It's already been almost two and a half years since Square Enix reinvented the story of its 1997 JRPG classic Final Fantasy VII, and we're itching to see what the Japanese publisher has in store next. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will provide those answers next winter, but to tide us over until then, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion represents a welcome stopgap. The memorable PSP side story has been remastered for PS5 and PS4, and it promises to be another awkward, campy, and enjoyable adventure.
A very brief but action-packed demo introduces us to Zack as he fights his way through the first chapter of the game. It is a combat system that feels familiar in some ways, but completely different in others. Much like Final Fantasy VII Remake, there's no turn-taking here. You'll be throwing your sword about with the face buttons, and then triggering your elemental powers through button combinations. It won't take fans of the 2020 remake long to get up to speed, but there are some key differences to note.
In the top left-hand corner, a sort of slot machine featuring numbers and pictures of characters is forever scrolling. It's called the Digital Mind Wave, and should it land on specific numbers or match up the same character three times in a row, then Materia will power up, Zack can be healed, or other attacks will improve. As a newcomer to Crisis Core, the feature was sorely in need of a tutorial, but it doesn't appear to be part of the game's first chapter.
Therefore, we focused on using up our MP and AP during battles to survive. If the Digital Mind Wave system triggered a positive boon for us, then we were sure to use it as soon as the prompt appeared on the screen. Many flashy and powerful attacks were sourced from the mechanic, though, so it's seemingly vital to progression. Maybe the tutorial was just on the other side of the demo we played.
Chapter one has you fighting the usual monsters and soldiers you'd come across in a Final Fantasy title, but then there's also a battle against Ifrit. This is where the combat system introduces some more complexity with weaknesses to account for and an interruptable charging phase for enemies. At various moments throughout a fight, the game will alert you to the enemy charging up a powerful attack. If you deal enough damage during this phase, you'll actually weaken the attack. The more damage you deal, the less you'll take once the foe is ready to unleash. It's a neat little feature that keeps you on your toes, allowing you to lessen the amount of HP you're about to lose.
Graphically, Crisis Core can't compete with Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade on PS5, but it still looks nice for a remastered PSP title. Environments pop and shine, and so too do the enemies. Matching the control scheme of Square Enix's previous remake, there are no unusual button prompts to account for or any awkward onboarding. As such, it feels like Crisis Core will transition smoothly from Sony's first handheld device to the big screen on 13th December 2022. While Square Enix cooks up its next twist in the tale of Final Fantasy VII, this seemingly faithful remaster should please fans and newcomers alike.
Will you play Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion this December? Let us know in the comments below.