Why You Should Care About FF7 Remake Even If You Never Played The Original

After 23 years, the remake of Final Fantasy VII has brought one of gaming’s most beloved RPGs back to the forefront of discussion. Fans are excited, but if you’ve never played FFVII–or, possibly, any Final Fantasy–you might be wondering what all the hoopla is about when it comes to a guy named Cloud, a woman named Aerith, a dog named Red XIII, and any number of other weird items, elements, and places surrounding the game. Final Fantasy VII is a classic, but if you missed the boat 23 years ago, the situation around the remake might be confusing you.

There are a lot of details for a newcomer to get lost in, outside of FFVII’s dense story and worldbuilding, like how it’s only the first episode of a larger story and how it makes a lot of changes to the original. If everything from the hype to the scope of Final Fantasy VII Remake have you confused, we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know, and why you should care.

Final Fantasy VII Is A Classic For A Reason

First and foremost, you want to understand why FFVII is so beloved among so many fans. Part of the explanation is the moment of its release: in 1997, FFVII hit the original PlayStation at the perfect moment. It was a game with a huge, rich story and interesting characters at a moment when storytelling in console games was rarely the focus. It mainstreamed the RPGs of Square Enix (Squaresoft at the time) for a big swathe of players who had never seen or heard of them before.

And it did it with incredibly impressive visuals, using pre-rendered cutscenes and backgrounds that sold the scope of its steampunk-ish world and the emotional depth of its ideas and characters. Final Fantasy VII was a world and a story that a lot of people got lost in, perfectly positioned to leverage the visual technology of the day to make a lot of people say “whoa.” It was so impactful that it catapulted the Final Fantasy franchise into the spotlight and massively increased its popularity. That impact is still felt today, thanks to the power of Final Fantasy VII’s characters and storytelling. Though it came at exactly the right time to be a hit, FFVII endures because of more than just nostalgia–it’s one of the greatest RPGs of all time.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake Expands On The Original

Though the full story has been out in the world for the last two decades, the remake isn’t just a retelling of an old game with better graphics. Square Enix has reworked and reimagined Final Fantasy VII from the ground up. It’s not just a visual upgrade–the game also fundamentally reworks the original gameplay systems of Final Fantasy VII, combining old ideas with more modern takes. Where the original FFVII was a variation on turn-based RPGs with all battle commands coming from menus, the remake is more of an action-RPG that uses bits of the original’s systems. The result is an active game where your characters run around the battlefield, executing attacks and pulling off combos, but you can slow the action to issue orders to the rest of your party, or switch characters on the fly to pull off their unique moves. The Remake has some of the feel of the original, but with a more action-packed focus.

This isn’t a straight retelling of the game’s story, either, although the major beats are the same. The Remake takes Final Fantasy VII’s story and expands it significantly, mostly by fleshing out the game’s characters, including secondary players who were part of the narrative but didn’t play an especially huge role. The Remake also does more work in world-building and adds more cutscenes, which help make the villains’ motivations clearer and put emphasis on what the protagonists are thinking and feeling. So in the Remake, you’re getting the same FFVII story, but better told.

But FFVII Remake Is Not The Entire Story

You might have heard confusing information about how much of FFVII the Final Fantasy VII Remake actually covers. It’s important to understand that no, the Remake does not include the entire original game. When it released in 1997, a FFVII playthrough clocked in at roughly 60 hours, and was divided over three game CDs. The Remake covers just a fraction of the total story–it’s maybe eight hours of the game in total, just a portion of what you experience in Disc 1 of the original. Square Enix says it’s not sure how many games the complete saga will eventually span, either.

However, the Remake isn’t just arbitrarily breaking the original into multiple games in order to charge you more for the full story. The story is expanded so much that the Remake functions as a full game unto itself, more akin to the first Mass Effect, which was one complete story but also a part of a larger trilogy. And you’re getting a lot of game for your buck–the average playthrough time for GameSpot team members has been about 40 hours. Yes, this is an episodic version of the FFVII story, but it’s also a bigger, more involved, and better-realized one.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Is A Perfect Entry Point

FFVII was such a big deal in the late 1990s that it spawned a few spin-off games, as well as a CGI movie sequel. It’s a huge, involved story, and that can be intimidating. The Remake might make you feel like you need some essential FFVII knowledge from the original game or the franchise in general.

You don’t, though. The Remake will bring you into the FFVII story as if you were playing the original back in 1997. While this version makes substantial changes, they’re not of the type that will leave you missing out on what other people experienced playing the original–they’ll mostly just enhance it. A few areas from the original game have been fleshed out in the remake, but even some of the weirdest stuff from the original Final Fantasy VII makes it into the modern version, albeit in an updated way.

The point is, you’re getting a great version of FFVII in the remake. The combat is fluid and fun while retaining its tactical sensibilities from the 1990s, but the story is a stronger version of what Final Fantasy VII was attempting to achieve two decades ago. And the presentation is just phenomenal; the visuals help make the world feel more grounded and emotionally impactful, and even the music has been modernized and reimagined to make one of gaming’s classic soundtracks into something even better.

FFVII Remake Makes A Great First Final Fantasy

Big, expansive turn-based RPGs like the elder Final Fantasy games aren’t for everyone. Their turn-based style, massive stories, and deliberate pacing meant they appealed to fans of a certain type, and if you were into more action-centric games, they probably weren’t for you. But for those who’ve always been curious about the Final Fantasy series and have never grabbed one before, FFVII Remake is a great first step.

The Remake captures what’s great about old-school Final Fantasy–deep, expansive world-building and fascinating characters driving lengthy, involved stories–with fewer of the stumbling blocks. If you were put off by dated visuals, blocky characters, turn-based battles, or an excessive amount of text to read, the Remake is the Final Fantasy for you. It’ll show you everything fans love about the franchise.

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