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In Final Fantasy VII Remake, the Characters Shine Brighter Than the Writing (Hands-on Preview)

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In Final Fantasy VII Remake, the Characters Shine Brighter Than the Writing (Hands-on Preview)

Maybe the most surprising part of my demo of Final Fantasy VII Remake is that the part I was really worried I wouldn’t like, the combat, ended up being a highlight. And, conversely, the part that I was sure would be just fine, the story and writing, was a bit concerning.

Ever since Final Fantasy X introduced voice acting to the series, there have been lots of highs and lows that were deeply interconnected with the writing.

When the voice acting was solid, it enhanced the most memorable moments in the post Final Fantasy X-era. If the writing failed, you end up with moments like this, which would have been saved from becoming a meme if it was just text.

When both voice direction and writing fail, you end up with this:

Anyway, I got a taste of the good, the bad, and the ugly of modern Final Fantasy voice acting and writing during the Bombing Mission demo, more than what was shown at the E3 press conference.

The characters personalities, especially Cloud’s, feel very much intact. Jessie is flirty, Barret is intense and passionate, Wedge is a sweet man that just wants to be friends with Cloud, and Cloud, well, Cloud is still a dick.

One particularly memorable scene is when Barret is going on about how he can hear the planet’s pain, Cloud curtly asks if he can really hear the planet, Barret replies yes and in a deadpan response Cloud tells him to “get help.”

It was genuinely a laugh out loud moment for everyone that was there and a highlight of the demo, but it actually served as a moment of relief because before that there were some cringy moments that were difficult to watch.

Barret had some especially awkward moments. The writing isn’t great, and the enthusiasm going into the delivery of the lines by the voice actor isn’t helping, it’s just putting a spotlight on some of the corny dialogue.

He was just way too amped up. I know he’s intense about what he believes in and that’s what the story is trying to get across at this point, but he was just yelling so much to the point where it was comical, and at times I really just wanted him to shut up for a second. It didn’t ruin the demo for me, but it was noticeably campy and corny.

If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game since FFX you’ll know what we’re talking about. The dialogue is just as likely to be campy as it is touching, funny, or just more generally, something you want to listen to. In the brief snapshot that we got from the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo, it seems like it’s going to be the same ol’.

That said, while it was a bit much at times, like I alluded to above, it also had just as many high points.

Jessie’s flirty behavior was subtle and believable, and you can could sense her already established closeness with the other members of AVALANCHE. Wedge was a bit corny too like Barett at times, but his attempts to befriend Cloud were cute at least.

Fortunately, Cloud’s dialogue and voice acting, the one character you really don’t want to sound off, was really well done.

I still have hope for Barret. It wasn’t all bad, I don’t think he’s going to be Final Fantasy VII’s version of Vanille (or insert your least-favorite cringe Final Fantasy character here). It’s just that the Bombing Mission wasn’t his shining moment.

All in all, it was a mixed experience albeit a limited one, so it’s hard to get worked up over it in either direction. What I do know is that because the cutscenes are now fully voiced, the individual performances and the writing for these characters are going to be more prominent than they were in the original game.

No one wants a great story to be derailed by cheesy writing and that even great voice acting can’t save. I’m not ready to say it’s a problem, but unlike the combat, I can’t say I’m sold that it won’t be either.

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