Welcome back to “My Mystic Quest,” the blog series where I chart my progress through the Final Fantasy franchise, beginning with my virgin trek through VII.
I’m happy to report that I have begun playing the game and am about an hour in. The opening moments of the game did a lot to impress me. The game begins with some beauty shots of Midgar city in all its dystopic glory. You see the (still to be introduced) Aeris/Aerith looking out at this place as the camera zooms away, and it immediately instills a sense of sadness for her and the situation the population here is in.
The storytelling in general has been quite well done so far. In addition to the opening scene, I’ve been surprised to find all the dialogue has been in-game. I was expecting piles of awkward exposition in cutscenes, but there has yet to be any. Instead, cutscenes have been used in small pieces to link gameplay together.
As I got into the actual gameplay a little I was surprised to discover that it’s made up of 3D models moving around pre-rendered environments; my lack of experience with the game was just so total that I had no idea. Not a bad set-up in theory, and I’ve certainly enjoyed games that played like this before, but VII‘s environments seem especially unintuitive to navigate. From the outset, I was confused as to what constituted a viable entrance or pathway. In other words, I was bumping into a lot of invisible walls. This must be why so many fans are interested in seeing a remake as compared with other classics. It could quite clearly do with a graphical do-over.
This frustration was exacerbated when I reached about the one hour mark, got through some dialogue, and was scrambling for a save because I knew I was overdue. I stumbled into a small building with a bunch of characters looking to me for gameplay advice (a new twist on giving the player gameplay tips). As I moved around the objects in the room, I became stuck with no hope for escape. I had to reset and lost about half an hour of progress.
With all of that covered, let’s take a look at the relevant preconceptions I had of the game that I listed last time:
- Game stars a spiky-haired, big-sword-wielding dude named Cloud.
- Tifa is going to be the game’s busty healer/magic user, isn’t she?
Well, she’s certainly top heavy. I don’t know if she’s really meant to be a healer specifically, but so far what I’ve equipped her with is a healing spell.
- There’s a black dude with a robot arm. He will swear and be a stereotype.
Oh yeah. Ohh yeah. Not only is he a black guy who swears and has a robot arm, he’s even more of a stereotype than I expected. Barret, that’s his name, be talkin’ like dis. He even calls people “fool.” The most amusing part is (and maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know much about his character yet) that he’s ostensibly from the same place as everyone else, yet he speaks completely differently than all of them. Did this guy invent his own slang and speech patterns?