Well, it’s been a long time coming. After more than a decade of waiting, we’re finally able to review a sequel to one of the most influential games of all time.

Final Fantasy VII followed the adventures of the eponymous character throughout the original game. The player controls him as he runs from one fight to the next, trying to complete the game’s tough tasks, in order to save the day and make it to the end.

But times have changed. Final Fantasy VII is truly a landmark title; one of the greatest video games ever released, and it’s finally available to play on modern devices.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is It?

Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows in 2017. It is the sequel to the 2007 game, Final Fantasy VII, which revolutionized the role-playing genre when it was released.

The game follows the adventures of the recently revived (and renamed) Cloud, who travels to various locations around the world, fighting against a variety of antagonists, both old and new. As with the original game, players explore the environments in real-time, fighting alongside Cloud as he runs, climbs, and swings utilizing a blend of real-time 3D graphics and traditional 2D pixel artwork.

Why Is It Important?

As the direct follow-up to one of the most commercially and critically successful games of all time, it’s no surprise that Final Fantasy VII was ported to nearly every major console. But what is important is that the game wasn’t just ported—it was remade and rereleased as a native Switch title, with a few minor adjustments, adding more content and polish to what was already a near-perfect original.

The fact that this was possible only points to the monumental success of Final Fantasy VII, which broke all the usual video game rules by reinventing the role-playing experience, resulting, ultimately, in the birth of the “JRPG” (Japanese Role-Playing Game) genre.

And in case you’re wondering, “Final Fantasy” is the brand name of the franchise, not the game. The next installment in the series is simply called “FFVII.”

How Is It Different?

For starters, the graphics look better than ever. While there are still some rough edges here and there, the overall visual style and presentation are astounding, especially for a Nintendo Switch title.

Another significant update is the gameplay. Square Enix has definitely heard the pleas of fans who’ve been begging for a remake for years, and have delivered, changing as little as possible, but still keeping the essence of the original game while adding a few modern twists.

As Cloud, players will run, jump, and fight their way through six different worlds, rescuing a variety of stranded travelers along the way. The bulk of the game is spent battling various creatures, most of which are hostile, as you try to reach the end of each scenario in order to advance to the next. And much like the original game, the ending will depend on how you played the previous part, so you’ll have to make sure you’ve collected everything before you can move on.

How Is It Similar?

While most people know and love Cloud for his heroic exploits in the PlayStation game, Squaresoft (the company that makes Final Fantasy) developed three other equally beloved heroes, who fans of the original may recognize:

  • Lightning
  • Barret
  • Ricco

Each one of these characters has their own quests and, like Cloud, can rescue and be rescued by other players. The developers even went the extra mile, creating mini-dossier’s on each character, detailing their histories and providing evidence of their courage and heroism in battle. These mini-dossiers were released as part of a collaboration effort with Google, detailing the backgrounds of the game’s many famous characters. Even more exciting is the fact that these characters’ stories are still being told in the recently released spin-off, Final Fantasy XVII, currently only available for PlayStation 4 and PC. The game is set to be released on the Nintendo Switch in February 2021.

Key Gameplay Features

One of the most defining features of Final Fantasy VII is how it handles non-player characters (NPCs). These individuals, including villains and companions, are completely customizable by the player, allowing them to alter their appearances, class affiliations, and even their dialogue. This is important because, as we’ve seen in other role-playing games, the NPCs are the ones that the player will be spending the most time with, as they navigate the game’s many scenarios. In Final Fantasy VII, these interactions are vital to the gameplay experience. For example, if you want to be a tough guy, you can equip your character with brute strength, giving him the ability to break bones, if necessary, in order to fight your way through a scenario. But, if you want to befriend the NPCs or work with them to overcome a dangerous foe, you can equip your character with brains, teaching him to think, plan, and strategize to overcome his enemies.

Another amazing feature of Final Fantasy VII is the sheer volume of content, which the game proudly boasts is thousands of lines of dialogue, along with hundreds of unique creatures, items, and environments. In fact, this game is so big, it’s been compared to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (the gold standard for sprawling role-playing games) as the ultimate “grand finale” to the ever-expanding Final Fantasy franchise. While this game is nearly perfect, it definitely isn’t without its flaws; most notably, many longtime fans feel that the game could have used more variety (and updates) in terms of the monsters and bosses that the hero fights throughout the game. But these issues can be easily overlooked, as this game is highly sought-after and considered by many to be “The Standard-Bearer of the Role-Playing Game Genre.”