Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis Impressions - Remake graphics meet pixel gameplay
We've played Square Enix's iconic JRPG in its mobile form and seen how this combines the best of the modern adaptation and the sprite-like original.
For the most part, the best way to experience Final Fantasy VII these days is to play the Remake. Yes, it isn't the full version of the video game, but the modernised elements all make for a very respectable and enjoyable adaptation of Square Enix's iconic and beloved JRPG. But what if you want to play the full Final Fantasy VII? The best option at the moment is to play one of the older versions of the game. Square understands that this isn't exactly the best case, and is working on bringing the game to mobile as a complete package.
Now I know what many of you are thinking: why would we want to play Final Fantasy VII on mobile? Well, when you consider the fact that this will be a boiled down version of that full game that combines Remake graphics and pixel gameplay elements, all with very simple and intuitive touchscreen controls, on top of offering the entire story and Crisis Core to boot while being free-to-play, there are few reasons to not be excited about this project.
I say this as I was given the opportunity to get hands on with Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis in Los Angeles at this year's Summer Game Fest Play Days. As part of the session, I got to experience the destruction of Mako Reactor 1 opening segment, which in Ever Crisis I was able to complete in around 10-15 minutes, compared to this scene being a good hour in duration in the Remake.
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The gameplay revolved around tapping the screen to command Cloud to move to a location and interact with chests for loot, with this all featuring sprite-like pixel graphics. Then, when entering into combat, you get to see the Remake version of Cloud and his allies, and have to command them to attack foes by tapping on abilities in a bar at the bottom of the screen when you have the correct amount of MP to cast them, all while Cloud and his allies land regular strikes without requiring any player involvement. This, alike Ever Crisis as a whole, is a boiled down version of FFVII's combat suite, meaning while there are weaknesses and elemental differences to be aware of, it's not as crucial to the gameplay offering as it is in the Remake, for example.
It may seem watered down and a bit lacking in character, but I found that this version of FFVII worked very well. The pacing felt balanced and there was a good combination of narrative beats and combat sequences. As for how this will transition to the periods of FFVII that are generally less thrilling and more about player discovery remains to be seen, but for anyone who wants to experience the iconic JRPG but doesn't want to play a game from the late 90s or doesn't want to hash out hundreds of pounds for a PS4/5 and the Remake and Crisis Core, this is a perfect way to get an insight and taste of why FFVII became so beloved.
While Square Enix promises that Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis will debut in 2023, no exact date has been mentioned as of yet. What we have been told however is that aside from just the main story and Crisis Core being available as an additional story, the development team at Applibot is exploring how to bring other FFVII tales to the game, including the Remake Intergrade story that put Yuffie on centre stage. Likewise, there has been mention on the game's website that Ever Crisis will feature in-game currencies, but as for how this is implemented remains to be seen. If this is used for cosmetics and additional customisation efforts, so be it, but if there ends up being an energy system that limits player activity then there will be some serious criticisms about this game.
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Until that is communicated however, I will remain cautiously optimistic about Ever Crisis and what it can offer to the mobile gaming space.