Keep it all together please!
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
It was revealed that Final Fantasy VII Remake would be delivered as a multi-part series by Square Enix. It’s not entirely clear what that means, but due to the recent influx of episodic games, it isn’t surprising that many are assuming that’s what it is. And, to be frank, not many fans are happy about this.
Yes, when the Remake was announced it was made very clear that changes would be made. This won’t be an HD re-release, after all. A remake is an entirely different beast. The exploration with gorgeous character models and a different camera angle was the first indicator that the developers were very serious about switching things up.
When the first clips of gameplay were shown off during PSX, the action-focused combat system was revealed. While that may not be what fans remember, it fits in with what Square Enix has been putting out in recent years. These are big changes, but as long as the core of the experience was kept relatively the same, then it didn’t rustle too many feathers.
Making the game episodic does more than rustle feathers, though, it completely kills the bird and replaces it with an entirely new one. To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with an episodic game. They are able to deliver stories and introduce characters in interesting ways that keep the player engaged. But even if they allow tons of options within each episode, they are fairly linear engagements.
This won’t seem like a big deal to those who will be experiencing Final Fantasy VII for the first time, but to those who played the original it’s understandable why there is a bit of apprehension. Final Fantasy VII was a very open game. There were many towns and cities to explore, a large overworld players could traverse, hidden weapons and summons, extra party members, and other side activities to get into. There was a story that was being told, but there was freedom given to the player so that they can do everything at their leisure.
Episodic games, by their nature, take an overarching narrative and break them down into several unique parts. It works because it allows you to either experience things from different perspectives, or it allows the developers to tell multiple stories that are tied together at the end. Yet, even with a range of options that alter the ending of the whole package, they are pretty linear experiences. They have to be, or else the narrative becomes muddied.