So, Final Fantasy VII Remake isn't going to be one game. The news rocked the very foundation of the Push Square office earlier today, but even though we're still reeling from the shock, we've managed to get editors Sammy Barker and Robert Ramsey together to have a good old rant about the whole thing. You can read their bewildered, thankfully legible thoughts below.
Update (18:45PM GMT): Since going to press with this article, Square Enix has clarified that, while the story of Final Fantasy VII will be broken up, each so-called "episode" will consist of a full-length game.
Sammy Barker, Editor
I can't believe it. Final Fantasy VII Remake was an absolutely gigantic announcement at E3 2015 for good reason; I'd written hours before Sony's infamous press conference that it'd never happen, so it was nice to get served crow in such dramatic fashion. And it looked incredible at PlayStation Experience 2015 – alright, a bit too "anime" for my personal tastes, but I can still appreciate massive potential when I see it.
So I woke up to a real sucker punch this morning when I read that the game would be episodic – or something. I keep adding that clarifier because the details are shaky; I'm not expecting a Telltale Games-esque series by any stretch, but I'm no longer anticipating an isolated experience either. It sounds like it's going to be some kind of trilogy, with several self-contained entries a la Mass Effect.
And I get it: Final Fantasy VII is a gigantic game and splitting things up into multiple parts is going to ensure a high-level of quality across the board. But what if the first entry sucks? Will people be shrugging it off like Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII by the time that the third instalment graces us with its presence? And how long is it all going to take to make – we could be waiting until 2020 and beyond for the full story to unfold.
It just seems strange to me. I understand that this is supposed to be a remake, but I'm not sure why they feel the need to adhere so rigidly to the rules of a 20 year old game. The combat has changed. The dialogue is almost certainly going to have to change. I know I'm going to be labelled a heretic, but why not make a full, complete, isolated experience that successfully captures the spirit of the original game?
Oh, right – Square Enix.
Robert Ramsey, Associate Editor
It's taken me a good few hours to actually gather my thoughts on this topic, but to be honest, I'm still in slight disbelief. I think what gets me is that Square Enix was seemingly doing everything right with its most iconic franchise. Final Fantasy XV is supposedly coming along well with some solid new info due next year, while Final Fantasy VII Remake – something that I and many others never expected to be a reality – got genuine gameplay footage at Sony's PlayStation Experience press conference. Final Fantasy VII Remake gameplay footage. If you'd told me that such a thing would exist when I was but a boy gazing at that infamous PlayStation 3 tech demo, I'd have probably exploded.
And somehow, within the space of roughly one day, Square Enix has managed to tarnish the hype. Somehow, it's managed to take what is arguably the most anticipated video game project of modern times and turn all of the excitement on its head. It's extraordinary.
At least, on the surface it is. The Internet is no stranger to knee-jerk reactions, and the news that Final Fantasy VII Remake will take some sort of episodic form certainly got one from me. "F***ed it!" I exclaimed as soon as I saw Sammy's story on the matter. "Absolutely f***ed it!" I added, partly for comedic effect and partly because I was caught between total horror and complete disbelief.
But okay, let's give Square Enix the benefit of the doubt and say that an episodic remake of Final Fantasy VII may not be the end of the world. Let's start by saying that the word 'episodic' may conjure up the wrong ideas. When we think of 'episodic', we think of Telltale Games and the studio's ridiculous output: individual seasons of games that tend to be made up of around five separate episodes, each lasting around two to three hours in length.
Personally, I can't see that happening with Final Fantasy VII Remake. How the heck could you split an epic role-playing release like that into three hour chunks and maintain the gameplay structure that people would expect? Simply put, I'm not sure such a thing is possible – not without butchering the core ideas of the game, at least.
So what are we left with? Well, for starters, I'd say that the original Final Fantasy VII can indeed be split into different, defined story arcs that could be separated into episodes – but they'd each need to be fairly lengthy. In that sense, I don't think I'd mind an episodic structure that's more akin to something like Mass Effect than it is Tales From the Borderlands. Mass Effect's main story carries over a trilogy of games, and I reckon that as long as each released part of Final Fantasy VII Remake feels complete in its own right, there won't be much of a problem. That's a pretty significant gamble, though – especially when you're toying with people's emotions for a game that's so iconic.
Ultimately, I think it's hard not to be sceptical of this whole thing, and that's purely on the basis that only Square Enix could appear to cock something up this badly. The publisher needs to release some more concrete information regarding this situation as soon as it possibly can, because if there's one thing that the Internet's good at, it's having a meltdown without clarifying the facts. And that's a bit like what Sephiroth did when he murdered all of those people.
So what's your whole take on this? Are you left scratching your head, or are you patiently waiting for more information? Become a model member of the community in the comments section below.