Play it close to the chest.
Final Fantasy VII was released almost 20 years ago and instantly went down in the annals of video game history as a classic. Now, after fans have been clamoring for it for many years, Square Enix is finally remaking the classic.
The project was announced at E3 2015 and took the world by surprise. No one thought that Cloud and his colleagues from AVALANCHE would ever return in glorious HD. It was revealed that Cyber Connect, the team behind games like the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series and Asura’s Wrath, would be heading up development on the game. But now, nearly two years later, Square Enix has decided to move development in-house. This is not a bad move, though.
While Cyber Connect is a talented developer, their focus has always been on action and spectacle. The Naruto Ninja Storm series is so good because it beautifully recreates the look and feel of the anime with a great fighting system.
Final Fantasy has always been an RPG series, even with FFXV being more action-oriented. Square Enix knows how to make a good RPG; in fact, they’re famous for it. Some of the greatest JRPGs of all time have been released by Square and they still understand the genre and where it’s going, as evidenced by Final Fantasy XV. The game took the FF formula and imbued the fantasy with some reality while retaining the RPG elements at the root of the series.
From the brief gameplay trailer of the Final Fantasy VII Remake we saw in late 2015, the game will no longer be a turn-based RPG. Instead, it will use the combat system of XV, making things much more fast paced. If Square Enix intends to stay with this style, developing the game in-house will help the studio maintain a cohesive vision. Not to mention, they will have some of the shepherds of the Final Fantasy franchise nearby to ensure that the game remains faithful to the original.
This move could also help speed up the game’s release. Square recently stated that the game would hit shelves some time before 2020, which makes sense with Tetsuya Nomura directing both the remake and Kingdom Hearts III. Nomura will likely have an easier time overlooking both projects now, ensuring that both products meet the standards of their respective series.
It is possible that Cyber Connect could have had an incredibly unique take on the Final Fantasy formula, but keeping the series with the folks who have nurtured it into what it is now will hopefully safeguard the quality of the final product.
There is a reason that Square Enix has been so hesitant to remake the classic that is FFVII. The company has been vocal about how massive an undertaking it would be. The game is beloved by many and updating it to make it appeal to both old and new audiences would be a daunting task. They also felt that remaking such a classic would be like admitting that they had run out of new ideas.
Final Fantasy VII is a classic for a myriad of reasons, but parts of it don’t hold up and the story will likely be updated slightly to keep things fresh for fans of the original. An internal Square Enix team will likely have a better grasp on what the game should be and the kind of product the company wants to release. While they are returning to the past, they still want to keep moving forward, which explains why the combat of FFXV has been adapted.
Hopefully, this move for the Final Fantasy VII Remake will lead to a more cohesive end product, one that meets the expectations of veteran fans and those looking to experience Cloud’s journey for the first time. We still have quite a wait ahead of us until we can know for sure, but if everything works out we’ll not only get the return of a classic but a game that’s a classic in its own right.