Players knew the game would start in Midgar, the iconic setting of Final Fantasy 7’s first chapter. What we didn’t know, though, was that this was the only playable section in Remake.

Midgar takes only a few hours in the original title, but Square expanded this into a thirty-hour experience. More surprising than the length and setting, though, was how different the game was from the first. Final Fantasy 7 wasn’t a remake in the traditional sense. It was a remake of the entire story. This time, the antagonists aren’t just Sepiroth and Shinra but also the Whispers. A group of ghost-like creatures working to keep the original timeline in order.

New Year, New Me

Photo Credit: Square Enix

The Whispers appear early in the game, setting the player back on track when the game starts to deviate from the original story. Small differences begin to appear in the game’s early hours, but the Whispers set the story back on track. For people familiar with Final Fantasy 7, the Whispers were immediately recognized as a departure from the original story.

Square Enix was wise to add such a huge deviation from their original story. Few games are more iconic than Final Fantasy 7, and major plot points are known even by gamers who haven’t played the original. Rather than faithfully retelling the events of Final Fantasy 7, Square delivered gamers a familiar story with an ending that could lead to countless possibilities.

The Final Fantasy 7 Problem

Photo Credit: Square Enix

With a story as famous as Final Fantasy 7, are already spliled before you even begin playing Remake. Remakes and remasters are great when they fulfill the purpose of the original game. Playing Resident Evil 4 or Dead Space Remake feels like playing the game when it came out a decade ago. The combat is tight, the scares intact, and the story is largely unchanged.

But what happens when the appeal of a game is its story? The combat in Final Fantasy was fine for the time but punishingly slow by today’s standards. Subsequent ports of Final Fantasy 7 contain options to remove all or most combat encounters. This game exists solely for its story. So, while an overhauled combat system is necessary, it’s still the story gamers want to revisit. But a faithful beat-by-beat retelling of Final Fantasy 7 would only fall flat by delivering a story we’ve already played numerous times.

Remaking A Classic

Final Fantasy VII is one of the best RPGs ever made
Photo Credit: Square Enix

With the Whispers introduced, playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake feels like you are playing against the story of the original. You are not only on a journey to fight Shinra but also against all the bad outcomes of the original. In this way, the story becomes a part of the gameplay itself.

One of the final boss fights in the game is against the Whispers. It’s a punishingly hard fight that feels even more difficult when you remember what’s at stake. The Whispers are keeping you on the original timeline. That means if they survive, Aerith dies, as does Biggs and Wedge. Cloud may not know this, but you, as the player, do. And this gives that final fight against the Whispers more levity than any rehashed fight from the original game ever could.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth And Future

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
Photo Credit: Square Enix

When Final Fantasy 7 Remake ends, we get a small glimpse into the series’ future. Some major plot points, like Midgar falling, stay intact. But others, like Zacks’ death before the game, are retconned. The game and future of the series are now treading totally new ground.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake isn’t about remaking a classic game. Most remakes focus on delivering nostalgia and allowing players to enter some of their favorite worlds again with a new coat of paint. Remake is about fighting the past and making a new future. It takes everything precious about Final Fantasy 7 and has you actively fighting against it. For a story we grew up with, one that we all love, there is no better feeling than knowing we can change the outcome.

With the Whispers defeated, it’s up to Cloud and the player to forge a new path. Playable stories are an incredible art form. But the feeling of fighting the story is one only video games can deliver.



  • Joe Moore

    Joe Moore is a freelance writer at bosslevelgamer. He can usually be found listening to pop-punk, playing story-driven games, eating chipotle, or all three at once.

Written by Joe Moore

Joe Moore is a freelance writer at bosslevelgamer. He can usually be found listening to pop-punk, playing story-driven games, eating chipotle, or all three at once.

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