After years of waiting, the first instalment in Square’s Final Fantasy 7 Remake sage finally launched in 2020. Despite some grumblings from detractors in regards to the direction of the remake, it was largely met with a positive reception. It bagged our Game of the Year 2020 award, and in our review Final Fantasy 7 Remake scored a flawless 10/10.
The game wasn’t exactly what fans had been expecting though proved that Square Enix was willing to take a risk with one of its all-time greatest hits. However, the long term success of their revival project may hinge on what comes next. In wake of the publisher’s recent announcements, there’s a growing scepticism now emerging.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade and beyond
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a hefty action RPG though one that only covers a small portion of the original game’s storyline. Having recently been enhanced on PS5, Square also launched their Intergrade expansion, reintroducing ninja heroine Yuffie as the main protagonist. We won’t dive into story spoilers here, but if you want the full Final Fantasy 7 Remake experience, you’ll need to pick up the DLC.
Alongside Integrade, Square announced Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis. It’s another remake, though one designed for mobile featuring the wider FF7 “Compilation” including Crisis Core, Advent Children, and Dirge of Cerberus. Not content with just one mobile spin-off, we also have Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier – an upcoming battle royale shooter. These reveals indicate that Square have a much wider scope for Final Fantasy VII Remake, instead of sticking to those core game. Theoretically, this is just the tip of the iceberg. These mobile games could both be fantastic, but there’s a worry that fatigue could soon set in if the Japanese publisher is too aggressive in squeezing the brand for all its nostalgic value.
There’s truth to the sentiment that any remake is intrinsically looking to capitalise on brand power, but VII Remake’s approach makes it a trickier one to advocate. The justification behind splitting the Remake into individual parts stemmed from the judgement that Final Fantasy VII’s scope was too large to fit into a single modern game. However, the decision to add a new DLC storyline set in Midgar, following a character who never appeared in Midgar in the original game feels conflicting. This isn’t just a remake of Final Fantasy VII, but arguably maybe that’s the point.
But what about this approach is necessarily better? Who asked for VII – a game which already had a relatively convoluted plot – to be weighed down by even more baggage? Which fans truly wanted an alternate timeline, with characters and content from FF7 Compilation being retroactively weaved into the original story? Even if this was someone’s dream project, does this really feel like the best approach?
The long road to Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2
The idea of splitting Final Fantasy 7 into parts was a bit of a hard pill to swallow initially, but still worked. However, now the precedent has been set for each part being chased by DLC, along with potential spin-offs. If fans want to experience the Final Fantasy 7 Remake full experience, they’ll not only have to buy a brand new, full-priced game every few years, but they may also have to sink money into various DLC and spin-offs that could potentially be spread across numerous different platforms.
If this sounds like an overreaction, bear in mind that this isn’t the first time Square Enix have handled a series this clumsily. This has already happened before with Final Fantasy 7. Specifically, with the extended Compilation universe, spread across the original PlayStation game, movies, and spin-offs for mobile, PSP, and PS2. Kingdom Hearts has infamously taken this further with similarly disparate platform releases, along with Final Mix releases, DLC, a playable prologue, and now a rhythm game, all of which are canon.
Of course, these are extreme examples, but we’re only a year after the original PS4 launch and we’re already getting DLC and two mobile games under the 7 Remake banner. At this point, an onslaught of related products and media feels inevitable. New characters like Roche in particular feel like prime candidates for starring roles in ancillary companion media, and with the rules of the 7 universe seemingly being rewritten towards the finale of the first part, there’s ample opportunity for wild alternative scenarios that can be released separately.
This also brings up a concern of the cost of such an undertaking. I’m not just talking about the financial investment from a consumer standpoint. XVI’s development seems to be going well, so we can all rest easy that the next mainline Final Fantasy instalment will (hopefully) be released in the not-too-distant future. But how will this commitment to building a 7 Remake empire affect other projects within Square Enix? If it continues to eat up development resources, with new spin-offs and content capitalising on fan excitement, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to imagine that some smaller projects might end up being swept to the side-lines in favour of this. Remember the Versus XIII debacle?
Maybe once this grandiose journey reaches its end, this article will look laughably outdated. Hopefully we’ll all be able to rejoice at how masterfully the Remake experience came together. I’m more than willing to accept that as a possibility, but if the words “Final Fantasy VII Battle Royale” being boldly displayed in a trailer for a prequel mobile game don’t give some pause regarding the trajectory of this hype train, then maybe I’m out of touch with what the fans want. For me, that doesn’t feel congruent with the vision of what this project should be about. This should be about modernising a seminal RPG, first and foremost, but we’re only a year out deep into this project, and that intent already feels like it’s being lost in the scuffle.